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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crooked Rain Crooked Rain


Many years ago after Pavement had broken up, I watched Spiral Stairs play an in-store at Reckless Records in Chicago. There were only a handful of people who attended, which really upset me. For while Kannenberg was second guitarist who contributed a few songs to each CD, he was a member of Pavement. And Pavement was one of the greatest bands ever who deserved wider recognition. But I at least expected Pavement fans to show up. After all, this was the band that released two of the greatest CDs ever. And while I'm splitting hairs, "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" is their best CD and the CD that actually got me thinking about writing this series entitled A Perfect CD. For that is the best way to summarize it - perfect.

As with all CDs on this list, "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" works well as a complete piece rather than individual songs. Even though each song is so catchy it's hard not to envision an alternate universe where these songs are considered classic. But unlike the CDs to date, this CD is more about the music rather than the affect it had on me. Sure, it played a big part of my musical journey. But not as much as a handful of other CDs. The reason why "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" holds such a special place is that after all these years, it is easily one of my most beloved CDs. So much so that when the reissued 2 CD set with extras came out, I hardly listen to it. For it takes away the statement that is Pavement's masterpiece.

I would describe "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" as a breezy pop masterpiece. More than any other CD, this one evokes thoughts of driving down California's open roads. And it's definitely loaded with images of California. But it feels so effortlessly and the melodies are just so easy. It's hard not to smile and be in a good mood while listening to this CD. And impossible not to sing along. I find myself wondering if there is a more perfect pop song and convince myself there is not...until the next song starts.

Malkmus' lyrics are definitely on full display here. So many memorable lines. And it's not like he writes stories or anything, but he specializes in verbal wordplay. To some, this might seem condescending or look at the big brain on me. To me, it just makes the songs that much more enjoyable to sing. Whether it's the taking on the alternarock sellout in "Cut Your Hair" - "Songs mean a lot/When songs are bought/And so are you" to the direct ripping on The Samshing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots in "Range Life". Either you love it or hate it. Either you think Malkmus is the coolest kid in school or the snotty naive brat who has never taken anything seriously. Count me in the first group.

Pavement is much beloved these days and I feel lucky to have seen them live. But for my money, "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" will always be their magnus opus. It is just so perfect in so many ways. They don't make CDs like this anymore.



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Pavement Crooked Rain Crooked Rain A Perfect CD indie punk pop Spiral Stairs Malkmus

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