Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pixies Give EP2 A Hexe And Some Love

Black Francis
For anyone wondering what happened to the series of mini-releases promised by Charles Thompson a.k.a. Black Francis on the heels of EP1, the second installment arrived with the new year. The Pixies released EP2 direct to few thousand fans and wished them a happy New Year on Jan. 3.

The briskly written email includes a few links before quickly closing with "La La Love you." It's simple. It's effective. And it's a much more settled tone than EP1, foreshadowing EP2 as a kinder, quieter, and more contemplative grunge. It's a calm after the 4-track sad and storminess of EP1.

Like the first set, it's another part of something bigger. All four tracks fit in nicely with the preceding four, while approaching the music from a different part of the prism. The sadness and angst is gone, replaced with uplifting witchery.

That isn't the only thing that has been replaced. Kim Shattuck (The Muffs, The Pandoras) is gone, replaced by Paz Lenchatin (A Perfect Circle, Entrance Brand, Zwan). Although she is touring with the band, it's not her bass on EP2. It was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales in October 2012.

EP2 by the Pixies breaks a with Blue Eyed Hexe.

Opening with Blue Eyed Hexe, the Pixies down pedal into a repetitive and seductive old school rocker. One, two. One, two. Joey Santiago attributed the swagger to producer Gil Norton, who gives the track its beguiling undercurrent.

The song is inspired by a tale from the northwestern United Kingdom. To tell it, they use a witch-woman who happens to have blue eyes. Hence, a blue eyed hexe.

Magdalena is more atmospheric, a possible companion to Indie City in terms of the way it flows. The lyrics also tell a story that flow counter to the mood established by David Lovering's Moog pedals.

Greens And Blues is different. Black Francis basically wrote it as a show closer so the band didn't always have to end the show with Gigantic. While the songwriter admits he could never write anything that could replace Gigantic, Greens And Blues was his attempt to write something that musically, emotionally, and psychologically sits in that place.

"As with all my songs, I would prefer people add their own interpretation to it. But, in this case, let’s just say that we had done 'Gigantic' as the closer for many years at our reunion shows and it worked really well," he said. "But I could see that we were going to grow weary of that and I felt like we basically needed a better 'Gigantic.' [It's] really more of a 'good night' song."

The EP2 closes with Snakes, with Black Francis coming up with an idea to use a slide guitar to emulate a snake. It wasn't easy, but the band eventually came up with something they like.

It makes for a near-perfect EP closer as the bookend opposite of Blue Eyed Hexe. Snakes doesn't enchant, but it does mesmerize. It plays like a warning while being sonically hypnotic at the same time. It's arguably the best track of the four, but all are must-have tracks for any Pixies library.

EP2 By The Pixies Settles Into 8.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

EP2 doesn't have the same connective prowess of early Pixies material, but there is a progression that moves the band off EP1. It is tracks like Snakes that will remind anyone that the Pixies are masters. Mix either EP into your Pixies play list and they fit right in, with one exception. They all play well as standalone tracks too.

EP2 is exclusively available from the Pixies website. The EP is a digital download, which is included as part of several different bundles. The premium comes with a limited edition 10-inch vinyl. You can also download the EP from iTunes. They band played a spontaneous warm-up show on Jan. 7 in Northampton, Massachusetts.
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