Sunday Punk Fix: The Pixies

The Pixies are perhaps one of the greatest success stories in music of all time. Formed in 1986 in Boston, the band were relatively successful, but never really hit it big. The world just wasn’t ready for the stream of fantastic albums that The Pixies spewed forth. Inter-band pressures increased, and the band broke up in  1993. That is a giant euphemism. Black Francis (singer, guitar) and Kim Deal (bass) absolutely hate each other. You can’t blame her though; Black Francis notified her of the bands breakup by fax. Even though they’ve reunited, it states in The Pixies’ contract that Kim Deal and Black Francis have different green rooms. All the hate aside, The Pixies didn’t really become one of the biggest bands in punk music until after their breakup, and the explosion of the alternative rock scene. Only then was their music truly appreciated. Any band who has made it in the past 20 years will cite The Pixies as an influence, from Nirvana to Pavement, from David Bowie to The Strokes. Even Thom Yorke from Radiohead, one of the most shy men in music, came out of his shell to say that The Pixies changed his life. This is can probably be attributed to The Pixies style: strange, shouted uncaring lyrics, about a variety of topics from an acid trip to aliens, over poppy guitar riffs. The Pixies weren’t trying to be punk, but they came out that way. They wanted to blend a whole mix of styles, but in the end, they will remain one of the greatest punk bands of all time.

10. Bone Machine: The heavy handed, scale approach to the song seems like a step ladder that goes up, down and all around. It’s hard to focus on a particular aspect of the song, and it seems so haphazard and random. Then , almost reassuringly, Kim Deal and Black Francis chorus “Your bones got a little machine” over complete silence and pause, before the song returns to it’s rambling ways. Pretty classic Pixies.

9. Debaser: A cry for revolution! Very pop, as the separate riffs all fold into each other and form a cohesive head bopping single riff. Even Black Francis’ heavy handed and rough voice can’t cut through the sheer infectiousness of the song. The song has a very surf rock tone to it, as if it was being played in a garage in Venice Beach.

7. Dig For Fire: The song seems to be a little less focused, and more produced. It’s like they were trying to reach a more mainstream appeal and audience. This is probably due to the intense relationships the band had during the recording of Bossanova. Although seemingly constructed for radio, Dig For Fire holds an innocent and naive feel to it, like the Pixies just churned it out without a whole lot of effort, and it has a wholesome vibe.

6. Gigantic: Big and lustrous would be the two words to describe this song. It’s also a really nice departure from the usual hoarse ramblings of Black Francis to Kim Deal’s clean and accessible voice. Opening with a solid, stoic bass line from Ms. Deal, it then kicks into a quiet verse, and then explodes with untamed ferocity. Repetitive, but not annoying, it is so catchy and in such good humour. Probably the happiest Pixie’s song they have in their catalogue.

5. Monkey Gone To Heaven: Sliding guitars and crescendos are the main attributes of Monkey Gone To Heaven. Also, it’s general weirdness. It holds a lot of Black Francis’ fascination with sci-fi, and Kim Deal’s fascination with gentle, backing vocals….I guess? Either way, this song holds a soft spot in my Pixies favourites because of how childish and good-natured it is.

4. Is She Weird: If your ever in confusion about a relationship, just give this song a listen. It’s almost like as if the chorus is asking the listener if they can check off a bunch of personality traits for Black Francis’ perfect woman. Namely, is she weird? Is she white? Is she promised to the night? And her head has no room? It’s an absolutely furious song, but not in the way you’d think, in that it’s got a pounding bass, ghoulish vocals and a whispering riff.

3. Here Comes Your Man: One of those songs that everyone knows, but can’t name the artist. Well, now you know it’s by The Pixies. Very surf, probably one of the most original, yet cliched surf rock riffs in music history, and teenage to it’s core. This song is so fun and is all about chance encounters and love. It’s hard to keep a smile off your face when the snare rolls over into the chorus, which Kim Deal absolutely nails. Perfect for a car trip, or singing along with someone your really close with.

2. Where Is My Mind?: A classic Pixies’ song, that every single strung out junkie can tell you they’ve listened to while high. It’s about an acid trip gone wrong, dealing with the emotions and confusion of the drug. It also features one of the greatest introductions to a song of all time, with it’s crescendo drumming and to-and-fro riff. The ghostly backup vocals give the eeriest of effects, and an it’s-too-late feel to it. The song has been used quite a bit outside of  Pixies’ fan clubs, being the only non Dust Brothers song in the cult classic Fight Club, and it was covered by Placebo, back when they were popular, and they weren’t referred to as ‘those emo douche bags’.

1. Hey: The wailing in ‘Hey’ is nearly as famous as the song itself. A man’s lament of lost love, calling out to her, trying to break free of his struggles and establish himself and the one he loves. But he can’t. ‘Hey’ is so gut-wrenchingly sad, it brings a tear to my eye every time I listen to it, which by iTunes account is 232 times. It’s gritty, soulful and desperate. It’s cringe-worthy, hopeless and unashamed. It’s absolutely beautiful, and is the greatest song in The Pixies catalogue, a catalogue which is bursting with some of the greatest songs in rock history.

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Sunday Punk Fix: The Hives

One of the liveliest, energetic and genuine of bands going around right now are Sweden’s The Hives. Started as a teenage garage band in 1993, they still maintain an uncorrupted source of Howlin’ Pete’s arage rock ferocity. The main source of brilliance is their ability to have a strong poudning rythym section that both incorporates and blasts through the whirling shout out chorus’ The Hives always offer. It recognition of their new album and slot on Falls Festival, here are the Top 10 Hives songs.

10. Go Right Ahead (Lex Hives): One from their latest album, The Hives definitely incorporated a more slick and produced tone on the record than in the past. Although it might have alienated the bands more punk fans, it still holds true to The Hives’ aspirations to be the biggest band in the world. Features an absolutely killer horn section that provides an amazing underlying, swelling bass and overall epic tone.

9. Square One, Here I Come (Black and White Album): A clever re-telling of a man’s decline into his current position of helplessness, except in a lot more basic way. Just a classic shit-out-of-luck story, and how you have to persevere. Think of that…with ragged guitar plugs and riffs, and cowbell, lots of cowbell.

8. Main Offender (Your New Favourite Band); A huge, stomping, snotty introduction really sets up the entire song. A charging riff, layered with fuzz and dirty to the bone, Howlin Pete throws out his rebellious, discharged points and lays it all on the floor. Absolutely gut wrenching stubbornness.

7. Tick Tick Boom (Black and White Album): The introduction is so tantalising, and leaves so much buildup, that it seems impossible to deliver on expectation. Rip-roaring, like a chainsaw is the answer to that expectation. Not literally, but that is what it feels like is happening to you when you sit down, and get your head blown off by it’s sheer proportions.

6. Walk Idiot Walk (Tyrannosaurus Hives): The album name is a dead give-away of the bands intentions, and earned them legions of fans when it was released. So the album must be jam packed with hits, like this one: Walk Idiot Walk. It’s really just the band venting frustration about the stupid people who robotically function throughout their lives, but it packs the biggest of punches, with the absolute infectious repetition of it’s bass and guitar riffs.

5. Try It Again (The Black and White Album): With it’s call-and-answer style, Try it Again gives off quite an underdog vibe. There’s a real Rocky punching a bag off meat spirituality to it. There’s the same charging ahead atmosphere, and an all round exaggeration that really makes the song what it is. 

4. B is for Brutus (Tyrannosaurus Hives): The scuzziest and grittiest of The Hives songs. It has a very rock n roll approach, and there are no real anthem-like flourishes. The riff is also slightly longer and more complex than other Hives’ efforts, and it really shows, in the overload of groove that oozes from the song.

3. Won’t Be Long (The Black and White Album): Successfully integrating percussion ting tings with heavy and light differentiating guitar melodies would be the strongest point for this song. It really drives off too much of a negative feel with a perfect screams and bouncing guitar ringing.

2. Hate To Say I Told You So (Veni Vidi Vicious) The Hives first real hit, off their debut album. Has a real taste of their bratty, petulant, and semi-arrogant attitude that everyone can’t get enough of, and has really been the reason why they’ve trail blazed so well as a garage band. Very in your face, and very, very good.

1. A.K.A I-D-I-O-T (Barely Legal) Definitely the fastest song in The Hives’ catalogue. This song just has such a frenetic, haphazard, and ballistic attitude to it, and romps from start to finish, blasting away any other competitor. It’s a clever song, disguised as a stupid song, written and performed by clever people, pretending to be stupid people, about stupid people pretending to be smart people… I need to sit down.

Sunday Punk Fix: NOFX

It is Sunday. This is literally the only reason I need to publish my Top 10 songs by legendary punks, and my personal favourite punk band, NOFX. Their fun, fuck you attitude has struck the hearts of every teenager who has ever had the delight of having songs like ‘My Vagina’ and “Murder the Government’ to grace their ears. Fat Mike’s strong nasally voice will pierce your brain and turn you into a better, more politcally aware person, which i can vouch for personally. Without any more wait, here are my Top 10 NOFX songs:

10. I’ve Become a Cliche-From The Longest EP. Drunken rambles and promises, a solemn trumpet, and synchronised choruses insulting the masses. What more could you ask for?

9. Creeping Out Sara-From Coaster. Recounts an experience between Fat Mike and Sara, one of the lesbian twins from Tegan and Sara. Very, very funny.

8. The Separation Of Church & Skate-From The War On Errorism. An Angry Fat Mike growls, and guitars wail. The lyrics are mad and repulsive, and strike out at the detrimental state of punk, and of course, the government. Classic NOFX

7. Thank God It’s Monday-From Pump Up The Valuum. Oh, the life of being a punk rocker. What isn’t there to like? All is revealed in this dittie.

6.  Bleeding Heart Disease-From Heavy Petting Zoo. An earlier song, but one that has stayed strong through the years. Harsher, more brutal, still very sarcastic.

5. My Vagina-From Pump Up The Valuum. A classic song that always makes me laugh. With lyrics like “…now i show all my friends, my new designer cunt…” why is Fat Mike not a world renowned comedian?

4. Blasphemy (The Victimless Crime)-From Coaster. A newer angry song. Mike howls about religion, this time the lyrics more bitter. With a solid guitar filler and riffs, this song is an unstoppable force, and once it starts playing, impossible to stop. Also, he signs himself a death warrant by ironically taking a stab at Islam.

3. Shut Up Already-From The Longest EP. Trying to express your frustration? This song is the perfect soundtrack to bashing up a person who pisses you off

2.Bob-From White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean. Theres an awesome ska influence in this song, and it is incredibly laid back fro the majority of the song, until it inevitably explodes. ‘Bob’ is a lesson to us all to just lay back and enjoy life, and roll with the punches.

1. My Orphan Year (Acoustic)-From Cokie the Clown EP. Almost in direct contradiction to the previous song, My Orphan Year is one of the saddest songs I have ever heard. it is just so truly melancholy and gut-wrenchingly soulful and raw. The only comparison I can think of is Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged performance. It is an absolute gem, so courageous and beautiful, a seemingly impossible feat for NOFX. Punk is full of surprises.