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


Pixies launch “Doolittle” tour


Chalk this one up to a tour I wish I could’ve seen. In 1989, the Pixies released Doolittle, an indie-rock classic featuring disjointed guitars, awkward screaming, biblical lyrics, and juicy hooks. It’s my favorite Pixies record, so I wish I had the time to catch them touring in support of the album’s 20th anniversary.

The reunited Pixies began a nine-city U.S. Doolittle Tour this week in Los Angeles, marking the 20th anniversary of their alt-rock classic. Its intense mix of sonic dementia and soaring pop melody was brought to life in a 90-minute set filled out with memorable, if overlooked Pixies B sides from the same era, beginning with the heavy thump of “Dancing the Manta Ray,” the thrashing Spanish guitar of “Weird At My School” and the blistering, spooky surf sounds of “Bailey’s Walk.”

Like the Doolittle album, the performance Wednesday was an unsteady balance of darkness and light, from howls of unease to the warmth of “Here Comes Your Man,” as the band’s faces were spread out on the big screen behind them, goofing in black and white like the Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night. After some sci-fi gibberish from Francis on “Dead,” Deal announced happily, “We’re still on the first side” of the album.

The Pixies are another cherished band that I discovered later in life. They’re one of the the few bands I would go out of my way to see. From what I’ve read, they put on a great show.

Now the surviving members of the Replacements just have to get back together.


Various Artists: 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack

The supervisors to the sountrack for “500 Days of Summer” get points for putting the Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,” Doves’ “There Goes the Fear,” and Dayl Hall & John Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” on the same soundtrack; they get super mega bonus points, though, for putting them back to back. The set, as you might guess, is an eclectic mix of rock and pop of the mainstream (Hall & Oates, Simon & Garfunkel), modern (Doves, Wolfmother), and hipster variety (Feist, Regina Spektor, She & Him). The songs will surely make sense in context with the film, but it makes for a unpredictable listen at home. In other words, don’t play it at your next party, unless you want Spektor’s “Hero” to be code for “Time to go home, people.” Again, there is nothing wrong with “Hero,” or Feist’s “Mushaboom,” and Meaghan Smith’s bedroom pop cover of the Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” is really cute. The overall result, though, is the kind of thing that is best served cut up and thrown onto mix discs and playlists. Still, it’s pretty good, as current soundtracks go. (Sire)

Click to buy 500 Days of Summer Soundtrack


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)

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