Category: Pavement

Pavement – Brighten the Corners

ARTIST: Pavement                   220px-BrightentheCorners

TITLE:  Brighten the Corners

YEAR RELEASED: 1997

CHART ACTION: #70 US, #27 UK

SINGLES: Stereo (#48 UK), Shady Lane (#40 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Fans, only

LINEUP: Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich, Scott Kannberg, Steve West, Mark Ibold

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After the relative laziness of Wowee Zowee, Pavement perks up a bit, but a few songs fall flat.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Stephen Malkmus seemed to have woken from the haze of his mind after Wowee Zowee, at least at the beginning of this, Pavement’s fourth full-length disc.

Starting with “Stereo” and “Shady Lane”, the band front-loads the record with witticisms, and continue with “Date w/IKEA” (snarking on IKEA isn’t just a 2010’s thing). Yet the albums calms down a bit after the opening, and in my ears it falls into a lull.

It’s not easy to be the ‘it’ band of the indie scene. Pavement here was trying to give everything that the fans wanted (except the ones who liked them when they were just noisy), and while it succeeds on some levels, as an entire album it falls a bit short of some of their earlier work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mitch Easter, famous for producing early REM and other jangly bands, is a co-producer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the Nicene Creedence Edition has a ton of extra cuts, B-sides, live stuff. The usual huge package.

 GRADE: B+: It’s focused, which you may or may not like in Pavement, but it seems to be mining some of the same ground as before. It’s still pretty good, and gave fans what they wanted.

Pavement – Wowee Zowee

ARTIST: Pavement                      220px-WoweeZowee

TITLE: Wowee Zowee

YEAR RELEASED: 1995

CHART ACTION: #117 US, #18 UK

SINGLES: Father to a Sister of Thought (#148 UK), Rattled by the Rush (#91 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you love Pavement

LINEUP: Stephen Malkmus, Scott Kannberg, Bob Nastanovich, Steve West, Mark Ibold

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The one where Pavement sheds their casual fans, for better or worse.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Those listeners expecting an album full of the more pop-oriented and tuneful songs of Pavement’s ‘hit’ singles were in for a surprise when this came out in 1995.

“Rattled by the Rush” is a song in that mode, with a catchy chorus, but the song itself sounds cobbled together from several left turns (doesn’t mean it’s not great), and the rest of the album defied pop expectations. It’s a quieter album for the most part; one where Stephen Malkmus sounds like he just woke up from a THC-induced nap to record his vocals.

I didn’t get this a bit at first, but time and distance have helped me embrace this a little more. The melodies are there, just hidden a bit. It did shed the fans that weren’t along for Pavement’s eclectic ride, and that may have been the intent.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title is a homage to the first Mothers of Invention album, which had a cut called “Wowie Zowie”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a huge expansion with live cuts, B-sides, and other outtakes.

GRADE: B+: I was all set to give this a “C” before I listened to this again. It’s a good listen if you know it’s going to be a little off and a little mellower at times.

 

Pavement – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

ARTIST: Pavement  crooked

TITLE:  Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: #121 US, #15 UK

SINGLES: Cut Your Hair (#10 US Modern Rock, #52 UK), Haunt You Down, Gold Soundz (#94 UK), Range Life (#79 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nothing but the singles for airplay.

LINEUP: Stephen Malmkus, Scott Kannberg, Mark Ibold, Steve West, Bob Nastanovich

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The band grows, the songs become relatively poppier, but Pavement is still weird. It’s just the weirdness is left for many of the deep cuts. The music industry is a target for many tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pavement became a lo-fi phenomenon in 1993, so when they released this second album they concentrated on including popper songs on some of the album, while still featuring the off-kilter construction and overall weirdness of Pavement.

Having a full time band helps as well, as they play together well and allow Malmkus and Kannberg to focus on the arrangements without worrying about playing almost everything themselves. The band has a sixth sense and can work with the songs and interesting tonality and structures.

This put Pavement in the mainstream, with “Cut Your Hair” still being played quite a bit, and “Range Life” a shout out / put down of the bands in the current scene that may have been more blatantly careerist than lovable slackers like them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The lead cut was known forever as “Silence Kit”, but that was due to bad printing on the back of the CD booklet. It’s actually “Silence Kid”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a 49-cut behemoth with plenty of B-sides, BBC sessions and live cuts.

GRADE: A-: Some cuts are just weird for being weird, but this is a pretty great alternative album that has even aged well.

Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted

ARTIST: Pavement 220px-Slanted_and_Enchanted_album_cover

TITLE:  Slanted & Enchanted

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #72 UK: The Deluxe re-issue hit #152 US and #5 US Independent

SINGLES: Summer Babe, Trigger Cut

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Many Pavement fans know the entire album

LINEUP: Steven Malkmus, Scott Kannenberg, Gary Young.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After some noisy noisy EPs, the band’s first album is a hook filled low-fi touchstone.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Pavement was a very enigmatic band when they started. The two main men went by SM (Malkmus) and Spiral Stairs (Kannenberg). They appropriated other album artwork for their own. Their EPs usually had a tune or two of great indie rock with hooks, and then other tracks of noise and feedback. The song titles were obtuse; the lyrics full of allusions.

The record was noisy, yes, and some of the cuts were obtuse and just odd. It wouldn’t fit on regular Top 40 radio. But there was something about these songs, sometimes shrouded in feedback and static, that hit the right nerve for the indie crowd at this point in history.

What hits are the hooks. You can sing along to at least the choruses of most of these songs. The oddball songs are also charming in their own way. The titles, well, “Chelsey’s Little Wrists” and “Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era” probably gives you an idea.

It’s one of the best indie albums of the 90’s and certainly beats any flaccid grunge-lite bands that became ubiquitous in 1995 or so.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: A personal note: Pavement was the first time I really ran into a certain kind of music hipster. On a message board on Prodigy (yeah, Prodigy) some posters were saying that Pavement had gotten ‘too popular’ with the release of this album, and they weren’t ‘a band just for them’ anymore. So, the kicker was that they were going to turn their allegiance to Guided By Voices, because they were SURE that was a band they could keep for themselves.

First, a band isn’t yours – it’s for the members of the band and also EVERYONE, not just your little cult. Second, writing songs that people like isn’t a crime, especially when you really don’t compromise your artistic viewpoint. Third, GBV got just as popular and compromised as Pavement.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Pavement has released huge deluxe versions wiWateryDomesticth outtakes, BBC sessions and live sets. This one also has the Watery, Domestic EP in its entirety. I doesn’t have much of Westing By Musket and Sextant, a compilation of their EPs on Drag City. That one’s going in the missing file for now.

GRADE: A: It’s an A+ if you can handle the noisier, obtuse cuts, otherwise an A- for the masses. So I said it’s an A record. Aaaaaaay!