photo & text by nacrowe
when i moved from KUWAIT to SACRAMENTO to live with a relative shortly after 9/11 i was pretty shellshocked. it was a tough relocation and on top of that it was my senior year of high school. so i just remember being alone a lot listening to records. fortunately a few blocks away was a solid (sadly now defunct) record store called DIMPLE RECORDS where i basically spent my allowance on all things POST PUNK, GOTH ROCK, INDIE ROCK and beyond.
one of those discoveries was THE BREEDERS. i knew THE PIXIES pretty well but ended up delving headfirst into KIM DEAL's other project, specifically the POD (4AD, 1990) and LAST SPLASH (4AD, 1993) albums. along with ELASTICA, i remember listening to LAST SPLASH when going on a trip to SANTA CRUZ visit the university there. man did i want to attend that school. you had the mountains and the beach and oblique references to PULP FICTION (MIRAMAX, 1994), it seemed perfect. unfortunately i didnt get in. i was considered an out-of-state applicant. i missed the deadline by less than a week. if 9/11 had only have been 8/11 id have gotten in. i remember tutoring peers at my new high school in the afternoon who got in. it was a mess. it worked out though, RUTGERS and COLUMBIA aint half bad at all. but i cant help remembering how fun SANTA CRUZ was for that weekend.
THE BREEDERS fit that vibe so well because everything about their music, visuals and lyrics was a bit askew, a little bit off. they kept the soft verse, explosive chorus of THE PIXIES, whom KIM DEAL was a founding member of, but really explored odd time signatures and interesting guitar-based textures that wrapped her husky vocals seamlessly. standout tracks such as "DRIVIN' ON 9," "NO ALOHA," "DIVINE HAMMER," "DO YOU LOVE ME NOW?" and of course, "CANNONBALL" all mined the same sources that seemed to veer from classic 1950s SURF MUSIC to recent SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK with infectious melodies and interesting harmonies. vocally the harmonies created by KIM and her sister KELLEY DEAL really provided a lift during the choruses due to the preternatural similarities between the tone of their voices. watching live videos i am always stunned to see how something i thought was a KIM vocal was actually KELLEY and vice versa. those harmonies definitely added a signature sonic element to their songs.
for me LAST SPLASH is an iconic 1990s record on par with anything NIRVANA, THE BEASTIE BOYS, JANE'S ADDICTION, A TRIBE CALLED QUEST, OASIS, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, THE WU-TANG CLAN or BECK put out in terms of sonic experimentation and innovation. its a cornerstone record that deserves rediscovery and reexamination more than two decades later.