I've seen Pavement from the beginning -- I heard their early stuff and seen 'em on tour in those days. I was also friends with Mark Ibold, who had been in a band called the DUSTdevils and we were both on Teenbeat Records out of DC. Stephen, as well, he used to come see my old band Vomit Launch when we'd play the Bay Area. So when Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain came out, I was a little bit surprised, because one of the keys to it is that it's more of a songwriter's record than a noisy rock album. It's a beautiful sounding work as well, credit for which goes to Bryce Goggin. Bryce is a really well-rounded producer and engineer, and his touches definitely put this album into clear focus. - Larry Crane, Jackpot Studios
1994 was a hallmark year for us at Matador. Having that second album from Pavement really felt like an establishing step for us in a way, not just in that it was an important album but also in terms of building a legacy with the band. I feel like with Pavement and their ascendancy to greatness, Matador followed suit. We grew with the band and established our roster. I feel like there was an arc with the label that certainly matches the rise of Pavement. They are such an integral part of our history and who we are as a label. I think their sensibility informs us still, to some degree. It was like growing up together. - Chris Lombardi, co-owner Matador Records
I came across Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain for the first time when I was 13 and on a family vacation. I put the CD on in my Walkman and escaped, which, while totally cliche, helped massively re: feeling like I wanted to be both smart and cool at the same time and having few if any role models that adequately performed those tandem values. It wasn’t the kind of thing where I thought they were cool and I was square, or that they were cool and I didn’t get their jokes and valued them the more for that. It was a different kind of cool where Malkmus really felt how words sounded and spat them out gorgeously and casually, and I wanted to be casually gorgeous. The guitar playing was like that too -- thrown together but never dumb, intricate and deep but never showy. They kind of gave me a sense that rock music could have a deep relationships with words and the sounds of words and not be, like, rubbing your face in their erudition. - Wendy Eisenberg
I was 14 when Crooked Rain came out. And modern rock radio, at least in Philadelphia, was playing weirder, cooler '90s stuff on the air, which is where I heard "Cut Your Hair" for the first time. I just thought that song was cool. It's by no means my favorite song on the record, especially now. But the album as a whole didn't hit me right away; with every listen, though, it got better and better. I was heavy into skateboarding at the time, and "Range Life" was my favorite song. And I should say before that point Smashing Pumpkins were one of my favorite bands, but when Malkmus name-checked them on that song, of course I switched over to their side. "Stop Breathin'" is another favorite of mine; it's just so jangly and melodic. It truly was a classic rock record. - Kurt Vile
Sincerity as a gimmick has been a thread in popular music at multiple miserable points in history. In the '70s, glitter rock came to rescue us from it -- and despite the whole slacker trope of the '90s, that decade was absolutely lousy with grumblegoo heteronormative rock trogs trying to out-dark and out-real each other -- so as a sarcastic, lazy, indifferent teen, Pavement's appearance had a slightly heroic whiff about it. It didn't hurt that Malkmus's sincerely indifferent persona was ballasted by the most concise (Brubeck ref aside), precisely arranged, melodically appealing songs of the band's career thus far. Or that they dissed Smashing Pumpkins and STP in the same song. Or that lines like "Range rovin' with the cinema stars" made you feel cool and smart to lip sync to even if you were a 16-year-old farm kid who had only just gotten over Primus. - Jed Smith, My Teenage Stride
Back in 1994 I drove an old Toyota van, the kind that looks like a worn-out space shuttle. Being from the eighties, it was equipped with a sensitive and problematic cassette deck, having to shove a wadded up empty cigarette box under any cassette in order to get it to play properly (a trick gleaned from a certain John Cusack movie). I was a junior in high school living on the outskirts of a smallish town in Oregon. It was on a late spring day and I was giving a ride to one of my more artsy high school friends at that time, whom I'd played some casual shoe-gaze jams with in my tweens. He'd always been the guy privy to new turnings and twistings in rock music, a rarity in that pre-internet era out in the under-populated west side of the country. On that particular day we were headed to a church youth group hang, the evangelical appeal having more to do with the amount of girls involved than with saving grace. He took a cassette out of his pocket, one of those Memorex blanks that were so popular back in the day for making literal mix-tapes, and held it up. "Okay. You gotta leave this tape in for at least a week, possibly two. Don't take it out. This is a hundred twenty minute, two records. Just let it play."
He shoved the tape in, stuck the wadded-up cigarette pack underneath and suddenly we were listening to this lurching, angular, quasi-articulate band with a singer that seemed to be speaking in a kind of stoney cipher, a codex which somehow felt entirely intelligible to my mind. Side A was Pavement's Slanted and Enchanted, side B was the recently released Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
Needless to say, I left the cassette in there for a good while, conditioning my mind to the slapdash, oddly succinct solos and the squirrely nature of the singing until I knew every word, or at least my own translation of the mumbled warbled lyrics. Love at first listen, rolling around the town in that shuddering clanking van with my friends. Those records I realized were an interesting gauge of character and/or psychological elasticity when it came to anyone who happened to ride in the vehicle for those weeks I listened obsessively to that cassette.