Monday, September 20, 2010


The National - Blood Buzz Ohio from High Violet

Surfer Blood - Anchorage (live) from Astrocoast

Bush Tetras - Cowboys in Africa from Rituals EP

Crystal Castles - Vietnam from Crystal Castles (II/2010)

Joni Mitchell - California from Blue

Beastie Boys - An Open Letter to NYC from To The 5 Boroughs

The Soviettes - 9th Street from LP

Land of Talk - Magnetic Hill (live) from Applause Cheer Boo Hiss

Handsome Furs - Radio Kaliningrad from Face Control

Riverdales - Last Stop Tokyo from Phase 3

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Missy Elliott/Timbaland
 Melissa Arnette Elliott and Timothy Zachery Mosely, met while attending high school in Virginia. Both born in 1971, separately Elliott/Timbaland have endured serious strife, yet when they have come together to collaborate the sweet sounds they create have soared into the stratosphere of success.
As a child Elliott knew she wanted to go in to the performing arts. An IQ test revealed Elliott was gifted and she was skipped ahead two grades. Yet the loneliness that came with that promotion prompted Elliott to purposely fail and she was re-placed in her age appropriate class. Living in a squalid shack, her Marine father was frequently abusive.
"We left my father with a fork, a spoon and a blanket," Elliott told the Observer in 2001. "That was the scariest time of my life. I thought he would find us and he would kill us. I lived in fear for a long time."
Elliott and her mother, Patricia, moved to Portsmouth, VA. and there she met a teenage DJ who went by DJ Timmy Tim or DJ Tiny Tim.
Timbaland began his musical career concocting hip hop tracks on a Casio keyboard. Besides Elliott, fellow classmates of Timbaland's included Melvin Barcliff, also known as frequent Timbaland producing partner Magoo, and members of Clipse. While working as a dish washer at Red Lobster in 1986, Timbaland was shot by a local nemesis. The bullet passed through his neck and Timbaland was partially paralyzed for months. During his recovery he taught himself to DJ with his left hand. Bullet fragments remain in his body to this day.
In the early '90s, after hearing his production work Elliott asked Timbaland and Magoo to accompany her rap group, Sista, to New York to an audition for DeVante Swing. Swing quickly signed Sista to his Swing Mob label. Unfortunately Swing Mob folded and Sista's debut was shelved. Upset, Missy turned to Timbaland who invited her to help produce Aaliyah's One In a Million. That record would go on to sell three million copies in the US and eight million copies worldwide.
The massive success of One In a Million spurred the very same record companies who initially turned Elliott down to now come knocking at her door.
"They'd broken my heart," Elliott said. "They said I could sing, I could write, but that I looked wrong. That was the lowest thing you could say. I didn't forget."
Instead of signing with the labels who spurned her, Elliott held out until Elektra offered her the chance to start her own label, Gold Mind Inc, with the stipulation that she would retain all creative control.
Elliott/Timbaland continued to work with a plethora of artists and in 1996 released Elliott's platinum selling debut, Supa Dupa Fly. The album contained the singles The Rain, which sampled Ann Peebles' 1973 ditty, and Hit 'Em Wit Da Hee. Beastie Boy Mike D has said that the album not only changed the face of hip hop, but saved it completely.  
Next came 1999's Da Real World and in 2001, Miss E... So Addictive. So Addictive features the European club hit, and one of my Elliott/Timbaland favorites, 4 My People featuring Eve.
2002's Under Construction moved 2.1 million units and is Elliott's best selling solo album to date. Under Construction featured hits like Gossip Folks and Work It and was nominated for Album of the Year at that year's Grammys. Timbaland and Magoo would release Under Construction II in 2003.
Timbaland would also produce Elliott's next effort, 2003's This Is Not A Test! That album's biggest hit, Pass That Dutch, took samples from War and De La Soul. This Is Not A Test! sold just under 700,000 copies.
Elliott's 2005 album, The Cookbook, saw Timbaland producing only a couple of tracks and was considered a commercial disappointment. The upcoming The Block Party will see Timbaland returning to his usual role as main producer.
"It's called that because there are a lot of dance joints on there. It's one of those albums you can play out in the streets," Elliott said. The album's first single will be a track titled Blow Ya Whistle.
As for Timbaland's solo production work, he is reportedly in talks with Steven Tyler to produce a rap album. Tyler was apparently impressed by Timbaland's work on Chris Cornell's Scream.
The multi-talented, multi-faceted duo of Elliott/Timbaland continue to cast a wide net, lending their skills to artists in need. But it's their work together that proves to be the best catch in this ocean we call hip hop.
"There's a chemistry between us that will never leave. Like Janet Jackson and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Like Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones - that kind of chemistry," Elliott proclaimed to Billboard in 2008.
"People always ask if we're still working together and the answer is we will always work together. He's always going to be involved, even if it is just on one record. That's my brother. I respect and honour what he says."

Missy Elliott - Pass That Dutch (writer: Elliott, producers: Elliott/Timbaland) from This Is Not A Test!

Jimmy Page/Robert Plant
 Page and Plant first came together creatively as the New Yardbirds in 1968. The Yardbirds had been a revolving door of musicians for years. When Keith Relf left the band, Page considered Terry Reid to take over the microphone. When Reid was unable to join he recommended Plant, who was singing for Hobbstweedle at the time. John Paul Jones and John Bonham joined soon after Plant and after completing the New Yardbirds tour the quartet re-branded themselves as Led Zeppelin. Their debut was recorded in under 30 hours and reached #10 in the US. 1969's Led Zeppelin has since been certified diamond (1,000,000+) in Canada and eight times platinum (1,000,000 x 8) in the US.
The band refused to release any singles, spearheading the concept of album-oriented rock. They also had a mutual disdain with the music press of the era and did not give many interviews. This allowed fans to connect with the band solely through their music and live shows, which consistently sold out.
Led Zeppelin II, also released in 1969, was produced entirely by Page and engineered by Eddie Kramer who had previously worked with Jimmy Hendrix. Written while on tour Led Zeppelin II was recorded at various studios around the world including a studio in Vancouver known as The Hut.
"We did that album piece-meal," Kramer told Classic Rock Magazine. "We cut some of the tracks in some of the most bizarre studios you can imagine, little holes in the wall, cheap studios. But in the end it sounded bloody marvelous. There was a unification of sound on Zeppelin II because there was one guy in charge and that was Mr. Page."
Led Zeppelin II features the well-known hit Whole Lotta Love and the album hit sales of over twelve million in the US. 
Advance sales for their next album, the uniquely titled Led Zeppelin III, reached close to one million. The band placed an ad in Melody Maker writing: "Thank you for making us the world's number one band."
1970's Led Zeppelin III was heavily criticized by the press yet went on to be certified six times platinum in the US by 1999.
For their next album, 1971's Led Zeppelin IV,  Page decided not to include any written information in response to the lashing Zeppelin III had endured.
"An untitled album struck me as the best answer to all the critics — because we knew the way that the music was being received both by sales and attendance at concerts," Page told the Times in 2010.
(See my previous post on album art for the story behind Led Zeppelin IV's cover.)
Zeppelin IV would feature the band's best known song and perhaps one of the best known songs of all time, Stairway to Heaven.
"We were able to do, collectively, so much," Page said of the album. "It was a wonderful vehicle to be able to develop."
The band would continue to see success with 1973's Houses of the Holy, 1975's Physical Graffiti and 1976's Presence.
Their 1979 album, In Through the Out Door, was inspired by the death of Plant's six-year-old son Karac. The title also refers to the taxation exile many British bands were forced into by the Wilson and Callaghan administrations. Unable to tour the UK for over two years; trying to regain popularity was like "trying to get in through the out door."
During the recording of In Through the Out Door, Bonham and Page's addictions, to alcohol and heroin respectively, spiraled out of control. 
"There were two distinct camps by then, and we [myself and Plant] were in the relatively clean one," Jones said. This led to most of the music on In Through the Out Door being written and recorded by Jones and Plant.
On September 25 1980 Bonham was found dead of aspiration. It was later revealed that in the 24 hours before his death he had consumed more than forty shots of vodka.
The remaining members decided not to continue on with the band, writing:
"We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were," signed "Led Zeppelin."
All members continued to work in various musical incarnations, then in 1994 Page/Plant joined forces once more to record a segment for MTV Unplugged, or UnLedded. The session was packaged as the album No Quarter. Jones was very unhappy with this title as No Quarter was largely his work and he was not invited to participate.
In 1998 Page/Plant would release an album of new material, Walking into Clarksdale. The album was recorded by prolific producer Steve Albini (see the Pixies entry of musical duos part I.) The song Most High won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Many critics lambasted the album for not reaching it's potential and Page seems dissatisfied with the result as well.
"I felt kind of marooned," Page said. "We were still surrounded by the protective shield of who we were, and it meant we were playing big arenas around the world. And I realized once again there had to be another way."
As for the future of Page/Plant, Page says it was Plant who has decided to sever the partnership.
"I certainly had about a dozen numbers written for a third album. Robert heard them and said that some of them were really good, but he just wanted to go in another direction. That's fair enough."

Page & Plant - Most High (Page/Plant/Jones/Lee) from Walking into Clarksdale

Thurston Moore/Kim Gordon
 It is universally recognized that Sonic Youth's guitar-toting married duo of Moore/Gordon set the precedent for late '80s punk. The DIY band formed in 1981 with guitarists Moore and Lee Ranaldo and Gordon on bass. Early names for the outfit included Red Milk and Male Bonding. Eventually they combined the nickname of one of their heroes, MC5 guitarist and Patti Smith's husband Fred "Sonic" Smith, with "Youth" as many reggae bands of the time featured that word.
"As soon as Thurston came up with the name Sonic Youth, a certain sound that was more of what we wanted to do came about," Gordon recalled in Michael Azerrad's 2001 book Our Band Could Be Your Life.
Initially inspired by proto-punk and the no wave genre; their early compositions were coarse and unmelodious, incorporating feedback and aspects of noise rock. The band continues to explore these avenues yet during the three decades since inception they have gained the ability to create uniform songs with traditional structures. On most occasions they will combine dissonance with discipline, making for coherent tracks peppered with chaos. In their early days Moore and Ranaldo began cross-tuning their cheap guitars, a process called scordatura, to produce abnormal, arresting sounds. They still implement this method and as they can now afford many guitars, one guitar will be tuned for a particular song. 
Sonic Youth has featured ten individuals and produced sixteen studio albums. Some do not consider their self-titled 1982 EP an official album and point to 1983's Confusion Is Sex as their first full-length release. Bad Moon Rising and EVOL appeared in 1985 and 1986 respectively. During the break between Confusion Is Sex and EVOL, Moore/Gordon were married.
Murmurs of greatness began following the release of Sister in 1987. 1988's Daydream Nation is frequently acknowledged as the band's preeminent album. The album features seven minute songs like Teenage Riot and 'Cross the Breeze and was chosen by the American Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry as an album that is "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform[s] or reflect[s] life in the United States." (You can read about the history behind Daydream Nation's cover in my post on album cover art.)
Their next effort, Goo, was released in 1990 and marked the band's first release on a major label, Geffen's DGC. Goo features a guest appearance by Chuck D on Kool Thing, which remains one of the band's most widely known songs.  
The band would work with producer Butch Vig, of Garbage and producer of Nevermind, for their next two albums 1992's Dirty and 1994's Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. Dirty was voted Best Album of 1992 by Entertainment Weekly and while it peaked at #82 in the US, it eventually went gold.
Next came 1995's Washing Machine and 1998's A Thousand Leaves. Both albums were well-received by fans and critics alike. 
2000's NYC Ghosts & Flowers was inspired by beat poetry and marked a back step into unkempt, noisy music. Many saw the creative departure as a response to the theft of much of the band's irreplaceable equipment, which was stolen in 1999. Pitchfork critic Brent DiCrescenzo rated the album 0.0.
With 2002's Murray Street Sonic Youth began delivering more accessible music. Murray Street features great, grown up songs like Disconnection Notice and The Empty Page. Next came Sonic Nurse in 2004 and, my personal favorite, 2006's Rather Ripped. Their latest, The Eternal, saw the band leave Geffen for Matador Records. The Eternal marked the band's best chart position to date, reaching #18 on the Billboard 200.
Moore/Gordon also founded the SYR label allowing themselves and their friends to release records without pressure from big time labels.
Now in their 50s, Moore/Gordon continue to tour and parent their 16 year-old daughter, Coco. One might think being in a band with your spouse would be a rigorous road to travel, yet Moore says there's no secret to their longevity.
"We've never sold each other out on anything," Moore said to Spin in 2007. "I can easily follow the allure of wanting to go out and be with the boys, and play industrial noise and smoke pot and drink, but nothing replaces the reality of our relationship. I can't trade that for anything. I can't think of how or where I'd be without Kim's influence. And we're like any couple that's been together for close to 30 years. There's a genuine psycho-physical connection. Sometimes I feel things happening in me, and I know that something's going on with her. When you're married and you have that kind of connection, you become really spiritually, psychologically connected. We grew up together, in a way."

Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot (live) (Moore/Gordon/Ranaldo/Shelley) from Daydream Nation

Sonic Youth - Dirty Boots (Moore/Gordon/Ranaldo/Shelley) from Goo

Sonic Youth - Incinerate (Moore/Gordon/Ranaldo/Shelley/Ibold) from Rather Ripped

Tegan Quinn/Sara Quinn
  Canadian twins Tegan/Sara have blazed their own path in the indie music scene. With their trademark nasal voices and repetitious, usually peppy, rock songs; they have achieved international success without selling out to major labels or hiding who they are when confronted with homophobia.
Born in Calgary in 1980, Tegan/Sara began writing music at age 15. The duo originally called themselves PLUNK, until they deemed that title too silly.
"Basically, we thought we were a punk band, but without a rhythm section we were light punk: Plunk," Sara recently told Spin.
"We knew we wanted to change it and decided to use our own names, thinking it would be a placeholder until we came up with something better. We never did. There's a reason that it's Tegan and Sara instead of Sara and Tegan, though. Ten years ago or so there were all these Sarahs in Canadian music. There was Sarah Harmer, Sarah McLachlan and Sarah Slean. We thought people would pay more attention to us if we put Tegan first."
They also briefly flirted with the prospect of calling themselves Tegan Vs. Sara.
In 1998 Tegan/Sara won Calgary's "Garage Warz" competition, receiving the highest score in the event's history.
The duo usually write independent of each other, then come together to polish off the song as a team. The principal writer will sing lead on their song. They attempted to write together for their latest album, Sainthood, yet all the tracks they wrote together while staying in a New Orleans mansion were scrapped.
Their first release was 1999's Under Feet Like Ours and the album was originally released as Sara and Tegan. These editions are now sought after collector items for die hard fans.
After hearing Under Feet Like Ours, Neil Young signed them to his own Vapor Records. Their first release on Vapor, 2000's This Business of Art was produced by Hawksley Workman and recorded at Hawksleytown Studios.
Next came If It Was You in 2002, which featured energetic indie-hits like Monday Monday Monday (written by Sara), Living Room and I Hear Noises (both written by Tegan.)
Their mainstream breakthrough came with 2004's So Jealous. Critics noticed the shift to a more pop-punk sound and tracks off the album have appeared in numerous television shows and movies.
2007's The Con was produced by Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla and featured personal lyrics dealing with the girls' respective relationships.
Sainthood, also produced by Walla, has been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize and contains songs co-written by AFI bassist Hunter Burgan.
In addition, Sainthood, The Con and So Jealous were all nominated for Best Alternative Album at the Junos, yet the duo (very surprisingly) remain Juno-less.
On the topic of sexuality, Tegan says it's another label slapped on them that they don't attempt to peel off.
"When we put out our second album, so much focus was on us being twins, girls, gay, Canadian. I was like, 'Holy shit, that's a lot of labels!' We spent the last two records trying to shake off the limitations. But I didn't think the gay label was the biggest; I thought being a girl in a rock band was," Tegan told Spinner. "The gay thing doesn't bother me. I think it's important to our demographic. Our fan base is getting really young, and it's important to me to make sure that we're spreading a very honest message. I'm glad there's no part of us that has been reluctant to share who we are. There's still so much homophobia, sexism and racism in younger generations, and yet these kids love us anyway. I think we have a very progressive message. I haven't seen [being gay] as a limitation."

Tegan & Sara - Living Room (Tegan/Sara) from If It Was You

Tegan & Sara - Northshore (Tegan/Sara) from Sainthood

Tegan & Sara - You Wouldn't Like Me (live acoustic) (Tegan) from So Jealous


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Hole's Bluesfest show this past July was an unquestionable success garnering positive reviews from all. Courtney Love and the new band members put on a noteworthy show, pandering to Live Through This fans and showcasing tracks off Nobody's Daughter. As skilled as Micko Larkin is (give a listen to the Love/Larkin penned Skinny Little Bitch), I miss Eric Erlandson. In my opinion it's not really "Hole" without him, contrary to Love's assertion of "my name, my band." The history between Erlandson and Love is lengthy and their partnership ends awkwardly. Their tumultuous tale kindled thoughts of other musical pairs each with their own complicated kinship. Sisters, lovers and friends are just some of the combinations that make up this post on musical duos.

The two met in 1989 when Love posted an ad for a guitarist in the now defunct Los Angeles fanzine Flipside. The pair recorded Hole's caustic no wave debut, Pretty On the Inside, along with Caroline Rue and Jill Emery. The 1991 album, produced by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, generated positive reviews and secured Hole a contract with Geffen Records. Love would later fight the contract and encourage other artists to do the same.
Four days after the death of Kurt Cobain Live Through This was released, which saw Patty Schemel and Kristen Pfaff replacing Rue and Emery. Live Through This has sold over two million copies and was voted best album of 1994 by Rolling Stone and Spin. The liner notes reveal that all songs on the album were written by Love/Erlandson except Credit in the Straight World (by Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants), I Think That I Would Die (with former Babes in Toyland band mate Kat Bejelland) and Doll Parts, which Love wrote solo. Love is a gifted lyricist yet Doll Parts features some of the simplest guitar work on the album, it's a sound song but its melody is sparse. It's obvious that Erlandson's fingers hammered out the majority of the punk rock riffs on Live Through This fans have come to cherish.
Erlandson was dating bassist Pfaff at the time of her heroin overdose in 1994. Sadly Erlandson discovered her lifeless body. She was replaced by Canadian Melissa Auf Der Maur at Billy Corgan's suggestion.
1998's Celebrity Skin was recorded during the height of Love's film career, which netted her awards from the Boston, New York, Florida and Chicago Film Critic Societies plus a Golden Globe nomination for The People Vs. Larry Flynt. In 2005 Erlandson posted messages online commenting on the Celebrity Skin recording sessions, writing that Love "didn't care about playing her instrument" and focused solely on singing and song writing. Celebrity Skin was nominated for four Grammy Awards including Best Rock Album. The liner notes would lead the reader to believe that Corgan, who was brought in as a consultant, had a heavy hand in writing the music. Some music writers even say that Corgan pioneered the Celebrity Skin sound, however Erlandson maintains that Corgan was only involved for a few weeks (in one interview he claims eight days, in another he states fourteen days) and the tracks Malibu and Dying were almost complete when Corgan came aboard. Erlandson also revealed that Schemel, while credited in the liner notes, did not record any material and was replaced by Samantha Maloney. Maloney would go on to bash out beats for Motley Crue, Peaches and Eagles of Death Metal.
Love/Erlandson officially separated creatively in 2002, essentially ending Hole as Auf Der Maur had already moved on to Smashing Pumpkins and solo work.
In an interview with, Erlandson said the problems began when Love started having doubts about the band's future during the Celebrity Skin tour (which I caught at Edgefest '99.) As Erlandson's name appeared on the Geffen contract, he helped negotiate a settlement.
"In the agreement, she agreed that she would not use the name Hole commercially without my approval, she was intent on using her name at that point, figuring it had more value than the name Hole," Erlandson said.
"To be fair, we had grown apart and chosen different paths. I had put so much energy into the band for over 10 years and I needed to spend time on myself. When Melissa left, I couldn’t put humpty dumpty back together again, no matter how hard I tried. All signs were pointing toward a split. It’s fitting now that the last song we released was a cover of “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” I wish we could’ve done more together. But I’m happy we went out on a high."
Love shot back at Erlandson's comments, making accusations of financial misdoings via Twitter, writing:
"MY Band MY name and MY Tradmark (sic) he also might want to check his TAXES versus my redone Taxes on a bogus ssn, and talk to @PerezHilton's."
From finding each other through a fanzine to their fiery falling out, the Love/Erlandson duo appears to be fractured forever. "Now that her album is being released as Hole, in my opinion, the legacy is ruined. I’m moving on," Erlandson said with finality.

Hole - Plump (Love/Erlandson) from Live Through This 

Carrie Brownstein/Corin Tucker
Sleater-Kinney's music is unique. Neither vocalist has a traditional singing style; Tucker usually caterwauls in a low vibrato while Brownstein's voice is sometimes child-like. Their lyrics are usually personal, politically charged and frequently feature feminist themes. These attributes, coupled with Brownstein's guitar goddess skills, prompted Greil Marcus to bestow Sleater-Kinney with the title of "America's best rock band" in a 2001 edition of Time magazine.
Brownstein/Tucker met in 1992 while attending Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Tucker was part of the riot grrrl band Heavens to Betsy at the time. Brownstein, inspired by the riot grrrl movement, formed queercore band Excuse 17. Initially a side project, when their respective bands broke up Sleater-Kinney became the duo's main focus. Janet Weiss (not that Janet Weiss) has been the primary drummer through out the band's history. The name Sleater-Kinney is derived from an off ramp near the band's early practice spot in Lacey, Washington.
The duo dated during the band's early days, eventually deciding they were better off as collaborators and friends. The track One More Hour off 1997's Dig Me Out is about Brownstein/Tucker's break up.
At 21 Brownstein, now an out lesbian, and Tucker, who identifies as bisexual, were outed by a writer at Spin.
"I hadn't seen it [the article] and I got a phone call. My dad called me and was like, 'The Spin article's out. Um, do you want to let me know what's going on?' The ground was pulled out from underneath me. My dad did not know that Corin and I had ever dated, or that I even dated girls."
After moderate indie success with their self-titled 1995 debut and 1996's Call the Doctor, it was Dig Me Out that proved to be Sleater-Kinney's breakthrough album and still lingers in recent memory for most music lovers. In 2005 Spin ranked the album #24 on it's list of "100 Greatest Albums 1985-2005."
Next came The Hot Rock in 1999 and All Hands on the Bad One the following year.
The band's most political record, 2002's One Beat, spoke directly of 9/11.
"[The attacks were] just such as an overwhelming presence in our minds as we were trying to write songs, that we felt that we really needed to deal with it, and that we really needed to write about it," Tucker said to the Standford Daily in 2002.
2005's The Woods would be Sleater-Kinney's last album and marked a shift into psychedelic, arena rock. When I caught them opening for Pearl Jam in 2005, I was only disappointed by the fact that they played The Woods in it's entirety and shot off nothing else from their well-stocked arsenal.
The decision to end Sleater-Kinney's run came mostly from Tucker's desire to spend time with her daughter and husband, filmmaker Lance Bangs. The band's final live appearance was August 12 2006 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon.
Since the disillusion Brownstein formed The Spells with Mary Timony and helms NPR blog Monitor Mix. She is also part of the comedy duo Thunder Ant with SNL's Fred Armisen. Look for Brownstein in the upcoming film Some Days Are Better Than Others opposite the Shins' James Mercer.
Tucker's new outfit, Corin Tucker Band, recently released an album titled 1000 Years. You can listen to the first single Doubt here.
As for the future, Brownstein says if each member can find the time to fully devote themselves, a reunion may occur.
"We spent 11 years committed to that band, heart and soul. I think it will happen. We have to loop around, and we're at the far end of the circle, away from the band, but I think we will come back and revisit it. And hopefully that record will be sometime in the next five years." Brownstein told Pitchfork in March 2010.

Sleater-Kinney - Jumpers (Brownstein/Tucker/Weiss) from The Woods
Brownstein discusses a Sleater-Kinney reunion

Sebastien Grainger/Jesse F. Keeler
Canadian duo Grainger/Keeler of Death From Above 1979 contrast our last duo of Brownstein/Tucker as they manipulated many instruments- but no guitars. Grainger handled bass and synths while Keeler commandeered percussion and sang lead on their dance-punk productions. It's not surprising that their raved up, throbbing feel good tunes have been featured in dozens of video games.
Forming in Toronto circa 2001, there are conflicting reports on how the two met. First the pair claimed they connected at a Sonic Youth concert but went on to play around with journalists and say they met in prison, or at a gay bar. 
Originally named Death From Above, Grainger/Keeler were forced to add 1979, which comes from Grainger's birth year, after James Murphy's label DFA Records legally protested. Murphy, also known as LCD Soundsystem, created the label in 2001. After 9/11 he was asked to change the name of the label from Death From Above Records to the shortened version. Grainger/Keeler publicly denounced Murphy on their website.
However, Murphy claims it was parent label Atlantic who insistently objected.
"I was like, 'What the hell's wrong with Death From Above 1979?' But the copyright attorney was like, 'No, that's not fine.' And I said, 'If they become a totally different name, and it delays their record, that's something I'm not comfortable with.' So we just tried to make it work as well as possible," Murphy said.
DFA 1979 produced one studio album, 2004's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. The cover and all variation covers feature distinguishing art showing Grainger/Keeler with elephant trunks. Recorded at the Chemical Sound in Toronto and Montreal's Studio Plateau, the album achieved gold status in Canada.
During the You're a Woman, I'm a Machine tour, Grainger/Keeler began to increasingly clash creatively and grew apart. Last Gang Records hoped the duo would re-consider continuing on with the band but Grainger made it clear in a 2006 online message.
"We decided to stop doing the band. Actually we decided that almost a year ago. We finished off our scheduled tour dates because there were good people working for us who relied on us to make a living and buy Christmas presents and pay rent etc. We couldn't just cancel everything and leave them out to dry," Grainger wrote.
Keeler now performs and records with A-IP, Alex Puodziukas who produced DFA 1979's album, as MSTRKRFT. As MSTRKRFT they have remixed songs by everyone from Katy Perry to Gossip. Their 2009 album Fist of God, was met with mixed reviews.
"I expect a lot of people to not like the record," Keeler said. "Anyway, I love bad reviews, they’re my favourite things."
Grainger formed Sebastien Grainger and the Mountains after DFA 1979's demise. Grainger played nearly every instrument on the self-titled 2008 album. The LP Yours to Discover appeared in 2010. Grainger's new project, Bad †i†s with Josh Reichmann of Tangiers, has released an EP and performed a handful of shows.
It's doubtful Grainger/Keeler will reunite. We'll always have the frantic piece of audible art that is You're A Woman, I'm A Machine to remind us that gratifying, intense things usually end in an explosion. Here's hoping Grainger/Keeler will one day rise above their differences and turn it out once more.

Death From Above 1979 - Go Home, Get Down (Grainger/Keeler) from You're A Woman, I'm a Machine

Kim Deal/Frank Black
The story behind the duo of Deal/Black is fraught with passive-aggressive tension and envy. Pixies formed in 1986, when Black and guitarist Joey Santiago met while studying at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Black and Santiago posted an ad in a Boston music paper looking for a bassist who liked "Husker Du and Peter, Paul and Mary." Kim Deal was the only one to respond. After the initial meeting, Black turned to Santiago and said "she's it." Deal didn't have a bass but her twin Kelley did, so Black paid for Deal's airfare to Ohio to retrieve Kelley's bass. Black was also keen on recruiting Kelley to play drums for the band but Kelley was reluctant. Instead Deal's husband John Murphy, Deal would sometimes be credited as Mrs. John Murphy, suggested percussionist Dave Lovering who the couple had met at their wedding reception. 
The name Pixies was chosen by a random flip through the dictionary. First called Pixies in Panoply, it was later shortened.
Pixies recorded The Purple Tape in three days in 1986 at a cost of $1000 and released it to interested parties, finally landing with 4AD.  Eight songs from The Purple Tape were selected for their first official release, the Come on Pilgrim EP.
In 1988 came their, now seminal, first full length release Surfer Rosa. Producer Steve Albini would later be sought out by the likes of Nirvana and PJ Harvey based on his work on Surfer Rosa. Surfer Rosa features one of only two writing credits in the band's discography for Deal, the loud-quiet-loud implementing Gigantic.
Doolittle, released in 1989, was produced by Gil Norton and cost four-times more than Surfer Rosa. NME writers voted Doolittle the #2 greatest album of all time. The album continued to sell over 1000 copies a week more than ten years after it's release. Doolittle contains the other Deal/Black written song, Silver.  
One night on stage during the Doolittle tour, Black reportedly threw a guitar at Deal and the cracks of conflict began to fracture the foursome. 
"It's fair to say that Kim's partying and tardiness led to the break up," booking agent Jeff Craft said in 2004.
During the break after the "Fuck or Fight" Doolittle tour, Deal formed The Breeders with Throwing Muses member Tanya Donnelly. Kurt Cobain called The Breeders' 1991 debut, Pod, "an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend."
Pixies regrouped for 1990's Bossanova, but not before some rivalries were put to rest. Black, Lovering and Santiago had all moved to Los Angeles without informing Deal. 
"I called up Charles [Black's birth name] to find out when we were going to rehearse and he said 'I don't want you to come out," Deal recalled in 2004.
Deal contacted reps at 4AD who urged her to fly out to L.A. and reason with the other members.
"I was so sad, I flew out there on my own," Deal said. "It was so weird taking a flight all by myself, booking my own hotel room. Then I get a call from the manager. Me and him had never talked. It was weird. He said 'You are to meet here the next day.' I go, 'Ok.' I still have no fucking idea what's going on. It's a lawyer's office! David, Joe and Charles are there with our manager and our lawyer. And I walk in- it's like, 'Ohhh, I'm fired.' It was so hurtful, it was odd, it was akward."
Fortunately, Pixies set aside their differences and while Bossanova was met with mixed reviews, the album produced two of their biggest radio hits, Dig For Fire and Velouria.
At the last show of Pixies' English tour supporting Bossanova, Deal announced "this is our last show."
However it would not be their last show, as Trompe Le Monde was released in 1991.
Norton produced Trompe Le Monde and noticed that Deal's presence diminished over time.
"I wasn't happy by the end of that [Trompe Le Monde], because there was this one song, Bird Dream of Olympus Mons, that I thought was perfect for her to sing. Charles didn't want her to sing it. He definitely didn't want her to have a big imprint on the songs," Norton said in 2004.
In January 1993 Black notified the band members of the break up. The medium Black used to communicate the message is a source of contention.
"It's not really that big of a deal and sending a fax to break up a band is not that big of a deal," Black said.
To that comment, Deal counterpoints: "I didn't have a fax machine. Joe didn't have a fax machine. David didn't have a fax machine. Whatever, man."
After the dismantling of Pixies, Black changed his name and released several solo records, most notably 1994's Teenager of the Year which contains the popular track Headache. Deal went on to large success with The Breeders' Last Splash. Title TK would appear in 2002. Lovering became a magician and Santiago formed The Martinis with his wife Linda Mallari. 
Then in 2003 whispers of a reunion entered every one's ears.
"Joe calls me up and says 'Pixies are gonna start playing shows, would you be interested?' I said, 'Oh really?' then I went 'I don't know,'" Deal said. "And he said, 'Here's Charles' number. He wants you to call him.' I left him a message saying 'I hear the gang's getting back together.' I hadn't talked to him since April of 1992. And he called back and said, 'So what do you think about it?' I said, 'Sounds interesting.'"
The Pixies "Sellout" tour did just that, selling out large stadiums and arenas all over the world. Pixies released one new track, which was rejected by executives for the Shrek 2 soundtrack, Bam Thwok. Deal penned Bam Thwok solo, evidence that Black's stranglehold over the band has lessened during the hiatus. 
Talk of a new record continues to go in circles and the band is currently on a world tour that stopped in Italy, Japan and New Zealand. The tour culminates September 26 in California.
"Now I see Kim as our secret weapon," Black said. "She's like, 'Hi,' and the crowd goes crazy. I don't even talk on stage anymore."
"The good thing is now we don't have to have a dynamic, because all we do is travel to a place and people are happy that we're there. We're not working together. This is not a hard thing to do," Deal said. 

Pixies - Gigantic (Deal/Black) from Surfer Rosa

Pixies - Silver (Deal/Black) from Doolittle

BT photo