Jan 292021
 

Go back to the beginning

10. Grant-Lee Phillips – Wave of Mutilation

Grant-Lee Phillips opens his all-covers album Nineteeneighties with “Wave of Mutilation.” He begins the song with reverb-soaked Hawaiian guitar, a sound guaranteed to evoke surfing waves. Phillips’ version deploys a gently swaying folk rhythm in place of the angsty and angular power chords of the original. The instability of the Pixies turns into a sedate, steady ballad. Instead of Black Francis’ brash and ironic vocals, you get a voice that’s all about warmth and vulnerability. If it sounds too earnest for its own good, it’s not: the instrumental break is positively SpongeBob-ian, so you know it’s all in a spirit of fun and fondness. – Tom McDonald

9. Bobby Bare Jr. – Where Is My Mind

These days the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind” is probably best known for closing the movie Fight Club, bringing an odd note of triumph to Edward Norton’s character arc. If the movie makers could somehow have used Bobby Bare Jr.’s version (released seven years after the movie), they would have lost that note, but it may have been a truer reflection of Norton’s psyche: lost in himself, scared of what’s about to happen. Bare absolutely brings that across, especially in his howls at the end, far lonelier than Black Francis’s. – Patrick Robbins

8. Dylan in the Movies – Down in the Well

Despite hailing from the Pixies’ imperial period (late ’80s-early ’90s), “Down in the Well” doesn’t get covered much. One of their earliest tracks, it’s not clear the band themselves liked it all that much, recording it for the Come On Pilgrim debut EP but leaving it off both that and their first couple albums. It finally surfaced on Bossanova, which itself gets short-shrift, landing between the more-loved Doolittle and Trompe De Le Monde in their discography. But, on the Dig for Fire tribute album, Boston band Dylan in the Movies makes the case that “Down in the Well” is a classic Pixies song. The world just doesn’t realize it yet. – Ray Padgett

7. Car Seat Headrest – Motorway to Roswell

As Car Seat Headrest performances go, their cover of “Motorway to Roswell” is a bit unusual, with band leader Will Toledo stepping aside and giving guitarist Ethan Ives the chance to wail on lead vocals. A bit Lou Reed, a touch Television, and a smidge Richard Hell, the sound is straight up dirty ’70s NYC and it is passionate, anxious, noisy and wickedly fine. – Hope Silverman

6. Antoni James, Rosalia Vagalatis, Simon Van Heyst – U-Mass


Black Francis and Joey Santiago met when they were both attending the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and they started to work on music together. Not long after, they dropped out to start a band (you guessed it, the Pixies). I would be remiss if I didn’t represent the Pioneer Valley and find a cover of this ode to the band’s origins. This cover maintains the same snark on the repeated refrain “it’s educational.” – Sara Stoudt

5. Weezer – Velouria

Black Francis has called this his favorite Pixies cover, and you can see why. For one, it’s not that different from the original. But by slightly tweaking it just so, Weezer make it a pure blast of power-pop. Rivers Cuomo delivers some of his best singing on this, and the band nails the loud-quiet-loud dynamics with a satisfying crunch and indelible backing vocals. – Ray Padgett

4. Rogue Wave – Debaser

AllMusic says Rogue Wave “represents the more cerebral end of the indie pop spectrum.” That’s a description that could (and might well) have been applied to the Pixies back in the day, making them an ideal band for covering a Pixies song, any Pixies song. The fact that they chose “Debaser” solidifies AllMusic’s statement; not a lot of artists can pull off the tribute to Bunuel with such poise and self-assurance, and Rogue Wave definitely does. – Patrick Robbins

3. The Hanged Man and the Moon – Here Comes Your Man

This cover sounds like something out of a noir film. The Hanged Man and the Moon really make “Here Comes Your Man” their own; at first listen, it’s hardly recognizable as “Here Comes Your Man” if you’re not paying attention to the lyrics. The extreme vibrato and intense highs allude to a ’40s starlet singing center stage. There is a flow and swing to the verse, adding to the moody and drama. – Ally McAlpine

2. TV on the Radio – Mr. Grieves

Recorded by lead singer Tunde Adebimpe for the band’s 2003 debut EP Young Liars, this a cappella version of “Mr. Grieves” captures both the fresh sound of early TV on the Radio, combining doo wop with indie rock, and the underlying R&B traditionalism of Frank Black’s song. Doo wop and gospel really are appropriate media for the song, and it’s Adebimpe’s genius to see its potential and realize it with the mass of overdubs of his voice. It’s one of those rare covers that sounds like it could be older than the original, as if this Pixies song really was an old gospel number that they filtered through reggae and rock into their version. It’s a transformative version that really makes you rethink the song. – Riley Haas

1. Trampled by Turtles – Where Is My Mind

Pixies never released “Where Is My Mind” as a single, but Trampled by Turtles did, in 2011, just a few years into their career. The Duluth, Minnesota band then released a live take two years later on their Live on First Avenue disc. It’s great to hear their fans sing along, though it’s possible few of them knew or cared that the original sounded nothing like this; it’s likely that many figured this was the original. It’s one of those covers that make you think even more highly of the two artists involved in the exchange, the creator and the re-creator. Applying banjo, mandolin, and fiddle to a song like “Where Is My Mind” is not a stretch or novelty move for TBT. The song itself is strong enough to take the adaptation in perfect stride—in the hands of TBT, the song feels like it could have been composed with exactly this instrumentation. – Tom McDonald

Check out more installments in our monthly ‘Best Covers Ever’ series, including Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Madonna, and Neil Young.

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  20 Responses to “The 30 Best Pixies Covers Ever”

Comments (19) Pingbacks (1)
  1. “Where is my mind” again, by La Boca Abierta
    https://youtu.be/UPSOCERijIM

  2. Where Is My Mind by Nada Surf

  3. There’s this guy, recently passed away. Kind off famous. Did a cover of Cactus. Fidn’t see David Bowie’s name mentioned

  4. Alec Eiffel by Bunnies is one of the best Pixies cover ever.

  5. andrew mccubbin – gauge away
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXPayW-mAf4

  6. Skeggs, here comes your Man

  7. Think Micahs cover beats them all, but we are a little biased.
    https://youtu.be/PqsImlsjFD8

  8. Larsen – Where is my mind?
    https://youtu.be/rC-lpX681pE

  9. The Get Up Kids – Alec Eiffel

    https://youtu.be/OInieXoW71A

  10. Break my body by Hanne Hukkelberg…

  11. Loving that Kate Rogers cover!

  12. Great list!! This whole post is a great soundtrack to a rainy morning!

  13. I Bleed by PsychoTrópicos
    https://youtu.be/5c871P9qiqU

  14. My favourite artists cover my favourite artists all the time but I’ve never heard of a single one of these 30 artists that covered my all time favourite, the Pixies. And I don’t remember the Pixies ever covering any of my favourites either. Very odd.

  15. Kristin Hersh – Wave of Mutilation
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p71JpIl5Ob8

  16. There is some random dude out there named Matt or Michael who hires cover bands of artists to turn around and cover the Pixies.
    Think Frank Sinatra coverband covers Monkey gone to Heaven

    Maybe not the best, but damn good.

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