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
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.
While not necessarily my favorite Pavement album, Wowee Zowee seems to rap up everything I love about the band in a messy little ball. At the time, it was a pretty stark difference from the rockin' Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. WZ is kind of wild and eclectic; avant and weird sometimes, hard and fast at others. Malkmus blames it on smoking a lot of dope, and you know what? That sounds pretty legit.
Steve alluded to the process of maturity and his recollection of that personal time period in his Crooked Rain review, and that's a pretty apt description of what this album did for me. Wrapped up in every Wowee Zowee spin is memories of my gradual embracing of the "creative odd", as it were. Without this album I never would have developed a taste for bands like Animal Collective, Modest Mouse, Tapes 'n Tapes, and Neutral Milk Hotel. I don't mean to imply over-arching musical similarities between these bands. It's more about the appreciation of the zany, and the recognition of beauty in the unconventional.
Wowee Zowee starts out giving you a taste of the weird. Who has the balls (pun intended) to start out an album with the line "there is no castration fear"? Apparently a blazed Steven Malkmus. He even pulls out the Bowie imitation on the "check that expiration date, man" line. All in all, "We Dance" and "Black Out" are the perfect songs to set you up for the trip that will follow. It's like the odd calm before the storm. The Wizard of Oz, reality-warping storm begins next when Malkmus starts yelling at you about money in "Brinx Job" while wah pedals do their worst in the background.
And then there's "Grounded". Oh, how I love you. In the interest of you reading my upcoming post I'm going to stay mum on this song.
There's something so infinitely catchy in the Pavement songs that are constructed with the least hooks. "Extradition" has this bass fuzz and these spontaneous guitar pops behind it's ever-changing time signatures, but somehow you still find yourself humming along. "Best Friend's Arm" rips at punk-speed, before taking a breather for a few seconds, only to speed back up while the words are yelped at you indefinably.
Pavement – Grave Architecture
"Grave Architecture" is a stand-out track for me. It's laid-back Hawaiian vibes give way to totally classic Pavement verses and the fit is perfect.
One of Malkmus' strengths as a songwriter is in those relatively subtle moments in so many songs that you always remember to sing along with. "At&T" has this in spades in the "whenever" repetition during the chorus. Another of these moments pops up in "Flux=Rad", though I think I only sing along to this one because it makes me feel like some hard rock singer screaming into a mic right before I stage-dive.
Occassionally people writing about Pavement like to get down on Spiral Stairs' role and his lesser songwriting ability. I call bullshit on that. He was a different type of songwriter than Malkmus to be sure. His songs generally involve a centrally placed emotion and hook and the compositions, though more straightforward, involve each instrument and voice perfectly. "Kennel District" isn't my favorite Spiral Stairs song (that would be "Date With IKEA"), but it's a great tune.
Pavement – Kennel District
The album ends with the epic combination of "Half A Canyon" and "Western Homes". "Half A Canyon" is the most straight-forward blues-rock you will ever hear out of Pavement as well as one of the longest songsm clocking in at 6:10. "Western Homes" is an acid trip of a closer. Guitar fuzz and a bouncing bass line power forward while space noises and Spiral Stairs' tricked-out voice whizz by.
Wowee Zowee has everything great about this band. There's the laid back, the trippy, the avant, and the emotional. This album forced me to grow up loving the weird, and I wouldn't have it any other way.