Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Pixies - "Bone Machine" (1988)

Along with Sonic Youth, the Pixies are easily one of the most important bands from this latter half of the Rock of Ages list. Their undeniable effect on bands from Nirvana to Weezer to Radiohead is clearly obvious and shows how the 90's alternative music scene was going to come to pass. Much like many important bands, The Pixies only had a short period of time writing and recording their ever important albums. From 1987 to 1991, the band dropped 4 full lenght albums and an EP. Their first full length record, Surfer Rosa, is a masterpiece of raw and melodic rock songs that are furious and frenzied. Album opener "Bone Machine" is a frighteningly catchy track that has forever stayed at the top of the Pixies heap of favorite tracks. To me, lyrically, this song baffles me to this day. It's definitely got some sort of sexual side to it, but to what exactly I don't care to know. Black Francis' lyrics are often times very out there and poetic and strange. Even more strange then the lyrics themselves is Francis' approach to delivering these vocals. He sounds more like a possessed man then someone just singing their lyrics in some standard way. It adds more emotion then if jsut sung normally would.

Musically, The Pixies are always known for their melodic guitars that often can break into frenzy and "Bone Machine" is definitive of that sound. The churning bass care of Kim Deal as well as the drumming of David Lovering keep the music grounded with a strong ryhthm, but Black Francis and lead guitarist Joey Santiago amp up the rawness with their distorted guitars and surging pace at which the chords come at you. Surfer Rosa often times gets pushed aside for its more accessible and catchier next record Doolittle, but the raw nature and effecting approach of this record is much more intriguing and beguiling. Rife with turns in pace and in approaches to song structure, Surfer Rosa excells. "Bone Machine" is the perfect start up for the ride the album takes you on.

Up Next: Depeche Mode ring in the 90's with silence?

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