Sunday, January 15, 2012

MIX: Lesser-Known Pavement Songs

I think it's important to start out this post by stating that Pavement is my favorite band of all time.  Pavement established themselves as a unique voice in the 90s indie rock scene both sonically and through their songwriting.  On the sonic front their were equal parts British post-punk, noise, and classic rock with pop melodies that could rival The Beatles.  In Stephen Malkmus they had a great songwriter who channeled his ennui with meta-humor, abstract diction, and powerful melancholy.

Despite their relatively short carer, Pavement were prolific releasing an astounding five LPs and nine EPs.  Here are my favorite Pavement songs that you might have passed up:

"Fin" [Brighten the Corners]
The under-appreciated closer to Pavement's most mellow album showcases Pavement's most underutilized assets, Malkmus' guitar playing.  Malkmus' finger style electric guitar helps the track build into a beautiful, melancholy apex.

"For Sale! The Preston School of Industry" [Officially Unreleased]

One of my favorite Spiral Stairs' songs, "For Sale! The Preston School of Industry" documents Pavement's uncanny ability to write pop songs absolutely effortlessly.  The semi-improvised song was set to be released on the Brighten the Corners reissue but the Dutch TV station they performed the track on demanded a ludicrous amount of money to sell the rights.  Hopefully a studio demo will be part of the eventual Terror Twilight reissue.

"Give It a Day" [Pacific Trim EP]

Who else but Stephen Malkmus could write a pop song about the strained relationship of Puritan ministers Increase and Cotton Mather during the Salem Witch Trials?

"Harness Your Hopes" [Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition]

Even though this track is basically Malkmus showing off his ability to rhyme off the top of his head, I absolutely love it.  "Don't telegraph your passes / You'll end up with molasses / Cauterized in syrup / And syrup is not molasses!"

"No More Kings" [Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks]

A surprisingly epic cover of a Schoolhouse Rock! song.  Hearing Malkmus confront King George III over taxation without representation is both hilarious and righteous.  Play this song at your next Fourth of July barbecue.

"The Sutcliffe Catering Song" [Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: Nicene Creedence Edition]

An early version of what would eventually become "Easily Fooled."  Not only is it one of Pavement's most fun songs, it's also a lyrical masterpiece.  "I don't need a timekeeper / I don't need an interlocutor / And baby you look a little cuter / Day by day."

"Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" [No Alternative]

What begins as a chronology of R.E.M.'s early career becomes a profile of each of the band's members and  ends as an alternate history where the seminal college rock band was somehow present at the Civil War.

"You're Killing Me" [Slay Tracks (1933-1969)]

The first track off of Pavement's debut EP.  SM and Spiral Stairs made heavy use of radio static, fuzz effects, and lo-fi recording techniques to sonically capture the emptiness of their hometown of Stockton, California.

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