Kings of good melody. From their
inception as a distorted lo-fi pop duo to their later incarnation as a
five-piece slumberpop beauty machine, this NYC/Stockton, CA combo did
nothing but impress and impress again. They always displayed a respect and
understanding for the aesthetics of noise, but as they matured as musicians
(if not as human beings - they always seemed awfully egotistical in interviews -
or at least playfully jerky), they also showed loyal fans that their brains
harbored no shortage of delightful, memorable melodies, most of which put every
band on the Billboard Top 100 to shame.
They never quite rose above the
underground, but that's understandable - the '90s alternative kids wanted ROCK -
cleanly distorted, predictable, mid-tempo ROCK. And Pavement refused to become
a generic grunge band; they were too smart for that. Their music
got slower and calmer with each release, and that's fine, because they were
fantastic at it. Like late-period Unrest with a background in '70s
guitar rock, they played beautiful double-axe melodies and splotched
regular-guy-next-door vocals on top, spitting out lyrics that rhymed and flowed
like a cold wintry river flue, even when they didn't make a lick of sense.
Real bright fellows. Sarcastic, sure, but, unlike Oasis, they actually lived
up to their own high image of themselves.
Westing (By Musket And Sextant) - Drag City
The early stuff. This CD compiles their first three
EPs, a single, and two tracks from compilation records, none of which were
previously available on CD. So let's go record by record, eh? That way, you
vinyl fiends can decide for yourselves whether to spend ten bucks on this CD
or waste five years and a couple hundred dollars trying to hunt down and
purchase all the original releases. Buy this. Seriously. Save yourself the
The first five songs are from Slay Tracks (1933-1969), an EP recorded
by Steve Malkmus and Scott Kannberg in...uhh...1989, maybe? It shows a wee
bit of promise, and some of the noises are kinda neat, but the only one that
really alerts you to the possibility of something wonderful happening in the
next couple of years is "Box Elder," a heavenly low-fidelity pop hit that
impressed British band The Wedding Present so much, they stole it!
Unforchunitlee, the other four songs don't do a whole slew of a ton.
'Tis okay, though, as the next seventeen songs are incredible! Tracks six through eleven
are from Demolition Plot J-7, which is pretty much a bunch of little
speedy snippety rock songs that individually have enough personality and
creativity (especially in the perfect chord sequences) to warrant a
good eight or nine listens. And with titles like "Spizzle Trunk" and
"Internal K-Dart," they have to be so good, it's incredible! Still lo in the
fi department, but cool enough. There's some boogie-woogie piano in there, as
well as a tad of keyboard maneuvering, but it's all so hissy and condensed,
there's no way it could ever be confused with any "popular music" outfit.
This is underground stuff, but already they're proving that they are creative
lords of chord progression. Unlike Guided By Voices, who bore me silly,
Pavement here put forth a powerful argument for the 50-second pop song
as a perfectly rational artistic goal. Does that make sense?
This style continues with unbelievably stunning results on the
appropriately-titled Perfect Sound Forever ep, featuring '60s burnout
Gary Young on drums (giving them a bouncy, swinging backbeat that adds to
their "slackness" dramatically), in addition to a host of delicious pastries
in the guitar tone department. The production is stupendous. So clear and
pretty, yet so distorted and loud!!!!! And, as always, the keyboard
interludes are hilarious and necessary; they give Pavement records a wonderful
carnivalesque quality not heard since the early days of The Fall, a band that
many fans feel were ripped off something fierce by Pavement on their first
records. I disagree. You can tell that The Fall were an influence but, aside
from a couple of ditties on Slanted And Enchanted, most of this stuff
sounds much too American to remind anybody of the highly-British Fall.
Let me continue. Next up is the "Summer Babe" single. "Summer Babe" is a
Pavement classic, representing the initial shift from distorted rock to
quieter pop melodicism, but with enough amateurism and humor to warm the
hearts of indie rock kids worldwide. Still sounds great, and the two B-sides
are good too, in the same style as their A.
The last two songs are from comps, and they're okay. You know. Okay.
Regardless of some
weak numbers at the beginning, this is one of those releases you just have to
give a big ol' thumbs up to. A fine value - a bunch of splendid
numbers, and they're all really short! The punk attitude applied to indie
pop. But, hey now, the songs are as long as they need to be; ain't no "Thick As A
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Will Robertson)
My friends and I in Little old Christchurch, New Zealand have
discovered "Baptiss Blacktick" must be one of the best songs to go nuts
to. Smoke tons of dope, spin around several times, and bounce off the
walls while lisning to this track, try it.
- email@example.com (Miroslav Markovic)
"Perfect Depth" is one of the most tragic (especially live when you hear the
ever. The best song was written by Gary!!!
"so he got his hand caught in the kitchen sink
was his birthday tomorrow, but he couldn't resist.
But he never found the side of his second skin-
At least he knows how the other half lives
Inside a little box about 4 inches wide
with windows shut
and air that stinks
But he only hears the laughter in the back
he should be thankful...so fucking thankful, and that's alright with her
all his precious time
like he wasted I wasted all my precious time
Was a sorry thing to do
was a fucked up thing for you
Cause i wasted
I wasted it all on you."
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Stewardson)
Just started getting into the Pave-boys, only got this one and S&E so
far... I have to say I'm impressed with most of it. Very derivative of
The Fall and Sonic Youth (but so what!)
"Forklift", "Internal K-Dart" and "Debris Slide" are my faves, but as
Will Robertson mentions above "Baptist Blacktick" is pretty cool and
very, very funny (THAT FUCKER!!!
Suavely interesting though ultimately less worthy than Pavement's other
records because of the dated lo fi shit. I never really was a fan of the lofi
aesthetic as such (though despite that, i'm fond of quite a few lofi BANDS,
like Guided By Voices) with it's "Oh, just imagine how it would sound with
REAL production!" claptrap. Even in this early phase Pavement could write a
fucking killer melody, one that was neither too dorky or too sarcastically
smug. Highlights are: "You're Killing Me", "Baptiss Blacktick".
- email@example.com (Rod Brown)
One of their best......Perfect depth is up there as my Favourite early
Pavement Song....They will never return to this raw sound. Shame.
The sound of this album is a lot of fun. Most of the
songs are brilliant. They are short bursts of energy
coated in sugar with a rough edge and cryptic lyrics
that are fresh and full of life. Besides Crooked Rain
this is my favorite Pavement collection. If only they
could return to this level of energy instead of the
recent dull period of Terror Twilight.
This might be my 10.
Malkmus was so innocent and likable back then. And all the songs are short and messed up, and kind of perfect.
The reunion tour will be alright, probably worth seeing if they play Grounded.
That song is epic live.
Slanted And Enchanted - Matador
One of the most eagerly-awaited independent releases of
'92 (at least, at my college radio station), this is one that actually
lived up to the hype (for one that failed, see Bandwagonesque by
Teenage Fan Club). Allow me to cut to the chase - this is young creative pop/rock at its pinnacle. The
musical sense displayed in these compositions is so impressive, it almost
makes my head spin around like an owl or that girl in the Exorcist. Yeah,
there's one or two stinkers ("No Life Singed Her" is almost as irritating as
any band on Flying Nun, and "Two States," though not bad, is a bit dull
considering how similar to Paul McCartney's "Helen Wheels" it is), but about
twelve of these songs are among the finest songs we've heard this decade - oh
heck, maybe ever!
I guess it's Malkmus that writes most of 'em. Wow. It's
like The Beatles; it's difficult to explain in words what makes the melodies
so friggin' unique and unsurpassable. But they is. It ain't the vocals or
the guitar interplay or nothin'; it's just the dang melodies that are unfathomably
brilliant. Perchance Steve-o rips off his favorite bands ("Fame Throwa" and
"Conduit For Sale!" might as well be entitled "We Really Like The Fall Parts I
And II"), but he does it so well, you know he's smart enough not to do
it if he chooses to do so. See what I'm saying? He can allude to other artists
and it doesn't matter, because he's not a cheat. He's an extremely talented
songwriter with so much "slack" that, even if the instruments are hardly
playing the melody at all, it's still THERE somehow, holding the piece
together, working around half-hearted vocals, wrong guitar notes, and
superloose drumming. No, you probably won't happen across a Slanted And
Enchanted tablature book at your local music store any time soon, but
don't let that of all things throw you. Come now! It's an iota messy, but,
as its title tries to tell you, it delivers beauty, guy. Time and time again.
"Trigger Cut?" "Zurich Is Stained?" "Loretta's Scars?" "Here?"
"Perfume-V?" "Our Singer?" Call me a cab, please. I'm stinking drunk from
It only gets a 9 'cuz it's too tinny (Perfect Sound
Forever is this not), but the songs are spiffy. Buy this, guy. You'll
never understand the meaning of "good Indie Rock" if you buy nothing but The
Breeders and Superchunk all goddamn day. This is where it's at.
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Fred Hill)
i can't believe you didn't mention, "In The Mouth of A Desert." that's
probably the best godamn song on the album.
- email@example.com (Paul Stewardson)
Surprised to see not many comments about this one as it's damn close to
being a masterpeice. It's still pretty new to me and I suppose I could
get bored with it if I played it all the time, but at the moment it
hasn't been out of my cd player for some time. Highlights (for me) are
"Trigger Cut" (lovely heartbreaking melody), "Conduit For Sale!" (tryin'
to be the Fall-ah!), "Two States" (anybody else think this is the
closest Pave have come to seventies-style glam rock?) and, surprisingly,
the arcanely titled "Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era" which is
just brilliant (ace keyboards).
Confusing dada-ist wordplay, minimalist guitar work, wet-noodle rhythm
section; no wonder critics went apeshit over this record. Not the Pavers
strongest in terms of melodies ("Two States" and "Fame Throwa" need to go sit
in the corner for a while) but one of the most cohesive albums I've ever
heard. The great thing about this one is how wispy and windblown it sounds:
Malkmus is the ultimate nerd-boy romantic, one who's smart enough not to lift
the Prozac fetish of bands like REM and Depeche Mode but dumb enough to make
us sing along.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Evan Streb)
I don't like this album very much at all. Never heard them on the radio.
(There aren't any "college" radio stations round here.) To everybody on this
site it may seem like this is one of the greatest debuts ever, and what
"good" indie rock is, but to me it just seems like a bunch of distorted
guitars with lots of static and some reefer addict screaming "I'm trying!
I'm trying! I'm trying!" all the time. And why does this album sound like it
was recorded in a trash can? It's like the band is saying "Oh, we're so much
cooler than all those popular bands because we like to record every song on
here as shitty as possible so MTV won't ever make us into the next Nirvana."
Well fine. It's interesting, this whole "low-tech" approach I guess. But why
does every song sound exactly like the one that came before it? Why does
everyone love this album so much? Is it the "low-tech" production? The
screaming? The hippie drummer? I can't give it any more than about a four.
After listening to this album three times I can't recall a single melody
from it, so because of that, it's a bad album.
- email@example.com (Mitch Anon)
I couldn't let the last comment about Slanted and Enchanted call it "a bad
album". I think I know why you don't like it: you're not listening. Listen
to the undeniable melodic greatness of "Summer Babe", "Trigger Cut" and "In
the Mouth a Desert" and the overwhelming beauty of "Here"- one of the
greatest songs of the 90s in my opinion. The album is also lyrically
propelled- SM's words are cryptic, yet contain a mystic beauty: "A run on
piece of mountain trembles, shivers, runs down the freeway".
It's a masterpiece that couldn't exist without the lo-fi sound ( not tinny
), that only serves to add to the wonder of it. A lo-fi ballad hits
emotional chords in a way so direct that over-produced swells of gushing
"music" that seems to force feeling on to you, never could.
Pavement is forever.
This album has loads of great material, but the material that isn't great doesn't
just sit around being average, it's so utterly godawful that I can't really put this
into the "classics" pantheon like most people can. See, I absolutely adore stuff
like "Here," "Perfume-V," "Our Singer," "Conduit For Sale!"(I'LL TRY AND I'LL TRY AND
I'LL TRY!!), "In The Mouth A Desert"(which has got to have the coolest generic drone-rock
solo ever laid down) and the snappy "Trigger Cut"(which leads me to believe that
Evan didn't actually listen to the album if he considers "Summer Babe" better than this song).
Most of the rest of the stuff, however, is sort of unlistenable -- "Fame Throwa" and "No
Life Singed Her" just strike me as annoying attempts to be defiantly uncommercial, as if to say
"Look at us!! We're indie!! Who cares if we're making crappy music in the process?" Still,
there's enough wonderful material on here for me to give it an 8. But a really low one.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Evan Streb)
Well, after listening to this album for like a year, I've finally, uh,
"gotten into it". It's actually a pretty good album! The only problem
is it has not one, but THREE of the absolute most annoying shitsongs I've
ever heard in my life. "Conduit for Sale!" and "No Life Singed Her"
still annoy the hell out of me, and "Chesley's Little Wrists" just makes me
want to punch the lead singer in the face it's so godawful. I always
just program those songs out when I listen to it. I mean what the hell is so
good about hearing somebody screaming in your ears like that? As for
the other songs, "Here" is beautiful. "Summer Babe", "In The Mouth Of A
Desert" and "Two States" are really really catchy. And I really like
the guitar tones of "Trigger Cut", "Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome
Era", and "Fame Throwa", even though the latter song makes me want to punch
the lead singer in the face again for that unbelievably stupid "Naked naked
- email@example.com (Kathie Cullen)
AWWw.. no life has singed is one of my fav songs on the album It's cause
it is so different yet catchy thit it is so catchy..... not too mention
conduit for sale and in the mouth of a desert as 2 of the greatest songs
Great album! I agree some songs are kinda annoying, but ive grown to like them over the
years ive had this. I like the lo-fi production, but i agree it is a bit tinny. "Jackels,
False Grails:.." and "Fame Throwa" are the only songs that i think are just Okay, but the
rest i really like, even "Two States". 9/10.
i just got pavement's slanted and enchanted and it has taken my breath away, i would go as far to say it has the best atmosphere of any record i have ever heard. although not
all the songs are great, and most of the songs have one or two shitty moments, the writing is wonderful. but one thing why is this album always compared to the fall's
grotesque (after the gramme), "conduit for sale" does sorta rip off "new face in hell" but only it's rift, the vocal rhythm is way different (I TRY, I TRY, I TRY!) and they
don't even try to emulate the kazoo melody. also as much as i love this albums it can't really even compare to grotesque (after the gramme) because grotesque is one of the
best albums of all time and this only contains some of the best songs of all time ("Summer babe", "Trigger cut," "The mouth of the dessert," "Here," etc.) still it's an honest 8.
Fact: Pavement ripped off the Fall musically and lyrically and also album
cover wise, and did none of these things to particularly good effect. The
future possibilities of art-rock were definitely sapped and undernined by
their emergence and subsequent popularity, i.e. by turning the kids in the
direction of their superficial faux-underground product. Now, in 2002,
art-rock is dead, and Pavement must bear some (minor) responsibility for
this. Their lyrical/title technique is similar to Mark E. Smith's, in that
it is also based on unlikely grammatical juxtapositions etc. But that is as
far as it goes. Pavement's lyrics are a posey cul-de-sac, a void of meaning
and emotion. With the Fall, the often seemingly opaque lyrics actually yield
something (sometimes) - and that is the big difference. Pavement are
essentially bogus, while Smith is a genius (in rock terms anyway). I would
recommend Pavement fans to listen to Dragnet by the Fall - a lo-fi album
that is not only great musically but also has content.
'Summer Babe' is alright though.
Malkmus stole the vocal melody of the chorus on "Trigger Cut" from Jim Croce's "Operator". Compare the two, right now. See?
I am not an audiophile. I love tons of lo-fi
material, but there is something about the sound of
this album that keeps me from enjoying it. I keep
wondering what I am missing, but have decided my taste
is my taste and I will be happy to keep playing
Crooked Rain and Westing.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Grefski)
I aw them live around the time of Slanted and they were very very good. And I was pleased that they played both "In Her Mouth" and "Perfume V" and their drummer was very very drunk and doing handstands on the stage in between songs. Superchunk was good that night too. My Bloody Valentine sucked though, as much as it kills me to admit that.
- email@example.com (Barrett Barnard)
this album is punk because of its definitive setting.in this case its southern claifornia.this is to that area what the meat puppets 2nd album was to the southwest.just great songwriting all the way through. i like the noisier parts personally.personal favorite:loreta's scars.the whole album is catchy and lazy.great.perfect 10.
Mah. I just don't get this album. It's influential, sure, but cohesive?
Nah. At least it's loads better than Surfer Rosa, the other left-field el
weirdo indie record I don't like. Tracks 1, 4, 5, and 9 are all great. And
track 13 has some cool guitar noises on it. And the lyrics are appropriately
weird and don't annoy be to death like that damn Tony superhero song. And
finally, it's laid back. Laaaaazy. (well, compared to the Pixies. Freaks.)
It's a decent record, but I don't comprehend its "best album of the '90's"
status. Maybe it's the cover. Now THAT is a cool picture!
I'm happy to report that, after several lonely years (after my copy
rested at the bottom of t'North sea I have managed to thieve a copy
from a friend and I'm getting re-acquainted with this fine, fine album.
I forgot how jam-packed it is, to wit: the 'sha-la-la's' during Fame
Thrower, always makes me smile. I'd also forgot how lovely Here is.
(though the Tindersticks' sad cover has been at hand.)
Joy beheld. Up next I have smuggled out some Magazine & Wire, for
which I'm looking forward to. But I must dash as i have a few Broon
Ales to drink and the film Scratch (about, you know, Scratching) so I
bid you goodnight.
p.s. I don't like how the tracks mix on the CD. If my memory serves,
this never happened on the Vinyl?
It's really a fantastic album. I hate the smug thing as much as the next guy, but this is a really great record. And not smug. It sounds like its done by a bunch of people with absolutely no self confidence. I really love it a lot, even though i think your not supposed to. And the recording quality isn't THAT BAD AT ALL, i've heard so much worse!
- Jack Gamber
Dear Stephen Cleary: Rarely do comments on the wonderful Mark Prindle's site make me mad,
but yours is just wrong. Art-Rock is dead!? Far from it sir! Even
if you want just Art-"Rock", and the great art music without a big
rock leaning, it is still alive and well. TV on the Radio, Liars,
Deerhoof, Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Destroyer, The Walkmen, and
many more keep art rock alive and well.
Also, Pavement are fucking rad, but I won't bother to attack on
Watery, Domestic EP - Matador
Too short! Only four songs, but at least they're
moving forward. Clearer, tighter playing, less exuberance, more of a sense of
impending spiritual and physical exhaustion (touring is hard, I'd
wager), but that darned melodic knowhow isn't goin' any place! "Texas Never
Whispers" offers up one of the oddest, hardest-to-follow chord sequences
since, oh hell, I don't know, "Last Train To Clarkesville." Look, it's late, I
wanna go to bed, just lay the hell off. Then "Frontwards" somehow finds
gorgeousness in one of the most overused melodies you've ever heard, then you
flip the record over.
Yes. All the way over.
There! Now you got the
football song, which is cool because it's by
slackers who really shouldn't be singing about football cuz football players would
hate them smelly pansies and wouldn't hesitate to kick their scrawny
long-haired asses all up and down the locker room, and "Shoot The Singer," oh
sir, it's gorgeous. A high point. Moe, they're ALL high points! Pavement's
entire career has been a high point! Musically, at least. So what if they
can't get on M-TV or Lollapalooza? Fellows this talented deserve to
remain industry outsiders.
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Rolando Jamilla)
Pavement played in Lollapalooza.
Same year Sinead O'Connor got knocked up and dropped out.
She and the whole audience didn't show up.
9 of 10 that's about right. Well, one short maybe. This is one cool EP.
You can play it over and over, back to back, and not get bored with it.
And what do you mean,"Too short!" It's a damn EP. What do you want.
Besides the cover has a cool picture of a chicken.
What the hell is better than that?
- email@example.com (Annette)
I picked up on Pavement in '92, by buying Watery Domestic off a friend and, in retrospect, don't think they they ever surpassed it. They got 'better' in all
of the regular ways but there was something completely untouchable in that and Slanted that I never will be able to put my finger on - there
was something, lyrically, structurally, and guitar wise that had a totally unique aesthetic. I love the other albums, although I don't recognise Twilight as a
Pavement album like I would the others, but when songs like Texas Never Whispers, Shoot the Singer, and - hell, yes - Sue Me, Jack - cover their main
ideas then go through the roof...
Anyone out there - is this webpage still used!!!? - who misses this period would be very well advised to get hold of the Peel sessions. I don't know which
bootleg they're on as I got them off the radio, but Ed Ames and Rain Ammunition have this factor X. DG
Annette should definitely pick up S&E: Luxe and Reduxe, as it contains
Watery, Domestic AND the bootleg she is thinking of, but with much better sound.
By the way, that bootleg was called Stuff Up The Cracks and it was the
coolest boot I had for a long time.
Stray Slack: About As Valid As A Record
Contract - Bootleg 1992.
The thing is - I have two live bootlegs on one cassette
(some stuff from Sacramento 5/19/92, and other stuff from Brixton Academy
12/14/92), and I don't know which one is actually entitled Stray Slack.
Heck, maybe it's all Stray Slack. Aaaaah, either way, they're
both chockfull of great songs recorded poorly in a live setting. The
Sacramento set includes some hilarious stage banter, but not enough to make it
a worthwhile purchase. However, if you ever run across the song "Black
Walls," give it a listen. It's got a beautiful, heart-wrenching melody that
they just didn't bother to develop. Too bad.
Lo-fi is fine. Lousy concert recording is not. Move on, maestro.
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Scott Caligan)
Stray Slack... the sacto '92 show is from a different bootleg.
actually, the sacto '92 show has been booted 3 or 4 times. one
title it's known as is simply California '92. another is
Summer Babe. Stray Slack is primarily the brixton 12/14/92
show, with a few songs from reading festival 8/30/92 and brixton
12/15/92 the next day.
- email@example.com (Jordan & Lisa)
Stray Slack is available on CD (Import) and has some amazing tracks.
"Black Walls" is included, as well as "Teenage Piss Party." It may be
hard to find but it is worth it.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Cory)
Great record. I'm a sucker for bootlegs and frankly this was when
Pavement were at their height.
Crooked Rain Crooked Rain - Matador
In a really dull interview I conducted with Scott
Kannberg and bassist Mark Ibold shortly after the release of this album, they
claimed that, as Slanted And Enchanted was their "slacker" album, this
was their "dazed and confused" album. Well, I'll keep to myself my sincere
desire that Richard Linklater make a movie called Speed Metal Bingo,
and let you, the reader, in on the fact that this actually DOES have a lot
more slow, draggy, pothead songs on it. "Stop Breathin'," "Newark Wilder,"
and "Heaven Is A Truck" all come to mind immediately, but even the not-so-slow
"Silent Kids" and "Fillmore Jazz" are awfully Allman-Brother-esque. Very
'70s-ish in mood, but not hard rock by any stretch of the ligaments.
Smooth tones, a seemingly endless supply of catchy melodies, and lots of funny
voice cracking as Steve valiantly tries to hit notes that are far out of his
Not as hyper as on the last one (less screaming), they concentrate
more on variance in mood and style (even doing a semi-Brubeck cover at one
point!), as well as using the lyrics as an outlet for Steve's concerns about
his band's particular predicament at this point in time. They knew that they
could easily be the Next Big Thing, but is that really what they wanted?
Listen to the words of "Cut Your Hair," "Gold Soundz," "Range Life," and
"Fillmore Jazz," and the answer is an overwhelming "no," as the Spanish say.
Some of the happier sassier melodies like "Unfair" and aforementioned "Cut
Your Hair" and "Gold Soundz" had buzz clip written all over 'em, but they just
never caught on. Why not? 'Cuz it was music for college kids and college
kids only! Adults demanded generic well-produced conservative tripe, and kids
demanded generic well-produced "radical" hard-rockin' tripe. Who but us
spoiled college brats had the time or patience for loosely-played,
casually-arranged genius slackass guitar pop like this? Hah, who? Hah,
At the time, this seemed like a real departure for these shepherds of hot
Pavement (so slow and somber!), but now, in the wake of the godpiece Wowee
Zowee, we can see that it was actually more of a transition piece - a
cross between Slanted and Wowee that's probably a little less
satisfying than either. But not by much. I could live on the last two
minutes of "Stop Breathin'" alone for a good six or seven months.
I mentioned the Pavement guitar style yet? Scott likes to play melodies, and
as he's gotten better, he's been playing more arpeggiated melodies in a nearly
R.E.M.-esque vein. He's very good at it! Steve, on the other hand, enjoys
dicking around on top of the melody, noodling, hitting the distortion pedal
and strumming as fast as he can - stuff that's okay to do if you've got a
mature professional like Scott holding down the musical fort. Plus, by this
point, Pavement was a five-piece, so the fort was much easier to hold down -
more structure, more help. New drummer Steve West replaced Gary Young, who
went on to record a really annoying solo album, and incidental second drummer
and funnyman Bob Nastanovich is...uhh, well, he's awfully entertaining! And
that's all I have to say about this. I absolutely adored this album before I
got really into Wowee Zowee. Now it just doesn't do quite as much for
me. It will for you, though, if you haven't heard it a hundred million times
like I have. "Newark Wilder" is lounge jazz, "Range Life" is country-western,
and the rest are split between stoner ballads and ironic sissy indie rock.
But never too sissy. These guys are too postmodern to be too
- Reader Comments
- email@example.com (Mike)
its no slanted and enchanted although it has some of their best material.
could listen to "gold sounds" a million times.
i love the ending to "stop breathing" too. 9
Alright, call me an idiot, but I still think CR,CR was their best
album. Ever. Perhaps because it was the first I heard of them, perhaps
because they encompassed everything I've always wanted to be. Recent news of
their next album being the most "commercially accessible" to date have,
frankly, made me sad. It seems to me Watery, Domestic and Cr,Cr
marked the apex to a genuine musical career.
And for the record, I have all the early EP's, 7"'s and comps, as well as
Westing. Why? I don't know.
The easy-target Pumpkins put down and all the Armageddon-type ramblings in
"Cut Your Hair" bore the hell out of me today, but the record's not a
complete dud. Malkmus still knows how to make some hauntingly pretty songs
("Silence Kit" being but one example) and the 70's rock obsession is at least
more interesting than Urge Overkill's. But it all seems kind of...forced.
It's a terrific rock record but it doesn't SCARE me like their early stuff;
whereas before Steve would mouth off about "Electricity and lust", here he's
reduced to telling us what we already know (that "we need secrets").
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Mitch Anon)
What else can you call this but musical brilliance? After Slanted and
Enchanted everyone wanted to know how Pavement would react to the success
that "never comes". The answer came not only in the quality of the music
itself, but lyrically- I'd call this a concept album, focusing the lens of
Rock onto Rock itself. The Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilot "digs"
aren't really "digs" at all- If you listen and read, Malkmus says "I/They
don't have no function"- it's about the nature of celebrity, the rock
attitude. It's fitting that "Cut Your Hair", probably one of the most direct
attacks on careerism on the album became a chart hit- it's like Pavement's
key into the corporate boardroom, just so they could shout "You suck!" and
run back to the underground, covering their tracks with Wowee Zowee, but
that's oversimplifying. "Stop Breathin'" is wonderful, with a breathtaking
instrumental. Everything is great. And their throats were filled with
- email@example.com (Rod Brown)
CR CR is easily pavements second best album (slanted is no 1) NOTHING
comes close to Fillmore jive as a song. CR CR is the last truely great
Pavement album, and I cant believe anyone could give it any less than a
21 out of 10
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Jason Adams)
Laid back and messy and out of tune, which is pretty much Pavement's
trademark, which makes it great fun for long day trips.
- email@example.com (Philip Zepp)
You forgot to mention the best song on the album, "Elevate Me Later".
This one rules!! Probably my favorite Pavement album. The production is a LOT
stronger than Slanted's, allowing the band to branch out a bit -
on the previous album, the songs all sounded cool but way too
superficially similar to one another. "Cut Your Hair" and "Range Life"
got the most attention because of their completely random
mainstream-slamming lyrics ("Smashing Pumpkins, they ain't got no
function" - obvious but perfect), but musically they're two of the best
songs the band ever wrote. "Gold Sounds" or however they decided to
spell it is a gorgeous ballad, and "5+4=Unity" is an interestingly
bizarre instrumental, something you wouldn't expect to hear on any given
Pavement album. The album is more pop-oriented than what came before,
which to me is a good thing, but even then they still manage to throw on
an all-out classic Pavement indie-rocker in "Hit The Plane Down," one of
the coolest songs on the album. A couple of the slower songs fall flat
on their sludgy boring faces, but this is still a strong nine.
I really like crooked rain, crooked rain it was actually my first pavement album. Most of the songs are great, although "unfair" is probably
pavement's worst song I feel it is horrible. luckily the rest of the album is top notch, my personal favorite are "silent kit", "elevate me later", "cut
your hair" and "range life" but they are all great. the mood of this album is what makes it truly wonderful in my opinion it is lazy and lo-fi but at the
same time energetic and perfect, my favorite moment is when they begin making noise on "elevate me later" but then start playing music again it
is such a surprisingly beautiful transition.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Mike K.)
This was my first Pavement album, and unless you listen to weird indie rock music to begin with, it should be yours too. Aside from "hit the plane
down"and I suppose "5-4= unity", it's really accessible, and it introduces you to them as a melody band, so that when you go to the early stuff it's
somewhat easier to figure out there are actually melodies underneath that tinny guitar noise. Right now it kind of occupies an odd space in my pavement
album hierarchy I guess. Whenever I feel like a Pavement album I'm more apt to reach for wowee zowee or slanted and enchanted, and this one really only
gets slightly more play than brighten the corners, which I don't like much at all, but everytime I put it on I go "ooh, melodies!". I too must acknowledge
the greatness of the outro to "stop breathin", which would have made it a great closer were the more brillian closer "filmore jive" not in place. Also, "gold
soundz" is one of my favorite pavement songs ever, as is "silence kit"/"silent kid"/whatever it's called, and "cut your hair", token hit and appearing in
that 90's brady bunch movie be damned.
Also, Gary Young's album is annoying, but I enjoy it somehow. It's definitely not something for all moods, but when it hits me at the right moment it's the
most fun I've ever had being annoyed, if that makes any sense.
This is the Pavement album I play. I have never
failed to be absorbed completely by this music and
been taken to wonderful magical world that has nothing
to do with reality. I would argue that this is the
greatest album ever, but there are unfortunately a few
clunkers that I program out. Still a true
Range Life EP - Matador 1995.
"Range Life" is one of those songs that just makes you shake your head back and forth and say, "Wow, can this guy write a song." It's country-tinged, melodic as a tree, melancholy as a fart, yet funny as the arm of a couch. The guitar interplay is as hypnotic as a wooden ladder, the put-downs of two popular alternative bands of the day are as biting as a door that's been removed from its hinges and is resting against a newly painted closet door, and the quivering unhit high note in the chorus is as disarming as a box that says "Danze" on it and when you open it, there's a sink faucet inside that you're not sure whether it's for the upstairs bathroom or the kitchen, neither of which currently have a sink in them. But you already know that because it's on Rained-On Crook, Telephone Book.
The other two songs are every bit as mellow and countryish, though not in the same song. "Raft" rides along on harmonious bass chords with a Kinksy sluggish mood as relaxed as a living room that you can hardly move an inch in because it's all full of appliances that should go in the kitchen but the asshole left at three today and already called to say he can't make it in tomorrow. And "Coolin' By Sound" is maybe a bit TOO "Range Life"-like, utilizing the same style of countryish guitar interplay, but with zany contrasting vocals (Malkmus talking low and quiet while Scott sings high and dopey) as queer to the ear as the fucking Mexican coming down the fucking steps every fifteen fucking minutes of the goddamned day to pick up another fucking tool from the back room where they're all scattered all over the fucking floor completely destroying the refinishing job that the dumbfucks did PRIOR to laying all their dirty muddy heavy SHIT all over it, forcing me to hold my snarling, growling dog back from tearing his fucking throat out four hundred fucking times a goddamn day.
"Range Life"? More like "Range That's Sitting In Front Of My CD Cabinet In The Living Room Life Of Inconvenient, Uncomfortable SHIT For Like FOUR FUCKING MONTHS," if you ask me!
Wowee Zowee - Matador 1995
panned this, fools that they are. Can you believe the NERVE of THEY!?!?
It's all slow. No more dreams of being the next Nirvana. Only dreams of making the
beautiful music they know they're capable of making. No upbeat "Cut Your
Hair" stuff, except for a few short novelty rockers thrown in for fun.
Eighteen songs strong, most of them winners. The best guitar work yet. The
best production yet. Bye bye, low fye. Extremely full and thickly textured.
Beautiful guitar tones, melodies and vocals. Entirely unannoying. Perfect sound 4-eva! Well-written,
well-executed. A goddamn should-be classic. You find me a piece of guitar interplay lovelier than that at the beginning
and end of "Grounded" and I'll offer you a cookie. Find me an extended drone
jam more mesmerizing than the one in "Half A Canyon" and I'll grant you a warm
handshake. The short ones are funny (not dumb, and not expendable... okay, maybe "Brinx Job" is expendable), and the
long ones are gorgeouser than an ocean tree. Fifer.
If you don't buy this, you're
only hurting yourself. They have grown ever so mature over the past six years
without losing that creative melodic spark that has always set them apart from
other "alternative" acts. They don't have to rock. They just have to
write, sing, and play whatever they want to, and, judging from the evidence we
have to date, it will be a glue-sniffingly purty experience. I can only hope
that some day the musical world will look back in awe at the fact that this
band consistently put out so many amazing records without being recognized for
their efforts. And the crazy thing is - I listen to Wowee Zowee and
think, "This is a perfect album and a half, but somehow I know that they're capable of
doing better than this." And, unless something awful happens and Steve's
creative juices run dry, they probably will. If you're mature enough for
guitar rock this slow and relaxed, I implore you to pick this one up tomorrow.
I'll shut up now, only because I realize that nothing I say can adequately
describe the grandeur of the tones, melodies, and voices contained on this
particular piece of vinyl. Sigh. Goofy slackers with talent and
intelligence. What're you gonna do? Besides buy all their albums, I mean?
- Reader Comments
Wowee Zowee... i agree 100% with the fact that "grounded"s
guitars are about as beautiful as it gets, but another song that
is nearly as nice is wz's very own "pueblo". "pueblo" is growing
on me more and more each day. and if you've heard it live
recently (in '96), you may've heard bobby n's extended drone jam
on the moog, which is pretty damn mesmerizing in it's own right.
This album is amazing. We all know Pavement writes blissfully unique
pop songs like S&E, but such diverse song forms and tones as WZ,
got to blow you away. The album's complexity may be the most
intriguing aspect (and why this didn't break the band as many had
hoped). Best song - one towards the end, has the line "canyon broke"
in the beginning.
- JSB5K@virginia.edu (Jennifer S. Beckwith)
WZ is an epic, not unlike The Wall or even Exile on Main
and like every good epic, it's gotta have a theme, despite its rambling
exercises in style variation. Notice how the songs grow less coherent as
the album gets closer to the end starting with the off-kilter
"Extradition" and touching base with the two-parter "Fight This
Generation", the woozy "Grave Architecture", and Nirvanawannabe "Kennel
District". The clincher is the last three songs, two of which ("Pueblo",
"Fight This Generation") end up in noisy, if pointed, jams. "Western
Homes" which I hated at first listen, just because it seems like an odd
way to end the album, is actually just a return to the low-fi fucked up
artsy song that you can find on Westing and to some extent on S&E.
So maybe the theme of this puppy is that it has no theme, or maybe it's
the disintegration of the pop song, and implicitly pop culture has to go
down with the ship, too. Whatever.
- email@example.com (Alexandre Linhares Matias)
The main difference between early Pavement albums and Wowee Zowee is
that the latter one doesn't follow a 'regular' song sequence... Well,
it's a great album - but it's similar to a jigsaw puzzle: you have to
unscramble it to see how beautiful is the picture.
- Weigelda@aol.com (Dave Weigel)
Due to your recommendation, I bought Pavement's Wowee
Zowee...it may sound corny, but I'm blown away. I thought I hated this
I saw one video on MTV (never heard 'em on the radio--the college stations
and such around here are crap, all they play is Britpop and Ska. blech.),
played in the middle of two metal videos, so it sounded wussy in the first
place. And the song, at least to my ears two years ago, was garbage. I didn't
know what to expect from Wowee Zowee, but it turns out that it's incredible!
I mean, I can't believe I lived my life ignoring this band. What a fool I
was! It's not just catchy, there's so much more to the music...this band is
right up my alley. I'm trying to get Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in a week or
so. Thank you so much for recommending this band!!!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (David Straub)
One hell of an amazing disc. This is such an unassuming record, it almost
sounds superficially like they're not trying, but two or three listens and you
get hooked. "Grounded" and "Black Out" are two of the most irrepressibly
beautiful songs i have EVER heard. And the punkier numbers (especially
"Serpentine Pad") kick ass in their own weird way, even though they're sillier
than the Meat Puppets. I'm really starting to like this band a lot.
- email@example.com (Matt Holland)
This is still my favourite Pavement album. I agree with the aforementioned
entirely. Just like to shout out for "Kennel District", my #1.
- LuVox97@aol.com (Marc)
your pavement reviews are right on the stuff. I couldn't agree more with you
about wowee zowee it's my favorite pavement album and is the best
Steve Malkamus' writing and singing abilities.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Burrus)
Classic. This a beautiful peice of work. I almost had a chance to see them
in concert. I will probably get another chance to since I live in the crazy
town of Chapel Hill where bands are always coming and going. Back to
Pavement. These guys created such a masterpiece with beautiful guitars and
cool weird noises. I mean, they're capable of just about anything. It
doesn't get any better than this.
- email@example.com (Andrea Lazar)
Best Album in the Pavement catalog, absolutely. One of the comments
sort of hinted that Wowee Zowee might in fact be a concept album (Dark
Side of the Moon, Skylarking, etc.) Yep. The concept is that Pavement
are doing a funeral elegy for Rock n Roll. Just about every third song
or so, the band deliberately plays in a style that has come from rock's
illustrious past ("Serpentine Pad"=punk, for example). The songs that
truly sound like Pavement( whatever that is) are all comments on the
state of pop, and rock culture in general.
Give it a listen, and pay attention. Whether or not they believe that
rock is dead, as they hinted in Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, this album
belongs in the pantheon of greatest albums of all time.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andrew Zitelli)
don't know why i took so long to get this one........i might have been
scared off by CR, CR but Wowee is so much betta! i love it. and it's so
long too; doesnt get much better than an hour of pavement...even if
those "punk" numbers are goofy as anything, and the rest of it is really
sleeeeeepy. but "grounded" is one of the best "indie rock" songs ive
heard in recent years, and all those other ones at the end are pretty
close. and steph pulls off some more
how-did-he-make-such-a-trite-melody-sound-so-cool magic on "at&t". maybe
it's not the greatest of all time, but it's up there. with Slanted and
Enchanted of course.
The punky songs are worthless, the tempos are even draggier than on Crooked
Rain, and the words don't seem to mean anything really. It's still the best
record they've ever shat out. I guess if you wanted to, you could go and
search for songs the caliber of "Grounded" and "Half a Canyon" on a boring Yo
La Tengo album, but since most of us don't feel like it we stick with
Pavement. Almost every song either makes me laugh or makes me cry, and the
band wouldn't be insignificant until the next album. Here, it's all about the
melodies, dummy, and they're stronger than ever before.
- email@example.com (Greg Slack)
The first ever Pavement record I heard...and the best. Wowee Zowee will go
down in my personal history as being the thing that opened me up to
this wonderful thing called Pavement(AKA one of the best bands I've ever heard).
Call me a cheesy indie lover,(or whatever the hell you want for that matter)
but everything on this album; from the haunting masterpiece that is
Grounded, to the just plain fun Kennel District, this is the band's most
diverse, clever and inspiring album they've ever recorded.
What is something new I can add about the underground's most egotistical band the one and only pavement? Well, there is nothing! everything
has already been said! all I care about is that these guys have created an absolute masterpiece with it's abstruse meaningless dadaist lyrics
brilliant melodies and breathtakingly beautiful
instrumentation I must admit that wowee zowee is not only the best pavement album that I have ever heard but also my second favorite of all
time (second only to the Beatles abbey road). what i can't understand is a why nobody has heard of these guys they are catchy and fun,
beautiful and smart, horrifying but uplifting. I would recommend this album to any one with any taste at all (as Mark Prindle said if you don't buy
this your only hurting yourself).
I think all those people who have that unsatisfying feeling of vainly having tried to describe the huge amount of greatness found on this album, might enjoy a true sing-along session. The best way to express your warm love of this record, and -more importantly- experience that fellowship among other pavement addicts ("watch that guy sing, now watch him, i'm singing too, i feel good, we understand each other just perfectly now, we're laughing, man, really laughing out loud, but it won't stop me from singing, i feel so happy!") must be completely letting loose. And we should not neglect those many gorgeous guitar licks as we all have found ourselves at least once in our lifetimes screaming over the music in 'half a canyon' - note for note, not missing one strum.
And-a-one-two-three: "No-one has a clue/The gauzy thoughts of the sturdy Scots wrestling with the elements up on the trail high/I need to know where does it go/How do I get there and what will I find?
Wowie Zowie was the first album I got from these guys and I was gob smacked. Why isn't this album considered ahead of its time and one of the best albums of the nineties?
Personal favs, Grounded, Best friends arm, nah...whole albums too good to pick.
I know I've said this a million times, but apparently I must repeat it to
everyone in the whole goddamn world, including music fans: PLEASE DO NOT
TELL ME THE RESULTS OF THE OLYMPICS BEFORE THEY APPEAR ON TV. I DO NOT CARE
IF YOU HAVE THE NEW SPRINT INTERNET PHONE, OR EVEN INTERNET ACCESS.
I DON'T! WANT!! TO KNOW!!!
You tell me, you die.
Anyway, this album has much better songs than Slanted
and Enchanted. . . and also much worse ones. It pretty much defines the
definition of "Album you have to reset your mind on after the end of every
track." Most of these are individually good, but the whole thing just
doesn't flow well together AT ALL. Still, a surprisingly large amount of
tunes on here are stone-cold rock classics, and that's saying a lot for an
underground el weirdo slacker noise hipster ironic album. I listen to it
with a third of the tracks programmed out. Messy, but listenable.
Father To A Sister Of Thought EP - Matador 1995
Three of these songs are by Pavement, but only one can be found on Wowee Zowee. The other two will never be heard from again.
Hey, check this out! Somebody RECORDED the other two songs, and has released them as an EP! Here, let me describe them for you. You know the title track, right? The one that I've been incorrectly calling "Father To The Sister Of A Thought" for the past nine years? Well, it's still very pulchritudinous, like a lover's pulchritudinous eyes. Unfortunately, if it ain't broke, don't fix me (ball removal) and the other two songs - WATER they thinkin'? - they PAIL in comparison! The titles are beyond comparison - "Kris Kraft" and "Mussle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)" - but once you put your ear on the bottom of the world, all you'll hear is the deafening roar of a traipsy, dickheaded novelty song full of goofy synths and one redeeming guitar passage, followed by some Kannberg up-down chords of soothitude buyilding slowly into an unpleasant blast of tonally clashing guitars and keyboards filled with mucous. Bands who put shit songs on their b-sides can suck it. It's just not fair or right for the buyer who is (a) expecting levity and (b) acknowledging brevity to (c) end up wanting to shove the record up their cavity . I'm not saying these songs are the worst ever, but they sure could have used some editing by a professional proofreader.
I'm sitting here listening to a live 1999 Firesign Theatre CD (entitled Radio Now Live!) and can't help but notice how much more hilarious "Nick Danger" is when the entire audience recites all the punchlines together in unison. I didn't know these pricks had the same audience as Monty "Everyone Who Likes Us Is A Fuckin' Dork" Python! Why doesn't anyone WARN me to stay away from Nerd Things? I better get busy doing COOL things again, before harm occurs to my reputation!
(*watches "MST2K," listens to "Particle Man"*)
Rattled By La Rush EP - Matador 1995.
I have to finish up my first draft of the LexisNekis Enterprise & Libary Division (misspelled to prevent any unfortunate Google mishaps and subsequent firings) SLA key messages tonight and it's already 10:22 and I need to order Domino's for the third night in a row (I'm very prone to doing that by the way -- I order Domino's at least twice a week every week, always a medium thin crust with extra cheese and pineapple, cinnamon sticks and two Diet Cokes -- now you know just a little bit more about America's least favorite record reviewer!), as well as take a bath -- can't shower because my bathroom is in a horrid state of disrepair due to contractors in mid-upgrade and my unfortunate habit of pooping in there twice a day while failing to remember that they moved the toilet to the bedroom a week and a half ago, so I'm going to make this review snappy. Track one is on Wowwo Beginnago and am rule. "Brink of the Clouds" has a really weird, queasy dark morbid mood and unsettling chords of ugliness. "False Skorpion" is a joyous groovy fast fun rock and roll song with a silly generic bass line and Steve Mushmouth screaming like Micky Dolenz and sounding a hell of a lot like whoever that guy was that used to play drums for the Monkees. And "Easily Fooled" attempts to fool me into writing it OFF! (bug repellent) as one of those smarmy annoying tossed-off lazy slacker songs that ruin every Pavement album for me these days (see my Pacific Trim review for more specific complaining), but then erupts halfway through with a falsetto vocal/falsetto slide guitar chorus so ludicrous that anybody who hates it is a Playa Hater. Because when you hear that song, it means that the CD is playing and is thus, in a certain sense, a "Playa." It's also kind of a pussy song, so if you hate it, that means in a certain sense you're gay. Unless you're a woman, in which case in a kind of psychological displacement way, it means that you find your genitalia horrible and smelly.
Which they are, incidentally, but that'll clear up once you locate my last easter egg.
Pacific Trim EP - Matador 1996.
Three quick non-LP tracks. "Give It A Day" is the epitome of generic Pavement, the sort of midtempo cutely-arranged lazy jangle rock with Malkmus's tired story-telling vocals that make it so hard for me to listen to the band in 2003 now that I've outgrown them and am cooler than people who like them. You see, when I was back there at seminary school (University of Chapel Hill, North Carpediem), there were these parties every weekend. And whom doesn't love a party (and bad grammar)? I went. I went every weekend. Sometimes there were TWO parties and I'd see all FOUR of them.
"How'd you see four of them if there were only two?"
Hey, I got two eyes!
(*everybody laughs uproarical*)
So there were these houses. One on North Greensboro Street housed a bunch of dark haired girls (probably Jews or Nazis), some of which were just cute as hell (Radha), others superfun to be around (Debbie), others weird as hell, perhaps poking pins into their fingertips just to look at blood flowing (Leigh), some normal (forgot her name) and many many others!!! I'd watch 90210 and Melrose Place over there with my long hair and nobody wanting to date me ever. Then there was some house on some other street with this really tall girl who I accidentally told my friend Doug I thought was cute and he told his roommate who told her so I think she wanted me to make a move but she was too tall for my blood. Quite literally! One time, my blood all shot straight up out of my head to go give her a smooch, but it couldn't reach and the whole gallon came streaming down all over my face. Have you seen the movie Carrie? That was me! I just wandered onto the set that day and they built the picture around me. Thank God Sissy Spacek and I have the same grotesque freckle-shat face!
Then there was this house on this other street that burned down when my now-wife's ex-boyfriend lived there. That was a big marijuana house full of smelly hippies with their marijuana. Nice guys - Arlo, Stacey, Erik, other hippies with their peace brother and Beastie Boys CDs. This was what I needed to get me by for about two full years in college because none of the girls I liked thought I was cute, and I didn't like the girls who thought I was cute. I was a lonely young man with my ideals and fears. Constant fears, wondering what in Sam Valley I'd ever do for a living. Sleeping in rooms with no air conditioner, wanting to kill myself every time I caved in and masturbated like a LOSER would, sweating all over my acne-encrusted face, wearing a backward baseball cap like a DUMBSHIT. Keeping my albums in boxes. Letting dust settle on everything. Spending $1.50 on lunch every day, eating pizza every night. Painting dorm rooms in the summer heat for money - sleeping on the job, playing cards. Spending hours and hours and hours and hours at the college radio station. Trying to control my ever-expanding hatred for fashion-minded people (from punks to hippies to preppies to jocks - the whole six yards!). But it's over. I'm happily married, with a job and a great NYC apartment and a web site people read and a dog.
But I still have all those memories. I just finished an Anton Lavey book -- he founded the Church of Satan and we're all very proud of him -- and he keeps dwelling on the idea of how his memories are more important than what is happening in the present time. How he wishes he could stay in the past in a time he preferred. Speaking for myself, if I had to repeat one single second of college, high school, middle school, elementary school, early childhood, even my first few years out of college, I would throw myself off a fucking bridge (especially a really catchy one like near the end of "Have A Drink On Me"). The past represents nothing for me but mistakes, emotional pain, weakness, self-loathing, ignorance and boredom. I hated myself even more than I do now, which is no Little Feat album. The very sound of this Pavement song brings it all back -- all the lonely nights spent obsessing over pimples and imagined hair loss (it's real now, sure, but at the time it wasn't!), all the parties spent SOBER SOBER FUCKING IDIOT SOBER before heading home ALONE to eat an entire box of Krispy Kreme donuts before bed. Getting crushes on girl after girl after girl with no hope of success (lord knows how i got my idiot wife to like me - maybe she knows something I don't).
Actually she knows a LOT of things I don't, but I mean about this particular issue.)
So all you school-age fellows, try your darnedest to make the most out of wherever you are. Read lots of good books, try to make good friends - worrying about the future won't change anything. Actually come to think of it, I DID meet my now-wife at one of those shitty parties -- on N. Greensborough Street as a matter of fact! I remember it because one of the girls there had a crush on me but I didn't like her, and she kept butting in when I was trying to "make the moves" on my now-wife. Heck, she still IS butting in - that's her typing this right now! I hired her as my BJ secretary.
Huh? No no, BJ as in "BJ And The Bear." She types up my Greg Evigan scripts.
But the other two songs avoid that terrible tainted tone and represent -- for me -- the most exciting type of material that Pavement had to offer. "Gangster And Pranksters" is a WONDERFUL quirky guitar strum-downer whose every line is punctuated by a rhythmic 'orgasmic sigh/collection of four high either synth noises or guitar feedback noises whatever the hell they are.' It watches in at about 1:30. Then all ends with the hippy psych meditation Eastern pissamatake "Saganaw" - the second of two songs on this record that feature instrument noises that I can't place!!! What the hell is that? An Optigan? A flute? A backward guitar? Whatever it is, both it and Malkmus's million-note descending vocal line make this one a bitchslap of a great song! Don't miss it! And don't miss Neil Hamburger on Jimmy Kimmel tonight!
Hurry though - he's on in three and a half hours!!!! HURRY!!!!!!
- Reader Comments
The vinyl version of this ep has I love perth on it. I live in the perth he be talking about. Rock on.
Brighten The Corners - Matador 1997.
When this album first came out, it annoyed the feet out of me. I wrote a slapdash review about how they'd broken no new ground and Steve was going out of his way to sing off-key. But in retrospect, I wonder if I just decided beforehand that if it wasn't a significant step forward, then it was worthless. Because it's CERTAINLY not a step forward in the way that each of their previous records were, but man -- it's still full of really friggin' good songs! As such, I'd like to delete my old review and reconsider the album from my present early 2005 sitution. First, the original review:
For the very first time in their career, the Pavers have rendered me completely underwhelmed. They've pulled a Beastie Boys and released an album that is repulsively similar to their last release, except... without, you know, all the stuff that made the last one so great..... No complaints about the music for music's sake, mind you. These melodies, though displaying not a whit of artistic growth, are still, for the most part, beautiful as all hell. The problem is in the voice. Stephen is singing really loudly and (it appears) purposely singing out of tune in at least half of the songs on the record. Plus, the lyrics are the same sort of tongue-in-cheek less-than-clever poetic fiddledy- diddledy that worked just fine on the previous releases because the singer didn't sound so goddamned assholish and cocky when spittin' 'em out, but here? Hmm. I guess I've said enough. There's also not much in the way of guitar interplay. Just straight guitar melodies. Musically, it sounds like a cross between the last two albums (not a bad thing, although also not incredibly inspiring); vocally, it sounds like a dickhead with no regard for the wants and needs of the human ear. Am I bitter? Nah. Maybe I'll like it more one day. This is just a temporary review anyway. What do you guys think?
Well, see that? It certainly WAS a temporary review - for only EIGHT years! Looking at the record now, it feels like an attempt to combine the previously-separated (a) beautiful "real" songs and (b) fun "joke" songs of Wowee Zowee so that the Brighten The Corners tracks could be (c) both aurally lovely and cheekily funny at the same time. It doesn't always work, quite frankly, especially when it leads to Steven annoyingly screaming dumb "witty" lyrics like "One of us is a cigar stand AND ONE OF UHH-UHH-UHH-UUUH-US is a lovely blue incandescent guillotine" during the otherwise autumnal peace ode "Type Slowly." But other songs just rule the America - I mean, the guitar playing is gorgeous no matter where you turn, there's a bit more real ROCK than you might expect (the opener "Stereo" might be the bounciest goodtime song they've ever done - almost like indie-prog-novelty, and Spiral Stairs' orange, loud and jangly "Date W/ Ikea" sounds like -- and is as heartwarming, soul-lifting and otherwise fucking GREAT as -- any early Byrds song you can find in a catalog), and even the weakest Pavement composition is bound to be about forty times more instrumentally compelling, melodically inspired and dreamily arranged than most any other "straight" pop/rock band you're going to hear on the average day.
So yeah, sure it's the first time Pavement had rested on their pre-established laurels and offered more of the same, but cripes when the same is this great, who the ass am lowly ol' Prind to sit here and moan about some overly playful vocals? What would I rather listen to, TOOL or some shit? Fuck me, me asshole. Beauty marred by a bratty bored child is still pretty beautiful. Especially when you consider that the bratty bored child is the one who CREATED the beauty in the first place! Without him, it would be nothing but a Preston School of Industry album, and have you ever heard one of those? My God, have you? Oh my JESUS! You wanna talk about installing an elevator between an incontinent man's asspipe and your ear canal -- holy living jesus man I mean EHH! YEHHH! Why not just hire fuckin' RINGO to write all your songs?!? Or hey, I bet ex-Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes ain't doing nothin - why not give HIM a call!?!?
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Alexandre Linhares Matias)
Nonsense. Brighten the Corners is the moment Pavement figured out they
could get old as R.E.M. and be proud of it. It's when they see the
alternative and indie rock scene as a mere label, not as an attitude,
and that's no problem in being pop. With the help of Mitch Easter's
magic hands (Murmur), they simply reinvent pop music as an environment
where creativity and
originality can grow easily. "Transport is Arranged" reminded me of
Magical Mystery Tour John Lennon. Well, I think they're on their path.
Let's face it, Brighten the Corners, while not a BAD album, can only be
seen as a major disappointment alongside Pavement's past work. To put
it on par with Wowee Zowee or even Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain would be a
mistake. It is musically engaging, but fails to enchant or progress
significantly from what they've done before . . . if anything, it is the
result of having sacrificed (or lost?) their grasp of restrained
intensity. "Embassy Row" is a joke.
How says that Pavement is going to crash now that they have come out of the
indie hole? I think not. Brighten the Corners is an excellent album
are all the others. Pavement should only be bashed for their treatment of
their fans. I tried to get into a concert in Princeton, but one had to have
special passes. Everyone who got passes, off of a radio station, went to
the concert not for Pavement, but to drink their hearts out. Me along with
my friends and other Pavement fans stood outside wanting to only hear the
insane driving music. Steve walked into the front court yard where we stood
and we surrounded him. He seemed happy to talk to us, but when asked if we
could get in he looked at us as if we were crazy. Maybe he waws in a bad
mood or something, I don't know. I just hope the next time that I meet the
band, it will be a little bit more pleasing. Bye for now. Hey..."open call
for a prison architect..."
- email@example.com (Carole Malone)
brighten the corners is great. pavement cleaned out the song fragments of
wowee zowee and made a beautiful record. 8.5/10
Without a doubt Brighten the Corners is Pavements most accomplished and
consistently beautiful album to date.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Baer)
This one is just TONS less mentally challenging, which makes it a very
enjoyable listen in a relaxed way, but doesn't have that wonderful
clomplexity and intensity of past releases.
- email@example.com (Jom Varner)
All readers of these reviews should seek out the Stuff Up the Cracks
bootleg. It mainly consists of Peel Sessions and has excellent sound quality
for a boot. The most important reason to get it is that it has about 20
songs that never appeared on official releases! Gorgeous songs, most with a
thick, rich guitar sound that Pavement use on stage but never really used in
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andrew Zitelli)
i dont know about this one....after Wowee Zowee's 10, this one gets
about a 7. it's decent -- certainly not bad -- but nothing special, and
"Stereo" and "shady lane" are the first pavement records that really
annoyed me. they are almost bad, yet i love them. i really like the
non-steph songs for some reason. and mostly all the other s cept that
one where he sounds like he is dying. so maybe its an 8...although the
lyrical content has noticeably slipped.
- email@example.com (Evan Streb)
The lyrics are less-than-clever???
Could YOU write a line like "What about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did
it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy.".
However, I AM right about Slanted and Enchanted. THAT album is
an unlistenable piece of shit, except for "Summer Babe" of course.
this album is incredible and underrooted in the extreme. for a terrible coupla moments just imagine a world where no pavement album existed except this one. it'd be a flaming ten, spitting catherine wheels and praying mantis sex all over the damn place. i mustn't be the only person who's got their dick in a twist just trying to love this album enough. i don't even have a dick either. i was castrated by jamaican police in the late eighties for dancing too well. actually something even funnier, i am a woman! WELL ANWAY it's just got all the damn other fucking awesome albums to compare with. i think i've solved this problem: you need to start rating out of twelve or thirteen. and only give pavement albums the thirteens. you wouldn't even have to alter the other ratings, no need for that. except beatles. speaking of beatles, conveniently i have a theory this is a more beatley album than any others pavement put out (put out! sluts!) the byrdsy "date with ikea" stinks of the beatles at the beginning, and the next song, "fin," is all flutey-tooty fool-on-the-hillsy. and what's with all the backgroud beatle-sounding woowoowooing? "passat dream" AND "starlings of the slipstream" AND other songs i'm too tired to remember right now are full of it. and whenever i hear "embassy row" i think of "bluejay way" but maybe that's just me. maybe because i saw that picture of george harrison sitting on the sidewalk on bluejay way and equate the line "where is the sidewalk, where is the sidewalk" with being lost on the bluejay way sidewalk. oh gahhhh pavement! brighten the corners should get at least one more of those vampire nipples you call stars.
- Chris Gibson
sounds like the stones.
Stereo EP - Matador 1997.
You're out of your mind if you think this EP has more than three songs on it. You're crazy! Get off your Crazy Chair and let the sane people have their say! The shit-eating grin of the title track is already available on Big Ol' Smelly Album With The Snake On The Cover, but "Winner Of The" features neat intertwining/overlapping vocals by I think Scott Stairs and "Westie Can Drum" is a great song! Oddball bass line and tone, guitar lines that change every verse -- and lyrics about drummer Steve West! Interestingly, Steve West was the name of my P.E. teacher in elementary school. He had a mustache and would play this record every morning that sang, "Push ups.... every morning - TEN TIMES! Not just....now and theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen. Give that chicken fat back to the chicken and don't be chicken again - NO! Don't be chicken again!" I think it was by Queensryche.
Shady Lane EP - Matador 1998
James sat down, removed his electric tie and exclaimed, "Dadblast that guy with the thingy and the
Funny thing about small towns -- if you're really short and kinda scrunch yourself up into a ball, they seem slightly bigger.
Turbulence on an airplane is nothing new, but do the stewardess's boobs usually lop off and fly around the cabin like that?
Oh! Hello there! Sorry about that. I'm just trying to find the perfect way to start my new screenplay. In the meantime, why don't you sit your coat, I'll fix a nice pot of lunch and let's discuss a Pavement EP I bought the other day.
Although the impetus may have been unbeknownst to the vessels involved, I hereby stand in (possible) defiance and proclaim this EP "Rhythm-Based." For it is! Not the title track, but that's just an aside; you can find that on the album Dust The Dominoes with the "Don't Tread On Me" snake all over it. I mean the other four songs, available nowhere else but right here in America (land of the brave, home of the.... brave). The country-western cowpunk one with the "doop-chick doop-chick" that sounds like The Fall. And the big shitty Micky Dolenz-sounding screaming one with the "bum-bum-pappadappadappadap! bum-bum-pappadappadappadap!" big arrogant hard rock breakdowns. Or the other two, whose very guitar and vocal melodies seem to have been written specifically to match the unnatural herky-jerk non-backbeat rhythmic approach of the band's drummer. If you'd read my Spit Stix interview, you would have heard him talk about how many of the Fear songs were written around his drum exercises. Perhaps it is this knowledge gleaned from reading my Spit Stix interview that leads me to believe that much the same type of arrangement might have driven the unearthing of these four rare and wonderful buttnuggets by the fearless buttpirates of Pavement.
I find it intriguing that Pavement allocates so many interesting songs to EPs and singles, but I believe I've finally figured out why they do it. It's because quirky songs like that sound like SHIT when lodged between fully composed heartbreaking guitar pop/rock songs of the sort these men write when at the top of their musical art game. As stunning as Wowee Zowee is, it would be even more stunning without noisy distractions like "Serpentine Pad" and "Brinx Job" -- songs which, I should add, are actually extremely entertaining in and of themselves, and would be perfect choices for placement on an EP or single. So that's my conclusion: If you want melodic bliss and beautiful emotionry, stick with Pavement's full-length releases. But if you're drawn to their quirkier, less traditional material, try to buy every CD-single and EP that they ever released. There's some crap in there, but it's at least non-traditional crap! Now if you'll excuse me, I should return to my novel.
The sky was a dark shade of yellow as Jones's water balloon sailed across the
As frightening as an earthworm could be, nothing compared to the sight of Nancy's clothed anus.
When serving salad, thought Jan, I'll use my hands.
As the old adage goes, "Gynecologists do it in the vagina."
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times -- so call me Ishmael.
My skin hasn't looked THIS tan since the time I got stuck in an elevator with the folks from the Scat convention!
Live Europaturnen MCMXCVII - Matador 2009
GOOD GOD! SOMEBODY SHUT BOB NASTANOVICH THE HELL UP!
This is actually the second of two albums with this title. The first was a bonus disc for people who pre-ordered the 2008 reissue of Brighten The Corners, and this one was a limited edition release for 2009's Record Store Day. And Bob Nastanovich won't SHUT THE HELL UP!
Look, I understand that sometimes a Pavement show can get a little boring with the songs and things, and it's nice to have a goofy buffoon up there 'taking the piss' out of Stephen Malkmus's penis and depositing it in a barrel on the side of t
And it's nice to have a goofy buffoon up there 'taking the piss' and gooning around, but sweet lord the man either can't sing or WON'T sing, and his silly mouth noises and off-key shouts render previously witty and hooky songs like "Stereo," "Cut Your Hair" and "Grave Architecture" absolutely STUPID. Then again, it was recorded in Germany, and those guys loved Hitler so maybe the show went over like hotballs.
I'm assuming this isn't an entire concert since it only features 10 songs, but for the record 6 are from Brighten The Corners, 2 from Wowee Zowee and 1 each from Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and the as-yet unrecorded Terror Twilight. Thus, if it's Slanted & Enchanted tracks you're after, you're out of luck because they're not here. But then again, you're in luck because Bob would just ruin them if they WERE on here.
The recording is monophonic too, which doesn't help. And the synthesizer noises are dumb. THIS ALBUM SUCKS is what I'm trying to get at here. The only good thing about it are the actual compositions as originally written by Messers Malkmus and Stairs. But that's us, man -- we love music, you and I. We love to hear it and talk about it and smell it. Hell, I DRINK music! And trust me, music tastes like a big glass of DICK when some jerkass is going "boobly doobly!" all over it like an assjerk.
And I swear to God if Bob pulls this shit at their reunion show in Central Park, I'm going to tase him.
Terror Twilight - Matador 1999.
I suppose this pretty much had to be the end for Pavement. Steve Malkmus
couldn't figure out a way to progress from the Wowee Zowee artistic pinnacle, yet simultaneously he was being a complete dickhead and refusing to play any of Kannberg's material (sure, Kannberg isn't
strong enough to support an entire record, but when he contributes one or two tunes, they're generally a nice
kick in the rock teeth!). The result is yet another selection of slow, pretty guitar arpeggiations with strange
noises and effects swooping around in the background. The record feels strangely standoffish and NORMAL considering whom we're dealing with here. Certainly some of the songs go off on bizarre tangents to never return (ex. "Platform Blues" goes from a quiet interplay intro to a noisy swingin groove to a stop-start shitarounder to a hard rocker, "Billie" shifts abruptly from acoustic ballad to noise blast to Kraut-drone-groove to harmonica-inflected hippy space-folk), but not only does it sound like the record was no fun at all to make -- it almost sounds like the rest of the band didn't even show up! Not until the final track, the annoying wah-synth-blorped bubblegum alt-folky "Carrot Rope," do the other guys finally throw their voices into the mix; up until then, it's just Malkmus sounding tired, Malkmus sounding sad, Malkmus sounding alone and bored. It's to his credit that he could still write so much interesting material when his heart seemingly wasn't into it at all -- the jazz-pop of "Speak, See, Remember," the slow icy note run of "The Hexx," the uptempo banjo-driven Monkees-esque "Folk Jam" and the wicked dark tough rocker "Cream Of Gold" are all terrific and unique entries into the band's larger catalog, and even the Pavement-by-numbers midtempo guitar poppers like "Spit On A Stranger" and "Major Leagues" are catchy enough to hum to yourself on those long truckers' evenings.
Suffice it to say that after hearing what sure sounds like a Steve Malkmus solo album, you probably won't be surprised to learn that it was the final Pavement album. He has since gone on to a truly mediocre solo career -- just like Pink Floyd's fabled Roger Waters!
- Reader Comments
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Dennis M. Rawlins)
I give it a 9.0 ! Excellent production and wonderful writing. Malkmusized
it left, superbly Malkmusized~ Wowie Zowie indeed!
This album is great..
It amzes me that every pavement album is different from the one before
it and the one after...quite like frank zappa who never tread the the
same ground twice...That's pretty rare these days where people don't
seem to want to challenge their audiences and sadly where people seem to
not want to be challenged. And challenge they do...this album throws out
everything you thought pavement was...first of all it's not lo-fi...it
doesn;t resemble anything that could be described indie rock (a term a
despise) and can be quite tender, beautiful and emotional...not in the
way grounded is beautiful...this time the the songs are not detached
from the beauty, riding a wave of beauty, they ooze it...they have
my favorites are "cream of gold" "Major Leagues" Carrot rope" "spit on a
stranger" and "the Hexx"
you must own this album...the album i always knew pavement could rise to
the occasion and create.
So what if it's soft and completely goes against the Pavement tradition of
days of yore - the melodies are still top-notch and the songs still wouldn't
find their way onto any sort of radio playlists. Well, "Spit On A Stranger"
is sort of '90s rock-ballad catchy, but the song is called "Spit On A Stranger"
for god's sake. That alone keeps it from airplay. The only other songs that
jump out and make you notice them are the fast and peppy "Folk Jam" and "Carrot
Rope," but the rest is still really pretty ("You Are A Light" especially!),
though you probably won't remember any of it about an hour after you listen to it.
- email@example.com (Andrew Zitelli)
a 9...another keeper from the pave. not lo fi at all, but still weird
enough, especially the back-to-back pairing of the last two songs.
bizarre. i really like every merry pop song on here, with "major
leagues" really making me want to stop trying to write pop songs. and
then polvo really makes me want to quit trying to make sounds come out
of my guitar. I hate music!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Mark)
People, People. I have been a Pavement fan for about five years and after
some serious soul searching I have come to the realization that Slanted and
Enchanted is their most superior record and is clearly now the crown jewel of
Indy-Rock. So when people say "when are they going to make the next
or when or they going to make the next Crooked, or Woowie"... they are not
going to GODDAMNIT! Sure Pavement have ditched the anti-corporate themes and
are now sporting a different, but beautiful new sound on their last two
albums. Sure they are not going to duplicate the wonderful insanity of the
first three albums (four is you include "Musket"), but they're still the best
damn thing goin'.
- email@example.com (James Williams)
Spit On A Stranger just happens to be Pavement's best ever song. The
ending is so beautiful. They should've closed the album with it. That way, if
TT does turn out to be their last album, it sounds like Pavement's final
song. Like "The End" on Abbey Road?
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Beth Sloop)
i just picked up the steve malkmus solo lp yesterday, and guess what? it
sound like it could be the 6th pavement full length. some great songs,
like "jojos jacket", written from the perspective of yul brynner (even
if it does sound a lot like "sirens of the slipstream", melodywise) and
"phantasies", with the buggles-swiped "oh-wah-oh"'s.
malkmus gets stonesy on "the hook"(although there are other songs which
possess more hooks.there's plenty to go around.or a ground[ed]), and on
"trojan curfew" waxes poetic (or waxes
eyebrows) with great lyrics beautiful guitar and hammond organ. funny thing though.
while this album sounds like a natural progression, it could almost be
called crooked rain, crooked rain, crooked rain cause it sounds more
like the 2nd pavement album than any other
pavement album. but what the hell do i know? just buy the fuckin record
- email@example.com (John Richardson)
i was at pavements penultimate uk show in manchester in nov 99 (the 19th:my girlfriend came with me 8 months pregnant_she gave birth prematurely 2
days later(maybe my daughter knew they were gonna split))they opened with grounded and now i cant listen to it without thinkink of that wonderful
gig,what a weekend!!!!
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Ian Galley)
Just to paraphrase a friend, "They make it sound so easy." They do.
A classic album.
I agree with Malkmus, Irish folklore scares the shit out of me too,
Plus, no Kannisburg (or whomever) songs = a major bonus.
Malkmus should start writing operas or something. He's already shown that he
can do indie rock, I mean he practically invented it, but it's starting to
get stale. I can sense his boredom. It's palbable. And for once uncontrived.
And the songs just aren't as good on this record, same goes for his new solo
stuff. He needs to take a different path. Try something he hasn't done
before. seriously. seriously.
Spit On A Stranger EP - Matador 1999.
Say, while we're on the topic of Pavement, how about that Spit On A Stranger EP? Oh sure, the title track is a great song, but that's on the album. Can you imagine? The other four songs on here are (a) a cutesy indie rock Pavement-by-numbers throwaway with stupid-and-NOT-clever lyrics like "Show me/A word that rhymes with Pavement/And I will kill your parents/And roast them on a spit." And that's what the other four songs on here are. Have a great Congregation!
OH WAIT! THEY'RE STILL GOING! Okay, so the other four songs are also (b) Pavement trying to do Guess Who/BTO-style goodtime hard rock, though probably ironically. The chorus works and there's a funny "rockin'" harmonica at the beginning, but the verse is lame and Pavementy, ruining the overall effect. And there you have it! What the other four songs are. Tell Tiffany I enjoyed her smell!
GAH! HANG ON!!!! Apparently the other four songs are also (c)a jaunty drunken guitar pop with burbly synth noises - it really grows on you! So you see, the other four songs are fantastic. Now you can get back to loading animals onto the Arc de Triomphe.
HOLD THAT TIGER! These four songs are (d) lazy half-written Malkmus namby-pamby "look at how blase I can be - aren't I clever?" fliff!
All in all, if you don't already think of Steven Malkmus as a Lou Reed-level douchebag, this EP will help you see things my way! He's a fuckin asshole!!!!!
- email@example.com (Dave Wagner)
Mark, you're being silly. What's with this silliness? Stop being silly, Mark.
Did Malkmus run over your toe or something? Stop me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you're about one step away from mailing him dead things in the mail. No, "Harness Your Hopes" line about roasting your parents isn't clever, but then Steve's NEVER been clever. What's always made him funny is his sense of whimsy - it's this very trait that made the Geddy Lee line in "Stereo" funny, as well as about half of Steve's first solo album. It's the same thing that made bands like Unrest and King Missile a blast, and this basic lack of pretension is what set them all apart from the 80's underground scene they had grown up on.
The reason Steve is funnier than Thurston Moore and his lot is because Thurston was too self-conscious to have a good grasp on a concept like absurdity, which Pavement had running through it's goddamn vains, goddamn!
All I have left to say is this, and this thusly: what happened to the fun, Mark? WHAT!!!!
Major Leagues EP - Matador 1999.
Can I rap at ya for a second before I review the record? Okay, let me rap at ya a little. Here's what's up. I got laid off from my job after seven years. Now is my big chance to try to create a new life for myself -- hopefully one that involves freelance music writing. But the problem is - as much as certain people love my writing - it doesn't fit in ANYWHERE other than right here on www.markprindle.com. It's too personal to me, too full of complete lies disguised as jokes, too obscene, obstinate and stupid for normal readers of a normal publication to wade through to find out what the album actually sounds like. This is a problem that I'm not sure how to get around. See, the deal with "serious music writing" is that I simply don't have the confidence to pull it off. I get scared when I sit down to write a review that I think people will actually care about (like the new Radiohead or new Metallica -- which is why neither of those reviews are terribly good). What I'm afraid of, I suspect, is that without jokes, my reviews will come across as flaccid, boring and unnecessary. This isn't to say I'm proud of being filled with anxiety (a wimp, you might say), but nevertheless..... Also, it's not very fun to write "serious" reviews about music. And I'm not even sure there's any point to it, unless you feel really STRONGLY about something, like I felt about The Rising and Madonna's shitty new album. And I hardly ever feel STRONGLY about something that's just a form of entertainment for the ears. I LOVE it, certainly, but I hardly think it matters in the grand scheme of life and survival in the universe. So what should I do? Get serious and boring? Or keep dicking around and just try a little harder to describe the actual music? You know what - I generally DO try to describe the music. I honestly do! Maybe what I should do is just fuck around on reviews for my site, but try harder when reviewing for another publication. But hell, if I try harder, my reviews will be just like everybody else's. Who needs THAT?!? As Dave Davies once sang, "I don't wanna write reviews like everybody else, 'cuz I'm not like everybody else." I'm not saying I'm BETTER than everybody else. But hopefully I come across as slightly DIFFERENT. If not, why waste your time reading my irregular synapse firings?
This EP has seven songs on it - two are "Major Leagues," one made me go, "Hey! It's Pavement trying to sound like Neil Young!!!!" until I found out it was an Echo and the Bunnymen cover, of all ridiculous things. Another is a cover of The Fall's "The Classical" in which they infuriatingly play the fourth chord WRONG. I do appreciate the effort at least, especially the heavy focus on that song's haunting "I've never felt better in my life!" refrain.
Then there are three originals which SUPPOSEDLY feature Gary Young on drums (I saw them live with Gary Young, by the way -- that shows you how fuckin cool I am). Two of these supposed originals are so great, their non-appearance on a true album is a disgusting disgrace. "Your Time To Change" is THEE song. Exciting, busy, military drums. Vocals doubled and placed in an approach COMPLETELY unlike any other song they ever recorded. Herky-jerky chords. High-strung, nervous mood. Octave-leaping bass threats. And spectacular, Fall-like keyboard embellishment adding yet an additional terrorizing element to the song. TOPNOTCH Pavement - a rare moment of thought-provoking song construction in a catalog that at times seems a little too full of easy tossed-off catchiness (see "Stub Your Toe" from this very same release -- infectious as a diseased carcass that's still alive and walking around throwing shit at people, but so simple, a guy with no arms could have played every note in it by rolling back and forth on pinecones). Finally there's "Decouvert De Soleil," an exercise in Malkmus self-love so smug and sickening that it would probably make his own mother want to cram him back up into her womb and get an abortion.
Fuck, I almost want to cram him up my peehole and I'm hardly even related to him!
And there you have it, America! Vanna White nude in the pages of Turtle!
- Reader Comments
I'm not really a big "comment giver" but a couple
hours ago it became my birthday and I am slightly less
Just read the Major Leagues ep review and cued in a
little more on your "opening rap." Sorry to hear
about the loss of your job. I wish you luck in the
musical criticism realm. I can tell you're a pretty
intelligent individual and I agree your reviews may be
a little "edgy" for the readers of USA Today or
whatever, but I do think you have talent and,
personally, I appreciate your sense of humor.
I wonder if you're aware of pitchforkmedia.com? I
think most of their reviewers are pretentious wankers,
but they do stay pretty much on top of the "hip" new
underground music and they seem to allow their critics
free reign to talk about random crap in their reviews.
I think you do a pretty good job of describing the
actual music in your reviews, but if you put just a
smidgen more focus into that aspect of things while
still maintaining your style and humor, I can't
imagine them not publishing your stuff. I'm guessing
they wouldn't pay you much, but on the plus side you'd
get lots of free new music and, maybe, access to a
I dunno... just throwing the idea out there...
Anyway, I haven't heard this ep, but Major League is
a pretty good song from a mostly good band. I can't
help but think I would feel more excitement over these
new Steve Malkmus albums if they were entitled
"Pavement" albums instead.
Slanted And Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe - Matador 2002.
Back when I was cool, I saw Pavement live with Gary drumming. He was funny! He didn't know the names of any of their songs. I distinctly remember Steven Malkmus shouting, "Fame Throwa!" and Gary looking squinty-eyed over his drumkits and asking, "What!?" Steven turned around, spoke soft and clear as if to a baby or cab driver, "Fame Throwa." Gary shrugged his shoulders, shook his head. Steven held up a pair of air drumsticks and mimed while mouthing, "Ba-da-da-da Tap-tap! Ba-da-da-da Tap-tap!," resulting in this exuberant gleam of recognition in Gary's stoned rosy eyes. "Oh! Oh yeah! Yeah!" That man was something else. Have you heard his solo album Hospital? Christ (Jesus), what a load of catchless garbage that thing is -- except for the classic "Plant Man," which gives any outsider recording ever made a run for its dollars.
This double-CD reissue of the famed and acclaimed (which would be a great title for a Pavement greatest hits album by the way) full-length debut(thole) from Stockton, CA/New York, NY's Pavement supplements it with two John Peel Sessions (featuring seven previously unreleased tracks!), the Watery, Domestic ep, the Brixton Academy live set and outtakes from their early years (most of which previously appeared on b-sides of singles). As much as I have soured on the work of Steven Self-Love Malkmus over the years, Slanted And Enchanted sounds as great to me today as it did the day it was released. I'm pretty sure I heard it on the day it was released. The week of its release definitely. Because like I said, I was cool. This was long ago, you understand. These days, I'm lucky if I hear my urine hitting the toilet water the day it comes out. But back then, when I was so cool that I shaved the sides of my head and grew the rest out long even though I was 18 and looked like a fuckin retard, it was easy to hear the Fall-like briilance of fuzzy, twisty-turny experiments like "Flame Thrower" and "Perfume 5." The music was diamond, mate. Even with no bass guitar, the lead and rhythm guitars caressed each others' low-rent crangs and flums over that shambolic clump-a-dump drum sound to create the snazziest melodic creations you'd ever dream of hearing from such shittily toned instruments. Smart like the Fall without completely ripping them off (except for the "Our Singer" drumbeat). They never ROCKED, but man did they roll like the wings of a night. I still say "Two States" is underwritten and both "Chesley's Little Wrists" and "No Life Singed Her" could do without the ear-piercing guitar tones and yelling, but when the other eleven songs are so messily, heart-throbbingly PERFECT in melodic composition and basement-band execution, it's easy for me to forgive Timothy McVeigh for blowing up the Oklahoma City Federal Building.
Oh I'm sorry - that was too different thoughts that got confused. That should have read, "it's easy for me to forgive (PERIOD). Timothy McVeigh for blowing up the Oklahoma City Federal Building got executed? Good call, jury!" and then gone on into a fifteen-page essay on the misguided efforts of revolutionaries who mistakenly think the Federal Government gives a shit whether children get murdered or not. As President Bush might say, "Bring it on!"
Though the 34 bonus tracks can't help but slightly reduce the quality of this indie rock classic ("Kentucky Cocktail" in particular has absolutely NOTHING going for it, and I'm not sure any of us really needed three interchangeable renditions of "Summer Babe," not to mention the underwritten nature of some of the outtakes), but there's still some "A-HA!"s to be heard. And I ain't talkin' about that funny video where the lady gets stuck in the comic book either!
For example, in the video for "Take On Me," a lady gets stuck in a comic b --- GOD FUCK IT TO COLON!!!!
For example, you know that catchy little boogie instrumental that pops up for a few seconds at the end of "Trigger Cut"? Turns out it used to be a complete song! That song, "Nothing Ever Happens," appears on here in its entirety, and quickly makes a good argument for leaving it off the original record. But it's still an "A-HA!" Other such "H-A!A"s include a screamed, loud drummed version of "Here" that finds Steven shouting the intro, "I was dressed for SUCK!...... cess!," the astonishingly beautiful and unjustly ignored "Greenlander," the only surf-spy Pavement song ever ("Drunks With Guns"), the only tribute I can think of to Ed Ames of "Who Will Answer?" fame in my Dad's old record collection ("Ed Aims"), and the two b-sides of the "Trigger Cut" single, both of which kick the living shitworms out of the already fuckin'-A A-side = "Sue Me Jack" and "So Stark (You're A Skyscraper)." Hear them once and you'll dream them forever.
Oh wow! I just thought of two amazing titles for the next James Bond movie!!!! Which do you like better: Hear Me Once and You'll Dream Me Forever or The Living Shitworms?
To conclude with a final James Bond joke, if you don't like this double-CD, you're a PUSSY. With EIGHT ARMS.
Which makes you an......
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- firstname.lastname@example.org (Andrew Dean)
The Living Shitworms
- email@example.com (David Torres)
Bought this a few weeks ago and can't stop listening to it. The second disk is awesome as is "Slanted..". I began my pavement listening experience with the final album and, while I like it, it just doesn't hold a candle to this thing.
I don't agree with you when you say the 34 bonus tracks can't help but slightly reduce the quality of the album. I mean, the bonus tracks were the reason I listened to this CD for 3-weeks straight (yes, a three-week pavement binge, i'm so hip and musical). Of course, there are a few tracks that suck.
Scratch that, there are more than a few that suck. Maybe not "suck" per-se, but definitely not "instantly memorable and catchy" like many of the other Pavement songs.
But there are enough orgasmic tracks on here to make a CD, and *gasp* 3 of them come from the second Peel Sessions. That first note wailing from the electric guitar on Rain Ammunition is, sorry to be redundant, orgasmic. As is the eery Ed Ames and kick-ass Drunk With Guns. Then there's the Watery-Domestic EP which, in all honesty, SHOULD have been put right after the Slanted & Enchanted part on CD 1. And then there's the Watery Sessions, with the bluesy Sue Me Jack, TOO-FUCKING-UNDERAPPRECIATED GREENLANDER, and So Stark, which is the type of song that makes you go "God hates me for not showing me this song earlier."
But yes, there are a few shitty songs on here. Songs like Kentucky Cocktail which makes baby jesus cry. But there are also songs which aren't as good as those on Slanted & Enchanted, but are still kickass (the third version of Here, Mercy Snack, and the ever-so-awesome Baptist Blackstick).
Oh and one more thing, why the hell was pavement afraid they sounded like Sonic Youth? Odd.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt F.)
I really really like the Watery, Domestic EP. I don't get how it only gets a 2 1/2 rating from AMG, BUT I DIGRESSSSS! DIGRESSION!
My favorite Pavement song is "Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)," which is fucking amazing. The lyrics don't reeeallllly make sense, but they SOUND NICE!
I give the entire package a 10 for that song alone. I like the other stuff, too, but I only listen to it half as much as I listen to that one single stupid song about hanging onto ashtrays and being in the morning light. Or whatever the fuck it's about.
The booklet in the thing is what got me to listen to Unrest and Sebadoh, oddly enough. I think it was when Malkmus was bragging about his band and saying how Pavement's music was close to those two bands. He couldn't be MORE WRONG, but at least I found out how shitty Sebadoh (save for one album) was, and how fucking BRILLIANT Unrest is! Thank you Mr. I-Have-A-Giant-Ego Malkmus! Without you, I would never listen to Unrest more tha n I listen to your old band!
THREE CHEERS FOR UNREST! HIP HIP
HO - RAY
Everyone go and find a copy of "Imperial" or "Perfect Teeth" now! They're hard to find, but they're just as good as Pavement's best stuff IMHASBLO (In My Humble and Sincere But Lively Opinion)!
For my money, this was a damn good album. Sound quality is better for one, so the original version has been improved upon. As far as I'm concerned, the rest is gravy. And my what gravy it is- 3 great songs in particular (Texas, Shoot the Singer, Frontwards), that would be nigh impossible to find elsewhere (in my case at least). Oh, and both Kentucky Cocktail and its bastard brother, Circa 1762, are good songs. Stupid, but good. I like Spiral's distortion solos. Shhhhhnake.
* Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert Origins - Matador 2004 *
Enslavement, shavement, ravement. All have their apologists, but none can match the songwriting elegance of early '90s Pavement. Enslavement, for example, seemed to spend most of its time subjugating black people, making them pick cotton and having fuck with their daughters. What time did that leave for writing catchy indie-rock songs? Not bloody much, I'd argue if tempted. But Pavement, because they weren't so busy overseeing the plantation and making zebra babies (scientific term per The Jeffersons), could find the time to rally behind musical brainiac Steven Malkmus to create not just one of the greatest easy listening rock albums of all time, but a hundred billion truckloads of b-sides and unreleased tracks that are every bit as good as those that made the cut. Thus, this double-CD, which features Croeks RAIN Crodked Nair in its entirety, plus THIRTY-SEVEN (!?!) bonus tracks.
These THIRTY-SEVEN (!?!) bonus tracks include all the b-sides from the album's singles, some one-off artist compilation tracks, early versions of CRCR songs recorded when Gary Young was still in the band, a few BBC Session tracks, and a whole slewlot of studio outtakes, shiitakes, matsutakes, black trumpets, buttons, hedgehogs and - OH! The yellowfoots! Speaking as a fetishist, those fuckin' Orientals have got IT, baby! But my point albumwise is that at this point in his career, Steven Malkmus quite frankly couldn't tie his shoes without coming up with a great melody. Hummable, singable, creative, lovely - often beautiful and always likeable, with interesting chord combinations, Fall-style repetition, and a true sense of love for innovative tunefulness.
No wonder I used to love this band so much! Out of 12 album tracks and 37 bonuses, I'd say there are maybe TWO lousy songs ("Brink Of The Clouds" is an ugly mess and "The Sutcliffe Catering Song" is an early warning of the cutesy bullshit that would eventually make up the majority of SM's compositions). The rest are just fantastic. Disc two's tracks are unpolished of course, they being studio demos not initially intended for release, but god you can't hide a great guitar or bass line --- half-written mellow masterpieces and strange instrumental classics with names like "Soiled Little Filly," "Bad Version Of War," "Same Way Of Saying" (featuring the icky procreation line, "Fuck a woman; make one!"), "Hands Off The Bayou," "Fucking Righteous" and "Flood Victim" say more about aural beauty and childish wonder in two minutes than three hundred Frank Sinatra songs say in 45 seconds.
Also on hand are early versions of tracks you know so well, including a pre-STP/Smashing Pumpkins "Range Life," "Stop Breathin'" as "Start Bleedin'," and a mostly mundane track called "Dark Ages" that ultimately turns into what would become the "Fillmore Jive" intro. And let's not even BEGIN to discuss the REM tracks! Okay, let's do. They cover "Camera" and then perform a funny, cheeky original called "Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence," which finds them detailing the history of REM (up through... the second album) before concluding, "'Time After Time' was my least favorite song!"
If you like music at all, this is a must-buy. SM was absolutely at the peak of his creative juice power during this year/year-and-a-half, and the loose, crangly, messy performances consistently fail to mask the tear-soaked gorgeosity of the fragile, gentle guitar riffs buried beneath. In another first, this collection FINALLY makes it clear as a pie made out of glass to me why people always say Pavement were influenced by The Velvet Underground: it's the slow, lazy, grass-stoned approach to song performance! This realization makes it all that much more unfortunate that The Velvet Underground only wrote about four good songs.
Do you like good music? If not, stick to your avant-garde SHIT like the Jefferson Starship and Loggins & Messina because us Power Youth Kids don't need your Old Man Grouchiness putting a damper on our bag, Jack!
(*has sex in mud puddle in the middle of a field*)
Fuck you, Pavement! You gave me scabies!
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- email@example.com (Rob)
i felt like i needed to post my first comment on the
you gave crooked rain the 10!? i'm shocked! i still
like slanted and enchanted the best, but you always
had the big hard-on for wowee zowee, and your review
was so fun i always respected it! now i'm just
confused why you took it away.
crooked rain is good, never has killed me though. but
what do i know?!
still love ya prindle
I just found this site and while I only agree with about half or possibly
2/3rds of your reviews, I think your style is awesome and you rock.
Anyways, I totally agree with your review of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain:
LA's Desert Origins. Stephen Malkmus used to be a Good-Song-Writing Machine
before he started taking stabs at bland wanky solo projects. Also, legend
has it that there are oodles of B-sides and unreleased tracks from the Wowee
Zowee sessions. Here's hoping we get a giant reissue of that album with a
nonsensical subscript attached to it.
- Colin T.
i feel like im having deja vu.
on a related note, if this is this good i need to get this!
One of my all-time favorite rockstar anecdotes:
Stephen Malkmus was asked what Michael Stipe thought of the song,
'Unseen Power of the Picket Fence.' Apparently, once it was explained
to him that all Pavers were REM fans, Michael Stipe offered to dance
in the video. So, they decided not to do a video.
That makes me shoot stuff out of my nose everytime I think about it.
Skinny, bald Michael Stipe doing his little squirmy, molester dance
moves while the Pavers sing a song about how much they like him.
- Dan Brookes
This is a ridiculously great value collection of songs. As Mark says, there are approximately two songs that don't quite cut it, the rest: all gold. Aside from the greatness of the original LP (how good does it sound? Like it was recorded yesterday) - the sessions with Gary Young drumming are really good! He may have been a complete maniac but the guy could drum! Fortunately for the sanity-seeking Pavers, so could Steve West. And y'know something? I kind of hope they don't reform.
Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition - Matador 2006
I just said the most hilarious thing to my wife. I saw her lying in the middle of the bed so I says to her, I says, "Why are you lying in the middle of the bed.... BED MIDDLER???" ("Bette Midler???") Ha! Hee Hee HO Ha! Yes, it's true: when you laugh, the world laughs at you!
I've gotten into some trouble lately with the FCC for the excessive profanity on my site, so from this point on I am going to cease using curse words. If you're a big fan of curse words, I'm sorry but this is something that I have to do -- to grow as a person and scriptwriter.
Listening to the second disc of Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition is like ramming your fist into a vagina: a bloody pain! Imagine waking up to find fecal matter all over your penis; that's how I felt upon hearing my beloved Wowee Zowee double-LP extended into a double-CD of sloppy repetitive urine. Wait! Is that a bottle of vodka over there? Hang on, I'll be back shortly.
Okay I'm back. Disc one is perfectly serviceable with Wowee Zowee, the Rattled By La Rush and Pacific Trim EPs and "Father To A Sister Of Thought" single, but the entire second disc is shitty sloppy mistake-ridden lazy slacker poorly-sung versions of great songs you've already heard on disc one. Very few outtakes this time -- just alternate and live versions of album and EP tracks. Just buy the original release, because this entire second disc sucks so much it might as well be some guy's mouth with a Sweet Tart in it. Remember Sweet Tarts? Those were great candies that sucked because they weren't sweet at all - they were sour as shit. Did the manufacturers not realize that? They were sour as SHIT! Horribly sour! Sweet? Are you fucking kidding me!? FUCK YOU! It's like sucking on a witch's tit with sour sourness on sour! GODDAMN you stupid candy company! It's like there used to be a candy called "CHERRY CHAN," and then after a few years they decided, "OH NO! The word 'CHAN' is somehow offensive to Asians even though it's not!" and they changed the name to CHERRY CLAN. Pricks.
But back to the album. Do you remember Astro Pops? I used to love those things! I'd get them at the baseball park. They stuck to your teeth though, and ripped teeth out and caused disease. Do they exist anymore? Who gives a (hilarious word)? The other day at Barnes & Noble, I saw an ADULT Mad Libs book! Mad Libs seriously still exist? Which reminds me of something else -- that guy that does Saturday Night Live News now -- or at least a few years ago, and possibly now -- Seth Myers? He's a complete fucking ASSHOLE PRICK TALENTLESS SHITHEAD PRICK ASSHOLE FUCKING PIECE OF HATEFUL FLESH! How did he get that job? Did he suck somebody's vagina? And I say "vagina" because the head writer of that show right now is a woman. I honestly haven't watched the show regularly since the days of Phil Hartman, Mike Myers and so forth, so I'm talking out my asp, but I did watch a few Weekend Updates on YouTube and that guy is SUCH AN UNFUNNY SARCASTIC SNARKY PRICK. Somebody murder him. Blame it on me; I don't give a shit.
Why are there never any good movies? Because they keep making movies geared towards idiots; that's why. How else can you explain the huge money wad of cash going to Avatar, which is about the stupidest-looking bullshit kiddie movie I've ever seen a trailer for? I live in NYC and I'll tell you from here: a lot of people are really fucking ignorant. Not me though; I'm just innocent. Sex? What is that? Something birds do?
Listen up because this is important: You know how asshole Republicans will say, "Yeah, I'll stop eating meat when the cows start running away from being killed. They walk right into it!"? If you ever hear that argument (I have), respond, "Yep! Just like a human baby!" And then make an argument for eating human babies. If they complain, "Well, human babies will GROW into smart people," be sure and say, "Even retarded ones? Or deaf and blind ones? Can we eat them?" And if they say, "Fuck you! We're at the top of the Food Chain!," say to them, "And what would happen if we stopped eating meat? Would the world be overrun by cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys hellbent on eating us alive?" Of course not, for CHrist's Fucking Sake. Our meat eating has Jack Shit to do with the food chain. If it did, we'd be eating tigers, sharks, alligators and other animals that actually pose a threat to us. Instead we breed friendly calm animals just so we can murder them. FYI, I'm a meat eater. I wish I were not. I was a vegetarian for two years and I changed nothing at all. So I eat meat and feel bad about it. I wish the government would outlaw meat so that my favorite restaurants would be forced to come up with good-tasting non-meat substitutes. I should be able to eat a Vegetarian Burger at McDonald's that doesn't taste like human shit with onions. At present, such is not the case.
I have no clue what Pavement's deal was. Was Stephen Malkmus just so 'snarky' that he refused to perform a good show? I saw them once with Gary Young and it was hilarious. But then I saw them again on the Wowee Zowee tour and it was.... not hilarious, but musically good. So why are there so many AWFUL live recordings of them? Just complete garbage that sounds like they gave even less of a shit than a shit gives of itself when exiting an anus and entering a sewage system.
THIS IS A HIDDEN MESSAGE: Thank you for reading my web site and being my friend on FaceBook. In all honesty, I don't know what I'd do without you. Thank you. I am not joking. Thank you.
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Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition - Matador 2008
This double-CD includes the Brighten The Corners LP, the "Stereo," "Spit On A Stranger" and "Shady Lane" singles, two BBC Radio One sessions, cover tunes (Echo & The Bunnymen, Faust, The Clean, The Fall), album outtakes and other random dipsy-doodles, including a Pussy Galore parody, a very pretty instrumental called "Beautiful Butterfly," and a funky updated version of old ear-piercer "Maybe Maybe." It's much less reprehensible than the expanded Wewoo Zewoo, but still contains more than its shared fare of repeated material. Hay, just because I like a song on Brighten The Corners doesn't mean I want to hear it again. When will bands learn this and stop playing songs more than one time in their entire career?
I've had a very long and tiring day, so I'm going to stop there and leave you with a hilarious Top Ten List of the sort you might find on The David Letterman Show.
TOP TEN PICK-UP LINES I JUST MADE UP
10. "Is that an erect penis in my pocket or are you just happy to see me?"
9. "You must be an angel, because you're 'harp'-ing on about God knows what. Shut up, idiot."
8. "Do you come here often? I only ask because this is the men's room."
7. "I lost my phone. Can I have yours?"
6. "Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I gouge your eyes out?"
7. "Have we met before? You look familial."
8. "Is that a mirror in your pocket? If so, it must've broken because there's blood gushing down the front of your pants."
9. "If I said you had a nice body, would you hold it against a dangerously out-of-control oscillating fan? I'm getting chilly and the 'off' button is way over there."
10. "Are you a criminal? Because it's illegal to look that good (and do cocaine in the bathroom. You're under arrest)."
11. "What's your sign? 'Wide Load'? Ha ha! I said that because you have a huge ass!"
And there you have it! The TOP 11 PICK-UP LINES I MADOFF
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