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Music of the 90s to mid 2000s



  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Holy hair, batman!

    Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants

  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

  • KamigoroshiKamigoroshi Member Posts: 5,876

    J.B.O. - Die Scheiße

    No matter in what age we live in, that song will always stay true to our nature.

  • voidofopinionvoidofopinion Member, Moderator Posts: 1,248
    edited September 2018
    History and significance of The Pixies on 90's Grunge
    Boston, Massachusetts. 1983.

    A college student looks on in pure fascination as David Lynch’s surrealist masterpiece “Eraserhead” stiltedly jerks from frame to frame in a mesmerizing and unwholesome array of dizzying camera angles, uncomfortably long shots and a quiet sense of malice. This young man is touched in a way both violent and profound by what he witnesses upon the silver screen… and the world of music would forevermore walk with a limp. (Frank)

    Art in its most vulgar form is simply a means of communication through artistic expression. To view music in an artistic vacuum is to see the stone but be blind to the statue. Art transcends medium. It is incestuous by nature and music, dance, literature, photography, theater, and cinema all share an impassioned and highly carnal relationship. Art is raw and the need to express and the need to connect to fellow humans is as intrinsic and primal as the fight or flight response. When the muse sings we must answer in whatever form we can.

    That the absurd and surreal would speak to Charles Thompson with such command is no mere matter of coincidence. During Charles infancy, his family packed up their belongings into the car and took a trip to San Francisco. Along the way they stopped off to visit relatives in Alliance, Nebraska and sometime in the late afternoon near dusk, the family encountered a red light in the sky.

    They watched as the light grew larger and revealed itself to be a reddish-brown saucer-shaped ship with portholes along the side. It simply hung in the air for 15 minutes before taking off. The family called the police and attempted to follow the saucer but with no success. Charles would be too young to remember this incident first hand but the story was told to him by his mother when he was a teenager and this sparked a lifelong fascination with otherworldly encounters and the bizarre which would go on to influence his music and lyrics. (Mendelssohn)

    Another theme that would haunt Charles’ writing was the holy bible. At the age of 12, Charles’ mother and stepfather joined the General Council of the Assemblies of God. A Pentecostal church (i.e. cult) that evangelized conservative values, performed faith healing and spoke in tongues. Charles became obsessed with the darker tales within the bible involving sex, violence, war, murder, and rape. Around this same time, Charles had found his mother’s classical Yamaha guitar and began to teach himself to play. The next year at Bible Camp Charles was treated to his first live show when Christian rock singer and songwriter Larry Norman made a surprise appearance. (Sisario)

    Charles credits Larry Norman as one of his greatest musical influences yet stylistically the two artists are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Perhaps it was because they both shared a love of guitars and UFO’s. However, just as with his experiences with David Lynch, UFO’s and the Bible, Charles saw something inspirational that others had missed within this otherwise rote and insipid 70’s Christian rock musician. (Frank)

    Charles explained it as “I think when you are 12 or 13 you’re open to a lot of stuff, and if people say, “Hey Jesus!” you don’t go, “Ooh, I’m cynical!” You just go, “Yeah, Jesus, cool!” Larry Norman is a real oddball guy. He’s not like what people would think of him. “Ooh, a Christian, what’s that going to be about?” He’s totally his own thing.” (Frank)

    Larry Norman was not Charles’ sole musical influence. Charles had grown up in his father’s bar with the jukebox blasting random tunes day in and day out. Charles’ love of music was literally insatiable. By the time he was in high school he was compulsively buying used records from stores and yard sales, listening to everything and anything he could for no other reason than he had never heard it before. This compulsive and eclectic buying habit precluded him from much of the music of the 70’s and 80’s. His ear was focused upon the great works of the 60’s with a special love for the Beatles and the White Album. (Frank)

    This would all change when Charles got to college and his roommate (Joey Santigo) introduced him to the work of The Cars, The Clash, The Violent Femmes, Iggy Pop, and Black Flag. Charles also discovered the works of David Bowie and gained a love for surrealist artists and directors such as Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dali and the aforementioned David Lynch. The two would stay up until all hours, listening to music and jamming. (Frank)

    In his second year of college Charles signed up for the student exchange program and spent 6 months in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was during this time that Charles decided to form a band and so wrote a very polite and formal letter to Joey Santigo suggesting that they work together. Santigo agreed and accepted Charles’ request in an equally formal acceptance letter. (Gouge) Still short several members, Charles did the only logical thing and put a want ad in the local paper that asked specifically for a female bass player who enjoyed both Peter, Paul and Mary, and Hüsker Dü. The only person to respond was Kim Deal who had never played the bass before but Kim told them “I play guitar but I'm sure I can play the bass. It's only got four strings!” and won the position default. (Frank)

    Still requiring a drummer the band attempted to convince Kim’s twin sister to play with them but Kelly had no interest. The trio went without a drummer for some time until Kim’s husband remembered one of his friends (David Lovering) played the drums and suggested he get in touch with Charles. David drove down to Cambridge and had a jam session with Kim and Charles and on that day the band was complete and The Pixies were birth into this word. (Gouge)

    In a bout of manic inspiration, Charles wrote enough songs for the band to perform their first gig in only 3 months. Everything just clicked. Charles’ lyrics and composition had a natural flow with his fellow band members and their distinctive playing styles. While none of them were the most amazing technical musicians there was a beautiful synchronicity of timing between the various members of the band. Lazy drums, simplistic driving bass and chaotic thrashing guitar blended effortlessly with the forceful, intimate vocals of Charles and Kim that would stop or change rhythm on a dime.

    The sound of the Pixies could be described as the living embodiment of “La Generacion del 27” given musical form. Surrealist poetry and rhetoric with the ability to reach out and touch the very core of the listener’s humanity. Charles weaved an incomprehensible assault of disjointed words at the audience in broken Spanish and English. His tone switching between seductive lows and screaming highs would harmonize with the emotional intensity of the other instruments to elevate the audience’s experience to something euphoric and divine. Charles painted with emotional symbolism with the same ease and artistry that Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel.

    The sound was unlike anything that had come before. To this day artists debate the musical DNA of The Pixies strange, deeply personal sound but not even Charles can draw a complete roadmap of his influences.
    The band played their first gig at Jacks in Cambridge, Massachusetts to a crowd with no expectations yet took an immediate liking to them. Their artistic brilliance was unchallenged and those that heard them simply assumed The Pixies were destined for greatness.

    The rest was like something out of a Rock n’ Roll fairytale.

    After only a couple of gigs they were met backstage by the record producer Gary Smith who wanted to know what he had to do to get them into his studio. They jumped at the chance to cut a demo and created the historic “Purple Tape” in only 3 days from material from their live show.

    The Purple Tape including their tribute to David Lynch’s “Lady in the Radiator” titled “In Heaven.” In Heaven would become the bands unspoken anthem, recorded on several future albums and played at every live show. Charles would close with it when he was feeling sentimental. (Gouge)

    The demo was sent to every record label imaginable and soon found its way into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell of 4AD Records. Watts-Russel initially disliked what he heard but his secretary sweet-talked him into giving the demo another try. Ivy took a stroll with his Walkman cranked up and track by track he fell in love. Watts-Russel edited the Purple Tape down to eight of the tightest tracks and it released as the mini lp as “Come On Pilgrim” (a catchphrase used by Larry Norman.) (Frank)

    No one had heard anything like it. In America, audiences were less receptive to this strange and unprecedented style of music but the Pixies found a home in the United Kingdom with their songs of alien abduction and biblical incest. “Come on Pilgrim” became an underground hit and pretty soon the mini-lp was being used as a litmus test for cool. (Gouge)

    A year of writing, gigging and recording later the band released their first full album under the guidance of production legend Steve Albini. “Surfa Rosa” would never enter the charts yet it would become one of the most important and influential albums in modern musical history. Charles’ style of loud verse, quiet chorus, loud verse and unique use of disjointed emotional symbolism to tell his story mixed beautifully with the Albini’s iconic sound. The album was something utterly unique and profound like The Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bollox”, Pink Floyds “Dark Side of the Moon” or the Clash’s “London Calling.” One of those albums that comes around but once in a lifetime and leaves a permanent mark upon the musical landscape.

    A litany of artists have cited “Surfa Rosa” as a formative influence upon their work. Artists such as Blur, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, Bush, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam. Even legendary figures such as David Bowie and Bono knew instinctually that this was something new and different. That music would never be the same again.

    When asked about his first experience with the Pixies; Cult Icon and musical visionary David Bowie said that “The first time I heard the Pixies would have been around 1988. I found it to be just about the most compelling music (outside of Sonic Youth) in the entire 80’s” and would continue to offer “I always thought there was a psychotic Beatles in there. There is a great reverence for early rock music with Charles.” (Gouge)
    PJ Harvey responded “It was completely new for me, that is why it was so exciting. There were absolutely no reference points I could draw.” (Gouge)

    Bono Vox thought “This is one of America’s greatest ever songwriters and this is one of America’s greatest ever bands.” (Gouge)

    The Pixies release an album every year from 1987 to 1991. Each one after “Surfa Rosa” placed on the top 10 albums for the UK charts yet they would struggle to break the top 100 for the US Billboards. (Sisario) Still the influence they had despite low U.S sales would be profound.

    In a 1994 edition of Rolling Stone Singer, Songwriter and frontman Kurt Cobain made this confession: “I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band – or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.” (Rolling Stone)

    Sadly the group could not handle the stress of recording and touring on such a demanding schedule. With the prospect of gigging and recording for the next decade before them, band Members Joey Santiago and Kim Deal wanted more creative control. Charles was simply unable to give up the reigns and allow Joey and Kim greater influence over composition. Tensions stretched beyond breaking point between Kim and Charles which lead Kim to break off from The Pixies and form her own band with her sister. (loudQUIETloud)

    Despite its influence and success in the UK, the music of Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV remains relatively obscure in the U.S to all but a handful of scholars, fans, and musicians. Yet this visionary has changed the very landscape of music and paved the way for all the Grunge and Alternative Rock artists that came after.

    Works cited

    Frank, Josh and Caryn Ganz. Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies.
    London, St. Martin's Press. 2005. Print.

    Fricke, David. Kurt Cobain, The Rolling Stone Interview: Success Doesn't Suck. Rolling Stone.
    Jan 27, 1994. Print.

    Gouge. Dir. Matt Quinn. Perf. Alex James, Andy Dunlop, Bono Vox, David Bowie, Gavin
    Rosdale, Graham Coxon, Jonny Greenwood, P J Harvey, Steve Albini, Thom Yorke. Channel 4, 2002. DVD.

    loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies. Dir. Steven Cantor and Matthew Galkin. Perf. Frank
    Black, Kim Deal, David Lovering. Joey Santiago. 2006. DVD.

    Mendelssohn, John. Gigantic: The Story of Frank Black & the Pixies. London, Omnibus Press.
    2005. Print. 2006. 2006.

    Sisario, Ben. Doolittle (33 1/3). London, Bloomsbury Publishing. 2006. Print.

    If you made it this far. Thank you. I was always very proud of this paper. I wrote it while being a bit crazy, listening to a lot of pixies and watching the Twilight Zone so Rod had somewhat of an influence over the writing style.

    "I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band – or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard.” - Kurt Cobain

    Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit

    The Pixies - Debaser

    Post edited by voidofopinion on
  • voidofopinionvoidofopinion Member, Moderator Posts: 1,248
    Meanwhile on the other side of the world. A little band from Wales who are also inspired by the Pixies have the good fortune to work with the legendary Steve Albini. And for a brief moment the UK had their own grunge icons.


    Collagen Rock

    McLusky - Without MSG I am Nothing

    Undress for success

    To hell with good intentions

    There Ain't No Fool in Ferguson

  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
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