Brief Note: I reviewed this before. I was quite proud of it, too. Unfortunalty, the crash on the site erased three of my precious reviews that i will try to replace, even surpass, them. Stay tuned for more repeated reviews.
Pavement was an up-and coming project that started where most projects do-a garage between a couple guitar wielding comadres and a 40-something hippy drummer. S.M. (Stephen Malkmus), Spiral Stairs (Scott Kranberg) and Gary Young were the three founders of the joke band Pavement. They belted out a few covers and even made a few originals for the hell of it. Listening over some of their songs, S.M. and Spiral Stairs decided that they, above all else, where actually pretty dang good. This, my friends, is the birth of one of the most influential indie bands of all time.
Equipping bassist Mark Ibold and second drummer and onstage bootyshaker Bob Nostavich, they began to tour their native town of Stockton, PA along up and coming indie acts that never made it as far as Pavement. Signing to local indie label Matador (also know for their work with The New Pornographers), Pavement released the debut Slanted and Enchanted, a medley of distorted guitars and humming bass. The vocals seem meaningless, but occasianally give a shout about young love (Summer Babe) and even a sly hint at childhood problems (Loretta's Scars). It wasn't really that successful (it still has yet to reach gold status), but the few that enjoyed it realized what it was: an unexpected classic.
Fast forward seven months. Pavement were still relatively unkown. In a small effort to gain some respect as musicians, they began making some songs that had the essence and rawness of S & E, but also had a more prominent sound and even less meaning. They released the four track EP Watery, Domestic in September 1992. On the cover is a rooster. Not really anything to do with the music, which is really great. Against a wall of sound is S.M. singing really about nothing. The music was clearer, and the songs contained some sing-songish style vocals surrounded by the buzzing guitars that (alsmost) put them on the map. The rhythm guitar is usually built up on simple bar chords and the lead usually contains some unexpected bursts of feedback. The bass is clearly heard, and the drums are faint but rewarding if you listen to them.
The first track, Texas Never Whispers, Starts with feedback with a weird sort of effect. It leads into some palm-muted chords playing some pretty interesting changes in the chords. S.M. is singing in a wavery voice that actually keeps interesting throughout the song. The very beautiful outro is the highlight of the song, with some traditional indie chords, example E, Gb and A in a row, with S.M. singing overtop about the way the river ends. A good solo to boot, this song is a keeper. Following to Texas Never Whispers is Frontwards, a medley of a few simple chords and S.M. not really giving that microphone hell, but suits the calm mood for the music. Again the lyrics mean nothing, but no complaints here. Not the most impressive performances, but what the hey, it's just an overall great song that has some nice ballady chords and some great lyrics.
Track #3, Lions (Linden), is a gem. It has some new moods to it, like grungey blues. The song isn't very long, and once you've heard the lullaby-esque chorus, you've pretty much heard the whole song. After that comes Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse). The bass plays the role of rhythm guitar, and both guitars have taken on the lead of lead guitar, giving S.M. a reason to occasionally shout. Everything has it's perks, and this song has the vocal talent that has been quite gentle and calm througout the rest of the album. It might remind you of In The Mouth A Desert. Pretty much everything you want in a Pavement song.
Overall, this is an excellent EP. The problem lies in S.M.'s vocals. Not exactly his most impressive performance, even though he's not really know for his vocal talents. Another factor is that it's way too short. EP's should be around six tracks long, and the songs barely scratch three minutes each. Pavement never fails to impress me. Every release is sacred to me, so i was a bit dissapointed by this release but liked it non the less. Pavement is, whether you like it or not, an immortal band. Case closed. Court ajourned.