The Shrine of Dig represents music that has made indelible impressions on our lives, both musically and personally. We plan to enshrine works and artists that stand out for any number of special reasons, from those glorious moments we first heard something captivating and new, through the continuous impacts of the music upon our lives. The induction ceremony involves multiple posts where we will both explore and pay tribute to the words and sounds which have been so important to us. In doing so, we share with you some music we believe is damn near infallible and absolutely worth listening to. View all
Pavement – Summer Babe
Pavement – Loretta's Scars
The Shrine of Dig represents music that has made indelible impressions on our lives, both musically and personally. We plan to enshrine works and artists that stand out for any number of special reasons, from those glorious moments when we first heard something captivating and new, through the continuous impacts of the music upon our lives. The induction ceremony involves multiple posts where we will both explore and pay tribute to the words and sounds which have been so important to us. In doing so, we share with you some music we believe is damn near infallible and absolutely worth listening to.
Slanted and Enchanted was my introduction to Pavement, and from the first blast of “Summer Babe,” I was hooked. It’s a special album to me because it really was unlike basically everything I had listened to before and opened me up to a new approach to rock music. The fuzzy wall of rhythm guitar and bass, the jagged lead guitar, and the ramshackle drums were a bit jarring, yet I gravitated towards the immediacy of this sound. Somehow it felt a little more personal, like I was there while they played in some basement or garage. And then Stephen Malkmus started to sing. Or speak. “Ice, baby, …”
However you want to describe his vocal style, it was incredibly distinct. I don’t always hear words articulately upon initial listens, more so the melodies and their intangible feeling. Hearing Pavement, however, was one of the few times that the words stuck out vividly right from the start. I loved the collage-like approach of the lyrics, how even if they didn’t make much coherent sense, they sounded perfect together. They served the mood of the song. Some of the songs do not have many words and some have a lot – for instance the crazy ramble that is “Conduit for Sale!” No matter what, there is a definite artistry to being able to not say anything in particular but at the same time convey a very clear mood, feeling, and meaning. Pavement proves that being obtuse can also be evocative.
As much as I’d like to go into detailed song by song review, I’d rather give a few moments of this album serving as a soundtrack in my life for this Shrine of Dig induction. I listened to “Zurich is Stained,” each of the days I was in Zurich. I would walk out on a bridge over the Limmat River and listen as I took in the city. Yes, it’s very music nerd, but it was kind of exciting doing it. “In the Mouth a Desert,” will forever be associated with a great night out in Charleston. We spent our evening at AC’s Bar, where we shot pool with an eccentric woman in her fifties who could not lose and bonded with everyone else in the place over the crazy madness of the 6 overtime UConn-Syracuse game. As last call happened, they started playing Pavement and it was a great way to cap the night. Finally, I’ve listened to “Frontwards” multiple times as a sort of motivator, rallying anthem. As Stephen Malkmus says on the live version of the song on disc 2 of the reissue, it’s about moving forward. Sometimes, we need a little boost making that happen and a song like this is one of the ways that gets me.
This is going to be an admittedly difficult write-up for me. Even in the mini, collaborative format. What is there to be said about this album that hasn’t been said a million times before? With that in mind, I’ll keep this brief and personal.
Slanted & Enchanted, maybe more than any other album, defined high school for me. And yes, I know that Pavement had already broken up by the time I was in high school. I’m not entirely sure where and when I first acquired the album, but it’s probably not important (until I decide to autobiographically organize my records someday). What is important is that it was definitely one of the first albums that started transitioning me from my 311 and Green Day days to my eventual hipsterdom. And for that I am eternally greatful to you, Pavement.
It’s in the very first seconds of the album when Ibold starts that unforgettable bass line and the high hat closes the riff that I was hooked. “Summer Babe” is just one of those transformative songs that time warps me back to a cache of memories and history. Oh for the days of aimless driving in a minivan on a Friday night, lame parties, and playing pool in Dave’s basement. I even have memories tied to that little laugh Malkmus slips in during the “drop off” line.
Tracks I’ve always had a particular fondness for:
“Trigger Cut” for it’s awesome call and response chorus
“Conduit for Sale” for “The Murder Mystery”-ish spoken verses
“Two States” for it’s epic call-to-arms and “So Stark (You’re a Skyscraper)” if we’re talking Luxe and Reduxe
It’s almost like there was something purer about my listening in those days. There was less volume (quantitatively) and reputation. I just liked the music I felt. It’s a great feeling to have an album like Slanted and Enchanted in my life that with every listen can ignite such a deep passion for a band and for music.
There have been Albums which have come to define a chapter of my life, and Pavement’s 1991 release, Slanted and Enchanted is one of these records. It has earned this distinction by being the soundtrack to moments that I treasure and cannot get back, but I remember and relive these moments every time I drop the needle and Listen.
"Summer Babe (Winter Version)" will always remind me of Normandy Rue and the suburbs of Erie Pennsylvania. It’s track one on the record and as such I always heard it first when I was leaving home. Few things felt better than being sixteen, having my Dad’s car, and Slanted and Enchanted. It’s the kind of generic collection of memories that makes me stop and watch the slide show in my head of all the combinations of the same inconsequential activities that seemed to mean so much to me then, and still do today.
"Nothing Ever Happens" from the Luxe & Reduxe version of the album was Kyle and I’s own personal hymn for our lives at the time, and it would later become my favorite track to put on as I pulled off I-79 and back into town when I came home throughout college. The catchy, albeit repetitive droning chords and melody with their self-deprecating lyrics seemed to sum up my dissatisfaction while remaining endearing and anthemic.
"Here" was always my favorite track from this record. It is a song of the utmost simplicity in both harmonic and rhythmic structure, but I was always jealous that I didn’t write it. I love when the guitar plays in unison with the vocal melody (a tactic scattered across the entire album) and I love that "Here" places the utmost importance on the vocal melody. In addition, the sparse instrumentation allows Malkmus’s clever word play to communicate uninterrupted to the listener.
This album is a gem. It is a diamond in the rough of any record store. As I have grown up with it, I continue to find new things that excite and galvanize me to listen again. I have changed, but this album remains the same. My life is both unrecognizable and exactly the same as it was when I made my first impression with this record. Nevertheless, Slanted and Enchanted has stood the test of time and continues to mean different things to me as I have needed it to. I know that in another ten years it will still be a meaningful part of my record collection, and I am thankful for that, and optimistic to build new memories and associations with these songs. Lies and betrayal, fruit covered nails, electricity and lust. Thank you Pavement for the gift of this record.