Thursday, February 26, 2009

The One Where Matt And Kevin Discuss The Music Of Pavement, Part 2

I still don't think I've listened to Slanted enough to compare it yet, but even so, I agree with your Godfather analogy. Also, in terms of Crooked possibly being fully realized — it's often the case with first records, but I think Pavement may be one of the few exceptions. The rawness and youthful exuberance and unpredictability is what makes them an amazing band. There's no reason to desire less of those qualities — granted, they maintained them through Crooked and Wowee, but Terror Twilight sounds a lot more like a professional band deliberately setting out to record and polish defined pop songs with defined song structures. I still like it, but a lot of their core is lost by that point. I don't think they really sacrificed anything, personally, to make slightly more polished — not going to say realized — music on Crooked, which is why it still stands for me. It might represent some small level of maturation at the expense of some rawness and lo-fi grungy sounds, but the songwriting is as raw and fresh as ever.

Still, other really quirky bands like Modest Mouse and especially Dismemberment Plan, who probably owe everything to Pavement, obviously were heavily influenced by Slanted. The only pre-cursor to Slanted might be Pixies, right? I can't think of anything else.


I agree with your sentiments toward Terror Twilight. In fact, the band does as well. They are unabashed about expressing their regret when it comes to how "produced" that album sounds. On paper, Pavement + Nigel Godrich production seems incredible, but it took away what was special about Pavement — the beauty of the unpolished. Then again, I actually have no problems with Terror. It's a fun album, and it's cool to hear Pavement through the ears of Mr. Radiohead. As you said, Crooked is somewhere in between Slanted and Terror, though I'm sure you'd agree it leans more to the Slanted side of the spectrum.

I'd be hard-pressed to believe that Modest Mouse hasn't listened to a lot of Pavement, but you never know. Isaac Brock is notoriously hard-headed and might not admit to anything. Travis Morrison from Dismemberment Plan, on the contrary, would be happy to reveal his influences. I say this because he once ran off the stage and made a bee-line to hug my friend Farbod because he was seemingly the only one enjoying the show. They stayed in touch and actually held a BBQ where Morrison played a solo set.

In regards to your "Pixies lacking a pre-cursor" statement, I can't argue. Research tells us they had already released three albums (including the acclaimed Surfer Rosa and Doolittle) by the time Slanted was released. Then again, I like Pavement much more than I like the Pixies. In fact, I remember when John Stirratt's cousin (Wilco) quoted me in his Facebook favorite quotes for writing "Nobody actually likes the Pixies. They just think everyone else does." I was exaggerating for effect, but it felt pretty good as a budding music journalist. A few days later he removed the quote, probably because it appeared lame to quote a kid writing in the school newspaper.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The One Where Matt And Kevin Discuss The Music Of Pavement, Part 1

All those years we've shared a mutual love for Pavement, Slanted And Enchanted has just been an afterthought for me. It wasn't one of the first ones I listened to, and it wasn't one of my favorites, mostly because I found it to be much more raw and less accessible. And since I was thoroughly obsessed with Crooked Rain and Wowee Zowee, I never felt the need to go back and try to get into it. But I never gave it much of a chance, I guess. To be honest, I probably only listened to it once—maybe twice—all the way through. I'm willing to admit it might be the most overlooked album of my college days, easily. I've been going back to it lately and realizing its genius more and more each time. Fuck. Tracks 2 and 4 destroy me, and it keeps going.

I'm sorry. All those times you raved about this album, I was listening to Crooked Rain and felt like we were on the same page. Obviously both are great, but I never gave Slanted the time it deserved. It is legend. Now I understand the true extent of how much it influenced, and not just their own later albums.


Thanks for sharing this. As you know, the Slanted v. Crooked debate is as old as indie rock itself. The general argument for Crooked as the better of the two typically cites Slanted as a blueprint and Crooked as the fully-realized album Pavement was striving for in its nascent state. I'd agree with this argument, but it reminds me a lot of the Godfather v. Godfather II argument. While Godfather II might be the better movie, much of its impact is due to the backstory provided in Part I. It's difficult to appreciate Al Pacino's rise to godfatherhood in Part II without first understanding his stepping up to familial responsibility in Part I. It was a role he was surprisingly thrust into, yet he embraces every aspect of it once the stick has passed.

That being said, I will always prefer Slanted over Crooked. What I admire most is the sheer rawness of it. As a very radio-impressionable teen (as we all were), I picked up my first Rolling Stone at age 16. It was covering bands that I knew and liked, of course, but a few words appeared quite frequently in reviews and interviews. These were "indie," "Pavement," and, not surprisingly, the album we are discussing. I don't know why I didn't Napster the album, but I suppose it was some sort of fate at work that I did not. I visited the now-defunct Warehouse Music near the entrance of the local mall, and I headed straight for the P section. There it was, that red cover, looking like either purposeful graffiti or a budgetary art-piece. It didn't matter.

I put it in the CD deck of my '87 Cutlass Ciera, and I drove. And I was confused. It sounded like my friends had recorded something in their bathroom. But its power was undeniable. To go from listening to the radio to listening to Slanted And Enchanted at age 16 was nothing short of mindblowing. I questioned everything I had heard before it, and I had no idea what to do. It was a lot like losing my virginity, that first time hearing Slanted. I was completely lost and completely in love. So as much as I appreciate Crooked, there's just too much mental magic tied to Slanted. And isn't that what it's all about in the end?