New Frank Black album will cross sexual borders

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Pixies frontman Frank Black spoke of the explicit sexual nature evident on his forthcoming album, NonStopErotik, due for release on March 30.

Many of these songs are overtly sexual in a way, including “Lake of Sin,” where you sing about someone undressing behind ferns. What was the inspiration for that?
When I was a kid, in second grade, “fern” was a euphemism or code word for vagina. I don’t know where that came form. I guess the record has some graphic sexual detail but it’s only really referenced in a literal way; it’s just me talking about ferns.

Many indie-rock bands don’t discuss sexual topics so openly in their songs.
You know, I read a disparaging review that questioned whether someone wants to listen to old Frank Black singing about vaginas or whatever. I understand the point, but really the record is not meant to be a sexual appendage to your own experiences. It’s not meant to be a record you make love or masturbate to. I wouldn’t masturbate to a recording of my own voice either!

Provocative song titles include “When I Go Down on You” and “Lake of Sin.” I guess the Bible can only offer so many references.

What I’m more interested in, however, is his cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels.”

Photo from fOTOGLIF


Various Artists: New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets

Say this for New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love & Rockets: at 18 tracks, it is one of the most thorough tribute albums we’ve seen come down the pipe in a while, possibly ever. While this makes for a longer listen than is probably necessary, it stands as a testament to Love & Rockets that so many bands – and so many different kinds of bands, at that – were eager to contribute. Black Francis does his Black Francis thing on “All in My Mind” – it should come as no surprise that the band’s 1986 breakthrough Express is the most covered album, with every song but two appearing here – and the Flaming Lips flip “Kundalini Express” inside out, downplaying the drum track and guitar while running the vocals though what sounds like an old ELO-era voice processor. Better Than Ezra, of all bands, does a straight but effective version of “So Alive,” and Chantal Claret teams up with No Doubt drummer Adrian Young to turn “Lazy” into a frisky striptease. Funny, then, that a tribute album featuring 18 songs would not include some of the band’s best-known tunes; “Haunted When the Minutes Drag,” “Yin and Yang the Flower Pot Men,” “Sweet Lover Hangover” and “Redbird” were all skipped over in favor of deep cuts, and while that’s a diehard fan’s wet dream, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher from a label standpoint. Still, it’s hard to argue with the results, which hit a lot more often than they miss. (Justice Records 2009)

New Tales to Tell MySpace page


Grand Duchy: Petit Fours

If Grand Duchy’s Petit Fours sounds like an overt throwback to the uncomplicated, low-budget sonics of ‘80s indie rock, there’s a very good reason: One half of this husband and wife duo is Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. the creative engine that drove the Pixies during its seminal late ‘80s/early ‘90s run. Black’s attitude toward that period has always been ambivalent at best – he’s been quoted as saying he “spent the latter part of the ‘80s doing my part to destroy the ‘80s” – but paired here with wife Violet Clark, he allows the more accessible elements of his music to surface, creating one of the most consistently enjoyable efforts of his post-Pixies career in the process. Petit Fours’ consistency is somewhat ironic, given its resolute eclecticism; not only does none of this stuff sound particularly Pixies-ish, quite a lot of it sounds like it couldn’t have been recorded by the same band. Most groups can’t run the distance between the growly garage stomp of “Come Over to My House” and the poppy “Lovesick” without falling down, but Grand Duchy serves them up back to back, setting the tone for nine tracks of genre-bending home-studio fun. Will any of it supplant Doolittle in your collection? Highly doubtful, but it’s nice to know the old misanthrope still has some hooks left in him. If Black’s smart, he’ll keep the Pixies on the road and continue writing new material with his talented better half. (Cooking Vinyl 2009)

Grand Duchy MySpace page