20 May 2011
Check out the first half first, duder.
So where was I? Oh yeah, The Breeders did manage to steer me into the arms of a very Kim Deal-esque young woman. You see, I met this chick in September of 1993. The Breeders and Kim and Kelley Deal were already so firmly imbedded in my mind that I didn't even notice that I was attracted to this girl because she looked and dressed like a Deal sister. This relationship was hot, heavy, dramatic, explosive, and lasted nearly 2 weeks (actually not consummated until months and months later in a rather peculiar one afternoon stand (don't worry I didn't put this album on for tha screwin')). The relationship ended but my aching love of this album never did.
During the summer of 1994, I actually got to see The Breeders live at Lollapalooza in Miami. They were not the most popular band at that moment and all the fucking idiots disappeared from the moshpit. So me and only a handful of rad dudes and ladies danced our hearts out in the August (the 15th to be precise) sun. Their stage was covered with gold Lamé and they rocked out. Like everyone who loves a band, it fucking felt like they were playing to me. The girl I was dating at the time didn't stand a chance. She looked nothing like Kim Deal. We broke up mere weeks after this show.
Track 1 - "I Just Wanna Get Along"
And here is another track that is so impossibly cool that it's like permanent sunglasses. With this in my walkman, I would strut around with a rock swagger that I never earned. Holy shit, here's a bass line so insistent and so steady that the rest of the band can do whatever the hell they please. The chops of Josephine Wiggs can never be praised enough.
Track 2 - "Mad Lucas"
In part 1 of this album review, I talked about how I thought this album was so weird and so out there? Well, if this isn't a bizarro track then I don't know what is. With vocals run through a rotary speaker, fuzzed out guitars that sound about a mile away, and some feedback that sounds an awful lot like one of those funky cicada sound toys that were everywhere in the 90s. This song sounds like eery meditation.
Track 3 - "Divine Hammer"
Nothing reminds me more of driving through rainy weather in Palm Beach County more than this song. Damn. The storm is breaking, the sun is setting to your left and you're just cruising through the weakening rain. What always impressed me are the snare blasts in this one. Years later, I would have my step-brother and I put together a drumset and I would fail to play along to this track. By the way, I never saw the music video for this track until way later when MTV2 played it.
Track 4 - "S.O.S."
Now this is heavy! I could dig on this instantly. There's nothing to get cerebral about. Soaring guitars and a thumping rhythm section. Duh, right? On any given afternoon, you could find my teenage self thrashing around my room like I was still into Anthrax and Sepultura.
Track 5 - "Hag"
This song seems to float in on melody that is impossibly pretty. Then it simply refuses to be ignored. It bristles with attitude, vocals dripping with disdain (wait, what song is that from? oh yeah, Vampire Weekend) and gets by on its good looks. Here is another example of a crash course in indie rock. This would open doors for me that would lead to tons of other bands. More about that at the end. This feels like someone else's memories. So perfect. And that jangly beauty again at the end. Pat yourselves on the back, ladies, you win.
Track 6 - "Saints"
I don't know. This one just seemed like a real easy track. Could this be the most radio friendly? I've always had trouble connecting to songs that praise summer. I've been in Florida for 23 years and I don't think I'll ever appreciate this awful, awful season. However, I did really enjoy the chip on the shoulder delivery of the lyrics. This song will not be denied. Oh yeah, this was the only other music video for this album that I saw at the time and it further enveloped me in the Dealness. (The version on the video above is different. Dig those gruff vocals!)
Track 7 - "Drivin' On 9"
What about this one? I don't know. It felt like the end of the album. For some people, maybe it felt like a reward. Maybe for some other kids, it was their favorite song. This song just depressed the shit out of me. I like how it has become this great bar song now. Awesome.
Track 8 - "Roi (Reprise)"
I have to say the inclusion of this short little bit of noise accomplished something that very few closing tracks (much less reprises) can do. It makes me want to start the whole record over again. I am one of those people who can't listen to the same album twice in a row and sometimes not even twice in a day. This was not the case with Last Splash and this track has a lot to do with that. Just play this back to back with "New Year". Truly, seriously, and totally.
So here it is, the future and I can't thank The Breeders enough for making my musical life so much better. I feel enriched after all these years. Without The Breeders I may never have even bothered with The Pixies until much later. I would never have been able to understand Sonic Youth. I would almost love Helium as much as this band. Almost! What else can I say? This one life-changing cassette did all of this. I needed to get out of my headspace and find music that felt just crazy enough to feel like it was mine. (Too bad it couldn't get me out of ska (that was a job for a little band called Braid).)
The first time I ever heard anything "weird" was at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I was home on a Saturday and they played "Cannonball" by The Breeders. I had never heard or seen anything like these chicks (and one dude). I fell instantly in love with the Deal sisters. All I knew about them from the video was that they were some goodtime gals and that they made music that sounded punk-ish but had a distorted acoustic guitar and a bass line hook for the ages. I sat there and said to myself, I need this. By the next day, I had been to the mall and picked up Last Splash on cassette. The reason for not getting the disc was that I figured (incorrectly) that "Cannonball" would be the only good song on the whole tape. How funny. I was already very cynical.
When I finally put it on, I was totally blown away by Last Splash. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I knew rap, heavy metal, punk, and ska but I did not know this. The only alternative music I had in my possession was Soundgarden, Nirvana, and I don't know, Concrete Blonde? None of those bands felt as important, as fresh, as emotive, as eccentric, as impossibly cool, or as sexy as The Breeders did to me. Granted, I used to ride my bike around my little suburb of Jupiter, Florida openly weeping to Soundgarden's "Mind Riot". Shit man, I fucking loved music. And I was ready for Last Splash.
By the way, I had no idea who The Pixies were. It would be over two years before someone said, "Hey dumbass, Kim Deal is from this other band." While I love The Pixies, they NEVER came close to being as important as The Breeders for me.
I am now going to talk about every song on this damn album and try to imagine myself as a 17 year old newb. My age is currently double that right now so what the hell, right?
Track 1 - "New Year"
I'll never forget the "awwwww yeah" and "huh?" feelings this opener gave me. The drums were heavy and the guitars were heavy and I didn't know which way was up. And like any ex-metalhead, I was obsessed with the totally bizarre lyrics. There are sounds on this song that I thought maybe were guitars but maybe weren't. Strange plinking and feedbacky sounds that made a part of brain come to life that was always dormant and that I can never turn off now. What the fuck is this? No seriously, WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? And what is up with that ending? We get all geared up for more magic, the buildup is building up, and we're done!
Track 2 - "Cannonball"
And here is that strange, strange song that screwed me six ways till Sunday (musically). The one that started it all. This song feels like a memory of a girl screaming in your ear and her lips accidentally brushing the lobe. You don't remember the pain but you remember the tingling in your guts and can't help but smile about the damage she did. Attention-grabbing and life-changing and unlike anything I had ever heard before. The perfect single for my young ears.
Track 3 - "Invisible Man"
Truth be told, this song, over the years, has become the most nostalgic for me over the years. When I heard that they mentioned "southern skies" (hey I live in Florida) and when I heard the phrase "nothing excites you" (hey I was born to disappoint the ladies), I felt something break inside me. This is the one that I would listen to and just completely fall apart. No clue why they never made a video for this one. Listening to this now, I find it hard not to stare off into space and imagine my Palm Beach days very, very fondly (even though they often sucked and even though it was almost always my fault). The violin and moog sound like something lifted off a creaky old ballad from the 1920s. And that coda with the bells... Ohhhhhhhhhh, doctor.
Track 4 - "No Aloha"
Now bear with me here. Imagine how close minded I was at 17. The first minute and 10 seconds of this track was literally the weirdest thing I had ever heard. Lyrically and sonically, I was not prepared. This song made me uneasy and then the drums kick in and I felt safe again.
Track 5 - "Roi"
Speaking of sonic blasts of guitar noise... This one grooves and rocks out until more strangeness happens. If ever there was something that could be called mind-expanding musical drugs, this was it. By the way, I never did any drugs in my teen years. This was was my LSD, pot, coke, E, etc. All of the weird vocal pieces on this album feel like a cute chick is humming, whistling, or cooing in my ears. Addictive and perfect in every way.
Track 6 - "Do You Love Me Now?"
I refused to use this song to think of girls and heartbreak over the years and I'm so glad I did. If this song had ever been attached to some brief relationship in my youth, it would have been ruined. It's a strong bit of longing and obsession that anyone can understand. What interested me musically is the un-guitar solo on this one. It sounded so sloppy and off. Couple that with the driving beat and gorgeous harmonizing vocals... Simply excellent.
Track 7 - "Flipside"
Um... huh? So here's this little surf rock song to close out side A. This may be the easiest thing to listen to on this entire tape. Leave it to a band like The Breeders and to come off even more odd by playing something painfully normal.
Side B coming in the next part wherein I will talk about the second side of the tape. I will also talk about the chick I dated because of The Breeders AND getting to see them at Lollapalooza in 1994.
Hey, Side B is done now. Check it out.