Grunge. Wu-Tang Clan. Radiohead. “Wonderwall.” The music of the ’90s was as exciting as it was diverse. But what does it say about the era—and why does it still matter? On our new show, 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s, Ringer music writer and ’90s survivor Rob Harvilla embarks on a quest to answer those questions, one track at a time. Follow and listen for free exclusively on Spotify. Below is an excerpt from Episode 11, which explores the history of Kim Deal, the Breeders, and their biggest hit with help from Open Mike Eagle.
The Pixies formed in Boston in ’86. The frontman was Charles Thompson, then known as Black Francis. Joey Santiago played guitar. David Lovering played drums. And Kim Deal had never played bass before when in her mid-20s she answered a Boston Phoenix ad seeking somebody who was into both Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul, and Mary. The ad also stipulated, “No chops.” This is maybe common knowledge. The Pixies’ sound is most definitely common knowledge. Abrasion. Surrealism. Unease. Disgust. But also, hooks. But also, arena-sized bombast.
The Pixies’ classic lineup put out four full-length albums. (Is Come on Pilgrim from 1987 an album, or an EP, or a demo, or what? Let’s not discuss this on the internet.) Doolittle is the best, Bossanova is the worst, and Trompe le Monde gets 10 times better every time I hear it. They broke up in ’93, by which time