Before Pavement’s debut album, ‘Slanted and Enchanted,’ came out on April 20, 1992, the band had already released a handful of EPs and a single. Nobody paid much attention to 1989’s ‘Slay Tracks (1933-1969),’ but the two follow-up EPs – 1990’s ‘Demolition Plot J-7’ and 1991’s ‘Perfect Sound Forever’ – had built enough buzz that anticipation for ‘Slanted and Enchanted’ was mounting months before it was released.
‘Slanted and Enchanted’ made Pavement one of indie rock’s coolest underground bands. ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ made them modern-rock heroes. So the notoriously fickle, artsy and fame-averse band did the most logical thing they could, at least in their minds, for their third album: They made a difficult and complex record that turned off the new fans and dared everyone else to ride this one out with them.
Following 1994’s milestone ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ album, Pavement were at a crucial point in their career. They became music snobs’ favorite new band thanks to the fractured art-rock and lyrical/musical discord of their 1992 debut album, ‘Slanted and Enchanted.’ But then they surprised everyone with a set of songs with super-catchy melodies that, gulp, sounded an awful lot like pop music on ‘Crooked Rain.’ They countered that a year later when they made ‘Wowee Zowee,’ their most messed-up and demanding album.
Everyone agrees that Pavement’s 1992 debut album, ‘Slanted and Enchanted,’ is a milestone record in the history of indie rock, an undisputed classic, one of the few original works of the past quarter century, blah blah blah. But ‘Slanted’’s follow-up, ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain,’ is the better album, a tuneful exercise in noise-rock restraint and myth crumbling.
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No band is an island. The best songwriters tend to be sponge-like soaker-uppers of music, film, fine art, literature and other forms of culture, be they popular or obscure, and these influences often find their way into the music, helping listeners branch out and develop new interests. W