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Old 02-25-2007, 10:04 PM   #1
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Pavement

I'm trying to get into this band. The only albums I've heard by them are Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, but I just don't quite see what the big deal is yet. S&E was decent, with a mixture of strong and poor songs, but I just haven't gotten into it yet. Crooked Rain is a lot better, IMO, and is a very good album. However, I lost my CD-R of it, so I intend on picking up the deluxe edition of it along with Neon Bible in a couple of weeks.

Is anyone else here a fan of Pavement? Any recommendations?
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Old 02-26-2007, 03:10 AM   #2
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I've tried to get into them since they're held in such high regard and considered seminal to the whole indie movement, but I just don't get what's so god damn spectacular about then.

Truthfully, I find myself bored by them.
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Old 02-26-2007, 05:38 AM   #3
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One of the best American bands of the 1990s, as far as I see it.

Slanted and Enchanted is one of my thirty or so favorite albums of all time, and both Wowee Zowee and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain are only a hair's breadth from being just as good.

Essential songs: "Summer Babe (Winter Version)," "Gold Soundz," "Rattled by the Rush," "Kennel District," and "Zurich is Stained." Just for starters, I reckon that'll give you a pretty good idea of what this band was capable of doing before Nigel Godrich got in there and, as always (minus Radiohead, I admit), fucked it all up way the hell beyond repair.

I once read something written about "Gold Soundz" which said, "Every single time I listen to this song, I have a life-changing epiphany." That pretty well sums these guys up, for me. Malkmus (and even Stairs, though to an obviously lesser extent) was like A.C. Newman before A.C. Newman was writing songs--the sounds of the words, rather than the words themselves, told the most vivid stories and painted the most arresting pictures that you'd ever imagined. All kinds of Eno-styled gobbledy-gook that sounds nothing at all like what Eno did with the same principle(s). There are literally dozens more gems scattered across their discography, but like I said...I think that those songs up there pretty well sum it up.

I mean, come on...

"I wanted to stay there, but you know I needed you more than that."

"Keep my advent to yourself."

"You can never quarantine the past."

"Pick out some Brazilian nuts for your engagement. Check the expiration date, man...it's later than you think."

"I guess a guess is the best I'll do."

That's gold, Jerry. Gold.
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Old 02-26-2007, 03:25 PM   #4
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Best band of the 90's, though I have to disagree with your assessment of Terror Twilight, IYS. It's a natural progression from Brighten the Corners (a true masterpiece, and the band's most even and fully realized album), if you ask me. They were tightening up and getting slightly more sophisticated on BTC anyway. You may think it sounds too slick, but the songs are still the songs. I think Godrich let them breathe, even if it sacrificed some of the scrappiness that caused so many to love the band in the first palce. I was never a huge fan of Spit on a Stranger and think it's a weak opening (even if its sappines is full-on irony), but if you have any affinity for the breezy, mellow side of Pavement (Black Out, Grounded, Zurich is Stained, Gold Soundz), stuff like You Are a Light, Ann Don't Cry, Major Leagues are up there with the best of them.

Plus, it's not like the album is some kind of snoozefest. Cream of Gold rocks HARD, as does Platform Blues, and The Hexx is all kinds of sinister. And the looser, playful side is represented here too: Speak, See, Remember and Carrot Rope fully satisfy. I can see how others might not like the jamminess of Folk Jam (a cringe-inducing warning of a title) or folkiness of Billy, but they're certainly not crap.

The material does come off a bit slight when compared with previous albums, but aside from Malkmus' lyrics, the thing I come to Pavement for primarily is his guitar playing, and he does such great work all over the recording. Also, there's nothing on TT as bad as Hit the Plane down, or as boring as Heaven is a Truck, the two tracks that prevent CRCR from being a complete masterpiece.

Slanted and Enchanted, however, while certainly being groundbreaking, isn't even close to the band at its peak. To call it the best is rather insulting, and I hate the indie rock axiom that the bands are best right out of the gate. Not even close for Pavement, and as eminently listenable as S&E is, as an experience every other album is denser and richer. Personally I prefer Wowee Zowee, because it's 18 tracks of Pavement, and covers every kind of terrain they were capable of, much like The White Album.

I'm curious, IYS, do you like any solo Malkmus? I just don't see that much of a difference between all the albums (Pavement and SM included) as many others do. They're all great IMO. I guess my main point is that I would direct new listeners to Terror Twilight because it's still the most accessible, and they can dig deeper into the more-offbeat stuff from there.
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Old 02-26-2007, 04:45 PM   #5
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I feel like I should love them, but I generally hold them as somewhere between "okay" and "pretty good." They've got some great tunes scattered around in their albums, but overall they just don't click with me like they seem to do with other people.

"Here," "Gold Soundz," "Cut Your Hair," "Range Life," and "Fillmore Jive" are all totally great, though.
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Old 02-27-2007, 12:51 AM   #6
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Where should one start if one wants to get into them?

I hear that they are quintessentially 90's...
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Old 02-27-2007, 01:06 AM   #7
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Well they're not 90's in some kind of trendy sense that's going to sound outdated, save for debut Slanted & Enchanted, which is about as definitively indie lo-fi as you could get.

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is their second album and if I'm not mistaken their best-selling one. It's the most straight-ahead rock of their discography and arguably the most accessible. But as I mentioned above, I think the band's swan song Terror Twilight is another great entry point, because it's concise and the most polished of the albums. Plus, the potential to be annoyed by Stephen Malkmus' voice (not that it's on the potential annoyance level of a Michael Stipe, Perry Ferrell, David Byrne, etc.) is lessened by starting here. You're better off hearing him at his least idiosyncratic and easing into the previous albums afterwards.

Amazon is always a good place to hear snippets, but to truly appreciate the magic you're better off downloading or picking up a used copy of a whole album.
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Old 02-27-2007, 06:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by lazarus
I'm curious, IYS, do you like any solo Malkmus? I just don't see that much of a difference between all the albums (Pavement and SM included) as many others do. They're all great IMO. I guess my main point is that I would direct new listeners to Terror Twilight because it's still the most accessible, and they can dig deeper into the more-offbeat stuff from there.
I've never been able to get into any of the Malkmus/Malkmus + Jicks stuff, no. I've even seen him/them live, but the show didn't mean anything until they started playing a Pavement song or two. It was really sad, now that I think it over...

I totally agree with you in regards to Malkmus's guitar skills, which I still think sounded the most perfectly imperfect on Wowee Zowee; I feel like that was when he started speaking with his guitar on a more regular basis, while I feel like he's done too much of that in the wake of that spectacular album.

Anyway, I guess that I dislike the Malkmus stuff for the inverse reason that you like Brighten the Corners so much--the songs just aren't any good, to my ears.

I should point out, though, that I don't unequivocally hate either of the band's last two albums. I think that Brighten the Corners is solid but unspectacular and that Terror Twilight is embarrassing, watered-down, bland...and still an okay album.

I can't back off of this, though--I swear to you that you have to start with Slanted and Enchanted if you're totally new to Pavement. When I really break it all down, I actually like, listen to, and have fun with Wowee Zowee more than any of their other records, but nobody can deny the charm and appeal of that first earth-shaking record. I'll be sentimental with my criticism, for once, and say that I still consider it my favorite Pavement record simply because it was my first. Here, then, is my ranking...in case anybody cares:

1) Slanted and Enchanted
2) Wowee Zowee
3) Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (and, yes, "Hit the Plane Down" is disgustingly bad...how the shit did that end up on an album while "Preston School of Industry" never got past the demo stage...?)
4) Brighten the Corners
5) Terror Twilight (AKA, The First Malkmus Solo Album)

Seriously, though...fuck Nigel Godrich, that shithead.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:03 AM   #9
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Thanks for this thread.

I'm seeing Malkmus at Langerado soon, so I need to study up a little.
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Old 02-28-2007, 09:32 AM   #10
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Pavement rocks. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is excellent and a good place to start. Slanted is a little less accessible for a first listen, but after a bit it grows on you and it's brilliant as well.
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Old 02-28-2007, 02:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Anu
Thanks for this thread.

I'm seeing Malkmus at Langerado soon, so I need to study up a little.
You are in for a treat, that's all I can say. Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney is now on drums and backing vocals, and the made the band twice as good.

Plus, I just saw the Jicks a couple months ago, and half the show was new material. It was the most rocking, exciting stuff I've heard from them to date, and I love al three SM solo albums. Some really long jams...the band is TIGHT.
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Old 10-20-2007, 02:59 AM   #12
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Digging this back up so I don't hijack any other threads trying to talk Pavement with Lazarus. Looks like If You Shout is a fan too, so we may end up with more people to talk to.

This is a band I seem to find myself randomly getting into the mood to listen to them every few months. I recently came across the video to 'Major Leagues', which I'd never seen before, and fell back in love with the song. Here's the vid, by the way:

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Old 10-20-2007, 03:14 AM   #13
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That Slow Century DVD that Matador is well worth the price. You get all Pavement videos with commentary, a really nice documentary about the band by Lance Bangs, and two video concerts. If you like the band you'll fall in love watching this thing.

I can't believe Malkmus' next album has been delayed until next year. The guy's been on an album every other year schedule since Pavement started:

Slanted=1991
Crooked Rain=1993
Wowee=1995
Corners=1997
Twilight=1999
S.M.=2001
Pig Lib=2003
Face the Truth=2005

How can he NOT release it in 2007? Will the world end with this even-numbered year business?

Maybe it's a good sign.

Also, the song Old Jerry, included on the Pig Lib bonus disc, is one of the top 10 Malkmus/Pavement songs. Discuss.
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Old 10-20-2007, 03:21 AM   #14
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I actually don't own any of his post-Pavement stuff, which is odd considering there are a number of those songs that I like even as much as some of my favorite Pavement tracks ('Do Not Feed the Oysters' is still a big highlight in my mind from the entire night I saw him and Radiohead).

I'd probably have to say that Brighten the Corners is my favorite album. Though it's not without its flaws, it has the largest number of tracks I love out of their albums. Slanted & Enchanted is extremely close though, I kinda go back and forth on which I think I prefer.
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Old 10-20-2007, 03:34 AM   #15
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It's surprising that Malkmus' solo albums are as unique and different from each other as the Pavement albums are. The self-titled was seen as maybe a bit too playful, but the individual songs really stand out, very upbeat and poppy for the most part.

Pig Lib goes the other way and is a lot muddier, really feels more like a band album with a lot more jamming and guitar solos (like the 11 minute 1% of 1). At times this is my favorite of the three because I love basking in S.M.'s axe-wielding prowess. Plus, if you include from the bonus disc the aforementioned Old Jerry, plus Dynamic Calories and Fractures & Feelings, it really puts this one over the top.

Face the Truth I think resembles Pavement the most, even though most of it was recorded by S.M. by himself. You have the long jams like No More Shoes, but then the looser, quirkier stuff like Kindling for the Master and Loud Cloud Croud. Baby Come On seems like an old school Pave rave-up, and Post Paint Boy sounds like it could have been on Brighten the Corners. I was really disappointed when this first came out, especially as I hated Pencil Rot, but the whole thing has grown on me over the last couple years.

As I said before, the new material that was played live rocks really hard, and Janet Weiss has breathed new life into the Jicks. I have very high hopes.
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