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About Pavement

If the indie-rock boom of the early '90s has a boy band, it’s Pavement: The sweet melodies, the carefree delivery, they way they can be the smartest guys in the room without making a point of it. At a time when some of their post-punk peers were still waging musical revolution, they embraced the rosy warmth of classic rock (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain), and even at their most challenging (Westing (By Musket and Sextant, the stoned sprawl of Wowee Zowee) were more playful than rebellious, the sound of collegiate guys who liked sports and poetry in equal measure, who were always interesting but never pretentious. Courtney Love once described their frontman, Steve Malkmus, as “the Grace Kelly of indie rock”—an invocation not only of the band’s charm, but their poise and effortlessness. Pavement weren’t naive. But they sounded like winners without even playing the game. Their early music (1992’s Slanted and Enchanted in particular) summarized the best of ‘80s underground rock (the poetry of R.E.M., noise of Sonic Youth, sloppiness of The Replacements) while adding their own sweet-and-sour essence, turning out songs that transformed oblique poetry and fragmented of noise into lighters-up anthems (“In the Mouth a Desert,” “Trigger Cut”). Malkmus once joked that he realized he’d never be a real punk when he saw Henry Rollins of Black Flag squeeze a cue ball as a pre-show warmup. But even as their sound mellowed, the band retained an irreverence, delivering their grandest music—“Grounded,” “Type Slowly,” “The Hexx”—with a looseness that made them look humble: Not rock gods, but regular dudes you kinda wanted to root for. The band broke up after 1999’s Terror Twilight, reforming in 2010 and sporadically since.

Stockton, CA, United States
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