Like all of Black Francis’ solo career, NonStopErotik is stylistically all over the place. The album misleadingly starts with unexceptional alt. rock that harkens back to ’90s bands like the Toadies. Then it spans sexy Ween-esque synth ballads, bug-eyed surf noir and explosive rock that could only be called sweet noise. “We all got wheels to take ourselves away ... come on wheels, take this boy away,” the gigantic-voiced Francis sings on “Wheels.” You sometimes get to wondering what the legendary Pixies frontman’s personal life is like, spending sleepless nights recording this debaucherous long-play in Brooklyn, L.A. and London. In the album’s press release, Francis wrote “I want to be all inside you ... sucking at the only thing that matters”; NonStopErotik gets my vote of approval, but don’t blame me if you feel violated.
With the landmark release of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in 1994, it’s often been said that every indie band since has been influenced by Pavement’s deceptively simple music and singer/guitarist Stephen Malkmus’ affectionate literacy. Yes, Pavement is getting back together this month after 11 years apart; and yes, this collection will make that reunion more profitable. Serious Pavement fans already own and cherish even the most hard-to-find recordings the quintessential indie rock group recorded from 1989 to 1999, but for newbies and those of us who only own the long-plays and a few singles, Quarantine the Past finally offers cheap and pleasing access to highlights of the indie heroes’ entire catalog, including lo-fi pre-Matador cuts, ’90s hits like “Cut Your Hair,” and EP and compilation obscurities.
Lester Bangs once called Richard Hell the punk generation’s “stupid” Milton—darkly poetic but ultimately unsure of what he wanted to say or do. But Hell’s film Blank Generation, just re-released, paints the Kentucky-born anarchist’s legacy as much less profound. Better looking than Lou Reed and more talented and intelligent than Sid Vicious, Hell somehow couldn’t get out of a movie so bad its most memorable line was Hell’s fictional manager earnestly telling him “everybody likes a winner.” A new interview with Hell and snippets of the Voidoids’ unruly rehearsals and gigs at CBGBs (with a pre-Marky Ramone Marc Bell on drums) are worth checking out. The dialogue and acting, however, are as painfully bad as they were in 1980. ... But wait. Andy Warhol makes an appearance at the end! In the immortal words of The Dead Milkmen: “Blow it out your hairdo.”