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Pavement

Pavement Album Reviews

Because their recording career so neatly covers the 1990s – debut Slanted and Enchanted was recorded in 1991 and swansong Terror Twilight was released in 1999 – Pavement are a very respectable choice for best band of their decade. Their slacker image and post-modern approach also encapsulates the 1990s. Too clever for the mainstream, they released a string of acclaimed records, and covered a lot of artistic ground over their their five albums.

The constants of the group were vocalists and guitarists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg – the latter often known by his stage name of Spiral Stairs. The two contributed all of the group’s material, with Malkmus the primary writer, and Kannberg contributing a couple of songs to each album, with his more abrasive approach. The lineup for Pavement’s 1992 debut included drummer Gary Young; the group needed a second drummer to keep him in time, while his nefarious ways included handstands on stage and greeting the audience personally at the door. After Young was fired, the group solidified with Malkmus and Kannberg joined by bassist Mark Ibold and percussionists Bob Nastanovich and Steve West.

Pavement are generally associated with the style of 1992’s Slanted and Enchanted, which mixes noisy experimentation and lo fi recording with hooky songs. But the group evolved from album to album – Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is a nod to classic rock, Wowee Zowee is a sprawling double album, Brighten The Corners is mellowed out, while Terror Twilight is textural with less of a band feel.

Re-listening to Pavement’s catalogue, I’ve noticed how detailed and packed with ideas their albums are – I’ve owned them all for at least a decade and still feel like I haven’t gained a full understanding of them, and that there’s plenty of listening mileage left in them. Pavement were an intelligent group, brimming with good tunes and interesting ideas.

Ten Favourite Pavement Songs

Summer Babe (Winter Version)
Kennel District
In The Mouth A Desert
Elevate Me Later
Hit The Plane Down
We Dance
Spit On A Stranger
Cream of Gold
Date w/ Ikea
Grave Architecture

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Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement

1992, 9.5/10. Pavement are generally associated with a lo-fi sound, but their 1992 debut is their only album in this style.

Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain – Pavement

1994, 9/10. Pavement’s sophomore album takes its inspiration from classic rock with songs like ‘Fillmore Jive’.

Wowee Zowee – Pavement

1995, 8.5/10. Pavement’s sprawling double album., clocking in at 18 songs.

Brighten The Corners – Pavement

1997, 7/10. Previous Pavement albums were brimming with ideas, so the straightforward Brighten The Corners is disarming.

Terror Twilight – Pavement

1999, 7.5/10. Pavement’s swansong was essentially a collaboration between Stephen Malkmus and producer Nigel Godrich.

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