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.