Thursday, June 30, 2005

P, IV

Pinhead Gunpowder- Jump Salty

Just awesome. Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day’s side project, containing songs that are more gritty/less hooky than his usual fare, propelled by the frantic, caffeine-fueled drum stylings of Aaron Cometbus (though not anywhere near as rickety as his work in Crimpshrine). Wildly entertaining stuff.

Pixies- Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim

We were sitting on the back porch a couple of weeks ago, talking about how weird it is that:

a) there’s this big new university arena a few blocks down the street, and
b) the Pixies were going to be playing there.

The Pixies were on my radar when they were still an operating band, but the Boston in my head back then was this totally daunting, sprawling concrete wilderness of bad drivers and roads that only led to crime-laden neighborhoods. I didn’t know how to drive the city or get around, especially at night, so I missed their shows. If you told the 20-year-old me that the Pixies would be playing three blocks away from my house, he’d be hell of psyched, dude. Then he’d be totally dismayed that I didn’t make any sort of effort to go. Probably some rant about not being such a fucking product, tool of the man, blah blah blah.

I did see ‘em on the reunion tour, don’t get me wrong- they played Lowell on my birthday. I dragged my dumb ass out of bed at like fuck o’clock this one Saturday morning and hit redial a zillion times before I finally got through to the ticket agency, then went back to bed once I scored the ducats- cha-ching! I was glad to have a chance to see them, yeah, but I’m not sure if I was ever really excited about it. The whole notion of all these old bands reuniting still feels a little bit odd to me (this coming from a guy who unabashedly saw the reunited Sex Pistols and fucking loved it, mind you). I don’t want to say that I felt an obligation to see the Pixies, but I did feel a certain pull, like the indie rock tractor beam was turned on without me knowing it. Couldn’t miss it.

The show itself was fine, though a little bit weird. The Pixies and Mission of Burma in a hockey arena? There was so much disconnection from the band and so many twenty-five dollar t-shirts surrounding me that it didn’t feel at all organic. The music was great and everything, but still.

So, the inevitable build-up/hype happened, everyone and their fucking mother was listening to the Pixies, and, truth be told, I was starting to get sick of them. Not the music, just the band themselves, their upgrade from indie to total ubiquity.

Easy to forget, though, is that the reason why everyone was so excited about the reunion was because the band is fucking awesome. Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim is one of only two albums I’ve owned that has gotten lost/stolen (the other being ‘Songs For A Blue Guitar’), which says something. The Albini production is still jarringly sharp and spare, the ferocity of the yowls still shock even though I know ‘em all by heart, and the songwriting remains unique even though legions of imitators have lined up at the altar looking for any scrap of a clue.

Placebo- Without You I’m Nothing

The no-bones androgyny was enough to get my attention, and the first couple singles were hooky and slightly dangerous but never outrageous, despite their best efforts. After that, though, ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ wallows in its own misery. Maybe they were looking to carve out a special niche market of bummed out, sexually ambiguous teens with tiny record collections. That’s gotta be it. I mean, if you’re all maudlin, are you going to go for Placebo over the Smiths or The Cure or Depeche Mode? Or over the Dolls or Bowie or Iggy? Whatevs.

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