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Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement
Domino / Playground

Pavement lasted for ten years in their time, releasing 5 studio albums, for then to become living legends for all indie-rock lovers. The California quintet's slack'n'cool, wild and wonderful style has inspired truckloads of bands ever since. I see this quite obvious comparison: The Feelies had their Crazy Rhythms, but Pavement for sure had some crazy rhythms as well.

The compilation Quarantine The Past: The Best Of Pavement is put out just as Pavement start their reunited tour. This 23 track collection span their 10 year career, with songs from all albums, from their EPs, plus a Various Artists track (off No Alternative, 1993 -- a collection of some of the hottest artists around at the time: Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, Urge Overkill, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, The Breeders, Beastie Boys, ++). Pavement's music has always cheered me up, turned me into a good mood. They've almost always sounded quite informal and relaxed, both in attitude and music. Well, after the demise of Pavement, singer/guitarist Stephen 'SM' Malkmus has had a rather serious solo career going on, resulting in 4 albums (with his Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks), and Mark Ibold (bass) is currently a member of Sonic Youth. Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg (guitar, vocals) has had his project Preston School of Industry, while Steve West (who replaced original Pavement drummer Gary Young) sings with a band called Marble Valley. Final member Bob Nastanovich (described as 'the utility man', sometimes 'the second drummer', adding backing vocals, percussion, harmonica, bizarre keyboard effects) has been involved with the wild and messy Silver Jews (where also Malkmus has been involved).

Malkmus and Kannberg were childhood friends in Stockton, CA, and Pavement started out as a studio project by the twosome, for then to turn into a full band. It's tempting to describe the musical outcome of Pavement as a mixture of Pere Ubu, Pixies, The Wedding Present, and the Meat Puppets. Even more names could be added, and, yet, the band eventually sounds like... Pavement. The good thing about Quarantine The Past is that it presents a strong line of good songs, showing what a remarkable playful band they were. That said I miss some songs strongly. As Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is my ultimate favourite Pavement album, where's the starting threesome from that record: "Silence Kit", "Elevate Me Later", and "Stop Breathin"? Well, there are still 5 songs from Crooked... included here, so I might not complain. There are 5 tracks from their debut, five tracks each from Slanted & Enchanted as well. Anyway, Quarantine... is a good document presenting the evolution of Pavement, from the early, more primitive stuff, to the more developed songs and sounds of the later albums. Maybe that's why I enjoy the mid period the most: where the primitive meets the mild.

There are just two tracks taken from Wowee Zowee (maybe their least accessible album), four from Brighten The Corners, but only one song is chosen from their swansong, Terror Twilight. The EPs Perfect Sound Forever and Watery, Domestic are represented with two songs each, while there's one song picked from the Slay Tracks 1933-1969 EP (Box Elder, which has btw been covered by The Wedding Present). And, yes, there are quite some highlights in here: "Gold Soundz", "Range Life", "Cut Your Hair", "Spit On A Stranger", "Shady Lane/J vs. S", "In The Mouth A Desert", "Here", "Date with IKEA", "Unfair", "Debris Slide", "Fight This Generation". The list is long, but it could've been longer.

Pavement was an unusual band. I guess that's why they've compiled an unusual 'Best of' as well. Being a humorous band, of course there was a Pavement Guess The Track Listing contest in prior to the release.

Copyright © 2010 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Pavement articles/reviews: Glasgow Barrowlands, November 18th 1999, Scott says (by e-mail), The Secret History, Vol. 1.

© 2011 Luna Kafé