For my second installment of Tunesday, I thought I’d do a little reminiscing and highlight my single most favorite band of the ’90s, Pavement. Certainly it’s always difficult to say “favorite band”, or “favorite song”. Heck, its often difficult for me to say “top ten…”, but I can honestly say that Pavement is my favorite band from that time, and is still a band that gets heavy rotation.
I discovered Pavement in the fall of ‘92. Discovered probably isn’t the best characterization, as I didn’t know who they were when I saw their name as the opening act for the incredible lineup of Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and Primus (it’s amazing what you can find with a Google search. The ticket stub, complete with the relatively cheap price of $17.60 is from that show). The show was at the legendary open air amphitheater Red Rocks. I had moved to Denver that spring, and this was my first visit to the venue. I was only familiar with Red Rocks from the classic U2 concert video, Under a Blood Red Sky, but all of my friends in Denver spoke of it with reverence. I was a huge fan of both Mudhoney and Sonic Youth (still am), and though not a zealot in regards to Primus like some, I had seen them earlier that year in a small club in Tampa and knew they’d be a nice way to end the evening and was really looking forward to the show.
Anyway, Pavement were setting up to open the show, and they really looked like a bunch of roadies who were a pick up band to just warm up the crowd. A bunch of young guys, with this considerably older drummer who came out, stood on his stool, and in one fell swoop, dropped to a seated position and kicked off the first song. It was love at first note.
Pavement is now considered one of the trailblazers of the lo-fi sound, along with bands like Sebadoh and the lesser known outfit Slint. Often coming across as dissonant and harmonic at the same time, with intelligent, sometimes cryptic lyrics, their dynamic sound is infectious. (And that’s where I stop trying to sound like a music writer. )
Pavement broke up somewhere around the fall of ‘99, but not before putting out 5 albums, and a slew of EPs, including my favorite of all their recordings, Watery, Domestic. As far as must haves, their first two full length albums, Slanted & Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain should be in every fan of ’90s, American indie rock library. Of the last 3, it’s decidedly split amongst fans which were better, with me being in the Brighten the Corners camp.
Steve Malkmus continues to record and perform with his band the Jicks, and fellow guitarist Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg has recorded a couple of albums with the band Preston School of Industry. I quite enjoy Monsoon, particularly the track Caught in the Rain.
I stumbled onto an interview recently with Malkmus in which he was asked about the possibility of a Pavement reunion, and he seemed to imply the door was open. I’m not sure they’d be able to recapture the magic, or if it would just be a nostalgic trip down memory lane, but either way, I’d be one of the first in line to see it.
Pavement recorded all of their albums with the label Matador Records, and are all available, along with expanded re-releases of several of their albums at emusic.com. If you’d like an invite to emusic for a trial membership and 50 free downloads (you’ll have to give a CC#, but they don’t charge until after the first month), leave a comment with the email address you’d like it sent to, and I”ll send one your way. Shameless confession – you can do a trial membership without the invite from me, but if you were to sign up with emusic after the trial via invite, I’d get a 50 song credit.