Whether you love her or hate her, it's hard to ignore Peaches. The Canadian singer and performance artist has engaged and polarized audiences for two decades with musical takes on recurring themes of gender, sexuality, politics and cultural taboos.
She's also starred in a short film by John Malkovich, written music for Christina Aguilera and negotiated the right to perform her one-woman version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar (which she re-named Peaches Christ Superstar) in Berlin. And in June, she released a book of candid photographs titled What Else Is In the Teaches of Peaches after German photographer Holger Talinski spent years shadowing the musician both on and off stage.
On Friday, the woman who Rolling Stone recently called "the queen of filthy electro-punk" will release her first new album of original material since 2009. It's titled RUB and features guest appearances from Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon and longtime friend/collaborator Feist.
In anticipation of both the album, and her upcoming tour kickoff show at the Belly Up, CityBeat takes a look at Peaches' multifaceted musical catalog.
Fancypants Hoodlum by Merrill Nisker (1995)
Although they were billed as Fancypants Hoodlum when performing, this early 12-song LP was released under Peaches' given name. Nisker would go on to form experimental noise outfit The Shit before making her transformation into Peaches, but lyrics to songs like "Radio" hinted at what was to come: "The radio means too much to me / The radio is a mole on me / The radio sounds too old to me / I don't have to think at all / I don't have to think at all."
The Teaches of Peaches (2000)
According to the story, Berlin label Kitty-Yo signed Peaches to a deal after being blown away by her performance at a one-off gig. Her "real" debut features the song, "Fuck The Pain Away," which, in addition to making its way into Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost In Translation, was heard on TV shows such as 30 Rock, South Park and True Blood. And for a song in which the most recognizable line is "Sucking on my titties like you wanted me," I'd say that's pretty impressive. Fellow Canuck and one-time roomie Feist sang on the record and, under the name Bitch Lap Lap, performed sock puppetry from backstage at Peaches shows, according to reviews at the time.
This album featured "Kick It," a hard-rocking collaboration with Iggy Pop, and garnered an Outstanding Music Artist nomination at the 15th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. But it'll likely be most remembered for its cover. The close-up of Peaches donning a merkin and staring blankly into the camera is startling. I think the photo ends up making her look a lot like Wayne Static of Static-X, but anyone who can wear a pubic wig on their face and get away with it needs to be applauded. And the fact that merkins were part of the tour merch on the ensuing Fatherfucker tour is even more impressive.
Impeach My Bush (2006)
Surprisingly no more political than any of her other albums, Impeach My Bush features guests such as Joan Jett, Josh Homme and The Gossip's Beth Ditto, among others. Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes was in on the early stages of writing the album, and with her new band The Herms backing her, the album found Peaches opening for the likes of Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails. It also features the song "Rock The Shocker," which Peaches was all too happy to explain during live shows. Like some kind of sexual-hand-gesture workshop, audiences were asked to follow proper step-by-step finger placement directions, and then hold their own "shockers" in the air during the song—at least that's what she did at the show I saw.
I Feel Cream (2009)
One of her more critically acclaimed albums, I Feel Cream features sharp production from Simian Mobile Disco, Soulwax and Digitalism. German band Sweet Machine was enlisted as Peachesí backing band during this time, and Vice Cooler, who would go on to handle production duties on RUB, directed the video for "Mud," one of the album's highlights.
Back into the fold after six years off, Peaches had this to say about her return to music: "Since 2000, I've been making a record for a year, and then touring it for two years over and over. After 10 years of doing that, I needed a change."
Understandable. And while I haven't heard the album yet, I have watched the three videos released from it. "Light In Places" features aerial performance artist Empress Stah doing her act while wearing a laser buttplug. "Close up" features Kim Gordon as a wrestling coach who watches Peaches make out with another wrestler, get lactated on and have excrement smeared on her face. And "Dick In The Air" follows a day in which Peaches and Margaret Cho find body suits with macramé penises, and proceed to do everything a pair of 13-year-old boys would do if they found the same suits. Well, maybe except for that part where Cho gives Peaches a mayonnaise facial. Who knows? Anyway, it certainly hints at interesting things to come.