You won't find a bad Pavement album. All 5 of them are sublime, off-kilter slices of slacker americana indie rock that differ widely while still retaining Steve Malkmus' encompassing presence and drive. Wowee Zowee is probably the least accessible collection and does at times feel like a b-sides anthology, but it still holds its own head and shoulders above its peers.
After the alt-genius of Slanted and Enchanted and the groove-laden Crooked Rain, Wowee Zowee comes across as a progression of the band's sound. The opener, 'We Dance', is evidence of this. It's beautiful but not particularly edgy or loud. But it never sounds conventional either. It's one of my favourite Pavement tracks. 'Rattled by the Rush' follows with more swagger and continues the trend with an almost pop rhythm-style riff. However it soon arcs into the Pavement of old and the melody gets lost in a smorgasboard of jangly nonsense. In a good way.
Inevitably for an album with 18 tracks there is some filler and these come in the shape of the minute or so long songs like 'Brinx Job'm, Serpentine Pad' and 'Flux=Rad'. These are not bad tracks, they just don't stay around long enough to be likable. This is the main problem with Wowee: If it was halved, track-wise, then it would be an astounding album.
My pick of the songs would be the first 2 I have mentioned already, 'Grounded', 'Father to a Sister of Thought', 'Grave Architecture' (very groovy) and the excellent 'Kennel District'.
It's hard to critique or quantify how good Pavement are as they seem to be outside of the music scene rather than playing into the global idea of what music should be. But even as a fan it's easy to see that this is no masterpiece. However, it is still one of the best albums you're likely to hear. Well this and every other Pavement album.
There are many reasons to hate this album. First off it's a Pavement album. Second, they are willfully frustrating- both stylistically, musically and lyrically. But the same reasons to hate it are the same reasons to love it. And the bottom line is there are some utterly gorgeous songs- Grounded, Blackout, Rattled, Kennel District, Father to Sister, Fight This Generation to name a few- that make this album so utterly compelling. This album, along with Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and Brighten the Corners, has been on my mini disc player since August (2004), which makes me a pretty sick individual but illustrates the sheer compulsiveness of this music. It can be difficult, but in the end it draws you in. Wowee Zowee is a beautiful mess,but by some distance is Pavements best album.
The lazy description is to call this their White Album. Spralling, eclectic, surprising and frequently beautiful. Lacks the proffesional sheen of the next 2, but retains the lo-fi homespun spontaneous charm of Crooked Rain and Slanted. Probably not the place to start, that would be the more immediate Crooked Rain, this is the home of Pavements most Pavement-esque moments.
This is the best Pavement album; it retains some of the urgency and rawness of the earlier stuff like Slanted and Enchanted (also brilliant) while showing off Pavement's mellower side, which surfaced more in the later (and frankly rather self-indulgent) later albums. Don't expect it to be immediately accessible, especially if you're not familiar with Pavement's oeuvre, but it rewards repeated listening. The album cover and the fact that the vinyl version was a 3-side album (side 4 was just blank) tells you a lot about the deliberate weirdness of Pavement, which isn't to everyone's taste.
What an album!!!! From the first chords of We Dance you know this is going to be good. Every tune is run through with seemingly meaningless lyrics that pang with poignancy and emotion in tunes such as Extradition and Grounded ("Boys are dying on these streets"). But Pavement don't just wallow on the softer side of Indie Rock. Oh no!!! With tunes such as Serpentine Pad and Flux=Rad they show that they can give bands like Nirvana a run for their money. In short this album is one of the greatest triumphs of 90's rock. Buy it and you will be happy for the rest of your days!!!
As we head towards the end of the century then, if the rumours are to be believed, we've just lost one of the most playful and inventive bands of the 90s. If indeed Pavement have indeed called it a day then 'Wowee Zowee' stands firm as the best idea of just what this band was about. It came hard on the heels of 'Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain' the bands second, more polished album which could have got them written a big cheque by a host of interested record companies. If indeed they'd been remotely interested. At the time regarded by some as a cowardly backstep, it now seems to instead be their best attempt to capture their raw live spirit, something not so evident of 1997s follow up 'Brighten The Corners'. What we have here are 18 tracks and, quite frankly, it's a bit of a mess and a bit all over the place. Even the most commited Pavement couldn't convince me that he loved ALL the tracks. That said there are some beautiful moments. Acoustic tinged opener 'We Dance' captures small town claustrophobia within its warm structures. Likewise, the opening chord change to 'Grounded' brings on a sense of melancholy wonderment and 'Father To A Sister Of Thought' taps a slightly psychedelic country-ish vein they were to further next time around. What stands out though on 'Wowee Zowee' is the will to take on a number of styles and make them convincing. 'Serpentine Pad' and 'Flux=Rad' show poise and noise in the same sort of measure that only 'Dirty'-era Sonic Youth carried off with equal aplomb. 'Rattled By The Rush' finds the inspired lyrical rambling of lead singer Steven Malkmus cast adrift amongs a bluesy storm kicked up by the band. Not always decipherable, Malkmus is inspired form when his voice emerges offering lyrical clues yet never tying his songs down to mundane specifics. Hence, 'Pueblo' could be about a hanging in Spanos County and the people that come out to watch, 'Grounded' could be about avaricious doctors in the States caring more about their savings than their patients and on 'Flux=Rad' is he really singing from the point of view of a vacuum cleaner? You can never be sure but its a fine way to spend some time. The credit shouldn't rest squarely Malkmus' shoulders either. Guitarist Scott Kannberg contributes two songs including the deceptively emotional and magnificent 'Kennel District'. They moved on from here culiminating in the folk roots rock of 'Terror Twilight' by which stage some said that they had chased themselves down a more retrospective and dated alleyway. That seems unfair. More albums like 'Wowee Zowee' would have been a betrayal of stronger, more fluid writing skills and would have showed a lesser spirit of adventure than characterised the band. But if you want to find out what being in this band seemed to be about, from a fans point of view and, one suspects, being a member of the band then 'Wowee Zowee' is that document.
You can hear why fans were disappointed at the time, and you can hear why the die-hard fans treasure it today Time and time again Pavement offer you the perfect gift, before snatching it away and taking it down the charity shop. Infuriatingly brilliant.
The band from Stockton display a wide range of infuences and deliver lots of various styles, all distinctly 'Pavementised'. Although it is stylistically far from coherent, the album showcases perfectly how great songwrites Pavement were. While a lot of reviews claim it less accessible than the firts two LPs, here the good songs are not marred with some silly pseudo-experimental parts that seem all too 'arty-farty'. A long but even and satisfying album from a great band.
Jeremy Stokes (in his review) believes that not even the most ardent Pavement fan could claim to love all the songs on this album. Well, I am and I do. Following on the heels of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (the album so good they name it twice) it dispelled any hint that the band were becoming more mainstream. Instead of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain's more measured format this album is a journey through Pavement's lo-fi weirdness. Not there most accessible album but certainly the most challenging album to date. It's loose style allows the listener to relax and go with the flow. An absolute classic in every sense of the word.