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Tuesday October 21st 2014

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Ears & Fingers 9/19/13

by Jason Leger

Pixies – ‘EP 1’
There are few things more cringe inducing in the world of music than a band coming back after years of hiatus, missing founding members, and beginning to pump out music again. The most notable instance that comes to mind, and probably why this hits so close to home for me, is the shit show that has become the Smashing Pumpkins over the past few years. Try as Billy Corgan might—and he is dutifully trying—he is unable to capture the magic the band had in its heyday, primarily because he is the only original member left. It just seems like one would be prone to start a different project with a different moniker to keep the music and the memories from the past untarnished.

The Pixies are a hairy issue. The band has been back and forth for years, leaving and coming back and going on hiatus and then touring. Either they can’t live with each other or they have too much going on to handle the full-blown dedication required to live out the reality of the Pixies. Back in June, Kim Deal, founding member and bass player, left the band, proving the former to be true. The band made it sound amicable, but with all the indecision across the span of 25 years, one has to question the circumstances that led to that decision.

Last month, I caught wind of a new single called “Bagboy” that was to be followed by a self-released EP. I shook my head and began to curse. Why, Frank Black, why?! I set aside my presuppositions, and listened to “Bagboy,” and in all honesty, I was fairly surprised. It was discordant, maniacally preachy, and overwhelmingly kitschy. For all accounts and purposes, it was the Pixies. However, I still had my guard up in regards to the forthcoming EP. I had been burned before.

Four songs over the span of about 16 minutes make up “EP 1.” I sat down on a break at work to try and soak it in for the first time. Truthfully, with all of my concerns and doubts, opening track “Andro Queen” broke me in half—a space-age ballad that’s hazy and clean and absolutely beautiful. “Another Toe” is considerably more ‘90s alt-rock, which was comfortable and easy to vibe with, and the perfect lead in to “Indie Cindy,” which showcases Frank Black’s vintage raucous ranting coupled with a shimmering chorus. The low(est) point is the closing track, “What Goes Boom.” This track comes across as more of a mainstream rock single than output from a band that helped define underground alt-rock. Three out of four isn’t bad though, considering my expectations. Obviously, I wish either Kim Deal were still in the Pixies or the band was allowed to be only memory, but I am at the very least now willing to hear Frank Black out. Though, in all fairness, this should probably be put under the category of Black’s solo output. “EP 1” is out now; find it at pixiesmusic.com.

If You Haven’t Heard: Haim
Este, Danielle and Alana Haim are three beautiful sisters making some of the catchiest ‘80s tinged pop rock to come along in years. That should be all I need to say to get you to open up to the single producing machine collectively known as Haim. The group has released several singles over the past 12 months, including “Forever,” which I placed in heavy rotation last year. Now the group is poised to release its debut album, “Days Are Gone,” which, considering the product to this point, could be a major contender for year-end “Best of” lists. We have already been blessed with the album’s lead single “The Wire,” which I highly recommend checking out the video for online. Keep an eye on these ladies, it seems as though great things are in store. “Days Are Gone” is out Sept. 30 via Polydor Records.