Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert Origins
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MP3 Music, October 26, 2004
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The first half of the first disc is the original "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain": the caustic pop-rock of "Cut Your Hair," the dark "Stop Breathin'," the folky "Range Life," and the trippy "Newark Wilder." It's immensely, intensely good, with a cleaner sound than the lo-fi "Slanted and Enchanted," and a sort of suburban-kid-turned-rocker perspective.
But wait: there's much more. Almost forty songs more, to be precise! Packed into every crevice of the disc is B-sides, singles, and other free-floating music from Pavement's "Crooked" days. One example is "Cooling By Sound," a sardonically wicked song that informs you that Malkmus is cooler than thou. Another is the quiet B-side "Strings of Nashville."
Then there is the second disc: eleven unreleased songs accompanied by a bunch of other tracks. These extras are not all good, but they are always enlightening, especially the eight that were made with Gary Young. There are even some rough early songs which Pavement was messing around with at the time, and were later rerecorded for "Wowee Zowee." Rounding it off are a bunch of other early creations -- some funnier songs, some instrumental experiments -- and a session with the much-lamented DJ John Peel. And accompanying the CDs is a fat little booklet, full of retrospectives and glossy pics.
"Crooked Rain Crooked Rain" was recorded in an apartment over a record store, which seems like an appropriate place for an indie-rock album to be born.Read more ›
Yes, that's right: a lot of other bands would have conceptually organized an entire album around the opening chord progresson of "Silence Kit" had they been clever enough to write it. As it is, the band never returns to it after 1m30s: it's only one of THREE separate hooks in the very first song. Elsewhere, Pavement explores power-pop ("Cut My Hair," "Elevate Me Later"), prog influences ("Stop Breathin"), lo-fi jazz ("5-4=Unity"), and even country ("Range Life").
In theory, such musical polymathy threatens to put this album all over the map, with divergent genre-experiments running interference on one another and resulting in a stylistic jumble. But in fact, Pavement never sounded more together or displayed more unity of purpose than on this album. The more aggressive Slanted & Enchanted throwbacks like "Hit The Plane Down" and "Unfair" sit easily alongside cheerful burbles like "Elevate Me Later" and the friendly piano & flatpicked guitar of "Range Life." In fact, "Range Life" epitomizes the spirit of this album in many ways: it poses as a song of amiable wanderlust, but (Smashing Pumpkins digs aside) I think Malkmus inadvertantly reveals something about himself in that second verse. Sure, it's a seemingly jaundiced depiction of suburban teen life ("out on my skateboard, the night is just humming..."), but for all of Malkmus' practiced distance and inscrutability he can't help but betray real sentimentality with his loving attention to the little happy details.Read more ›
... or why they pick back up again. But I'm enjoying reuniting with the songs and the time seemed right to check out the new expanded "Crooked Rain."
Here's my analogy: the original incarnation of "Crooked Rain" is kind of like "Apocalypse Now." It's ambitious, atmospheric, grand and makes for repeat listenings/viewings. This new expanded "Crooked Rain" is kind of like "Apocalypse Now - Redux." By that I mean: fans of the shorter version (who didn't pony up for every single and EP) will get a kick out of hearing the demos and b-sides, just as "Apocalypse" fans ached to see the French plantation scene and the Playboy bunny scene. That doesn't necessarily mean that "Crooked Rain" should be a 2 hour + entity, or that the original "Apocalypse" should disappear in favor of "Redux." Basically, old time fans will be delighted but this shouldn't replace the original album.
Hell, yeah, I like having 49 bits of Pavement, but I'll probably hang on to my original, single CD version too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
From the standpoint of the present, we can say Pavement were simply the most important band of the '90s: if you say Nirvana or Radiohead or Beck or whatever radio-friendly unit... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jeffrey Rubard
I wanna talk about the extra material on this release since no one has really delved into it so far. I'm surprised that more people aren't enamored by these songs. Read morePublished on July 7, 2011 by brainhead
Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert OriginsStephen Malkmus' REM album ages well. Like REM, the songs anchor around wondrous guitar melodies, and like Kurt Cobain, Malkmus... Read morePublished on July 3, 2010 by Tiny tunes
when i was super into the "scene" (aka hardcore, punk, indie, metal, etc) i always heard about how people were influenced by pavement or were really into them, but i never actually... Read morePublished on March 28, 2009 by A. Forman
This is a fantastic album. Steve Malkmus is a genius. On the original album there isn't one filler track, and the unreleased stuff is money. Read morePublished on August 26, 2008
This is the first Pavement record I ever listened to, and it turned me into one of the world's most devoted Pavement fans ever. Read morePublished on September 27, 2007 by K. Hee
Any critic, worth their salt, knows that Pavement is one of the most underrated bands of all time. This album is the shining star that proves it. Read morePublished on July 14, 2007 by The Grainy Throat