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The Massive Influence of the Pixies

by Dan Weiss

The Massive Influence of the Pixies

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People can theorize all they want about what part The Replacements and Husker Du and Television played in the invention of alt rock as we know it, but the musical reign of the Pixies during the late '80s and early '90s deserves most of the credit. Songs like "Here Comes Your Man," "Gigantic" and "Debaser" translated a formerly indie province directly to the mainstream, although the Pixies never quite saw the popularity they deserved before they imploded. It was their loud-quiet-loud aesthetic that Nirvana claimed to rip off with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," that bands like Bush ("Everything Zen"), Toadies ("Possum Kingdom") and The Offspring ("Self-Esteem") imitated, dropping out of dense, discordant guitar tsunamis to only one-note-at-a-time basslines or sweet melodies decked in electric Morse code (and how could Foo Fighters' anthemic "My Hero" have existed without "Where Is My Mind?"). Ex-Pixies bassist/beating heart Kim Deal even brought this jagged effect to the charts with her own Breeders and their hit "Cannonball," a Lollapalooza staple in 1993. Pixies' influence still resonates in this century, as sampled by Girl Talk ("Hold Up"), interpolated by M.I.A. ("20 Dollar") and imitated by Liam Lynch ("Fake Pixies Song").

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