Friday, September 11, 2015

Top 100 Songs From the 1990s (No. 19)

19. "Trigger Cut"
Artist: Pavement
Year: 1992

"Pavement are alright, just not as brilliant as everyone tries to tell us."
-- Drew
"My sentiments exactly!"
-- Echorich

These comments were lifted from a post at Charity Chic Music just two short weeks ago. In hindsight, I more or less agree with what seems to be the consensus among our little corner of the world, but I most definitely didn't feel that way in 1992. When 'Slanted and Enchanted' came out it was as if there was a knock at the front door, and when I opened it a hurricane entered. Pavement sounded loud, sloppy, fun and out of their minds. For me, Pavement replaced the Replacements... and not a moment too soon. Yes, as much as I tried to block out the hype, it did eventually get in the way. Yet, I can honestly say I enjoyed every album, single and EP that followed this masterpiece. So, maybe I do think they're brilliant after all. Apologies to Dirk for not choosing the worthy "Box Elder." My very close second to "Trigger Cut" was "No Life Singed Her."

Rob Sheffield's 'Love is a Mix Tape' is probably my favorite book. I laugh and cry in equal parts every time I read it. Please take a moment to peruse this slightly pared-down passage on seeing Pavement for the first time. The author captures the moment around 'Slanted and Enchanted' so beautifully:

The night of the show, the floor was abuzz with anticipation. None of us in the crowd knew what Pavement looked like, or even who was in the band. They put out mysterious seven-inch singles without any band info or photos, just credits for instruments like "guitar slug," "psued-piano gritt-gitt," "keybored," "chime scheme," and "last crash simbiosis." We assumed that they were manly and jaded, that they would stare at the floor and make abstract boy noise. That would be a good night out.

But Pavement was nothing at all like we pictured them. They were a bunch of foxy dudes, and they were into it. As soon as they hit the stage, you could hear all the girls in the crowd ovulate in unison. There were five or six of them up there, some banging on guitars, some just clapping their hands or singing along. They did not stare at the floor. They were there to make some noise and have some fun. They had fuzz and feedback and unironically beautiful sha-la-la melodies. Stephen Malkmus leaned into the mike, furrowed his brows, and sang lyrics like, "I only really want you for your rock and roll" or "When I fuck you once it's never enough / When I fuck you two times it's always too much." The songs were all either fast or sad, because all songs should either be fast or sad. Some of the fast ones were sad, too.

Afterward, we staggered to the parking lot in total silence. When we got to the car, Renee spoke up in a mournful voice: "I don't think The Feelies are ever gonna be good enough again."

Our friend Joe in New York sent us a tape, a third-generation dub of the Pavement album Slanted and Enchanted. Renee and I decided this was our favorite tape of all time. The guitars were all boyish ache and shiver. The vocals were funny bad poetry sung through a Burger World drive-through mike. The melodies were full of surfer-boy serenity, dreaming through a haze of tape hiss and mysterious amp noise. This was the greatest band ever, obviously. And they didn't live twenty years ago, or ten years ago, or even five years ago. They were right now. They were ours.


Anonymous said...

Superb post Brian regardless of how good Pavement were or weren't
Swiss Adam

drew said...

As SA said, it was a pleasure to read that post, not that it isn't with all your other posts but I hope you get what I mean and Trigger Cut is a very good song

The Swede said...

I'd not heard of 'Love is a Mix Tape' before today, but have just bought it off the back of this brilliant post.

Echorich said...

Brian, if there's a Pavement album to own its Slanted And Enchanted, and if you are going to pick from to make this list I can completely understand Trigger Cut. Pavement will always be a band I'm willing to consider and listen to. They have some very high moments. They just never really stuck with me. I really like the Replacements comparison, here again is a band that I always considered, but they just never fully swayed me.

Brian said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. Swede, you've made my day!

kevinpat said...

Although I really liked this Pavement album and the next Crooked Rain… when they came out I must admit I haven't pulled them off the shelf for years. I still get the "Cut Your Hair" ear worm at times but other than that…eh. I think Pavement is really cool but void of any emotional attachment. Though I can appreciate the…let's say "obtuse" lyrics and the loud/soft nirvana-isms I don't get the manic frenzy of The Pixies or the cool NY detachment of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. With Pavement I sing along because it's fun but then it's done. Kinda like Modern Art to me sometimes. If I didn't know Jackson Pollock was a nut job I wouldn't find any lasting impression of much of his work. The Replacements on the other hand are an emotional wreck. They break my heart every time, and sometimes I don't even remember it's coming. Sadly beautiful indeed. But I think Pavement is a good representation of the somewhat detachment of the 90s. We sang along, not knowing or even caring about what was said or what was coming. Sounds good I'm in. No emotional investment needed. I'm good. I guess sometimes it's okay to enjoy a canvas splattered with acrylic paints. It's emotional cheap. But I do like the choice Brian and it was fun to go back and listen. And then I thought well…I kept these CDs all these years for some reason…. Thanks for letting me pontificate. :)