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Record Review 

Pavement

Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Redux
Matador Records (ole-557)

The '90s were a sorry time for rock. Rap-metal hybrids, hordes of Nirvana clones, and many other no-talent morons pummeled the music into a tuneless, soulless, angry slab of crap.

            The only bright light in this dark decade was Pavement, a band of relentless creativity and impressive originality, founded by guitarist-lyricist-singer Stephen Malkmus and guitarist Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg. In January of 1991, Pavement entered a home studio in Stockton, California, and recorded its first album, the post-punk masterpiece Slanted & Enchanted.

            Now Matador Records has released a two-disc set entitled Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Redux, packaged with a thick booklet of photos, artwork, and new liner notes by Malkmus and Kannberg. In addition to the original S&E, Luxe contains six previously unreleased songs from the '91 sessions as well as all the songs from the recording sessions for the band's follow-up EP, Watery, Domestic. Also included are two John Peel radio sessions and live recordings from a concert at London's Brixton Academy. A new DVD, Slow Century, is also available, with live performances and all the band's music videos.

            Slanted & Enchanted is Pavement's most punk album, 14 brilliant songs propelled by a churning rhythm section and laced with guitar lines that veer from melodic to chaotic without warning. Standout tracks include "No Life Singed Her," taken at breakneck speed, and the awe-inspiring "Conduit For Sale!" with quite possibly the heaviest guitars ever captured on tape. "Trigger Cut" and "Zurich is Stained" empty dissonance, a slippery musical strategy that hadn't been used this effectively since Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band.

            In the year 2000, Pavement disbanded after a total of five albums and numerous singles and EPs, each more accomplished than the last. Pavement is one of the truly great bands and, indeed, deserves to stand with Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, The Beatles, and the Sex Pistols in the rock pantheon.

--- Coleman Springer

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