Monday, February 06, 2006

Curbing My Enthusiasm

Recent murmurs from Matador's message boards indicate that it plans to continue commemorating the 90's greatest rock band with a 2-CD reissue of Pavement's third and arguably tastiest full-length album, Wowee Zowee, sometime in 2006. Granted, there has been no official word, and this eleven-year reissue will break the ten-year scheme of the first two reissues; still, my glands weep at the promise.

Tear glands included. Tears of frustrated love – because, as with the first two reissues, it will again become necessary to reexamine and reevaluate my relationship with this band.

Before the first reissue in 2002, six CDs were readily available to casual fans. These included five full-length albums released by Matador, and one compilation of early EPs released by Drag City. Since the interstitial EPs and odd promotional releases were typically difficult and expensive to obtain, a casual fan could feel comfortable limiting his or her understanding of Pavement to these six CDs. This state should be known as Pavement’s “event horizon”, a happy vantage from which the Pavement concept remains relatively neat and manageable.

Each of the reissues expands the typically 40- to 70-minute original album to 150-160 minutes of coeval material from EPs, promotional releases, shelved production sessions, and live performances. What’s so intimidating, though, beyond just the volume of new material, is how much of it is as interesting as the original releases. So far, each of these reissues has presented at least another album’s worth of essential music, as well as material which, though not as essential, reveals aspects of Pavement’s creative processes that suggest reevaluation of the surrounding work.

And a reevaluation of the term “slacker” with which Pavement is often labeled. Pavement released their first EP, Slay Tracks, in 1989, and their last full-length album, Terror Twilight, in 1999. At the current rate of accumulation from these reissues, I estimate that Pavement will reveal at least ten 40- to 70-minute albums worth of varied and genuinely brilliant alternative rock created over a ten year period. This seems to leave little room for slack.

As a responsible fan, I feel compelled to broaden my Pavement concept to include this new material as it is released. As a human being, I feel compelled to limit the number of Pavement CDs in my car to a sensible number. The goal is, after reexploring Pavement with each reissue, to escape with what best encompasses their work within a reasonable number of CDs.

This isn’t as painful as it sounds. Why? Because the music is beautiful. Strong senses of melody, tone, and songcraft fuel this varied yet consistently enjoyable body of work. This is a band to fall in love with, once and again, if you haven’t already.

I’ll be posting the track listings for these compilations, as well as compilations for other bands (REM and the B-52s are in the works) as they are called into question. I encourage everyone to post their own compilations for their own objects of obsession or to comment on mine. I know that Mugshot is working on at least one each to cover periods of XTC and the Smiths.

Irish folktales scare the shit out of me.

Song of the Day – “Pond Song”, Bug, Dinosaur Jr., 1988 – A jangly folk guitar line joins Dino Jr.’s standard noisy, ecstatic guitar-rock. The result makes both Peter Buck and the Baby Jesus weep with joy.


At 2:42 AM, Blogger stark attack said...

i think we all know that in a fight between j mascis and peter buck, peter buck would walk out sans rectum.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger rpshyena said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger rpshyena said...

gah... new at this blogger thing; keep in mind, buck would probably recognize the weapons, having practiced them well, and fitted them himself....

At 7:47 PM, Blogger stark attack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:50 PM, Blogger stark attack said...

two che

although, as someone who played a show with j last year, let me tell you, the man is pretty fucking scary- hes cold as ice. and in a room with 200 person capacity, he still uses TWO marshall DOUBLE stack amps. wicked.

At 1:29 AM, Blogger FriedOreo said...

I remember first hearing Pavement in college. Temple played me "Summer Babe" and it didn't quite click for me. Last year, at a Kings of Convenience concert in Philly attended also by Ryunited and Mugshot, Erlend Oye performed a killer cover of "Range Life." I've since realized what all the fuss was all about, while Mugshot appears to have reserved a special place for Pavement in the pantheon of rock bands (of course, Mugshot also loves Beulah). With sun and temperatures in the upper 60s the past two weeks, I've been listening to "Brighten the Corners." That other guy who's singing in the band ain't bad either.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger ryunited and it feels so good said...

I saw Pavement play on my 20th birthday at Irving Plaza. It was the second night of their tour for Terror Twilight, and they played a lot of stuff off of Wowie Zowie and Crooken Rain Crooked Rain. Frankly, it was quite clear from the way they played that night that it was all but over, because the energy that had produced Summer Babe was gone.

Aside from a nice rendition of Spit on a Stranger, Malkmus seemed much more intent on entertaining himself and his bandmates than the crowd. Spiral was much more engaging and my favorite tracks were the ones where he sang the vocals that evening.

It was a huge let down from the energy I'd seen them play with only a few years earlier...

A few of my all time Pavement songs:

- Newark Wilder, off Crooked Rain Crooken Rain
- Shady Lane and Passat Dream, off Brighten the Corners

Will always love the shout to Geddy Lee on Stereo. And wonder what on earth a Carrot Rope is, and why Malkmus wants to spit on people so much...


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