The Breeders are a long running alternative rock band consisting of Kim Deal on rhythm guitar and vocals, her twin sister Kelly on lead guitar and backing vocals, bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jimmy McPherson. The band was first formed by Kim in 1989 when she was still the bassist in the Pixies as a side project, along with Tanya Donnelly who at the time was in Throwing Muses. They then recruited Wiggs who had previously played bass in a band called The Perfect Disaster and Britt Walford on drums who had previously been with Skint, to record their 1990 debut Pod.
After this they brought Kelly in as a third guitarist, despite the fact that she could not actually play the instrument to record 1992’s Safari EP after which Donnelly left to pursue her other band Belly, leaving Kelly as the only guitarist. Walford also left around this time. During their early period, they did not have much commercial success, but did gain a following and praise from people such as Kurt Cobain.
This changed after the Pixies broke up in 1993 and left Kim with more time to invest in the band. After recruiting Jim McPherson on drums, they recorded their more successful second album Last Splash that same year, which did well during the early ninety’s alternative era. However, this period of success ended up being brief after the band went on hiatus in 1994 due to both Deal sisters’ problems with drugs and alcohol. They reformed a few years later after which they released two more albums. They have been back together ever since.
# 10 – Doe
Kicking off this Top 10 Breeders Songs list is a track from Pod which according to Deal, is about a young couple making out and then wanting to burn down their town after taking the drug Thorazine. The album was produced by Steve Albini and it has that stripped back sound that is prevalent on much of his work. In his review for the New Musical Express, British journalist Steve Lamacq described the track as “stripped down but punchy.”
# 9 – German Studies
Next, we have a song from Mountain Battles released in 2008. The lyrics for this song are all in German. The album was recorded over a five-year period with a number of different engineers in different locations. Some parts were recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio whilst others were in Los Angeles and Dayton with the likes of Erika Larsen, Manny Nieto and Ben Mumphry.
# 8 – Freed Pig
This track is actually a cover, with the original being by Sebadoh which was originally released on 1994’s Head to Toe EP and later re-released along with the rest of its tracks as part of the bonus material on the album’s twentieth anniversary reissue. It is a very good version of the song that the band have put their own spin on and made it sound like their own.
# 7 – I Just Want to Get Along
This very short minute-and-a-half cut from Last Splash is reportedly about Kim and her bitterness towards Pixies front man Frank Black after the band’s breakup. In what is perhaps a clever attempt to disguise this fact, it is actually Kelly who performs the vocals on it. Whatever the case, it is a great track and Kim was certainly moving on from her previous band, even if the Pixies are still the band she is most associated with.
# 6 – Do You Love Me Now?
This track is also from Last Splash and, as the title would suggest is a loved-themed song, but definitely not a schmaltzy one! Co-written by both of the Deal sisters, this song has a beautiful southern rock-tinged guitar sound which makes it a very relaxing track to listen to. Also, rather than being about madly in love, it is about a previous involvement with a man that Deal feels she can resume, although it would seem that that is probably not really the case.
# 5 – Safari
Here is the title track from the band’s debut EP released in 1992. Kelly was now established as a guitarist by this point and this is the only release to feature both her and Tanya Donnelly. It is another of the band’s more trippy tracks, with the latter half of it being largely instrumental and ideal for listening to on a safari trip! (In a weird kind of way.)
# 4 – Oh!
Here is a bizarre entry in the band’s catalog taken from Pod that shows the mark that Donnelly made on the band during her shorty tenure with them, as it was written by her and Kim originally for the group’s first demo. The track is a slow, dirgey and sad sounding number featuring a violin performance by Carrie Bradley.
# 3 – Divine Hammer
This track is another from Last Splash that was released as a single. Like much of the album’s lyrical content, the lyrics are sexual in nature with the title reportedly referring to a certain male sexual organ. Musically, it is one of their more melodic and accessible, giving of a dreamy pop vibe, which makes the adult nature of the lyrics even more hard to understand at face value.
# 2 – Son of Three
This track has two versions- the original which was composed and sung by Kim was recorded in Hollywood and released on the Title Tk album, and then the re-recording of it which was done for it to be released as the album’s third European single. The entry in this list refers to the re-recording, which is better because it is shorter, faster and has more of a live feel. When it was released it reached number seventy-two on the UK Singles chart.
# 1 – Cannonball
At the top spot we have the band’s most famous song taken yet again from Last Splash. Released as a single in August 1993, it reached number forty-four on the US Billboard and number forty on the UK chart. To this day it is their most commercially successful single. Upon its release it was highly acclaimed by the music press with the likes of NME and Melody Maker placing it as their song of the year.