The Breeders are an indie rock group from Dayton, Ohio who have put out four proper albums since their formation in 1990. They’ve gone through many lineup changes and a court-ordered hiatus that lasted six years, but the core of the band is the pair of identical twin sisters Kim and Kelley Deal. For the purposes of this blog post, the lineup at the time was Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs, and Jim MacPherson.
Kim Deal is most famous for being the bassist in Pixies, but she and her sister played the “guitar and vocals” role in The Breeders. Josephine Wiggs, who formerly played guitar in the UK alterna-rock band The Perfect Disaster, played the bass. Jim MacPherson, who has also played with Guided by Voices was the drummer. Kim is the only constant member, but Kelley has been on board since 1991.
Recently, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney mentioned Guided by Voices during a press conference. He said that President Obama was taking Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron to an NCAA basketball tournament game in Datyon. He took that opportunity to hail Dayton as the home of the Wright Brothers and Guided by Voices. In his words “The greatest rock and roll band of the modern era” Here’s the video, which you only need to watch the first 45 seconds of. He’s only held that job for 13 months, but this wasn’t the first time Carney dropped GBV in a briefing. Last summer, he “mistakenly” called US Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) “Mitch Mitchell”, which gave him the opportunity to mention that Mitch Mitchell plays guitar in Guided by Voices, while a different Mitch Mitchell played drums for Jimi Hendrix. See that video here. Apparently, Mr. Carney fronts his own band, and the New York Times reported (a year ago yesterday) that his passion for playing in that band is “second only to his devotion to the cult band Guided by Voices”. Where does his job fit in in that hierarchy?
I take offense to what Mr Carney said about why Dayton is famous. While the Wright brothers were from Dayton, they are only famous because of the work that they did in North Carolina. They ran a bicycle shop in Dayton. They flew the world’s first airplane in Kitty Hawk. You tell me what the bigger deal is. Speaking of “Deal” (sorry, sorry), I don’t think that Guided by Voices is even the best band from Dayton. I like them well enough, and they’ll end up getting a featured song here by the time this year is up, but I like The Breeders a lot more.
Sorry for the digression, but there was a point to it.
The first incarnation of The Breeders was a supergroup of musicians doing a side project. It was Kim and Josephine plus Tanya Donelly (who was still with Throwing Muses at the time), and Britt Walford, (aliases Shannon Doughty and Mike Hunt, who was with Slint).
By the time they released the next record, Last Splash (1993), Donelly left to form Belly. She was replaced by Kelley. Walford left and was replaced by Jim MacPherson. A version of today’s song appeared on Last Splash, and a faster and violin-laden version appeared on the Safari EP, which came out more than a year previous. Although Kelley wasn’t officially in the band yet, she appeared on that EP.
Kelley would later be nailed by the Feds in a drug bust and she was forced to go to rehab. This forced the band to go on hiatus, and that lasted from 1995 to 2001.
Now, we finally get to today’s song:
“Do You Love Me Now” by The Breeders (featuring J Mascis)
This version is like a hybrid of the two previous versions. It’s got the violin bits that I like from the “Safari” b-side, but the pace is a bit slower. And, oh yeah. It’s got J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr on backing vocals. For someone who’s rumored to be “hard to get along with”, he’s done a lot of collaborating with other bands, and never steals the stage. He’s done some pretty remarkable stuff with Broken Social Scene, and they have played together as “Broken Mascis Scene”. He’s also done cameos on the albums of legendary indie rockers like Thurston Moore (and also the Sonic Youth side project Ciccone Youth) and The Lemonheads. He’s also helped out some lesser known bands.
I like this version a lot. I actually started out wanting to write about the version of this song that appears on the Safari EP, but when I started digging around, I found this on the unofficial Breeders website. As a free download, no less!
J’s voice is a little hard to take. A bit gravelly, and he doesn’t have as much range as he thinks he has, but after some getting used to, it’s fine.
One of my favorite bits of this version starts out at 0:59, with
Does love ever end
When two hearts have torn away?
Or does it go on
And beat strong anyway?
You’ve loved me before
Do you love me now?
J’s vocal part goes really high. Higher than Kim’s at the “torn away” part.
What’s a bit odd is that this is one of only a few songs where Kim doesn’t sound husky. Okay. Not as husky. Except for the “C’mon, c’mon back to me right now” bit at the end. But the addition of J puts the huskiness right back in it. In spades.
In a way, I wish they would have let J also play a guitar part on this version. I don’t think that he went into the studio with The Breeders to do this as a completely new version. I could be wrong, but I think he just added vocals to the already existing stems. Whatever the case may be, I like it. I hope you do too.