cool as Kim Deal

We were talking.

Kim Deal is a musical National Treasure - notice the caps? - and deserves to be treated as such. I'm only going to see the Pixies 'Doolittle' show - a reunion which probably shouldn't have happened seven years ago and certainly shouldn't still be going - because She will be there. (Secretly hoping - completely in vain - for a break out Breeders set. The worst Breeders record is better than the best Pixies record - FACT. Not. Open. For. Debate.)

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it probably wouldn't be 'Pod' - solely for the fact that it contains the one Breeders song I could do without, "Oh!". It's just...not great. But. But. BUT! It contains eleven other AMAZEBALLS tracks the richest band would KILL for. "Limehouse". "Hellbound". "Glorious". "Metal Man"! (They did it in 2009 - with Josephine! - and it was ridiculous. Like, you never walk into a show thinking: "gee, I hope I hear "Metal Man" tonight", but you're still beyond glad you got to experience it, because, really, it's "Metal Man".) Motherfucking "Doe". When these make up your "weakest" - and I use the term loosely, and only in the sense that SOMETHING has to be your weakest - album, you're doing pretty damn good.

The "Safari" EP is brilliant even though it includes a Who cover. Yes, it survives that.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Last Splash'. Here's the thing. "Cannonball" is overexposed, overdone and THAT song that they have to play at every show. But - a-ha! - it's still fucking. brilliant. If you're pulse doesn't get racing, your heart doesn't get beating, you don't start sweating with anticipation the second you hear that opening "AWOOO!!", you're dead. I don't care. I have never been to a Breeders show and, when it starts, think: well, I'd rather hear something else. Because I wouldn't. It's. That. Good. Are there Breeders songs I like better? Absolutely. Is it their finest moment? No way. But it has survived 18 years of overexposure and remains one of the most oddball songs to "make it big", if you will, one of the most endearing and consistently AMAZING tracks of the 90's.

And that's one song out of fifteen - ok, fourteen. Every single track here is dripping with genius. Every single one, you get it? Yes, even - and, perhaps, especially - "Mad Lucas". Genius. It's a fact. Don't argue. Gen.ius. "I am the new year." "I don't like dirt." "He's the invisible man." "I just wanna get along." "I like sticky everywhere." Anyone who says it's unfinished/unfocused/too many wasted instrumentals/too many half-songs/whatever-else-they-say-about-it is missing the point. It is genius incarnate. It's possibly the best album ever. (It's not, but it makes a good argument for it.)
I'm not usually like this, but if you don't like 'Last Splash' you don't enjoy life either, do you? You're no fun. If I ever get to experience "Roi" live and in the flesh, I might have lived out everything I ever needed to live out. Yes, it's that good, and if you don't think so you're probably wrong, so get over it.

The "Head To Toe" EP is also totally brilliant. The title track is, well, obviously amazeballs, and "Shocker In Gloomtown"! Christ. They did it as the second song on the first show of the 'Mountain Battles' tour and it KILLED. Seriously. Completely unexpected and totally floored the crowd. It's not their song but they made it their. song. "Freed Pig" is pretty good, too.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Pacer'. "But!", you say, "It's not a Breeders record!" In name, perhaps, but in spirit it is totally the proper follow-up to 'Last Splash'. In fact, it's better than 'Last Splash'. (Yeah, I said it.) It's perfect in a way records aren't supposed to be perfect. Pop broken in half and stitched back together again. "Hoverin" makes its argument for the "Best Song In The World", exactly because it is clearly not the best song in the world. Every time I've seen the Breeders they've done at least two songs off this record and they are invariably the highlight of the evening. ("Hoverin" live in 2009 was quite possibly the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed. You probably weren't there so you don't know - if a concert you go to DOESN'T include Kim Deal doing "Hoverin", it's almost not worth going. Jesus. Christ.)

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it probably would be 'Title TK'. Surprised after that crazed rant on 'Last Splash'? Don't be. Knowing full well this could put a price on my head, 'Title TK' is - without doubt - the finest record both Kim Deal AND Steve Albini have ever been involved in. Fact. Don't argue it because you'll lose. It. Is. It's life changing in a way records aren't supposed to be life changing. It's half-baked and the songs probably don't work in the way that Kim herself thinks they do, and that's why it works. Even moreso than 'Last Splash', it is genius incarnate. If this isn't your favorite record in the whole world you're doing it wrong. Listen to the way Kelley "ooohs" and "aahhhs" and basically grunts in the background of "Too Alive". Life. Changing. Genius. Don't argue, I'm right. This is the stuff dreams are made of. 'Title TK' is what we've been waiting for. It's the Rapture. Everything is downhill from here.

I'll repeat: 'Title TK' is the finest record either Kim Deal or Steve Albini have ever been involved in. Come and get me, motherfuckers.

Had I to pick my favorite Breeders record, it might be 'Mountain Battles'. After perfecting sound - which, let's be frank, 'Title TK' did - where do you go? You break it all over again. This bitch here makes 'Title TK' sound like the most-ready-for-Top-40-collection-of-pop-songs ever record. This is some seriously fucked up pop shit. Songs don't do what you think they should, "Bang On" is a TOTAL hot mess - and that's the second song! - there's a song in German and a song in Spanish - neither of which the girls know very well - etc., etc., etc. This is the true sound of pop revolution. There's more underground records - clearly, they have more major label backing - there's harder to wrap your head around records, there are obviously more immediately catchy records, there's records that are clearly better, but at the same time, almost nothing is better than this. It. Is. Sound. It's only fault - ONLY FAULT - is that it's not 'Title TK'.

"Fate To Fatal" - the song - is ridiculous. So good. 'Fate To Fatal' - the EP - is the only non-essential Breeders purchase. The other three tracks on the EP, quite frankly, just aren't that great. Also, I wasn't able to get a handscreened sleeve because Record Store Day is a crock of shit - and I literally got physically shoved out of the way of a rack of records (if it was even in there) so I'm a little bitter - but really, it's the weak link. It makes me a bit sad that it's the last Breeders release we have for now because it's not totally amazing.

Kim. Seriously. Fuck the Pixies. You don't need them. We need more Breeders material ASAP. (Judging from the track record we'll have to wait until 2015 for another LP, but I can be patient. I know it will be worth it.)

(I should write after margaritas more often, but I've been waiting YEARS to get that off my chest.)


a pleasant surprise: 'A New Morning', 9 years on

First of all, there's no saving that artwork, so sorry about that.

But let's get to the heart of the matter - 'A New Morning' isn't terrible. It's not great, don't get me wrong, and very good would even be stretching things a bit. The track selection is all sorts of wrong and sequencing it with the three worst songs they'd ever written kicking things of probably was not the best idea, but somewhere inside all of the mess is the core of what could be a completely solid "back-to-basics" - or, perhaps, attempt at the basics since they'd never really been there - no frills Suede album.

"Positivity" is complete garbage, "Obsessions" reeks of trying-too-hard and "Lonely Girls" is a weak "Young Men" re-hash - not exactly a song screaming out for a sequel to begin with. It's easy to see why, when faced with that opening trio, you might run screaming from the album. (And, truthfully, I did for years. I'm not entirely sure I'd ever given it a complete listen outside of the first time back in 2002.) I'm certainly not claiming that once you make it past those you've found some lost masterpiece. I wouldn't even say that there's any top-shelf material to be found anywhere in the sessions - at best, you get a solid effort or a somewhat lovely number every once in a while.

What I wanted was the last Suede album to not be a complete bust, and with lowered expectations and a little creative editing you can assemble a collection that's not a total embarrassment. Everyone is going to have a different opinion as to what that solution is - personally, I've found "Simon"/"One Love"/"Lost In TV"/"Untitled"/"...Morning"/"Streetlife"/"Astrogirl"/"Instant Sunshine"/"One Hit To The Body"/"Oceans" to be relatively effective.

Backhanded praise if ever there was, but 'A New Morning' doesn't totally suck. Whew.

Now, the real sob story - they got SO much better the following year. Whatever it was, when it came time to assemble some new songs for the 'Singles' collection, they really got their shit together and delivered a few 100% Suede classics. "Attitude" is an amazing single that can proudly sit with their best and the stomping "Love The Way You Love" is even better - it's a shame they had run out of steam by the time the collection had come out as it never got its chance to shine, I've always imagined it a great double a-side with "Music Like Sex". If you take the songs that started to appear at the end of the line, you'd have a really strong core for LP6.

But it was not to be. They had tested their fan base's patience a little too much and it was time to retreat into the shadows. I'm not entirely sure how The Tears and the solo albums got so effed up when the final Suede songs were so strong, but that's another discussion altogether.

I was totally on the fence about getting this collection, as I'm sure many are. Truthfully, the only reason I got it was for the "Golden Gun" and "Love The Way You Love" demos - well, that and the ever-present specter of "completion". In the end, it was probably the most eye-opening and worthwhile of the reissues for me as it totally changed my mind about the album. (Yes, I had revelations about the first two LPs as well but I always at least kind of liked them.) So well played, boys. Well played.

This was a blast. Who wants to go through their catalog next so we can do it all again. (Blur? Catherine Wheel? Please?)


I thought you stopped smoking crack, Brett

Surprise! The 'A New Morning'-era has a solid chunk of pretty decent material...it's just buried amongst a ton of garbage. This has been my favorite surprise of the Suede reissue campaign - I thought for sure I had been right all these years to completely dismiss it all as trash - not "Trash", of course - but it appears I was wrong.

It does, however, contain some truly "what the fuck?" lyrics. Take the opening two lines of "Cool Thing", for instance:

"You are the loaded gun sticking in your face
like a stupid child on her roller skates"

OK, sure.

I need some time to process this. I'll be back.



August 23 can't come fast enough.

(Kudos, by the way, for Adult Swim finally getting something right again.)

an unsolvable puzzle: 'Head Music'

Excerpts from an e-mail discussion about 'Head Music':

"I've given 'Head Music' two re-listens now ... with another pass at the b-sides for good measure. I'm still not entirely sure I get the disappointment - but, of course, I don't have the intense love to be massively let down either. There's plenty to pick on the album for - it's overlong, not sure what it wants to be, paced strangely, the peaks aren't as high and there aren't as many, etc. - but the constant bitching from people about how it's lazy - especially the lyrics - are just annoying. How are the lyrics to "Elephant Man" or the old standby dog to kick while they're down "Savoir Faire" any more banal than "Trash" or "Beautiful Ones", and no one picks on them ... people wanted them to fail so they did."

"The temptation to make it a better album through editing and sequencing - though I'm still convinced they got the first five tracks right if you're assembling a 10-track album out of the material - is still there, but after spending more time with it as a whole era, part of the point is that it is too long for its own good and kind of falls apart at the end. Dare I say it - I feel about it how I perceive others to feel about 'Dog Man Star'. There, I said it. I feel better. Love the flaws...although even I don't think I could bring myself to call it anything close to a "masterpiece" as fans claim about the sophomore album ... Even with re-sequencing and perhaps exchanging some album tracks for b-sides, I don't think they stuck to one style enough to make even a consistently amazing 10-track album that doesn't feel jumbled together. A riddle to be cracked, but like an inept mystery writer - or, perhaps, one too out of his mind on crack to know what's going on - we weren't given all the pieces."

"They got the singles right, I'll give them that. I'm not entirely sure I'd be able to pick a fifth single out of the remainders, though "Savoir Faire" would have been a ballsy - and hilarious - "fuck you", especially at the end of the campaign when everyone was seemingly sick of them ... Actually, I take that back - "Asbestos" would have sounded AMAZING on the radio in the middle of a hot summer as a bit of a counter to what everyone else (including the band at the time with "She's In Fashion") would be releasing at the time. Of course, it would have sunk the album even faster as a second single, but in an alternate universe where that doesn't matter it would have been incredible. "

"The whole era has a certain feel to it that I can't put my finger on, but there's something about each and every song that very clearly and immediately attaches it to the project. I have no idea what it is - or even if it's a good or bad thing - but the album puts me in a completely different head space while it's on ... I suppose it's good since I love it so much, but I have to admit it does make me a bit uncomfortable as well. A good discomfort?"

"I saw the connection between "She" and "Killer" (for the first time) last night. I'm not sure how I missed it, but it made me appreciate the band a bit more, that they had been able to sneak that one past me for so long."

""Crackhead", "Leaving" and "Let Go" are Brett's pick for best b-sides from the era, and "Dolly" and "Painted People" are apparently his examples to explain that the b-sides weren't always all amazing prior to formatting. Good man."

""Electricity" is still fucking. thrilling. and remains my favorite thing they ever did."

A write up as disjointed, confused and unsure of itself as the album itself. Perfect.