NOW PLAYING ON PHAWKER RADIO! WHY? BECAUSE WE LOVE YOU!
BY SARA SHERR The Breeders are my favorite band of the ’90s, back when cheerleading tomboys from Ohio roamed the Earth like alt-rock glamazons in flannel. Kim Deal’s terminal coolness is as undeniable as it is Midwestern friendly and gum-crackingly accessible. Everyone feels like they could pull it off. Together with her equally gum-crackingly cool sister Kelley and a revolving cast of band members that once included Throwing Muses/Belly’s Tanya Donnelly, their harmonies were tighter than your tightest black jeans, and their weird, wonderful guitar sounds made left-field hits that worked both as stoner jams and shimmying pop songs. The Breeders sound is so iconic that I wish someone would compile all the alt-grrrl imitators of the ’90s into a Nuggets-like compilation called “Pods.” Because they are not horribly prolific (stints in rehab and numerous line-up changes will do that to you), each Breeders release seems like a breath of fresh air. Mountain Battles, their first since 2002’s Title TK, is more moody, atmospheric and eclectic than their previous output, while hearkening back to the raw, horny, haunted sound of Pod.
Overglazed: This aptly-titled opener declares: Pass the word, the chicks are back. Kim’s sugar-in-the raw voice and the Deal sisters’ dueling guitars shimmer just like honey in a honey-drippin’ beehive.
Bang On: This dance-punk corker screams ‘The Single.’ It’s also a statement of unrepentant single girl life. “I love no one one/and no one loves me,” goes the bittersweet refrain. Mind your own business, none of your beeswax, etc.
Night of Joy: The band that inspired a million kicky indie-pop ‘Cannonball’ clones are just as adept at shoe-gazer restraint without turning into Starbucks snooze. I am hearing mystery, hope, and a little bit of Mo Tucker.
We’re Gonna Rise: The title sounds like a punk anthem but comes off more like a Buckeye slowdance where the girls all wear Docs under their taffeta.
German Studies: If Sprockets was a pubic access TV show shot on location in a basement in Dayton, Ohio, instead of a semi-obscure SNL reference for Antrhopologie shoppers to trade over skinny double-soy lattes.
Istanbul: Occupying space between the They Might Be Giants song of the same name and Jonathan Richman’s “Egyptian Reggae,” this dubby Middle Eastern cut is a departure for the Sisters Deal, but the cheerleaders-on-angel-dust chant, “Where ya goin’/To the city” feels like home to me.
Spark: Kim is alone again, naturally, hunched under a fuzzy blanket of weird tunings and breathy swoon. Here I am with my hand, indeed.
Walk It Off: Classic Kim Deal bass chug, oblique smiley face vox, totally coulda been on Surfer Rosa. Nice.
Regalame Esta Noche: Kelley takes the tender lead on a Spanish-language ballad that’s a far cry from The Pixies’ “Vamos.” Would I pay attention to this if it weren’t being sung by a Deal sister? Not sure.
Here No More: The sisters get back to their truckstop roots. There’s a tear in their beer and they’re cryin’ over you. Not.
No Way: Is this an early 90s love letter to Seattle? I never liked grunge much because it never sounded quite like this.
It’s The Love: Classic Breeders (sort of like “I Just Wanna Get Along). At times like this, I miss the ’90s.
Mountain Battles: Think misty mountain Hobbit-folk of “Battle of Evermore” where the Beatles” “Blue Jay Way” fights Spacemen 3’s “Amen” to be Lord Of The Rings. Or something like that.