The first Pixies song in nine years…doesn’t feature Kim Deal on it. Which is kind of a shame. She was with them for a lot of the recent tours, but she went back to the Breeders recently. I assume that everyone else from the lineup is still in the band.
But the real question is what does the song sound like? Well, to me it doesn’t sound like the Pixies. It sounds very much like a 90s song, but by… some other bands of the time. Even Frank Black’s (or is it Black Francis’) voice sounds different—less brittle (despite the brittleness of what he is saying).
The song begins with keyboards and a kind of dance (electronic) drum sound. I actually thought I clicked the wrong link when it started. There’s chanted backing vocals while Black is singing/talking. It all sounds very familiar but not like the Pixies. Even the guitars sound different–less bright with a bit more flash in the solos.
The part that does sound like the Pixies is the chorus which has soaring guitars and a female singer (unknown to me at this point but she sounds a lot like Deal) singing “bagboy” while Black shouts the same. The chorus is a comforting reminder of the Pixies’ sound.
I understand that in nine years (and countless Frank Black albums) the Pixies are going to sound different. And while the tone is definitely Pixies, something is missing from the track, which I hope the rest of the album (should there be one) replaces.
[READ: June 28, 2013] Someday, Someday Maybe
I’ve been a fan of Lauren Graham the actress since I had a major (age appropriate) crush on her during The Gilmore Girls. I haven’t seen everything she’s been in, but I also enjoy Parenthood quite a bit and initially tuned in because of her. And now she’s written a book.
This book is pretty far from my usual thing (and in an interview on Huffington Post she says she doesn’t think many men will read the book). I gather they won’t but I’m glad I did.
Set in 19995, Graham creates a wonderfully flawed character in Franny, a struggling actress who has moved to New York City and has given herself three years to become successful. At the end of the three years, if she hasn’t made it, she’ll move back to Chicago to be with her long-term boyfriend, Clark.
She lives in Brooklyn with her best friend who is also in the business but as a production assistant (it’s nice to have them not be fighting for the same jobs). They recently added a new roommate Dan, a writer who seems oblivious to the women (he is so focused on his screenplay that he doesn’t even seem to notice them watching TV). It seemed apparent from the get go that there was going to be a romantic interest there. And there was.
But first we get to see Franny’s trials and tribulations starting two and a half months until her deadline. She’s still taking acting classes, and while she hasn’t gotten offered anything yet, she seems to be well-regarded in class. And, she has the big showcase coming up—the performance when agents come to watch them do their thing.
And then, hurrah!
She has suddenly gotten a soap commercial (which she encouraged everybody to watch when she was told of its debut). Oh and the person who leaves her messages about the roles is hilariously clueless. She has also become good friends with an older actress who was on a successful sitcom for nine years. Unfortunately, the sitcom featured a talking cat as the lead and people don’t forget that so her career has been pretty stagnant since (and that was years ago). She even enjoys the company of the beautiful blonde fellow student who seems very genuine and perky but who may be just a little darker than she makes it seem. And yet, Penelope Schlotzsky also proves to be a very fun character, seemingly shallow and catty, she turns out to be an interesting ally as the story moves on.
And, the hot successful actor, James has just asked for her phone number (even though he is already dating the aforementioned Penelope).
The showcase is the big moment for her and despite what she thinks is a disaster (and yes it seems like it should be), she is told that two agents are interested in her.
And that’s when the story starts to move forward. Franny meets the first agent, an old man who runs a small company. He’s big and loud and brash and very funny. Franny likes him immediately, but has yet to meet with the second agent. Te second agent, part of the big team of Absolute Artists not only tells her he wants her, he sets her up for a role on a sitcom for that very day. The sitcom is a long airing show, which has overstated its welcome somewhat. But she will be a secretary with a cuckoo laugh (and they like her so much they give her a line). But oh and who knows if it will ever air. The show is more or less picked up for another year, but seems to be relegated to a midseason starting date. This aspect of the book–the technical details about making shows and commercials was really interesting. I enjoyed learning about some of the roles of people and about the “mayonnaise commercial” joke.
So she signs with AA! She has an agent (and has to join SAG which costs more money (her father’s reaction to this is very funny). And then James breaks up with Penelope (who later changes her name to Penny De Palma, ha!) and Franny begins dating him. Everything is going great.
Until it isn’t. Things start falling apart—her agent doesn’t call back; her boyfriend is aloof (and everyone can see that he is a jerk except for Franny and frankly that may have gone on too long for the length of the book); her fallback boyfriend has been trying to tell her that he has moved on; even her dad seems to be occupied these days (her dad is a wonderfully funny curmudgeon and his comments about the answering machine are hilarious). Oh and why did she kiss her roommate?
As I said, the romantic triangle was pretty obvious, but I liked the way she underplayed it by having the roommate/writer talk to her about romantic triangles–pointing out how a romantic triangle worked all while she is downplaying its existence and trying to suggest that romances can be shapes other than triangles.
I liked that the story wasn’t all neatly wrapped up in a bow, but it has given Franny a trajectory (Graham has spoken of a second book about Franny).
There was plenty to like in the book. Franny is named after Salinger’s Franny and Zooey and it actually plays out in the story–it’s not just a name drop. Also, there is a whole undercurrent about her mother dying in a car accident. The metaphor of the accident surfaces over and over for Franny and it works quite well for dramatic tension. I also appreciated that even though this book was about a struggling actor it wasn’t a Hollywood scene–which I feel has been done a lot. The New York scene (Glee aside) of a struggling actress seemed to allow for different aspects to show up in the story.
I also loved the Filofax and diary pages with notes and illustrations (Graham’s own? It doesn’t say). The 1995 date allows for a certain nostalgia (and is likely when Graham did her own stint as a struggling actress) and it allows for the diary pages, answering machine jokes and no cell phones–something which allows for miscommunications to flourish.
Sometimes I felt Franny was a little too in her own head (every time she thought something was going to go wrong she spent too many pages fretting about it). And while we know she has to make bad decisions, it seems like maybe the duration of those decisions could have been shorter. Nevertheless, I enjoyed her character and felt she was well-rounded and believable—a sensible girl following insensible dreams.
And, it was a feel good romance as well.
And look, it’s going to be made into a TV special.