“Luck on every finger.”
It’s the inscription written below the center image of Pavement’s classic second album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, released 25 years ago this Valentine’s Day. The phrase flanks an image of a woman’s hands adorned in turquoise rings and clutching a betting card for horseracing, a euphemism for the big leap into the major leagues with an album light-years ahead of its predecessor Slanted & Enchanted in terms of scope, sound and substance.
“Malkmus made up the line and the cover art,” explains percussionist Bob Nastanovich, referring to the band’s fearless leader, singer/guitarist Stephen Malkmus. “We all love good luck especially when we’re betting on the horse races or putting out a second album.”
But it was much more than luck that assisted the Stockton, CA-based group in reaching 120 Minutes supremacy back in the winter of 1994. Thought it was drenched in low fidelity and slacker vibes, Slanted set the table for their next move, which, if you caught wind of their essential cut off the 1993 Red Hot Organization charity album No Alternative, “Unseen Power of a Picket Fence,” or their cover of the Reckoning high point “Camera,” was to make a better R.E.M. LP than R.E.M. themselves. Cut in New York City on borrowed equipment and in record time, Crooked embodies a seamless cohesion that belies the patchwork nature of its construct. Though still delivering some of the freewheeling dirge they had been whipping up since forming in 1989, the album allowed the combination of Malkmus, Nastanovich, guitarist Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg, bassist Mark Ibold and then-new drummer Steve West the freedom to do what they really wanted. In this case, it was creating a set of songs that not only defined their sonic character but allowed the unfiltered greatness of Malkmus the songwriter to shine through.
Anyone who has held both Document and Daydream Nation in equal regard found a great deal to love in songs like “Silence Kid,” “Gold Soundz” and the infectious lead single “Cut Your Hair,” which peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart that year. There’s a warmth to these songs that makes you not quite take Malkmus’s bidding good night to the rock n’ roll era during the epic Crooked closing number “Fillmore Jive” as seriously as he wants you to believe it to be true. A quarter century later, Pavement are dormant once again following a terse but successful 2010 reunion tour. Yet their irresistibly idiosyncratic sound endures into 2019, not only in the music Malkmus makes with his current band The Jicks, including last year’s excellent Sparkle Hard, but also in CR, CR‘s evergreen influence on the generation of artists who emerged from the group’s initial split in 2000.
It’s hard to get one’s head around celebrating 25 years of an album so electric with carefree swagger and ageless amplification. Nonetheless, Billboard presents a panel of old pals and prolific acolytes to speak on their history with Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain on their infinite playlists.
Our band bonded over Pavement in the van…from a gen-x mega fan to one who used to despise indie rock. Informed our sound undoubtedly. – Taylor Chmura, Deep State
As the elder statesman of Deep State and the only one who ever got to see Pavement live (read: I’m old), I would just like to add: I spent countless college nights in drunken ecstasy, screaming my head off along with “Trigger Cut,” crying to “Here” at the end of the night, making out in a stranger’s dorm room while “In Her Mouth a Desert” played. This record literally helped me make friends. On the first day of school my sophomore year at SUNY Purchase, I was playing Slanted and Enchanted loudly with my apartment door open, when a wide-eyed freshman boy with a ridiculous haircut wandered into my apartment and approached me all excited: “DUDE, you like indie rock???” We went on to play in bands together for 10 years. Nostalgia is powerful, but what’s even more powerful, and why I keep coming back to this record after 25 years and thousands of spins, is WALL TO WALL undeniably classic songs. – Christian Deroeck, Deep State
I’d been a Pavement fan since first hearing Slanted and Enchanted. They stood out with their own sound/songwriting style right out of the gate. Stephen Malkmus is an amazing guitar player in my opinion. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, for me, was filled with more great songs arranged and recorded with the looseness and ‘devil may care’ approach that made Pavement unique. The song “Gold Soundz'” was a favorite right away, even though “Cut Your Hair” was their first single, if I remember correctly. They had hummable pop hooks in songs like the before mentioned “Cut Your Hair” and “Elevate Me Later,” which both sounded like they could have been tracks left over from Slanted and Enchanted. I remember the country-tinged “Range Life” was a stand out for me as well. It’s a beautiful song which I felt showed a vulnerable side to Stephen Malkmus. The lyrics are both funny and melancholy… delivered in his frail-Malkmus vocal style. – Casey Virock, Porcupine
My introduction to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was a burned CD called Boy With a New Haircut. I had no idea what I was in for when my then-girlfriend handed me this thin purple jewel case with collage art, a handwritten tracklist and told me to listen to it over spring break. She filled it with 13 tracks of 90s alt / 00s indie and featured two tracks from Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (“Cut Your Hair” and “Silent Kid”). I think a not-so-subtle jab at my quietness and ability to avoid combing my hair for months at a time? Like every vacation my family took, that spring break we took a 3ish hour drive to Laredo in our Suburban. Eager to listen to this in peace (and read and re-read the note she wrote with it), I claimed the entire back bench to myself. Lying down with headphones, watching the sky pass and listening to these songs on repeat. I remember Pavement so vividly as the catchy anger and humor run through me. Pavement has the kinda music that got in-between the spaces of my brain, causing me to remember it during the strangest times of my life and making my older brother order it from eBay as soon as we got back. Crooked Rain is now buried in my subconscious of first loves and boring family drives, of times when I made my own t-shirts of albums I liked and burned copies of songs that meant the world to me for friends, and listened to everything until the night fell into morning watching the battery line slowly disappear on my cd player. – Rene Villanueva from Idyll Green (ex-Hacienda/The Fast Five)
As I recall, I only knew about the song “Cut Your Hair” through the popular music outlet MTV. I know this song had some pop traction. I was not a fan or checked out any of their music other than that. The Brown Brothers were fans and had the idea of Cyrus, Reginald, James and myself to bring our musical worlds to Pavement’s music. For many musicians with projects of the unknown, a musician’s instinct tends to gravitate toward musicians you admire and respect. Cyrus, James and Reginald are top in their generation and have a wealth of knowledge and diversity. First thing I did was listen to most of Pavement’s material. We all leaned more towards the material on the Slanted and Enchanted record. Then, we collectively listened and selected pieces that resonated with us. Afterwards, James and I transcribed some of the music. Creating a score/sketch of the tunes. Reginald and Cyrus are such amazing musicians they just heard everything and brought an amazing essence to the material. What many good musicians do is take existing material and make it their own. This is what we hoped to do with “Gold Soundz.” You can only be you. The experience and creative process for the “Gold Soundz” project was one of a kind. Regarding the Studio, rehearsing and recording process it was somewhat different than what we were used to. Normally “Jazz” and “Classical” musicians come in and play music straight down 1 or 2 takes; an album in one day. The four of us actually got a few days in the studio where we could vibe and try things and experiment. Definitely good times. We are grateful for all of the support and people who dug the project and the music. – Ali Jackson
I didn’t really have a lot of access to music, because my parents don’t really listen to music that much, and I grew up not being able to watch TV or use the computer except on the weekends (laughs). So I didn’t have MTV nor did I know how to download stuff off the Internet. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I acquired a group of friends who would burn CDs for me. And I had a friend burn Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain for me, and I would play it all the time on my Discman. “Range Life” is a big favorite on the album, because going on tour with Potty Mouth the song really resonates with me. The idea of “I want a range life if I could settle down” — always going out on the road and never really having a stable life. I identify with that sentiment very strongly. – Abby Weems, Potty Mouth
I was in junior high school and deep into radio grunge played on Atlanta’s 99X when my older brother purchased Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. I’d heard him play Slanted and Enchanted a few times on our hour commute to school but was lured in by CR‘s higher fidelity, the “Cut Your Hair” single, and the Smashing Pumpkins / Stone Temple Pilots commentary. It seemed like “Cut Your Hair” could have been on mainstream radio. It was more or less the first time I can remember describing someone as “indie-rock” to my friends. Most of my buds were into jam bands and when Phish later covered “Gold Sounds” I felt redeemed. Jams aplenty on CR, particularly the “Stop Breathin'” outro jam and “5-4= Unity” in particular being favorites for me. But I was definitely most interested in the lyrics and how a “career” could seamlessly morph into a “Korea” or how “if I could settle down, then I would settle down.” It seemed like the more Stephen repeated a word or phrase, the more dimension it accumulated. CR has great one-liners like “there’s one thing I’ll never forget, hey you gotta pay the dues before you pay the rent” or “no one serves coffee, no one wakes up,” but it also has lyrics I’ve misconstrued for years. I used to think “Unfair” said, “walk with a credit card in the air, swinging nunchucks like you just don’t care” which I later refined to “slinging nachos like you just don’t care” before realizing that it was officially “swing your nose like you just don’t care.” But that’s what made it all so great. It all somehow simultaneously mattered a lot and didn’t matter at all, it was playful, fun, and without enough reverence to be irreverent. It wasn’t angsty because nothing seemed worthy of getting angsty about. It was just cool. – Parker Gispert
I don’t think me or Curtis actually like Pavement. I had this experience with the lead singer I thought was funny. The first time I saw him was my first day working at a BBQ restaurant in Texas. I was flustered and didn’t know what I was doing. He was very polite. The next time I saw him I told him about it and he was very polite again. Then I saw him when I was drunk a few months later and accidentally told him the story again. This time he seemed less into the conversation. I realized that I had already told him about it before. But now I feel like I have to say this story every time I see him. I told him for the third time at a show for Matador. We haven’t run into each other for years but an ex of mine said she saw him at some festival and he said “you have that annoying boyfriend right?” And she said “not anymore.” – Coomers, Harlem
I am old enough that I remember when “Cut Your Hair” was a hit on the radio, and young enough that I have yet to see a Pavement show. I remember, as a kid during the onset of some of the best indie rock, Pavement came across as fresh and obscure. Malkmus spoke with a simultaneous candor and nihilism that was really appealing to my young brain. Crooked Rain shows Pavement at their finest. Pop indie rock candy that could be chewed by the weirdos. That’s how it felt to me, and still does. I have never heard a song like “Range Life,” well, in my life. The melodies are their own, as well as the perfectly tight loose jangle of the band. “Stop Breathin” is a ballad that no one could write but Stephen Malkmus. Pavement is able to cleverly celebrate their influences through a unique sound that is their own. Bands will spend years trying to sound as nonchalantly beautiful as this album just IS. P.S. I saw Stephen Malkmus this past summer, and he was more boyish and lackadaisically perfect than ever! – Lilly Hiatt
Crooked Rain is my all time favorite Pavement record. In fact, “Range Life” is one of the few songs I’ve covered live. I got kicked out of my apartment in North Carolina because the owners wanted to sell the whole house. The song “Range Life” seemed to encapsulate that period for me, so I got onstage at the Mothlight in West Asheville and sang it to my heart’s content. It’s an oddly relatable and beautiful song for a band that seemed so content to throw a wrench in most pop structures. My friend Dom helped me rewrite the Smashing Pumpkins lyrics at the end to be about DIIV and Sky Ferreira and we got a good chuckle out of it. Also, “Stop Breathin’” is a perfect song. It’s rare to hear a U.S. Maple influence on a mainstream rock band. Anyway, Pavement rules. Malkmus rules. – Eric Slick, Dr. Dog
The first time I heard Pavement, I was just sort of hanging out in my room, listening to college radio. “Cut Your Hair” came on and it made me dead stop. It felt like a great, big blast of weirdo joy. Just this really smart, really bent, something-I’d-never-heard-before thing that sort of crammed hearts into my ears. I bought Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, on cassette, that same day. It woke me up in a dazed kind of way, you know? Like, how you could take a thing you love so much, but not take it too seriously, how you could butcher it with nonchalance, how you could be a punk, but hit it with slack. I don’t know. That idea shook me good. It reminded me to go easier. It showed me that rock n’ roll never gave a damn about being perfect—it just wants to feel that way. A billion or so listens later, it still does. – James Alex, Beach Slang
I’d spent the previous few years obsessed with Dischord and Touch & Go releases so this was a bit of a left turn, but the ethos were the same – shout out to Jim Utz for being a true mentor. The songs are so immediate but feel tossed off, it’s chemistry not “talent,” so my friends and I were inspired. It was one of the few things we could all agree on outside of Sonic Youth, Fugazi, or Mudhoney. Crooked Rain felt like the peeling back of something we’d ignored, the fun of playing music. We were 18 and driving around all night listening to music and about to go our separate ways so it resonates pretty hard with the end those times, before you really had to care about anything. – Brian Case, FACS
When I first heard Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, I truly could not wrap my head around it and honestly didn’t like it very much. I was 17 and trying to learn the drum parts to join/impress my cool older friend’s all girl Pavement cover band, Babement. As I practiced the parts, every listen made it grow on me more and more until it was a full-on obsession. As soon as it clicked it became my favorite album and the soundtrack to my senior year in high school. Since then, Stephen Malkmus has been one of my biggest guitar heroes and someone who is in some way responsible for almost every song I’ve ever written. – Ellen Kempner aka Palehound
I’m pretty attached to the entire catalog, but Crooked Rain was definitely the record that solidified their status as a very important American band, and gave us the sense that the sky was the limit for how forward they could go artistically. A lot of great memories about that record for me. The songwriting, Stephen’s in particular, took a really big leap in terms of maturity and depth, and that’s what both Chris and I were excited about when we first heard Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. – Gerard Cosloy, co-owner Matador Records
I was an early admirer of the band, as were Chris Colbourn and Tom Maginnis from Buffalo Tom. I forget exactly how I first heard their music, but I assume it was on college radio here in Boston and it reminded me of the Fall, which was of great appeal to me. There was that inscrutable art-punk/poetry vibe. Picked up the first couple of EPs. I know I still have Perfect Sound Forever, as I just ran across it in my record shelves recently. We were on tour in the U.K. with the Wedding Present in 1991 and they were really into Pavement too. And we headlined a bill with Pavement and Sebadoh in Sacramento in 1992. Gary was still drumming and greeting people at the front door.
Soon after that, though, they got really popular pretty fast. We played with them at two Reading Festivals in ’92 and ’95. And we were friendly, and I still am with Scott. I really dug the older enigmatic lo-fi stuff, but I loved Crooked Rain because the songs were so accessible and memorable, while still quirky, quotably funny, and just plain smart. And Bryce Goggin’s recordings and mixes kept the cool stuff about them while presenting them in a way that sounded awesome on the radio. “Slacker anthems” might be the most overused phrase of the time. But there was something that seemed so effortless about their music. Sure, you could pick out a few influences and specific melody lifts from oldies songs. But they also seemed almost completely their own thing. It was truly a post-Nevermind/”Gold Soundz” era when a band like Pavement could cross over to mainstream success, even as they winked knowingly at it, poking fun at STP and the Pumpkins, which all of us who came from the true ’80s indie label word did privately. Pavement’s commentary came off cuddly-sarcastic, while I might have just sounded bitter.
I was and remain a fan. I don’t think I was ever jealous of them, but it still ain’t easy with Malkmus, a highly sharp, erudite and goddamned handsome Cali gent who somehow pulls off various personae of an underground artist-golfer-dad. I think I last saw him at a hotel bar in Barcelona during the Primavera festival and the golden sun seemed to spotlight him as he walked among the ’90s alt rock demigods. – Bill Janovitz, Buffalo Tom
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.
I could detect the subtle shifts from the first to the second record, like the writer had tightened and streamlined his approach, or at least there was a less insular feeling to Crooked Rain. To the mind of a high schooler brought up on Petra (erstwhile Christian metal), Metallica and more recently Nirvana, the heavier clarity of Pavement’s sophomore album brought home the sheer sprawling, zero fucks given mentality of this music that at the time seemed like a whole new continent of not just sounds but of philosophy. It suddenly seemed way easier to conceive of myself having a viable band without mastering that solo from November Rain or being able to scream-sing like Kurt. That Malkmus basically talked half his lines and left the rest to chance was freeing and inspiring and downright revolutionary for a sixteen-year-old rattling around in an old van knowing that to track down the sounds that somehow embody your present reality is to find not just peace, but hilarity, the music that plays in your head as you smoke weed for the first time or maybe kipe a few smokes off your friend’s mom. – Eric Earley, Blitzen Trapper
A great band can change the way you interpret life. It can even give a cautionary road sign a new meaning. The first time I heard Pavement was at The Harvey Danger house in Seattle. Evan Sult played them for me on a tiny radio on the floor of the living room. I’m pretty sure I didn’t like what I heard. In 1994, I was a DJ in Seattle at KCMU, which later morphed into KEXP, when Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain came out. I played cuts from it on the air. “Cut Your Hair” and especially “Range Life” got under my skin. I still didn’t consider myself a Pavement fan. I didn’t like them enough. Pavement fans were all in. To them, Pavement was absolutely the best band in the world. At the time, I couldn’t quite hear it. In 2006, I met Susan. We fell in love. We decided to ease our financial burdens by moving into the loft above the hair salon she owned. While packing up my CDs for the move, we came across a few Pavement albums. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain ended up in her truck’s CD player. It played for months. Susan and I were married October 9, 2009 on what would have been John Lennon’s 69th birthday. We made mix CDs as gifts for our guests. “Range Life” was on the CD. In 2017, I lost my Portland, Oregon, recording studio to the creep of gentrification. We bought land and moved to the Mojave Desert near the town of Joshua Tree. I’m currently recording and mixing out of our 100% solar powered cabin while we build a new studio on our land. We are living the Range Life that Stephen Malkmus sang about on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Whenever I’m returning from Joshua Tree to our home in the desert, I pass a sign right before the paved road ends and it becomes a sand road. The sign says, “Pavement Ends.” I think about the band every single time I see this sign. And “Range Life” plays in my mind. – Pat Kearns
They say you never get over your first love. For me, that was Slanted and Enchanted. But I return far more to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: an album so nice they named it twice. What it seemingly lacks in bombast it makes up with beautiful songs where Malkmus and crew mastered the same bittersweet feeling that Ray Davies or Bill Fay applied to their own idiosyncratic song craft. Crooked Rain is a summertime album — as essential to the season as Corona or sweating through my goddamn shirt. This isn’t just because of its breezy brilliance, but also the references to expired hippy dreams of post-60’s bliss. By letting darkness creep in around the edges, they give the songs depth, creating something much more sinister and sublime than that breeziness at first implies. The trite but true saying of ‘you have your whole life to make your first album and 10 months to make your second’ somehow doesn’t apply here — the band came into their own beyond another HEY THERE FUCK FACE to develop into an original entity. It’s that aforementioned bittersweet feeling that I fell for. It managed to come along right after college, at a time in my life (as with a lot of other people’s lives) where the world was still exciting but you knew debt and uncertainty loomed. But ultimately, that dread doesn’t overwhelm. I love it like family. In fact, I’d raise a glass and shout it from the rooftops, but my step-daughter’s sleeping. LONG LIVE THE ELECTRIC GUITAR. – Eli Kasan / The Gotobeds
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain was a critical companion for me and my friends back in a very formative time. The false start, then the opening riff of the anthemic “Silence Kid” puts me right back in that dewey-eyed, young minded place where I first heard it. Hearing this album again brings a slight homesickness for those times of cheap beer, bike rides, and what a city used to feel like. – Steve Gunn
When I happened upon the songs of Stephen Malkmus something clicked for me. The reckless abandon with which he sung a timeless melody made me feel like I was somebody else. It was a transformative moment in my life that was orchestrated by a band who was going through a transformation of its own. This music appeared out of thin air and thrust me into new territory. Here, the rules were irrelevant and the immediacy and spontaneity of Pavement’s 1994 masterpiece, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain became a gold standard of sorts in my collection of songs and records. The song “Range Life” was a revelation. A sprawling, genre-less, twisted piece of trash-magic formed through performances that surely had to have been mistakes. No one would do this on purpose. Nobody even could, I was sure of it. The “doot doot doo doo doot doo” vocals on “Cut Your Hair” told me all I needed to know: that this band was flawlessly careless. I could not have been more on board for this chaotic adventure in melodicism. Malkmus had transcended the lo-fi charm of his earlier work and arrived in a place where his band’s slinky, slacker machinations on haircuts and the elegance of the Stone Temple Pilots felt like the perfect sticker for the bottom of your skateboard. You could let this music speak for you. And it still speaks for me today, though in different ways than when it first appeared in my life as an 18-year-old wannabe rock n’ roller in New Albany, Ohio. But that’s what great records can do. They keep you finding new colors inside of their rhythms, harmony and words. This one painted a rainbow of sorts and I’ll never find the end of it. Thank fucking God. – Aaron Lee Tasjan