Collection: 8. Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

Given the mean age of Pitchfork staffers, this list should be absolutely dripping with My First Indie Album teary-eyed recollections. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is the one album guaranteed to start me a-blubberin', as I remember how discovering "Cut Your Hair" through (no shit) The Countdown to The Headbangers' Ball was my gentle push down the greasy slope of elitism. Which is why I'll forever treasure it as the essential Pavement album. What's remarkable about the album is not its shoestring budget technique, but how friggin' epic the material sounds despite (or possibly because of) being crammed into such humble surroundings. From the Skynyrd-coda of "Stop Breathing" to the California Adventure of "Unfair" to the Quadrophenia mods vs. rockers battle of "Fillmore Jive", Crooked Rain is an album recorded in basement Cinemascope. The twangy monolith at the center, though, is "Range Life", paradoxically featuring some of Stephen Malkmus' most evocative imagery alongside some of his most petty, albeit hilarious and OTM, whining. It's the score to the inevitable slow-motion retrospectives of Pavement's career, and the most moving song of their tenure-- even if you can't really bang your head to it. --Rob Mitchum / Pitchfork.com
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