Saturday, April 23, 2011

315 Surfer Rosa Not just an album cover

Album: Surfer Rosa
Artist: The Pixies
Genre: Rock
Year: 1988


  1. Bone Machine
  2. Break My Body
  3. Something Against You
  4. Broken Face
  5. Gigantic
  6. River Euphrates
  7. Where Is My Mind?
  8. Cactus
  9. Tony's Theme
  10. Oh My Golly!
  11. Vamos
  12. I'm Amazed
  13. Brick is Red

If you don’t like the direction rock music took in the nineties then you can lay the blame firmly at the door of The Pixies. Kurt Cobain may have popularised grunge music but he readily acknowledged owing a massive debt to Surfer Rosa and the Pixies in general. While they never achieved the sales of Nirvana or the other bands that followed they laid claim to the template which so many artists now use. The magic ingredient that the Pixies gave rock and rolle was the quiet chorus that lulls you into a false sense of security followed by a big shouty chorus with smashing chords and bombast that returns again to a quiet chorus. It’s now an established rock cliche up there with having a drug habit and dying in a plain crash but before the pixies nobody had thought of it.

What Nirvana had which the Pixies didn’t was a better defined sense of image that appealed to male rock fans. Nirvana was all about the grunge and being misunderstood and angry without a definite target to focus rage on. Kurt’s voice was tough and uncompromising but occasionally sensitive and  clearly in need of a big hug. The Pixies are a lot less self conscious and feel a lot less deliberate. They come across as a bunch of people goofing around in a studio. They might be goofing with heavy guitars and shouted vocals and strange howling noises but they’re driven by something other than teen angst.

Fans of Modest Mouse will find a lot here that’s familiar. Where is my Mind sounds more like Modest Mouse than some of the things on their latest album. Fans of Christian Folk musician Larry Norman will be surprised to learn that Black Francis is his biggest fan and credits him as a huge musical influence. Not that you can tell from listening to Surfer Rosa.

If you’ve never heard the Pixies before then you’ll probably struggle to get past the screeching guitars and general weirdness on your first listen. But give them another chance and you’ll encounter some great songs and understand its influence.

Highlight: Gigantic
Lowlight: River Euprhates.

Influenced by: Punk and Larry Norman.
Influenced: Nirvana and everyone influenced by Nirvana.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "This is not a review of this great album, but rather a note to K. Smoot "music afficionado" about how to speak proper English. When referring to certain bands with nouns as names, especially when the noun is plural and proper, it is necessary to use the word "the" before them."

-That's how it starts but it continues in that vein for another couple of paragraphs.

1 comment:

  1. To be honest, I never really liked this album. There are a few good songs, like "Where Is My Mind" and "O My Golly," (and maybe "Bone Machine") and the one with that funny intro is alright, but I could never get past the overall awful sound of this album. With all due respect to Steve Albini, this just sounds like a train wreck, and not necessarily in a good way. That being said, I LOVED Doolittle, most likely because the songs were better, and definitely because of the heightened production values.

    As a side note, I never realized the relationship between "Where Is My Mind?" and Modest Mouse. To me, that's pretty cool!