Today’s selection is an early 90’s one from the independent record label scene. It’s a debut album as well – so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
Pavement – “Slanted and Enchanted”
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Pavement+Slanted+And+Enchanted/66608051
Read about the band here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavement_%28band%29
Fun Facts: The band actually had members join while recording, so that early demos of the album which were sent as promotion don’t feature the entire band.
|Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 3
|Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted: 4.5 stars
Precon: This is my pick, though I’m no Pavement expert. I heard some songs back in the 90’s and liked them but never explored any further. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually listened to a whole album. Now I dig pretty much their entire catalog, and while this album probably isn’t my favorite, it is their first and most legendary, so I figured it would be the best choice for RC. I’ve heard there’s also a Slack Album combining this and Jay-Z’s Black Album a la the Grey Album.
Favorite Track: Trigger Cut, Perfume-V
I think one of their hooks as a band is Stephen Malkmus’ conversational tone. It adds a bit of apathetic flair to each song.
Magic the Gathering Card: Enchanted Evening
|Pavement-Slanted & Enchanted
Preconceived Notions- I’m sure I’ve heard at least one song by them before. Maybe not from this album though. I’ve heard the name a million times and probably have at least one compilation cd with one of their songs on it, I just can’t think of anything distinctive now. I also have a feeling I used to confuse them with several other bands.
As Listening: This has such a distinctly 90s feel, I kind of want to go home and watch Daria or Empire Records while wearing my space-dyed Delia’s sweater. I think I was expecting much more melody and slightly less reverb. Malkmus sounds kind of like Rivers Cuomo.
Favorite Track(s)- In the Mouth a Desert/Zurich Is Stained (this song should have been on at least one of the Dawson’s Creek soundtracks)
After Listening- I’m not sure this is an album that ages all that well. Is it an album that would be best preserved in a time machine so that when it’s unearthed by a hundred kids in 2040, they can know exactly what the 90s sounded like? Sure. Is it an album that is probably held in nostalgic high regard by fans whose lives were turned upside down when they listened to this in their parents basements in 1992? Absolutely. To my ears, it’s just firmly ok. I don’t understand the “Best of “ list rankings, except in context to other albums released in the past. It doesn’t seem to rewrite garage rock rules in anyway, and while it’s enjoyable, more often than not, they seem more impressed with themselves (which is probably what fans were responding to) than simply impressive. A million influences, and surely just as many bands influenced by them, they just seem to meld in to the 90s atmosphere without making much of in imprint. There’s a lot to be said for indie cred and the following that that can amass, especially when you continue allowing fans to feel like it’s so clearly “their” music by not submitting to large record contracts, but on the whole, I think I was hoping for more…or hoping to like it more. I’d still be interested in Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, though.
|Preconceived Notions: Oh good another lo-fi critically acclaimed record from the 90’s. Great. Just mother^&*’ing great. Although all have their differences in era, and in style – The Black Lipps (aware this was not a 90’s album), Sonic Youth, and Weezer have sort of worn me out in this RC go-around. I’m going to try to listen to this with as fresh ears as possible….but at full disclosure I am annoyed this morning with this selection.
After Listening: Yep. Low-fi, sloppy, and generally underwhelming. I will say this album has a few things going in its favor that say The Lipps did not. For starters released in 1992 it’s easy to see how this was a product of its day the mega blacklash against slick produced and sterile music was fully underway, and so if Pavement is one of those leading the rebellion there is at least an authenticity here. The album is a blend of punk, lo-fi, and a vague sort of laid back vibe that isn’t quite psychedelic-there is a very reminiscent tone of 70’s flavor in the underlying structure. So, the band clearly had a vision of what they wanted to create, and if there is a testament to its success –it’s probably the critical acclaim this thing gets as a “genre” starter or definer. That said, I still don’t much care for it…this is garage rock, which at times is convoluted not because it’s interesting or intricate – but because it all lives in the same general soundscape of density. Even worse, the thing lacks aggression in several key moments that would’ve leant some energy to the thing worth latching onto.
Favorite Tracks: “Perfume – V” A song with a clear and catchy melody, a rarity on this thing – a nice short length, and decent energy. Most of the vocals are clear as well.
Least Favorite Tracks: “Two States” Repetitive rhythm with a juvenile melody – probably written and recorded in the same day.
Overall 2.57 For fans of the indie rock lo-fi genre, I’m sure this record is a homerun. It’s got your stereotypical garbled vocal deliveries, uneven guitar tones, and raw song construction. However, unlike say a band like Sonic Youth, there is very little underneath the simple mechanisms of this record. While that’s appealing to some, and the band deserves objective credit for helping to define a genre – I’m simply not ever going to gravitate towards this style of music – to me it seems like a very confining and stagnant approach.
“It’s just like music when you reckon it up. It’s like listening to Pavement: it’s just The Fall in 1985, isn’t it? They haven’t got an original idea in their heads. – Mark E Smith (Lead singer of The Fall).
|Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
Preconceptions: I’m familiar with Pavement and I’ve heard this album a couple of times, although I think I prefer Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain… I think. They are a pretty great band—legendary, even
After Listening: Ok, I noticed that a couple of you mentioned how generically “90s” this album sounds, and I have to say I don’t see it that way myself. I think what makes this album great is that it sounds ahead of its time to me. This was recorded in 1990, and to my ears it doesn’t sound like anything that was being recorded at the time… to my recollection at least. It doesn’t at all sound generically 90s to me, and it seems to have its fingerprints all over today’s indie rock, and everything else in between. There is a lot to be said for that
Musically, I love the genre mixing that is going on. There are all sorts of stuff going on, so it’s hard to really pin them down in any particular category. Although, clearly they are so-called “lo-fi” indie rock icons, there is a punk underpinning that kind keeps it all together. I like the various changes in the songs, and how the band manages to do that sorta thing and still keep the album pretty compact and manageable, while at the same time somehow carrying the aura of something epic and grand. In that sense, its sorta like Pavement is a non-self indulgent, or perhaps, less self-indulgent Sonic Youth.
But mainly, the bottom line is that all the songs on this album had my feet drumming the floor beneath my desk, so I like it a lot, and plus, its right in the wheelhouse of music I’ve really grown to dig over the past few years.
Favorites: Summer Babe; Loretta’s Scars; Perfume-V
Overall: 4.24 stars
|Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted
Preconceptions: Alt-rockedy, post-punkedy, art noise?
After listening: Is this really that “Cut Your Hair” band? Did they only make money on their worst song?
Better: Trigger Cut, Two States
Overall: After sorting out a bad Grooveshark connection, I liked this way more than I expected. The warm syrupy bass and crunchy feedback make this a great breakfast listen, like raw sugar on Weetabix. Malkmus’ voice is as deliberately unpolished as the band and it works. I get a shoegazey feel off these tracks and can hear the influence Pavement had on other 90s alt-pop bands who had more mainstream success. Ultimately, the 14 songs seemed to run long. I could have used either less tracks or more variety in sound & tempo to make this album go the distance.