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Pavement | Slanted and Enchanted | Luxe and Reduxe | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Pavement

Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe (Matador)
by Tim Den

Trying to "critique" Slanted and Enchanted is like trying to pass judgement on Nevermind. Both came out around the same time, had incalculable influence on the musical world, impressed the cool/older crowd in high school, and never meant shit to me. Oh wait, that last part only applied to Nevermind.

Even I, being a measley 15/16 year-old back when Pavement burst onto the scene, knew that this was a band worth paying attention to. Cryptic lyrics, lo-fi recording, enigmatic band members... these guys knew how to create an aura without even trying. With Slanted and Enchanted, an entire subgenre of indie rock was born. For the next ten years, white suburban college kids had every right to play in sloppy bands looking like they just woke up (whether or not they should've is an altogether different arguement. Just cuz Pavement can, doesn't mean you can). And they were damn proud of it, too.

So here we are, a decade later. Does the album still hold up? Do you really need me to answer that? Buried deep within the homegrown recording quality, the raggity half-spoken/half-falling-asleep vocals, and the punk-kids-playing-Sonic Youth rawness, a magic still lives beyond the touch of time. A magic that triggers every human response to good music. Fun, evocative, romantic, optimistic... not to mention just plain great fucking songs. No matter how much the slacker boys tried to hide it, they were natural pop songwriters. "Here," "Trigger Cut/Wounded Kite at :17," and - of course - "Summer Babe (Winter Version)" contain way too much born-with-it genius to give way under guitarists/vocalists Stephen "S.M." Malkmus and Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg's attempts at disguise. These songs explode with plain clothes honesty and shoulder-shrugging givenoshit, and somehow make you feel alive with their passive brilliance.

As if you needed more reasons to own this (and every Pavement) album, Slanted and Enchanted: Luxe and Reduxe celebrates the tenth anniversary of this trend-setting record by combining tons of tracks into a beautifully-packaged volume. Bonus tunes include never-released studio outtakes, two Peel Sessions (of songs the band never re-recorded. Shame, since "Circa 1762" and "Secret Knowledge of Backroads" are two of their finest), an entire live show (recorded at London's Brixton Academy), the Summer Babe 7", the Watery, Domestic EP, and the Trigger Cut Plus 2 7". Whew! The gorgeous layout features commentary from S.M., Spiral Stairs, both owners of Matador Records, pages of hand-written lyrics, and more photographs than you have the attention span to sift through. Truly a worthy re-release.

If you already own the original release, there's still plenty of newbies here worth your moolah. If you've yet to experience the phenomenon... better get your ass down to the store and pick this up ASAP.

PS: Ironically, Pavement would abandon the dirty punk pelvic thrusts and garage-y recording style after this album (traces of the band's later swampy, bluesy, CA baked country-esque approach already show up on Watery, Domestic-era tracks such as "Rain Ammunition" and "Ed Ames;" both included here). Not that I mind: in fact, I probaby prefer Slanted... the least out of all the other Pavement albums. Okay, now you think I have no taste, but you probably never got the schizophrenic splendor of Wowee Zowee, the pop perfection of Brighten the Corners, the sultry songfields of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and the band's finest statement (and swansong) Terror Twilight. So who are you to judge? Fuck off.
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