The Breeders - The freed seed

The Breeders - Kim Deal

Death to the Pixies (again) meant a new lease of life for The Breeders. Doug Johnstone traces the musical highs and chemical lows of Kim Deal

The Breeders are not what you'd call prolific. But that's OK, good things are worth waiting for. The on-off outfit, based around Pixies' bassist Kim Deal, have only released four albums in the 20 years since they formed as an antidote to Deal's higher profile day job.

Live appearances by the band in Scotland are just about as rare, which is something of a surprise given that the band effectively came into existence here. Upon signing with indie label 4AD in 1989, Deal and assorted musician friends decamped for two weeks to Edinburgh with producer Steve Albini and $11,000 in their pockets, and proceeded to make their debut album, Pod, in a week and under budget.

That debut was inspired but underrated, a weirdly jagged thing which veered from spiky pop to shimmering lo-fi atmospherics. But it wasn't until 1993 and the release of its successor, Last Splash, that The Breeders threatened to overtake Deal's main band in the public eye. Replete with indie dancefloor classic 'Canonball', it rocketed The Breeders into the charts, only for Kim's guitarist sister Kelley's subsequent drugs bust to put things on hold for years.

This decade's resurrected Breeders is a less obviously commercial one, but fascinating nonetheless. Two albums, Title TK and this year's Mountain Battles, showed Deal unafraid to experiment with all sorts of different genres, but her extraordinarily emotive voice remains in fine form. Deal is also still a charismatic live performer, and there's no doubt that the recent Pixies reformation has re-energised her attitude to making music and putting on a show.

These days, The Breeders somehow manage to be indie music veterans yet also imbued with an unusual and quirky freshness to their sound, thanks no doubt to their many long hiatuses. Check 'em out while you can, because you never know when they'll be back round again.

The Breeders play Guitars and Other Machines Stage, Fri


Returning for a second year after its successful debut the boutique festival has corralled headliners Kasabian, Manic Street Preachers, Bloc Party, Paolo Nutini, Grinderman, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros and Goldfrapp. There will be five stages: 'The Oyster stage', 'Guitars and other Machines', 'Manicured Noise', 'Unknown…

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