Reviewed by Zac Spalding
Almost 23 years ago, the underground indie rock band Pavement released their second album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, which is now a gem in the world of indie rock. It is considered by many as one of the best albums of the nineties, and the unique sound not only defined the band’s style for years to come, but also the sound of almost all indie rocks bands.
Crooked Rain marked a step forward for Pavement from their debut Slanted and Enchanted. Although it is also considered a benchmark in the world of indie music, the fidelity and quality is noticeably better in Crooked Rain. Aside from the quality, though, they also developed a more accessible sound. In Slanted, their style revolved around punk rock, which wasn’t the most popular at the time, while Crooked Rain took many of its influence from classic rock. This allowed them to receive some well deserved attention, reaching #121 on the US charts and becoming their most popular album to date.
With this new sound and style, they produced what it arguably one of the greatest albums of the nineties. On the ever popular (relative to their other music) “Cut Your Hair,” they boast their new accessibility, while also showing their views on the music scene of the nineties, saying that “Bands start up each and every day/I saw another one just the other day.” On “Range Life,” their most relaxing song off the album, you can really hear their inspiration they had on bands like Wilco. Coupled with the music video, the song accesses the nostalgic vibe that so many feel when thinking of the nineties. But, even with the more classic indie sound, they still keep some of their odd screeches and off putting minor chords that separate them from the usual crowd. On “5-4=Unity,” the album takes a quick 2 minute break with an odd jazzy interlude. Alone, it doesn’t seem like it belongs on the album, but in reality, it really highlights the band’s fun nature that isn’t always seen in other tracks.
And finally, the most emotional song off the album, their closing track “Fillmore Jive” contains desperate and strained vocals, crying out “I need to sleep/Why won’t you, why won’t you let me sleep?” From this emotional climax of the album, they transition the song into another commentary on the culture of the nineties, observing that the “street is full of punks/They got spikes/See those rockers with their long curly locks.” After this, they end off the song and the album with an unfinished sentence. It seems fitting for an album that’s legacy is yet to be completed, inspiring new small bands such as Car Seat Headrest and Cloud Nothings, and contributing to the revival of rock music. Although it may never receive the recognition it deserves because of Nirvana’s overshadowing presence in the nineties, it will still go down as critics’ and music lovers’ treasured underground album in an age of incredible music.