SOUNDTRACK: PAVEMENT-Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1993).
Now this album, Pavement’s second (after the Watery, Domestic EP, which I’ve never heard) is my idea of perfect Pavement. Some might complain that this album is too commercial (although it hardly is) but to me is shows a consolidation of the talents into actual songs.
It opens with “Silence Kit” which sounds like a twisted take on a Buddy Holly song–disconcerting and familiar at the same time. The second track “Elevate Me Later” ups the ante a bit with a noisy raucous chorus.
“Stop Breathin’” is a dark song, a sort of minor ballad that sounds even more disconsolate with the slightly out of tune guitar work. But the lengthy instrumental at the end is (although simple) quite pretty.
And then there is the sublime nonsense of “Cut Your Hair.” This was the first Pavement song I’d ever heard all those years ago. And from the silly “oo oos” at the beginning to the crazy screaming guitar solo and crunchy “NO BIG HAIR” line I fell in love immediately. It was a wonderful left field hit (not unlike “She Don’t Use Jelly”) that brought a great band some attention.
It’s followed by “Newark Wilder,” a slow track that fits wonderfully after “Hair.” One might even call it a ballad. But it is definitely not standard fare, when the bass (or baritone guitar) plays a riff instead of a bridge.
The album picks up the rocking vibe again with, “Unfair” which I noticed is like a rough precursor to Weezer’s “Beverly Hills.” It’s a fairly conventional song but it’s made unconventional by Malkmus’ delivery and guitar style (and would probably be a hit if it was released today).
I recently mentioned “Gold Soundz”. (And it’s amazing how much the live version sounds just like the studio–as if everything was intentional). It’s followed by the goofy Dave Brubeck parody/tribute “5-4=Unity.” And of course, “Range Life” is just an awesome slacker anthem. It’s got everything.
The last three songs offer a lot of diversity. ”Heaven is a Truck” is a piano based, drunken-sounding ballad. ”Hit the Plane Down” is a rambling wonderful shambles that devolves into a complete chaos, and “Fillmore Jive” is a 6 minute “epic.” It opens slowly, and then builds into a fairly conventional sounding (drunken, sloppy, end of the concert) rock song.
I feel that Pavement peaked with this disc. It’s really fantastic.
[READ: September 23, 2010] “Lost in the Mail”
As I am wont to do, I have gotten a little obsessed with an author. Recently it was Wells Tower (there’s still a few Harper’s pieces by him I haven’t read yet). And right now its Jonathan Franzen (even though I haven’t read any of his novels yet). After reading the previous New Yorker piece, I wanted to see what else he had written for them. Seeing his entire list at the New Yorker site is daunting and it makes it seem like he was constantly writing quite long pieces for them. And yet, parsing it out, it comes out to about one article a year. And yet some of these article, whoo boy, are 12 or 13 pages…quite lengthy for the New Yorker.
And so, I’m going to read these pieces over the next few weeks–I thought about reading each year’s piece during a different week, but that seems too regimented. And since the majority of these pieces are non fiction (there are about 5 short stories in the mix) I’m going to be reading them with an eye towards these questions: Can a good writer make a story that I don’t care interesting? Would I enjoy this same piece if it were written by someone else? As a reporter (at large) does Franzen bring some kind of personality to the way the piece is constructed that someone else may not have?
This questions are unanswerable of course, because no one else wrote the piece in a different way. But, when scanning the titles, some of the subjects interest me but others do not. And those will be the real test.
This piece, about the Chicago Post Office is something that I didn’t care about specifically. However, I have a certain love of the Postal System, and so I found this story heartbreaking and something of an illusion-shatterer. (more…)
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