Pavement Redux

it’s got more stars than the sky
it’s still forbidden to excuse
that little look in your eye
i was busted in my gut that time
that time i said ‘i know it’s true’
why didn’t i ask? why didn’t i ask?
why didn’t i ask? why didn’t i ask?

— “Kennel District,” Wowee Zowee

In December of 2008, the hipster music site Pitchfork reviewed a reissue of Pavement’s Brighten the Corners. “For a band that often seemed be on the verge of a commercial breakthrough, Pavement made all the right moves– they just did them in the wrong order,” Stuart Berman observed, reflecting on the oddity of Pavement’s career arc. For Berman and many others, Brighten the Corners should have been the follow up to their “indie hit” Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Instead, Pavement followed their 1994 breakout with Wowee Zowee, which Berman described as “slapdash … an album beloved by the band’s diehard fans, but one that effectively squandered any crossover potential Crooked Rain might have built up.” Undoubtedly, Wowee Zowee failed to expand their base, but on the other hand the album features several classic songs, such as “Grounded,” “We Dance,” and the above “Kennel District.” Whatever one’s opinion of Pavement or Wowee Zowee, the excitement over their reunion tour this summer remains palpable.

Here at T of M, we have a podcast interview for you featuring one Stephen Malkmus. Its not our podcast, mind you, but rather that of Chicago music critics Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions, who do a great job of getting SM to talk about his days in Pavement – or, if you believe the interview, the days when he WAS pavement. Malkmus expounds on all things indie, namedropping the Replacements several times, all while quite honestly taking a lot of the credit for Pavement (just to be contrarian, “Kennel District” is the work of Scott Kannberg, aka Spiral Stairs, basically the only other member of the band Malkmus seems to consider a possible equal). In the interest of synergy, we here at Tropics of Meta are performing an unauthorized collaboration with NPR’s Sound Opinions. In this new spirit of cooperation, we offer previously posted pieces relating to the above subject matter:

Author: Alex Sayf Cummings

Alex Sayf Cummings is an associate professor of history at Georgia State University, whose work deals with technology, law, public policy, and the political culture of the modern United States. Alex's writing has appeared in Salon, the Brooklyn Rail, the Journal of American History, the Journal of Urban History, Al Jazeera, and Southern Cultures, among other publications, and the book Democracy of Sound was published by Oxford University Press in 2013 (paperback, 2017). Alex can be followed on Twitter at @akbarjenkins.

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