Thirty years ago this week The Pixes dropped their début full-length album, Surfer Rosa (4AD/Rough Trade), and changed alternative rock eternally. The eccentric, genius-level talent in the band made for a lot of well-documented personality clashes between the members, but what was left when the shouting was over was undeniable. Although there were many alt-rock bands founded in the 80s that would have a lasting impact (See also: Joy Division, Husker Du and Sonic Youth for starters), the ascendance of the most infamous non-punk band from Boston that would go from playing smokey clubs on Landsdowne Street to opening for U2 and touring the world in a few short years cannot be understated. Continue reading
The Pixies traipsed their former collegiate stomping grounds with supporting act Cymbals Eat Guitars for a long weekend in light of their newly released 6th album Head Carrier (Pixiesmusic/PIAS). Fans old and new congregated on Friday and Saturday at the House of Blues Boston, then Sunday at the Paradise Rock Club to revel in the vocal musings of Frank Black aka Black Francis, legendary guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering. Bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) joined the band in 2014, replacing Kim Deal. That evening, Paz embraced the role with her glowing stage presence, and beautiful floral adornment on the headstock of her bass.
So much of working in the music industry thrives on chaos, it’s hard to breathe sometimes. I’m not lamenting the job of the music journalist, but just part and parcel of the this business seems to be powered by anxiety. Labels push bands, PR firms push albums and events, bands promote themselves (if you are lucky) and we the writers push reviews: in hopes that some eager ears find some enjoyment among the dross. Sometimes in all the chaos what you need is the vibe of a band that makes you reevaluate what you have listened to and why. All Them Witches, I’m glad you showed up when you did!
Not he most technical, brutal, fast or screamy music to come across my desk in 2015 and my trusty AKG studio cans this year, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker (New West) just jams. All Them Witches, mashes up the meticulous songcraft of a Jazzier Pink Floyd and Camel with the doomy cadence of Ufomammut. ‘Call Me Star’ eases into things with a laid back guitar swell. Things get weighty with ‘El Centro’, which is hypnotic riffer complete with B3 organ vamps and a dedication the proto-metal a la Sabbath. ‘Dirt Preachers’ steps up tempo wise and is a garage feeling little ditty. This is where the vocals of Chris Michael Parks Jr. come into play. At times channeling J. Macias, Frank Black, Josh Homme and best of all a smoked out sounding Mark Lanegan; so you need to stop what you are doing and listen Chris sing. The album follows a similar ebb and flow the rest of the way, mellow moments, slow simmering blues joints immaculate musicianship, and versatile singing. Sometimes they will remind you of Baroness with their ability to focus on a motif such as on ‘Open Passageways’.
Toward the end of the album ‘Instrumental 2 (Welcome To The Caveman Future)’ sounds like the ending credits of a 70s movie. ‘Talisman’ is a fuzzy out joy full of wailing solos. The final track, the mysteriously named ‘Blood and Sand – Milk and Endless Waters’ will have you thinking of the more space rock Floyd moments again. Do not sleep on this band and spend some time with this album for unexpected rewards.