Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine

Crooked Rain^2

Through the 90s, I waffled back and forth on the question of CDs. To be sure, I bought a fair share of CDs, but I also kept buying vinyl, both out of used bins and from indie labels that continued to offer it. But even as I continued to buy new LPs, I seldom listened to them. The convenience of CDs and, recently, the deterioration of my turntable, trumped my nostalgic loyalties. However, I've more or less forbid myself (for financial reasons as much as any real scruple) from actually buying CDs of albums I have on vinyl. As a result, a large portion of my music collection is seldom listened to, and quite a few of my late vinyl acquisitions didn't get much play at all.

One example of the latter is Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994). On the strength of others' enthusiasm, I bought this and a few other Pavement records back when they were new. On vinyl, of course. They got some listens, I suppose, and then went into the rack and were half-forgotten. This past year, as iTunes has become the center of my musical life, I have taken the liberty of borrowing friends' CD copies of records I own and ripping them to MP3 (why I feel ethically justified in doing this will be the subject of some future post). This past weekend, CR2 got added to my library.

What a damn fine album! There's nary a bad song among the dozen tracks, and about half are true, albeit reluctant, pop gems. There's a strange alchemy between the deeply textured, almost trippy guitars, Stephen Malkmus's deadpan whine, and goofball touches like chorus of ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-oohs in "Cut Your Hair." I like the way the songs seem to strain against themselves, like the band is holding them back ever so slightly, as on "Elevate Me Later" and "Stop Breathin." And they pull off both a spacey rip-off of Paul Desmond's "Take 5" ("5-4=Unity") and a six-and-a-half minute guitar epic ("Filmore Jam") without embarassing themselves. I guess I finally get what all the fuss was about.