April 6, 2010
BLACK FRANCIS (Charles Michael Kittredge Thompson IV, born 1965) became FRANK BLACK; now that the Pixies are touring again, Black Francis is back. In solo demos recorded the day before the Pixies went in to record “Come on Pilgrim,” you can hear the Black Francis persona in all its burgeoning greatness: the ferocious (and underappreciated) rhythm guitar; those strangled vocals in the upper registers alternating with the sweet falsetto; the chirps and barks; the occasional tune chanted exuberantly in Spanish; Christian tropes and narratives taken out for a joyride (“Come on Pilgrim, you know He loves you!”). When he disbanded the Pixies, the artist now known as Frank Black started singing in a lower and more resonant part of his register, reducing the frequency of yelps and squawks, and turning out an album a year of brilliant pop songs (about space and a futuristic California) for over a decade. Now that he’s once again releasing music under the Black Francis moniker, does this mean the end of such beautiful pop songs as Frank Black’s “Two Spaces” and “Headache”? I doubt it. Black’s fractured vocals seem to come from an effort to split his voice in two, to sing those harmonies that he can play on the guitar. His musical schizophrenia can’t be synthesized or contained.
PUNK, POST-PUNK & ALTERNATIVE on HILOBROW: Joey Ramone | Dez Cadena | Jello Biafra | HR | Mike Watt | Vivienne Westwood | Iggy Pop | D. Boon | John Lydon | Henry Rollins | Palmolive | Plastic Bertrand | Kira Roessler | Lisa Carver | Frank Black | Ari Up | Gary Panter | Mike Watt | Ian Curtis | Paul Simonon | Darby Crash | Penelope Houston | Exene Cervenka | Sid Vicious | Andrew Eldritch | Kate Pierson | Richard Hell | Paul Westerberg | Lux Interior | Ian Dury | Stiv Bators | Tom Verlaine | Colin Newman | Johnny Thunders | Poison Ivy | Green Gartside | Lydia Lunch | Mark E. Smith | David Byrne | Debbie Harry | Captain Sensible | Mark Mothersbaugh | Kim Gordon | ALSO: The Original Generation X (1954–1963) and the birth of DIY | The Original Stooge | Origin of the Pogo | Shocking Blocking: Rock’n’Roll High School | Punk fanzines from the 1970s | Post-Punk and New Wave on HiLobrow
Each day, HILOBROW pays tribute to one of our favorite high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes on that person’s birthday.
READ MORE about the Reconstructionist Generation (1964-73).