My plan, along with the garden variety album and concert reviews, will be to wipe the dust off my old CD's and bask in the glow of fond memories. Hopefully, you can wistfully stroll with me and give these nuggets another spin. If you are one of the unlucky folks who have not experienced these "dusties", let my fawning praise inspire a listen and, perhaps, a future investment for you to make your own memories.
My choice for my first installment is a calculated one for sure. Often times when referring to one's music affections, one uses the phrase "biggest fan". My inner snob often snorts in disbelief in the face of such a superlative. This statement, I feel, is saddled with strict requirements. Examples are:
- - Owning copies of all albums, including many EP's and singles.
- - Seeing a band multiple times in concert, especially in smaller venues, if applicable.
- - Starting your fandom early in a band's career. (sorry, but the biggest Beatles' fans are at least 55 years old)
- - Having encyclopedic knowledge of the band's output. (e.g. knowing all song titles and their proper order on the album, reciting a song's lyrics while being able to state the song's meaning, knowing the place of origin of the band and it's members)
With these strict requirements imposed, I cannot claim "biggest fan-ness" with very many artists. However, I can definitely attempt to align with one group: Pixies. For those who don't know them, this four-piece group formed in Boston area filled the late 80's-early 90's with creative alternative (back when that word meant something) rock delivered with dynamic hooks. To call the Pixies influential is compulsory; many bands cite them as an inspiration including Kurt Cobain referring to Nirvana as "ripping off the Pixies".
And so we go back to me, circa 1987, a suburban teenager just starting to form his music tastes. I was consuming a heady diet of progressive sounds around that time: R.E.M., The Smiths, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen. Luckily, I could buy most of these cassettes tapes (!) at my friendly neighborhood corporate record store without much fuss. Often, I would have to travel to downtown Minneapolis and enjoy the incredible amount of independent record shops to find the newest, most obscure cuts. However, that day I was at the mall, trudging through the alternative rock section when the album cover above caught my eye. Come On Pilgrim was stark and spooky, but not in your typical Iron Maiden/heavy metal way. There was art behind this creepy photo, and it sucked me in. Since it carried the moderate price of an EP, I gave it a whirl. That is how it all began.
The tracklist below includes a quick synopsis of each song.
- Caribou - A song about digust with urban life and seeking redemption through sacrifice. When Frank Black screams "Repent" and the walls come crashing in, that chill is just the first of many.
- Vamos - There is an extended version of "Vamos" on the first full length Surfer Rosa to best represent the off the rails live version. However, this one is to the point, nailing down the theme of class divide for Hispanic immigrants then getting out quick. Got to love the interpretive Spanglish lyrics as well.
- Isla De Encanta - Another quick track in Spanish, this one is about the beauty of escaping from a dreary New England winter to the Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico. The band goes off the rails on this one, making you want to jump on a plane ASAFP.
- Ed Is Dead - The death of your husband is a tragic event, unless he was a complete asshole. What more is a girl to do than enjoy the beautiful day, go out with her friends and chant his stupid, stupid name.
- The Holiday Song - This is the most accessible track on the EP. Being the Pixies of course, the theme has to be about an physically abused child who masturbates about his sister. Pop music, indeed.
- Nimrod's Son - A road movie of a song about, yet again, incest. The tortured screams throughout the rockabilly riffs make for a singular type of sing-a-long.
- I've Been Tired - A retelling of meeting a cute girl in a bar who basically annoys the hell out of you. But you sleep with her anyways. Bonus points for dropping Biblical references to describe her, err, figure.
- Levitate Me -Could it be about sex? Religion? The David Lynch Eraserhead? This the the Pixies as their most abstract and inviting, making a fitting end to this essential piece of music.