January 14, 2009 | Comments ()

By TK | Music | January 14, 2009 |


pavement.jpgPavement: Brighten The Corners (Nicene Creedence Edition)
[Matador Records]

For those of us who give a shit, one of the more complicated questions of today’s music scene is just who or what birthed this oh-so-popular modern indie rock sound. Critics tend to be hyperbolic, and many of them will tell you that Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted was the absolute birth of indie rock. And while this may be easy to say (and may in fact be true), this eliminates all albums that came before it, and, frankly, most of the indie bands today probably spent more time spinning The Pixies, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Cure, or The Velvet Underground than any Pavement album.

Thus, we beg an essential question: What is indie rock? The simple answer (and the only one I can wrap my head around right now) is that it’s not so much about the music, as there are lots of bands with completely unique musical sounds that fall under the indie rock umbrella. Indie rock today is about an attitude, a budget range, and, if we’re being honest, a sales market. Indie rock, as much as we hate to admit it, is now for the more musically educated, the “hipsters” who want to hear something his or her friends have never heard before.

But if you didn’t know any of this, and you listened to a Pavement record for the first time, you’d probably think indie rock belonged to the parents’ basement crowd, the high school dropouts whose lives consist of drinking, goofing off, and rocking out.

Such is the idyllic world of Pavement, a band so unique that labeling them as the godfathers of indie rock seems vaguely reductive. On Brighten The Corners, one of the band’s later releases before their 1999 breakup, they sound pretty much the same as they always did. Fuzzy guitar solos, chunky bass lines, and Stephen Malkmus’s wholly unmelodic voice that ranges from monotone talk-singing to yelping, straining upper-register yelling that’s always either just inside or outside of the key. The songs ramble along, sometimes slowing down for Malkmus’s internalized lyrics that he somehow manages to jam right in the listener’s face with every line. Pavement aren’t an angry band, a chilled-out band, or wildly experimental band. They are a band that wants to have fun and make music whether anyone wants to listen or not. And somehow, either because of or in spite of that swagger, Brighten The Corners, like every Pavement album, is its own classic, one which divides fans who argue over which is the defining record of the band’s career. They achieved great debate without diversifying much beyond their original sound, that sound which supposedly birthed a thousand indie rock bands for years after they dissolved into the ether.

There are many reasons to explore Pavement today. For one, with the rise of independent musicians, it’s likely that many people just want to know what the hell indie rock IS. But, for any self-respecting rock music fan, the best reason to explore Pavement now is that Matador Records has been meticulously re-releasing their albums, each completely remastered and packed (I mean, seriously packed) with bonus material. Brighten The Corners (Nicene Creedence Edition) is just the latest of these, and, out of the original 12-track release, we get a whopping 44 tracks, from b-sides and outtakes to singles and several live sessions (plus two takes of the previously unreleased “Space Ghost Theme”, which will surely appease classic Cartoon Network fans). While not the most critically-acclaimed or respected release of the band’s career, Brighten The Corners (Nicene Creedence Edition) is a must-own for Pavement fans.

But more importantly, for those who’ve been wondering where in the hell all this indie crap came from, look no further, because the godfathers of indie rock are right here.
Christian H.


battlesluts2.jpgDestroy Destroy Destroy: Battle Sluts
[Black Market Activities]

Ah, this takes me back. Believe it or not, boys and girls, but there was a time when I was an even bigger dork than I am now. A time when I wore nothing by ripped jeans and black Iron Maiden or Nuclear Assault t-shirts. A time when I had an enormous Megadeth Killing Is My Business, And Business Is Good patch sewed onto the back of my acid-washed denim jacket. Yes, this was in 2007.

I kid, of course… only about the year though. Back when I was 14 or 15, I was a heavy metal kid, before I evolved into a punk rock/hardcore kid, and well before I ended up with a house and a Chrysler and a wardrobe from Old Navy and an uncontrollable urge to own lawn-care equipment. My point is, that Destroy Destroy Destroy is a completely ridiculous band. Their sophomore effort, the gloriously titled Battle Sluts, is completely over-the-top, Dungeons and Dragons-esque speed metal. It’s as if Testament and Venom mated, and decided to create a soundtrack to In The Name of The King meets Conan the Destroyer meets The Sword and The Sorcerer. In other words, it’s magnificent, and my 14 year-old self would probably swoon after listening to it. Or injure his neck from thrashing around his poster-filled room so much.

destroydestroydestroy.jpg
(Yes, that is a sword that man is holding)

Battle Sluts is not a great metal album. I’d call it a decent one, but it earns kudos for creativity and for just being insane. It’s super hard, neck-wrenchingly fast, double bass pounding, guitar shredding speed/death metal. With song titles like “The Berserker’s Field of Whores” and “Beyond the Scorpion Gate,” they’ve clearly established themselves as an entry into the mythical beast/viking metal genre — I don’t know how seriously they take themselves, and I don’t care. The metalhead inside me can’t help but stomp my feet and grin. The song titles are half the fun, although my personal favorite is from their first album, Devour The Power, which had a song brilliantly titled “Ripped Apart By The Juggernaut Of Fornication.” I believe it was written about commenter Julie, but I might be misinterpreting the lyrics.

Anyway, with a clever penchant for sweeping, thundering cinematic introductions that drive their blazing intruments, Destroy Destroy Destroy is certainly a reasonably talented band. Lead singer Bryan Kemp’s vocals range from howls and drawn-out screams/screeches, to Napalm-Death-esque roaring growls. It’s not for the faint of heart, not even when they mix it up with a gentle, female-sung interlude in the middle of the howling cacophony of “The Winged Panther” (giggle). The addition of a full-time keyboardist separates them from the power metal pack somewhat, but ultimately, they’re thematically too silly to be taken seriously by all but the most avid death metal fans. I’m looking at you, Boo.

So yeah, I know this isn’t most people’s thing, but damn it all to “The Gods Of War And Open Sores,” I had a good time listening to this album a few times. It got me to bang my head and toss up a goathorn now and then, and that alone wins it some points for me.
TK

pavement1.jpg

Pajiba Music

Todays Lesson Plan Includes a Bit of History... oh, and Berserker Whores

Wednesday Music Reviews Part 2 / Pajiba Music Writers

Music | January 14, 2009 | Comments ()



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