Top critical review
One person found this helpful
on 17 August 2011
As most reviewers have already pointed out this is not a Pavement album but a collection of their early material from eps released before Slanted and Enchanted. That said it plays as an album of all new material as it contains no live recordings no alternate versions of later songs. It also has to be listened to differently than any other of their releases as it is very raw and underproduced, exactly as a cheap demo would sound. This has put many people off as on first listen it sounds like a complete mess. If you give it some time (and I'm talking 6 or 7 goes in the cd player/ipod/etc)then you should glean some sparkle from the grot. That said, I cannot agree that this is an underground classic by any means. Slanted and Enchanted was; Westing... is a very fuzzy collection of the band's early material and sounds like it was not only played in a garage but written in one too. So if you are partial to a bit of stripped down alt-rock then you'll love it.
The first 5 tracks come from their first ep, Slay Tracks. 'You're Killing Me' is excellent. It is fuzzy, dirty and static but has a great jerky, almost theatrical vibe to it. 'Box Elder' is more akin to a Pavement track insomuch that it has their 'sound'. It's a nice little jangly piece of Americana. 'Maybe Maybe' is more frenetic and is difficult to pin down on only a few listens. But it is a good track, just not a great one. 'She Believes' is similar but more sombre. There's plenty of madness going on but the tone is softer. 'Price Yeah' is another fast, jarring track that is, again, ok but no more.
The next 6 tracks are from the 2nd ep Demolition Plot J-7. 'Forklift' is probably my favourite track here and from the whole of Westing... . It's almost a spoken word track with washes of reverb and interference over a very catchy almost sci-fi melody. Near perfect and would have fit on Slanted... very well indeed. 'Spizzle Trunk' and 'Recorder Grot' are ok but there's not huge amounts of actual music or anything of interest even after many listens. 'Spizzle Trunk' is probably the better track though. 'Internal K-Dart' is merely just under 2 minutes but the 2nd half of it has a great indie riff that makes it shine. 'Perfect Depth' is another winner. It's a more Pavementy track, verging on a ballad but in a grungey kind of fashion. 'Recorder Grot (Rally)' is merely that - old tape recorder hiss and spittle.
The next 7 tracks come from the Perfect Sound Forever ep. 'Heckler Spray' is a great title and really only an intro track. It's an instrumental and it's ok. Quite crunchy guitars. 'From Now On' has a bluesy riff and then breaks into an indie chant/mantra/thingy that's quite catchy. 'Angel Carver Blues/Mellow Jazz Docent' starts with a very interesting, off-kilter riff and then settles into a nice alt-groove. It takes a few spins to crack but it soon becomes one of those middling tracks that sets into your brain. 'Drive By Fader' is simply a few seconds of effects noise. 'Debris Slide' is the best track from this collection and one of the highlights of Westing... . It's got a great singalongy chorus that is evidence of their influence on such bands as Urusei Yatsura. 'Home' is a couple of mins of frantic strumming over an otherwise mellow song. Again it will take a few goes to fully appreciate but it's a relatively lively slice of alternative manna. 'Krell Vid-User' is another effect-noise track.
Tracks 19 - 21 come from the Summer Babe single. 'Summer Babe' needs no introduction as it is a classic and the first track off of Slanted... . It doesn't really sit well within the roughcuts of Westing... but at least has a similar raw sound. 'Mercy: the Laundromat' is a minute and a half of a lackadaisical melody that is rather below average. 'Baptist Blacktick' is better and more lively with another riff incorporated by Urusei Yatsura, but it' still not a patch on the overall majesty of 'Summer Babe'.
The final 2 are compilation tracks and finish the whole thing off very well indeed. My favourite, and one of my picks from Westing... is 'My First Mine'. It's got a great swagger and just sounds cool. And it's always good to see a song about a boy and his mine. 'My Radio' is slighter and not as good but still manages to be a relatively catchy song within its 1 minute and 21 seconds of life.
I suggest you listen to the album in the sections that they were taken from as it's a much easier prospect rather than re-listening 23 tracks again and again. Once the songs that are worthy do blossom they are hard to deny. However the chaff and sprinkling of averageness is also difficult to forget.