Throwback Thursday: Pavement is Your New Favorite Band
The 90’s were a weird time in our culture. This is all retrospective of course; even though much of my age group claims to be “90’s kids,” we were born at the halfway mark of the decade. I personally was almost exactly centered, born on June 16th 1995. The modern eye cringes at the fashion, slang, and movies. Music emerged as a stronger, more diverse and palatable medium throughout the decade. In the indie rock genre specifically, most people think of maybe Neutral Milk Hotel, Beck, or maybe Smashing Pumpkins. But one band looms as an influential giant of the decade: Pavement.
Pavement hails from Stockton, CA and has been dubbed “The Greatest Band of the 90’s” and the “Greatest Indie Band of All Time” by many publications, including GQ and Vulture Magazine. Lead by their enigmatic frontman Stephen Malkmus, Pavement signed with many independent record labels over the course of their career. They never signed with a major label, unlike many of the indie bands of the 80’s. This probably led to their underground domination, while never achieving mainstream fame. They were not unknown though; they appeared on late night shows and TV many times.
Pavement combined DIY garage rock with eccentricity. Their music sounds raw and lo-fi. But to achieve this sound, it must be very precisely done. For example, “Gold Soundz” (my favorite Pavement song) is a very happy, melodic song with a great chorus. Then “Stereo” combines a multitude of guitar sounds to form an incredibly diverse track. Feedback flows into chords, and chords flow into plucks. Malkmus’s lyrics have a cult following for their many interpretations. Pavement just has a distinct sound to them.
A true sign of they were the band of the 90’s, Pavement broke up in 1999. The members moved on to solo projects and went their separate ways. Malkmus has become a cult underground icon, and currently lives in, of course, Portland, Oregon. They had reunion tours recently, and it’s not totally out of the question for there to be another one soon. They have appeared on the Colbert Report and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. All this despite only one of their songs ever appearing on MTV, “Cut Your Hair”.
Image source: Wikipedia