Monday, April 5, 2010

Pavement - A Personal History

Pigs The Tend To Whiggle When They Walk

I guess Pavement fans have always been different. Maybe not the most social and certainly not the most mainstream people. Lovers of good alternative music but not necessarily sharing a need to show this to the outside world. They were called slackers, and were not wearing the designer clothing but also not wearing the metal spikes. They could easily have worked in an office or library and were never a “threat to society”.

Pavement played a big role in my teenage years. My first introduction to the band was in 1994 with the single ‘Cut Your Hair’ and album “Crooked Rain Crooked Rain”. CRCR to this day remains my favorite. It still has the lo-fi wackiness of “Slanted & Enchanted” but already showed glimpses of finely tuned songs on later albums. In my case it is the same as with many other fans, the first Pavement album you heard is your favorite and will carve out a part in your personal history.

I didn’t know a lot of Pavement fans in high school, in fact I didn’t really know anyone who shared my taste in music, apart from the friends who I introduced it to. But I didn’t care, it was good to have something you love just for yourself sometimes.

Pavement didn’t seem to care about how songs should be played or written. CRCR didn’t really start like ‘Nevermind’ or ‘Highway 61’ did. You were lured into an album that seemed to have been there for some time already. The structure of the songs was strange, the chords were strange and the two drummers were just plain weird. And the lyrics? Well, you knew they were highly intelligent but you also had no clue what Malkmus was singing about. But it seemed to work. It was how I wanted to be. Don’t do a lot of things but give the world pure brilliance when you decided it was time to give it to them. And then be laconic about it.

1994 was a special year. Jon Spencer blasted away his blues riffs on ‘Orange’, Lou Barlow showed his genius on Sebadoh’s “Bakesale” and former bandmate J Mascis sped up a chorus like I had never heard before on Dinosaur’s ‘Feel the Pain’. Shellac’s “At Action Park” let me hear how music could also be made and Weezer’s first album I played endlessly walking to school. It might be because 94 was such a special year for me that all these albums still rank amongst my favorites. All are still around 16 years later as well and still making worthwhile music. All apart from Pavement. After 3 more albums the disbanded.

But yay! The slacker, early 30’s generation, finally has it’s equivalent of Led Zeppelin reunion. Pavement are now on a comeback tour of sorts and have released a compilation album called “Quarantine the past”. It has the hits and a few not-so-hits but that very much show the band Pavement was. Of course there are songs you miss (personally I think ‘Give it a Day’ should be on there). The tracklisting is just as irratic as the band’s albums, and it should be. Every Pavement fan, from the early Slanted-fans to their last albums will be happy with the CD.

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