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Listen: Pixies offer more cowbell in grungy 'Blue Eyed Hexe'

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The Pixies are back -- again.

After touring its classic material for several years as a kind of hipster oldies act, the hugely influential alt-rock band finally put out some new music last September in the form of the four-song "EP-1."

The only problem? It wasn't any good, at least apart from "Another Toe in the Ocean," with Black Francis' dreamy vocal melody floating over the kind of serrated noise-pop guitar that the Pixies practically invented.

Early Friday, though, the band released another batch of new songs, and this one might be worth getting excited about.

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Like its predecessor, "EP-2" -- available from the group's website as a download or a limited-edition 10-inch vinyl record -- contains four fresh tunes, these recorded in Wales in October with Gil Norton, the British producer who oversaw some of the Pixies' best work during the band's initial go-round.

In the lead track, "Blue Eyed Hexe," which the band also posted on YouTube, Francis reconnects with the crazy-guy-spewing-nonsense vibe he channeled so winningly in "Where Is My Mind?" and "Planet of Sound."

"I went to make the vivisection / Saw the star carved upon her chest," he sings, going on to describe a "goat of lust attacking heaven." His accompaniment is more vivid, too, than it was on "EP-1," with sleazy trash-rock guitar and a fat cowbell-enriched beat.

"It's a tale from the northwestern part of the UK, and it's a witch-woman kind of a song," Francis said in a statement announcing the new EP's release. "That's what a 'hexe' is, and ours is a blue-eyed hexe."

Guitarist Joey Santiago added that Norton tried to put some "swagger" in the band's sound. "He wanted the guitar solo to sound like you're going to have sex with this blue-eyed hexe," Santiago said.

Francis, Santiago and drummer David Lovering are set to begin a North American tour on Jan. 15, though they'll be traveling this time without bassist Kim Shattuck, who joined the band last fall for a tour that included shows at L.A.'s Echo, El Rey and Mayan. (Simon Archer, credited as Ding, plays bass on "EP-1" and "EP-2.")

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Shattuck, a member of L.A.'s Muffs, took over for the Pixies' original bassist, Kim Deal, after Deal quit earlier last year.

In November, Shattuck wrote on Facebook that she was "super disappointed" to learn that her stint with the outfit had ended, suggesting that she'd been fired. She told England's NME that her bandmates "weren't thrilled" when she got "overly enthusiastic" and jumped into the crowd during the Mayan gig.

For the Pixies' upcoming dates, another Angeleno -- Paz Lenchantin of the Entrance Band, A Perfect Circle and Zwan -- will play bass.

Listen to "Blue Eyed Hexe" below, but be aware that the YouTube clip contains some medical imagery that some viewers might find disturbing.

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