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The Breeders at Nation

The Washington Post, Friday August 9, 2002
By Joe Warminsky

The Breeders' new disc, "Title TK," is a loopy and sometimes languid affair, but onstage Wednesday night at Nation, the long-dormant alt-rock band -- now a quintet with sisters Kim and Kelley Deal out front -- had punch and power to spare.

Backed by bassist Mando Lopez, guitarist Richard Presley (both formerly of Fear) and drummer Jose Medeles, the Deals appeared to have put nine years of personal turmoil and shifting lineups behind them. "Title TK" wasn't the focus of the evening, however. Many of the thrills came from "Last Splash," the Breeders' fittingly titled 1993 watershed.

The rock-radio classic "Cannonball" revved with punky confidence, and the band could have vamped on "Divine Hammer" for a few extra minutes without wearing it out. Older tunes, such as the weirdly tender "Fortunately Gone" and the spiky "Hellbound," also possessed all of their original guitar-based buzz.

Kim Deal's voice is still a remarkable thing: Half cute, half dusky, it only gets stronger after a couple of cigarettes. When she harmonizes with Kelley's deeper timbre, the combination is uniquely sweet. It's easy to imagine the tall, raven-haired pair working things out long ago in their parents' Ohio basement.

Kelley even pulled out a violin for the road ballad "Drivin' on 9." As she bowed clumsily but gamely through the ditty's big-hearted solo, Kim made sisterly funny faces at the sounds coming from the other side of the stage.

The bonus was a cover of the rowdy "Angry Inch," from the glam-rock musical and film "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." Guest vocalist Michael Cerveris, who has handled the title role onstage several times, used the song to provide a three-minute clinic on rock-star body language. The Deals obviously enjoyed forfeiting the spotlight for a while.

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