What can be said that hasn’t already about Pavement’s decade-old sophomore record Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain? (Or even about Pavement, the champs of ’90s lo-fi?) The album — a laid-back, sloppy, subdued yet catchy piece of pop culture — revealed the band at its songwriting peak and made everything already great about their music accessible to the masses. To cap: Steve Malkmus’ reach for human contact shines, from the twang-ridden “Range Life” (which includes a word war with Smashing Pumpkins) to the elegantly melodic “Cut Your Hair,” as well as anywhere else he could find it. “Gold Soundz” shows the most telling lyric: “You’re the kind of girl I like/ ’Cause you’re empty/ and I’m empty.”
The newly packaged version, subtitled L.A.’s Desert Origins, in addition to the expanded version of their first LP (Slanted and Enchanted) is an excellent way to get into the seminal group. Thirty-seven previously unreleased tracks, B-sides and live sessions (culled from a John Peel BBC radio show, circa ’94) have been added. Too, the deluxe packaging sports a 40-page booklet of essays, anecdotes and pictures, and a rather pleasing cut ’n’ paste aesthetic, that sums everything up nicely. The bonus material holds up well with the original shit and is a must-have for fans. And dig how Pavement’s music almost stands up better today in the face of what passes for pop in the ’04; “Goodnight to the rock ’n’ roll era,” they sing on “Fillmore Jive.” They weren’t kidding.
Luke Hackney writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].