Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

The Breeders, “Mountain Battles” (4AD) [1.5 STARS]

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Although they were enormously influential—it seemed as if every band during the alternative-rock explosion of the ’90s wanted to mimic the sound of “Pod” (1990), to say nothing of emulating the success of “Last Splash” (1993) and its mega-hit “Cannonball”—the Breeders have not exactly been prolific. Led by 46-year-old twins Kim and Kelley Deal, the group fell apart in a haze of drug troubles in the mid-’90s, and until recently, its four-album discography included only one other disc in the new millennium, the forgettable “Title TK” in 2002.

Now, following her brief, nostalgic but oh-so-lucrative reunion with her first and even more influential band the Pixies, Kim Deal is back playing with her sister and two new Breeders (the rhythm section of Mando Lopez and Jose Medeles) and recording once more with Chicago engineer Steve Albini (the man responsible for that much-coveted sound back when) in order to give us the new “Mountain Battles.” But it hardly comes close to their best offerings in the ’90s.

Short on inspiration—the strongest tracks are a cover of “It’s the Love” by the obscure Ohio power-pop band the Tasties and “Walk It Off,” which may or may not be about the notoriously contentious Pixies (“Nobody’s allowed to fight/’til the band starts playin’ tonight”)—the Breeders circa 2008 also lack energizing rhythms, memorable hooks or anything particularly original to say. They also cover (and slaughter) the Mexican standard “Regalame Esta Noche,” sing in German on the dreadful “German Studies” and basically phone in an album clearly crafted as a welcome distraction from what by all accounts has become a boring life in Dayton. (Kelley apparently is now addicted to knitting, while Kim lives at home, helping to care for her mother.)

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As a huge fan of the Pixies,Breeders and most female alt. rock bands from the 90's I was happy to hear about a new Breeders cd. After one play it was clear that this was an album that should have come out years before. To listen to it now in 2008 just made want to travel back in time when I saw them open for Nirvana. That was their prime. I fear it's over now. I found "Mountain Battles" predictability boring and wondered what else could have been purchased for the cost of the album. What? no band photos! Come on Kim, we all get a little heavy as we go on diet like the rest of us or just buy larger fitting clothes.

That was a mean ending to the review. It's one thing for a Chicagoan to think Dayton is boring but to say that it's boring that Kelley knits instead of doing drugs and to imply that it's bad that Kim lives at home to care for her mother with Alzheimer's is a dumb thing to write in a record review.

As for there being no band photos, the CD packaging is just like any other 4AD record so I don't get the surprise at lack of photo.

Come On Jim,
It's cool if you don't like the record, but no need to dis Kelley for gettin' it together. The personal jabs are a bit childish. Stick to being a rock critic, not a condescending dick.

Geez, Jim, why all the venom? Did you have a bad experience in Dayton? Do you have something against people who knit? Do you have something against twins? Maybe you don't like twins who knit? Maybe you think Alzheimer's is the name of a really good deli in Dayton?

All joking aside, your review obviously puzzles your readers. You are entitled, of course, to your opinion and are paid to share it with us, regardless of whether we believe you have an ear for creative talent (even when it's subtle, wears no lip gloss and can't dance) or just need to thoroughly clean your ears. Either way, your review veers off course and leaves your readers wondering why you abandoned the music for the chance to deride and mock the Deal sisters for kicking drugs (you know, Jim, they ARE bad for you and quitting is kinda hard),knitting (would gardening, painting miniatures, joining a scrap book or bridge club have been more palatable?) and taking care of their terminally ill mother (wow, what bleeding hearts those girls must be...fools....after all, any rock star worth his or her salt knows that people who are sick or old or ugly or anything else that does fit neatly into the rock and roll lifestyle should be shown the door...especially relatives! yuck!).

So, just my two cents (and, hell, I'm not even paid for it), but you probably ought to stick to the music and leave the moral grandstanding and elitist drivel for people that do not know as much about good music as you.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on April 10, 2008 9:25 AM.

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