Pavement, Westing (By Musket and Sextant)

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Westing (By Musket and Sextant)

The ’90s indie-rock giants’ lo-fi roots.

When the first few Pavement singles appeared in 1989 and 1990, the American rock underground flipped out over them: two guys from Stockton, California, who went by "S.M." and "Spiral Stairs," had rewritten the sound and style of indie-rock at a stroke, on what sounded like a 75-cent recording budget. Suddenly, everyone realized that it'd been a mistake to ever separate glorious pop hooks from hideous noise in the first place. This collection of those EPs (and a few compilation tracks) still sounds astonishing — if Stephen Malkmus had only ever written "Box Elder," he'd still be assured a place in the alt-rock pantheon, and a day that begins by cranking the rampaging two-chord instrumental "Heckler Spray" at dangerous volume is a happy day indeed.