Some packs are just born out of pure love for an artist. For the last 6 months, the three of us – Yaniv, jphn and Kamotch – have been very active in a private Discord server dedicated to one of the coolest, most influential, weirdest, unique and just awesome rock bands in history – the mighty Pavement.
This project was never meant to be this big. Even before this pack, there were already 25 Pavement songs in the DB (mostly from a previous collaboration of Yaniv and Kamotch). But damn, we love this band so much, and the project just grew and grew. We kept discussing more songs, recommending to each other (some of the songs on this pack, I’ve only discovered thanks to it), obsessing about them, and finding more and more songs that just HAD to be included. By a happy coincidence, this work also happened at the same time as the real life Pavement reunion, which two of us got to witness live. And caused us to get into the Pavement rabbit hole even further.
So after months of work, we’ve ended up with 47 (!!) songs. We know Pavement is a pretty niche band. And many of their big songs were previously charted. But this pack, for us, is just pure love for this criminally underrated band. Every deep cut and b-side charted here is special to us. And seriously – this stuff right here, is some of the best rock music ever committed to tape. And, for us anyway, Pavement are easily among the best bands in history. And it makes us immensely happy and proud to make such a tribute for this band. So we’re super happy to present… Pavement: Rock Band!
(We’ve considered those alternative names: Date /w Pavement, Pack = Rad, Give it a Play, Pack of Gold, and a bunch of others, but, y’know…)
Hey everyone, Kamotch here starting off the “history” lesson! Let me just say what an honor it is to be a part of this project alongside these incredibly passionate Pavement fans Yaniv and jphn. And while my contributions might not be as large as theirs, this is still a project near and dear to my heart. Believe it or not, I once wrote a paper about Pavement in my college beginner music history class, so I have some prior experience of writing about the band. So let me take you through a brief history of their earlier days through the lens of this megapack.
Some of their earliest material included in the pack originally appeared on the EP Perfect Sound Forever in 1991: “Angel Carver Blues/Mellow Jazz Docent” and “Debris Slide”. We really know how to pick ‘em because one and a half of those songs would later appear on the compilation album Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, an album that will be almost completely available to download with the release of this pack. A lot of songs from this era have a certain grit to them that isn’t as prominent in later releases.
Moving on to their first LP, Slanted and Enchanted from 1992. Mark another one down for the Rhythm Gaming World Album Series because that’s a wrap on this one! We had half of this one taken care of from prior releases, but I’m glad we were able to eventually finish it off. “Conduit for Sale!”, “Zürich is Stained”, “Chesley’s Little Wrists”, “Perfume-V”, “Fame Throwa”, “Jackals, False Grails: The Lonesome Era”, and “Our Singer” finally join the others in the database. This is the last full-length album of theirs to feature original drummer Gary Young. His drumming style is a little more erratic than replacement drummer Steve West’s, which may have added to the aforementioned grit. Also they used more synths. Overall it’s probably my favorite Pavement album.
So luckily that’s not the last of songs available from that era. Technically finishing off yet another album, it’s “Lions (Linden)” from their EP Watery, Domestic — also from 1992. And starting in 2002, Pavement started gradually releasing deluxe versions of all their LPs. The first, Slanted and Enchanted: Lux & Reduxe, included b-sides, live versions, rarities, and the entirety of the Watery, Domestic EP. This was the first version of Slanted I ever heard so, to me, the bonus songs included held just as much weight with me as the songs on the original album. “Baptist Blacktick” is a b-side from the Summer Babe single, “Circa 1762” was from a session with BBC radio DJ John Peel, and “Sue Me Jack” was an outtake from the Watery, Domestic sessions. All really great tracks worth checking out even if you’re not already a superfan. And now unfortunately that is the end of the Gary Young era…
…And the start of the Steve West era! This marks a turning point for the band, where they kind of leaned into a more accessible sound. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in 1994 was their first breakthrough into mainstream success. Not that they were a huge household name or anything, but at least Beavis and Butthead watched some of their videos. The “hits” from this album have mostly all been released, including the newly updated “Gold Soundz”, but we originally planned to finish off this album as well. Regrettably, there’s still a couple more to go. But “Newark Wilder”, “Heaven is a Truck”, and the epic closing track “Fillmore Jive” shall have to suffice for now! But that’s just the original version of the album.
Like with Slanted, the deluxe version, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA’s Desert Origins (2004), was the first version I’d heard. It was a little overwhelming because there were so many tracks. The creative juices must have really been flowing for this album because the amount of outtakes is kind of astounding. And some of them rank among my all-time favorites! “Coolin’ By Sound” is a b-side from the Range Life single, “All My Friends” is an odd case where it’s the full version of “Exit Theory” from the Gold Soundz single (“Exit Theory” just included the last one minute of the five-minute original), and “The Sutcliffe Catering Song” — a prototype of “Easily Fooled” from the Rattled by La Rush EP — is from yet another John Peel session (and potentially my favorite Pavement song). Speaking of “Rattled by [the] Rush”, let’s move on over to jphn to hear about the post-Crooked Rain era!
Thanks Kamotch! So, with the release of Crooked Rain and the success of “Cut Your Hair” as a radio single, Pavement found themselves at a crossroad; they had a real shot at mainstream success by signing on to a major label, but that brought the risk of losing what made them so unique to begin with… of course, Pavement never wanted mainstream recognition, so to ensure that they would remain the indie darlings they were destined to be, the band went right off the creative deep end, basking in all of their musical influences to release the experimental and critically-divisive Wowee Zowee in 1995. Often referred to as Pavement’s White Album due to its eclectic compositions and length, it’s a real grab-bag of styles, from the (arguable) Grunge parody of “Flux=Rad,” to the Stereolab-esque Indie Pop of the awesome ‘real’ album closer “Half a Canyon,” to the gorgeous Alt-Country slide guitar of “Father to a Sister of Thought” that harkens back to “Range Life,” this album really has something for everyone. We’re bringing you thirteen tracks from this album today – “We Dance,” “Rattled by the Rush,” “Black Out,” “Grounded,” “Serpentine Pad,” “Motion Suggests,” “Father to a Sister of Thought,” “Best Friend’s Arm,” “AT&T,” “Flux=Rad,” “Fight This Generation,” “Pueblo,” and “Half a Canyon” – phew! While it may have killed Pavement’s chance to capitalize on any mainstream success, many fans (including myself) and most of the band retroactively view this as their best work – it’s Pavement as their purest: that is to say, complete off-the-wall chaos that somehow stays on-track despite no plan to maintaining order ever existing in the first place.
Right in-between Wowee Zowee and Pavement’s next album saw the release of “Pacific Trim,” a last-minute EP recorded mainly as an attempt to not waste studio time that was actually booked for a Silver Jews session. The Beatles-esque “Give It A Day,” mellow jam “Gangsters and Pranksters,” and the Australian love letter “I Love Perth” found their home on this EP, and now they can find a new home on your Rock Band setlist! Also included here is “Painted Soldiers,” a song sung by guitarist/vocalist Scott ‘Spiral’ Kannberg recorded for the soundtrack of the film “Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy,” a film I’ve never seen, but it seems pretty ill-received- at least the song’s good! Next up is Yaniv to close out Pavement’s final two albums, and our pack – it’s been an honor working with you both on getting this all out there!
Hey, Yaniv here! The last part of Pavement’s career is, at least for me, insanely underrated. While the first two albums are now widely and rightfully recognized as all time classics, and “Wowee Zowee” has this “freakishly weird cult classic real fan favorite” glow, the last two are excellent in their own right.
“Brighten the Corners” is mostly known for the amazing one-two punch that opens it (“Stereo” into “Shady Lane”) – but the rest of it is great in its own right. It features a more polished, straight forward and slightly slower sound, with less of the “Wowee” insanity and more melodic tunes. This pack includes a variety of highlights: the beautiful “Transport is Arranged” (one of the best melodies Malkmus wrote in his life IMO), the hip-hop influenced “Blue Hawaiian” with an awesome bass line and a great guitar solo, live favorite “Embassy Row”, which never fails to bring the house down live. Elsewhere, Spiral Stairs enjoys one of his best moments in Pavement with the Big-Star-influenced, catchy “Date w/ IKEA”, “Starlings of the Slipstream” has an amazing atmosphere and a phenomenal bridge (“There’s no woman in Alaska” – not sure how factually correct is that…), and finishing on the majestic, classic-rock influenced “Fin”, which showcases Malkmus in a small Neil Young style guitar jam.
Overall, if you like Pavement, those are essential tracks for your library.
And finally, Terror Twilight. This album is mainly known for a couple of things – having Radiohead’s Nigel Godrich as a producer (apparently he was such a big fan of Pavement, he accepted without meeting them and slept on the floor at a friend’s apartment the whole sessions); being Pavement “breakup album” (and cynics calling it a Malkmus solo album); and the gorgeous single “Spit on a Stranger”, which remains a huge classic of the band.
Among all those, something else is rarely mentioned: as painful as the creation process might have been, it’s still a fantastic record! We’re happy to release some seriously underrated stuff from the record – the uber-cool “Folk Jam” which is also the only Pavement song to feature a banjo, the grunge influenced “Cream of Gold” with it’s great guitar riff, the majestic “You Are a Light”, And finally, the finishing one-two punch of the album, and of Pavement’s career – the creepy live favorite “The Hexx”, the closest Pavement ever got to Radiohead, and the closing “Carrot Rope”, a sort of a weird showtune that features lead vocals by 3 Pavement members: Malkmus, Spiral Stairs and bass played Mark Ibold (!). It’s an unusual (if very Pavement-y) way to go out, but this song has been a fan favorite for ages.
Terror Twilight is starting to get some overdue attention lately – with the album finally getting a deluxe edition, and many of its songs resurrected on stage in the reunion tour – and we’re very happy to bring significant portions of it to the game.
And, this is it! This was a huge project for us, that was just pure fun to work on, discuss, and of course rock out the songs in game. If you’re feeling a bit lost (can’t blame you), here’s a Spotify playlist of all the Pavement songs currently available in game:
We hope you have enjoyed this journey with us – this is not something we’ll forget anytime soon. Next up is SuperRiderTH with some more great songs. See you soon!