Ten Cool Breeders Songs That Aren’t “Cannonball”

I like the Breeders, ok. But most of the time when I mention them the reaction I usually get is “Oh, they did that “Cannonball” song, right?” Yeah, but they did a whole lot of other really cool songs, so I’ve compiled this handy list of ten cool Breeders songs that aren’t Cannonball. It’s a good place to get started if you wish to explore the Breeders further than “Cannonball”.

Doe – Pod
This song is about giving a guy a blow job, then burning a field. Steve Albini produced “Doe”, along with the rest of the songs on “Pod”, so it’s got this really stripped back sound. The drumming almost sounds like a metronome, like it’s keeping the beat and nothing more. The guitars and bass almost meld into one, a driving surge of sound, until bit before the chorus where things separate out and the guitars get all chimey. The best vocal bit is when Tanya Donnelly sings “ah, ah-ah” and it sounds so sexy, like porn stars wish they could sound like that, then over the top Kim Deal sings, “he said doe, doe, doe, doe”.

Happiness is a Warm Gun – Pod
This is a cover of a Beatles’ song. Unlike the Beatles’ version it doesn’t have that dirrrty guitar before the “I need a fix” part, but when the “Mother Superior jumped the gun” bit jolts in, it’s like a sonic kick in the pants. It also improves the Beatles’ version by getting rid of the annoying “I got my finger on your trigger” part. The Beatles might have been trying to parallel guns and sex, but the Breeders manage to make guns sexy. Bang, bang, shoot, shoot.

Don’t Call Home – Safari EP
It’s almost a minute before the vocals start. First there are drums, fuzzy guitar, acoustic guitar, creamy lead guitar, subtle-yet-funky bass and strategic moments of silence. So when the vocals come along, they’d better be pretty good, and they are, fitting in perfectly amidst the instruments. Then along come the sounds of a distant firetruck, a man mumbling about things, and some really excellent squeally guitar, and then things get quite and Kim sings, “don’t even write.”

I Just Wanna Get Along – Last Splash
Rumour has it that his song was Kim’s kiss-off to Frank Black after the Pixies broke up (“We were rich once before your head exploded”), but she cleverly got her sister Kelley to sing it instead. Driven by bass and drums, with guitars and feedback crunching in for emphasis, IJWGA is short, but very cool. The best bit is when Kelley spits out, “if you’re so special, why aren’t you dead?”

Lord of the Thighs – Cannonball EP
This is a cover of an Aerosmith song, sung in the deadpan English voice of Josephine Wiggs, the Breeders’ ultracool lesbian bass player. Where Steven Tyler screamed, she politely asks, “Well, Lord, my God, what do we got here?” This song doesn’t include the guitar solo, apparently because Kelley Deal wasn’t good enough at playing the guitar to be on par with Joe Perry’s licks. It’s funny, but it’s not a pisstake.

I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You – Divine Hammer EP
Oh hey, it’s another cover version, but it’s another b-side, so that’s allowed to be a cover ok. I’ve included this one because it’s just Kim and Kelley singing with an acoustic guitar. Legend has it that the very first incarnation of The Breeders was the Deal sisters singing country songs at truckstops. Their vocal harmonies on this Hank Williams Jr song are heavenly.

Saints – Single version
The album version is good, but this version, rerecorded and produced by J. Mascis for the single is so much better. It starts off with a burst of feedback, which gets louder, like someone’s turned up the volume, then the guitar blurts in and, “I like all the different people, I like sticky everywhere!” With the chorus of “summer is ready when you are,” this is a song for both hot summer days and cold winter nights. It’s also an excellent rock song.

Head To Toe – Head To Toe 9″
This song was written by Josephine Wiggs, and a much slower, gentler version appears on The Josephine Wiggs Experience “Bon Bon Lifestyle” album. But Kim Deal wanted it faster, faster, faster, so it was magically transformed into a rollicking punk song with a great shout-along chorus, “Your face! Looks good! To me!” It’s kind of the opposite in theme to “Don’t call home” – it’s about coming home to someone you want to be with.

Bragging Party – (The Amps) Pacer
“Pacer” is really the Breeders’ unofficial third album; it’s just that due to a few disruptions Kim decided to give the band a different name, ok? I like this song because it’s long and has a simple yet unrelenting beat, and an ever-present guitar chugging along in the background. It’s probably the wordiest of Kim Deal’s songs and the way she sings it is amazing. It’s like she’s duetting with herself. There’s one voice sounding all haggard and nicotine-stained, the other voice is all sweet and pretty. Like both evil and good twin rolled into one.

Off You – Title TK
This is a really quiet, pretty, almost sad song. The production is rough, but deliberately so. There’s background sounds, a bit of distortion – nothing’s been cleaned up in a computer, and it sounds like it has heart and soul. The most fun bit in the song is near the beginning. Kim sings, “I’m on it,” then a loud, 1960s science fiction kind of noise bursts in, never to be heard from again.

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