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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 29 June 2004
A compilation of tracks from the very early Pavement e.p.'s - Slay Tracks, Demolition Plot J-7, and Perfect Sound Forever - Westing has taken me about five years to truly get into, to the point that I can now listen to it from beginning to end without skipping to the highlights.
Yes, this will be a perseverence album for many listeners, particularly those more familiar with the bands' later output. In fact it's very hard to imagine this is the same band that ended their career with the effects-laden 'Terror Twilight'.
The majority of the songs here were recorded before Pavement were even a full band with the line-up consisting of Stephen Malkmus and Spiral Stairs with drums by Gary Young. The third member of the group was noise as evident on opening track 'You're Killing Me' which features rough, spluttering guitars buzzing throughout its entirety. There are also tracks that consist of nothing but static and tape hiss, but amongst even the noisiest tracks lurks a keen pop sensibility and their knack with a strong hook - 'Box Elder', 'Debris Slide' & 'From Now On' are as catchy as anything they've done and a good indication of where the band would go with 'Slanted & Enchanted'.
This album is not easy listening and is about as lo-fi as you can get, but it is worth every minute invested in it and is a fitting document of the blossoming early stages of one of the most important guitar bands of the 90's.
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on 15 May 2004
I have never written an Amazon review before, but I have to raise the average rating of this album.
What can I say about Westing? The lyrics are inaudible, the tracks are interspersed with feedback and white noise (indeed one track is pure white noise), and it is truely superb. One of those rare moments in you life where you have a vivid memory of putting in the CD for the first time and having your whole musical perspective opened up. That opening riff on track 1 - "Killing me..." I'm back there now, in my car. It changed my life. I now own every album Pavement ever did. They're all great, but Westing is beyond compare. There should be an extra rating beyond five stars.
To get away from my reminiscences for a minute I should say I can well understand why this album has weak reviews. Most people just aren't going to get it. It is too raw; uncompromising. Bands like The Strokes offer a more palatible form of lo-fi, and that's fine; but Pavement are the masters, and for me this album is the pinnacle.
Have a look on the US amazon site. The album gets a far better assessment there, and they have snippets from the songs. Click the link for "You're killing me" and you'll know straight away if this is the album for you.
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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.
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on 5 May 2001
This is one of my favourite albums and one of my favourite pavement albums. I must admit it can be a bit worrying when you first hear it squealing out of your c player but it sure grows on you. The production means the guitars sound great but some of the vocals are hard to make out but the overall energy of this album is clear. Great if you like pavement in their early sonic youth like ways, well i like it any way.
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on 16 February 2014
like all the songs on this album, if you like artists like frank black, butthole surfers, Beck that post punk era you might like pavement, there style in my opinion has a rawness which I rather like a steal at a few quid.
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on 9 May 2006
I tend to agree with the other reviews. If you're new to the band then your starting point needs to be Slanted and Enchanted, but Wesket is a great record nonetheless. You get a real sense of a band at play, working out their sound and perhaps learning how to play their instruments! The fantastic de-luxe editions of Slanted and Crooked Rain are outstanding examples of how extra tracks should be packaged as they show how a band develops both its sound and production. Pavement can be truly regarded as an iconic band - i envy anyone who is hearing this stuff for the first time. It's a great feeling.
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on 26 April 2006
This was the last Pavement album that I ever got to hear; the name and the album cover had always made me think it must be kind of arty and studied, but actually, it's totally childish and silly. This one has the same production as Slanted and Enchanted but is less arty and serious than that album.

Just to take one song, "Maybe maybe" for hilarity value: it's got that ridiculous string-bending riff near the start; the percussion (the drummer sounds like he's drumming some broken frying pan); and those yelping vocals just top it. It's manic, reckless and utterly stupid.

Overall, hilarious and rip-roaring stuff, especially the super run of songs towards the end of side 1 that include the wonderfully-named Spizzle Trunk and Internal K-Dart. A brill wee album that sounds like a recording of a bunch of kids playing with their new toys, recorded on a ghettoblaster and played back to you down the phone line. These guys clearly think life is idiotic and approach their music with an attitude of total disrespect!
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on 24 February 2000
This is not an album as such but a collection of early singles, hence, the production is shaky and the band have not yet fine-tuned their distinctive song-writing skills. Fans of Pavement should definitly buy it as an insight into their early years, if you are just getting into the band though I would recommend one of the later albums. All in all a curious and quirky collection, highlights for me include Box Elder, From Now On, Home and Baptiss Blacktick. Not excellent but not crap.
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on 31 January 2008
I'm a pavement fan, having heard slanted and enchanted, their debut full-length first. Westing is a compilation of what happened before. If you have never heard pavement I think its better to get Slanted. If you like it (if you don't listen to bloc party) then you'll probably like Westing and Watery Domestic, the post-Slanted EP. While it is true that perennial live favourites such as debris slide and box elder are great pop songs, there is some other really worthwhile stuff on here. I particularly recommend Price Yeah!, Perfect Depth, Heckler Spray and Angel Carver Blues. The last two songs are a bit throwaway, but if you have got to the stage of buying a Pavement EP collection you'll probably already know the magic of the Pavement throwaway!

It took me maybe 10 listens to get this album and it doesn't really work as a full album (it is a compilation after all) but it's still as good as Slanted IMHO.
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on 10 January 2008
I don't know why the reviewers are reserved about this record. It is my favourite and it is one of the best albums I've heard. It has the ever-fresh undateable quality that Syd Barrett's Madcap Laughs has. The music is gloriously skewed and audacious and it amazes me how they can achieve such rich musicality from such means. The lo-fi sound sweetens the attack of the guitars, which are thrilling. For me, the group didn't get it right with their bassist until they changed their sound with Crooked Rain. Here there's no bass, just two guitars, drums and vocals, and it didn't need anything else to be perfect. I think that this record is their highest achievement next to Wowie Zowie.
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