Inspired by the news that Pavement may be releasing a Best Of record to coincide with their new reunion tour, we’ve decided to launch a new segment: Greatest Hits. For this, we pick one of our favorite bands and the tracklist for a hypothetical Greatest Hits Album by them. So, without further ado:
1. Stereo (from Brighten the Corners): As close as Pavement ever came to a mission statement, “Stereo” starts off this record with a jolt, showcasing Malkmus’ lyrical brilliance and unique voice.
2. Cut Your Hair (Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain): Obviously, its imposible to have a greatest hits album without including the closest thing Pavement ever had to a hit, so might as well get it out of the way early.
3. Trigger Cut (Slanted and Enchanced): “Trigger Cut” is a good example of the raw ability and inventiveness that Pavement showed, early in their career.
4. Grounded (Wowee Zowee): From there we go into “Grounded,” a strangely emotional song for a band that usually prefered cryptic distance. I love that jangly guitar part and the way the song just builds and builds.
5. Gold Soundz (CR, CR): Another one of Pavement’s catchier songs, ”Gold Soundz” feels like more of a breezy, high schoolish song than Pavement’s more distant stuff, but is still incredibly engaging.
6. Spit on a Stranger (Terror Twilight): Terror Twilight is generally considered the redheaded stepchild of the Pavement catalog, since it is missing the lo-fi charm and roughness of their other records. However, the band’s work with Nigel Godrich yielded a lot of excellent songs, most noteably this one.
7. We Are Underused (BtC): “Dying does not meet my expectations.” I think my favorite Pavement lyrics are on Brighten the Corner and there are few as great as the nonsequiturs and general expressions on the ones on “We Are Underused”
8. And Then (The Hexx) (B-side to BtC): Pavement took a couple different shots at this song before ending up with a version on Terror Twilight. However, I prefer this one, with its sprawling repetition and general disinterest in pop music construction. I also wanted to put a couple B-sides on this record, since one of Pavement’s most interesting features is the fact that material that didn’t make the record was frequently as good as what did.
9. Kennel District (WZ): ”Kennel District” is easily my favorite Spiral Stairs songs, a rambunctious and emotional crowdpleaser that’s every bit as good as anything Malkmus did.
10. Perfume-V (S&E): Pavement’s punk side shows through on this song, that also features one of my favorite vocal moments from the band (“she’s the got the radio active/and it makes me feel okay/I don’t feel okay) which blends some awesomely cryptic lyrics with Malkmus’ lilting, off-beat voice.
11. Box Elder (Slay Tracks 1933-1969): “Teenage Riot” much? That said, this song is the cream of Pavement’s early EPs; you’ve never felt as much like you’re in the room with the band as they’re playing with a song as you do listening to “Box Elder” and the bright, sunny, California feel of the song is infectious.
12. Half a Canyon (WZ): So let’s follow one of their simplest songs with one of their weirdest and most incomprehesible. By the time Malkmus starts screaming “Allez! Allez! Allez!” you’ll understand why Wowee Zowee never followed-through on the commercial potential of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
13. Range Life (CR, CR): Perhaps the most direct anti-music industry song on an album that’s full of them, all of the goofy controversy over Malkmus’ shots at some alt-rock contemporaries has melted away over time and what’s left is an indie masterpiece. “Range Life’s” melancholy and homesickness transcend its insider jokiness and the guitar work is spot on.
14. Frontwards (Watery, Domestic): Watery, Domestic was the first recording Pavement did with all five pieces, and it also produced this song, whose meloding, ringing guitar is still one of the most memorable in Pavement’s catalog.
15. Summer Babe (Winter Version) (S&E): Pavement started their first LP by taunting the pop charts, opening with the lyric “Ice baby.” But its a testament to the way the band so often mixed irony and emotion that the song has an unexpected weight and melancholy that has turned it into one of Pavement’s lasting contributions.
16. Fillmore Jive (CR, CR): One of my favorite album tracks, “Fillmore Jive” seems like two songs stuck together, and its epic, soaring rock feels like the right note to end a tribute to one of my favorite bands ever on.
What did I get wrong? What would you put on a Pavement Greatest Hits record?