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Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins

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Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins

Pavement

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It may be a bit reductive to call Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain the Reckoning to Slanted & Enchanted's Murmur -- not to mention easy, considering that Pavement recorded a song-long tribute to R.E.M.'s second album during the Crooked Rain sessions -- but there's a certain truth in that statement all the same. Slanted & Enchanted is an enigmatic masterpiece, retaining its mystique after countless spins, but Crooked Rain strips away the hiss and fog of S&E, removing some of Pavement's mystery yet retaining their fractured sound and spirit. It's filled with loose ends and ragged transitions, but compared to the fuzzy, dense Slanted, Crooked Rain is direct and immediately engaging -- it puts the band's casual melodicism, sprawling squalls of feedback, disheveled country-rock, and Stephen Malkmus' deft wordplay in sharp relief. It's the sound of a band discovering its own voice as a band, which is only appropriate because up until Crooked Rain, Pavement was more of a recording project between Malkmus and Scott Kannberg than a full-fledged rock & roll group. During the supporting tour for Slanted, Malkmus and Kannberg recruited bassist Mark Ibold and percussionist Bob Nastanovich, and original drummer Gary Young was replaced by Steve West early into the recording for this album, and the new blood gives the band a different feel, even if the aesthetic hasn't changed much. The full band gives the music a richer, warmer vibe that's as apparent on the rampaging, noise-ravaged "Unfair" as it is on the breezy, sun-kissed country-rock of "Range Life" or its weary, late-night counterpart, "Heaven Is a Truck." Pavement may still be messy, but it's a meaningful, musical messiness from the performance to the production: listen to how "Silence Kit" begins by falling into place with its layers of fuzz guitars, wah wahs, cowbells, thumping bass, and drum fills, how what initially seems random gives way into a lush Californian pop song. That's Crooked Rain a nutshell -- what initially seems chaotic has purpose, leading listeners into the bittersweet heart and impish humor at the core of the album. Many bands attempted to replicate the sound or the vibe of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, but they never came close to the quicksilver shifts in music and emotion that give this album such lasting appeal. Here, Pavement follow the heartbroken ballad "Stop Breathin'" with the wry, hooky alt-rock hit "Cut Your Hair" without missing a beat. They throw out a jazzy Dave Brubeck tribute in "5-4=Unity" as easily as they mimic the Fall and mock the Happy Mondays on "Hit the Plane Down." By drawing on so many different influences, Pavement discovered its own distinctive voice as a band on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, creating a vibrant, dynamic, emotionally resonant album that stands as a touchstone of underground rock in the '90s and one of the great albums of its decade.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins

Pavement

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1
Silence Kid
00:03:00

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

2
Elevate Me Later
00:02:51

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

3
Stop Breathin
00:04:27

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

4
Cut Your Hair
00:03:06

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

5
Newark Wilder
00:03:53

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

6
Unfair
00:02:33

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

7
Gold Soundz
00:02:39

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

8
5-4=Unity
00:02:09

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

9
Range Life
00:04:54

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

10
Heaven Is a Truck
00:02:30

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

11
Hit the Plane Down
00:03:36

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

12
Fillmore Jive
00:06:38

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

13
Camera
00:03:45

Bill Berry, ComposerLyricist - Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Mills, ComposerLyricist - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - MICHAEL STIPE, ComposerLyricist - PETER BUCK, ComposerLyricist - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

14
Stare
00:02:51

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

15
Raft
00:03:34

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

16
Coolin' By Sound
00:02:50

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

17
Kneeling Bus
00:01:33

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

18
Strings Of Nashville
00:03:46

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

19
Exit Theory
00:01:00

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

20
5-4 Vocal
00:02:08

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

21
Jam Kids
00:04:54

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

22
Haunt You Down
00:04:51

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

23
Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence
00:03:51

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1993 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

24
Nail Clinic
00:02:25

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

DISC 2

1
All My Friends
00:05:12

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

2
Soiled Little Filly
00:02:08

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

3
Range Life
00:04:11

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

4
Stop Breathing
00:03:54

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

5
Ell Ess Two
00:02:44

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

6
Flux = Rad
00:02:11

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

7
Bad Version Of War
00:03:27

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

8
Same Way Of Saying
00:04:35

Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Gary Young, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

9
Hands Off The Bayou
00:02:43

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

10
Heaven Is A Truck (Egg Shell)
00:02:20

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

11
Grounded
00:03:35

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

12
Kennel District
00:03:24

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

13
Pueblo (Beach Boys)
00:03:47

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

14
Fucking Righteous
00:02:47

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

15
Colorado
00:01:13

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

16
Dark Ages
00:02:39

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

17
Flood Victim
00:01:17

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

18
JMC Retro
00:00:52

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

19
Rug Rat
00:03:05

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

20
Strings Of Nashville (Instrumental)
00:03:50

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

21
Instrumental
00:03:40

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Venezia, Engineer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

22
Brink Of The Clouds
00:03:48

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

23
Tartar Martyr
00:03:13

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

24
Pueblo Domain
00:04:18

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

25
The Sutcliffe Catering Song
00:03:22

Steve West, AssociatedPerformer - Stephen Malkmus, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Scott Kannberg, AssociatedPerformer - Pavement, MainArtist - Mark Ibold, AssociatedPerformer - Bob Nastanovich, AssociatedPerformer

2004 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records 1994 Pavement under exclusive license to Matador Records

Album Description

It may be a bit reductive to call Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain the Reckoning to Slanted & Enchanted's Murmur -- not to mention easy, considering that Pavement recorded a song-long tribute to R.E.M.'s second album during the Crooked Rain sessions -- but there's a certain truth in that statement all the same. Slanted & Enchanted is an enigmatic masterpiece, retaining its mystique after countless spins, but Crooked Rain strips away the hiss and fog of S&E, removing some of Pavement's mystery yet retaining their fractured sound and spirit. It's filled with loose ends and ragged transitions, but compared to the fuzzy, dense Slanted, Crooked Rain is direct and immediately engaging -- it puts the band's casual melodicism, sprawling squalls of feedback, disheveled country-rock, and Stephen Malkmus' deft wordplay in sharp relief. It's the sound of a band discovering its own voice as a band, which is only appropriate because up until Crooked Rain, Pavement was more of a recording project between Malkmus and Scott Kannberg than a full-fledged rock & roll group. During the supporting tour for Slanted, Malkmus and Kannberg recruited bassist Mark Ibold and percussionist Bob Nastanovich, and original drummer Gary Young was replaced by Steve West early into the recording for this album, and the new blood gives the band a different feel, even if the aesthetic hasn't changed much. The full band gives the music a richer, warmer vibe that's as apparent on the rampaging, noise-ravaged "Unfair" as it is on the breezy, sun-kissed country-rock of "Range Life" or its weary, late-night counterpart, "Heaven Is a Truck." Pavement may still be messy, but it's a meaningful, musical messiness from the performance to the production: listen to how "Silence Kit" begins by falling into place with its layers of fuzz guitars, wah wahs, cowbells, thumping bass, and drum fills, how what initially seems random gives way into a lush Californian pop song. That's Crooked Rain a nutshell -- what initially seems chaotic has purpose, leading listeners into the bittersweet heart and impish humor at the core of the album. Many bands attempted to replicate the sound or the vibe of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, but they never came close to the quicksilver shifts in music and emotion that give this album such lasting appeal. Here, Pavement follow the heartbroken ballad "Stop Breathin'" with the wry, hooky alt-rock hit "Cut Your Hair" without missing a beat. They throw out a jazzy Dave Brubeck tribute in "5-4=Unity" as easily as they mimic the Fall and mock the Happy Mondays on "Hit the Plane Down." By drawing on so many different influences, Pavement discovered its own distinctive voice as a band on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, creating a vibrant, dynamic, emotionally resonant album that stands as a touchstone of underground rock in the '90s and one of the great albums of its decade.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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