Ten years since it was first released. Five years, I believe, since I discovered it. Hiding from the first snow in Fresno in a notable number of years in my backroom, between games of Grand Theft Auto 2 on the computer I'd inch up to the heater, the only records that mattered were In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and Crooked Rain. I'd listen to one the whole way through, and then the other. As far as Aeroplane went, all we really cared about was the distorted bass and drums, not so much the lyrics yet.
Lyricswise, Conner and I were interested in Pavement. "The second drummer drowned" a lyric from Cut Your Hair piqued his interest in the band, and my future interest in the Fall. The ending lines of Silence Kit became an infamous drum cadence for Conner in his marching band snare days, he would recite the lines from 'hand me the drum... stick!' on as he entered snare-offs (I'm not sure if his fellow/foe drummers ever caught on to the 'screwing myself with my hand' part, because Conner was too busy throwing his sticks all over the place). That's probably as far as Pavement influenced us rhythm-wise (if I ever feel like a bad drummer I just look to Gary West for comfort).
Pavement were the first band I knew that were in dialogue with other bands. The aforementioned second drummer mentions led to internet searches and finally a poorly downloaded copy of The Wonderful and Frightening World Of The Fall which changed my life in a different way. The lines in Range Life about Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins taught me that there was such a thing as a musical hipness hierarchy and we've seen that, with a few glam exceptions, history does not remember those two bands very well.
And that's why CRCR kept returning to my stereo. Stuff like Modest Mouse and Codeine and the Pixies and all those other bands that thought they could exist in a vacuum always felt distant for some reason. Their music didn't broaden my horizons so much as their press kits did. I was more interested in how their brains processed the music that they made rather than the actual music itself. While those bands with their sparse packaging and stylish obliqueness wanted to keep their actual personalities as far away from the public as possible, Pavement layed it all out there. An interview promoting Wowee Zowee had Malkmus admitting that each of the songs were rip-offs of of other bands styles, or important moments in history, or something Brian Eno once said to him, or maybe he was just being ironic.
Malkmus' lyrics aren't a revelation, they are a reminder. Filmore Jive's famous lines 'goodnight to the rock and roll era' aren't as effective taken out of context of the music, which exists in a hipster wasteland. You wake up in a strange house as the song begins and step your way over your fellow bandmates, on your way to the bathroom your senses are bombarded with the cleverness of not bathing, the novelty of ironic posters, the faint sound of this week's favorite record. You look in the mirror, picture of David Bowie taped cleverly to the side, you ask yourself, How did I get here?
Crooked Rain Crooked Rain is the most important Pavement album for me, though Slanted and Enchanted has their best songs and Wowee Zowee has the best Pavement attitude, it was the album that accomplished the exact opposite of what it was supposed to do, rather than be just another album in my alternative collection, it was it's replacement.
Well, Kannberg's got his Preston School of Uninterestingness (can't let go of that name though), Westie still can't drum, Nastanovich has his horses, Ibold's probably up to something, and Malkmus is either trying to reverse his infamous rock and roll era remarks or confirm them with those new classic rock records of his.
So today and this weekend I've got myself to listen to the reissue of the album. It's all here, the original twelve tracks, the excellent B-sides, and some inferior 'alternate versions' on disc two. I don't know if this modern age is the most understanding arena for Malkmus' drawl, (we tend to like the high pitched emotive vocals in the 00's) but it's impossible to listen as if Pavement was just another band. Though the opening songs of disc two cast Pavement as a band of slackers, content to mumble made-up lines over jammy nothingness, we have the final product of this socio-musical wandering, the defining statement of their career.