Beer and Pavement

Near Pavement; A Note About Near Beer

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Pavement by SM on July 14, 2020

While it should come as no surprise that I love the band Pavement, it might surprise, dear reader, that I spend a lot of time searching for bands that just sound like Pavement. In the past, it’s paid off most times (Silver Jews, Built to Spill, Archers of Loaf) and has led me astray others (Weezer). Either way, I can’t help but to go back to the source of my love for indie rock.

What makes a band sound like Pavement? Well, that’s complicated. Not all educated white dudes with a love of the Fall can do this. Are the vocals a bit aloof? Disaffected? Are the lyrics somewhat snotty and ambivalent? Do the guitars sound oddly out of tune and perfectly in tune at the same time? Are there plenty of dynamics – starts and stops? Is the whole thing quirky and smart assed? Is there equal parts classic rock fuckery and arthouse comforts? Is there equal parts jangle and feedback? Are the songs danceable punchlines? Could the subjects of songs be sports legends, historical figures, and your pot dealer simultaneously? Would you place the band’s sound and general aesthetic in the dictionary next to “indie band”?

If the answer to any of the above questions is ‘yes’ then your band probably sounds like Pavement.

Parquet Courts is the obvious answer here, right? I mean, this is a Pavement cover band if there ever was one. Now, I have had an on-again-off-again romance with PC over the years. Their super LP’s have crossed my path time and again. The artwork for their LP’s is unmatched. I’ve certainly taken notice, we just never meshed, that is, until the last record.

Somehow, the Brooklynites by way of Austin recorded an album that sounds like Pavement wrote Clash songs in 2018’s Wide Awake! If I was keeping this blog up to date, Wide Awake! would have been at the top of the 2018 best of list for sure. It was the woke-ish, angry record Pavement never wrote. “Total Football” is “Feed em to the Lions (Linden).” Love the rapid-fire aggression of “Conduit for Sale!“? Try the punch of “Violence” in which PC takes it a bit further. “Mardi Gras Beads” is “Range Life.” Fight me. The rest of this record fits all over Wowee Zowee. Trust me.

I’m not wrong. Even Malk agrees.

Parquet Courts Live

I recently wrote about my newfound love or maybe rediscovered appreciation for Dutch bands. In terms of being Pavement-esque, look no further than Canshaker Pi. Now, this is a bit unfair as Malkmus produced their first record and has a bit of preference for the band from Holland. Still, it’s worth mentioning them again as they are clearly the Netherlands’ best shot at having their very own Pavement.

Take “Casual Chugger” for instance. It’s straight rocker at the top before it effortlessly blends into a jazzy bit lead singer Willem Smit talk-sings over. It reminds me of Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song” but it ends once Smit starts talking. “2, 3, and 4 easy money/She’s into Radiohead and I think that’s funny/Why? Because I’m better than you,” but you know that’s not true. The start and stop of a rocker with lounge ambition is pure Pavement, even if it sounds like Weezer and 90’s Radiohead making fun of each other.

Now, don’t go through the trouble of shipping Canshaker Pi overseas if you’re expecting a Pavement clone. They are Pavement-esque and obviously influenced, but they rock and roll a bit more. There’s more purposeful and capable work here than a stoned Pavement sitting in a Memphis BBQ joint between recording sessions and it sounds like it. So, be prepared for a louder, more cohesive sound, but you’ll enjoy the jerky songs and tongue-in-cheekiness.

Canshaker Pi Live

Now, Kiwi Jr is the modern-day Pavement if Pavement turned into 20-somethings again in 2020. From the initial delivery of obtuse storytelling that is opener “Murder in the Cathedral,” you have to think Pavement. Jeremy Gaudet is perfect recreation of early Malkmus, and usually that’s all you need to be facsimile. Unlike the wokeness or Parquet Courts and the rock solid sound of Canshaker Pi, Kiwi Jr is the ramshackle Pavement reissue you’ve longed for.

Kiwi Jr’s Football Money is a fun LP loaded with bangers and all of ’em Pavement-esque. I discovered them via their P4k review where it was stated:

The very name Kiwi Jr. may elicit a smirk from a certain type of indie-rock fan, one who views New Zealand’s Flying Nun label as the Narnia of the underground, and who appreciates the nod to J Mascis’ tactic of adding a paternal suffix to avoid cease-and-desist lawsuits from similarly named artists. And the name fits: After all, if you could combine Antipodean indie rock with Dinosaur Jr., you’d essentially get Pavement—a band whose influence on Football Money is impossible to ignore. Not only does Gaudet’s voice drawl and crack in unmistakable Malkmusian fashion, he possesses a similar gift for piling on non-sequiturs about sports, scene politics, and the privileged class that cohere into uncannily pointed social commentary.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/kiwi-jr-football-money/

I’m not sure I could make a better case myself. Kiwi Jr is the next Pavement. Whether they live up to that lofty moniker doesn’t really matter. For the time being, I’ll just enjoy their quirky-jerky take.

That’s where my current hunt for near-Pavement bands has taken me. For now, all three bands have enough unexplored material for me to check out, but for very different reasons. Parquet Courts has suffered through my own neglect; Canshaker Pi is just really hard to find stateside; and Kiwi Jr is just getting started. I suspect you will continue to read me championing these three in the future, that is, if I keep posting here.

Kiwi Jr Live

A Note About Near Beer:

I’m not getting any younger. I go to shows when I can and I still enjoy a good craft beer now and again. However, the beer takes a toll on my aging body in ways the music doesn’t really affect. So, I’ve had to look for an alternative that fills the gaps when I could really do with one less beer.

Near beer was a thing my mom told me about. It seems teenagers used to be able to buy beer pretty easily in this country. The beer was really low in alcohol – something in the 2-3% range. Kids drank it like soda or something. I may be remembering this wrong, but that was my impression of near beer.

Well, as stated above, I needed a less-harsh alternative to beer. My stomach and physique will thank me. I’ve had plenty of super-low beers that were delicious, but I want to concentrate on those near beers that are barely beers at all.

The first is Lagunitas’ Hoppy Refresher. This one is technically not a beer at all. It’s fizzy water – which is all the rage – flavored with yeast and hops. And man, if it ain’t the perfect lawnmower beer that’s not really a beer! Sometimes, I drink it in leu of water. I highly recommend it!

The second is the nonalcoholic beer of Athletic Brewing. I’ve been drinking their NA IPA Run Wild as of late and I have to say it works. It’s not the juiciest, it’s more along the lines of West Coast or Midwestern IPA’s, but without the booze. I would never confuse it for a regular IPA, but when I want the flavor of the feel of beer with dinner, I’ll drink it. It’s also a good filler when I want that afternoon beer I don’t really need. Unlike Hoppy Refresher, this NA beer is 70 calories, which is still half of a typical can of soda. So, like the bands above, it’s a suitable facsimile of an old favorite, just without the same punch as that old standby.

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Bill said, on July 18, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    A belated welcome back! It dawned on me recently that given the lack of guitar-based rock on the charts/radio/etc. these days, indie rock has become, well, rock. And given how long ago Pavement’s heyday was, they’ve in effect become classic rock (or, actually, I guess if you agree with Steven Hyden’s definition/exploration of classic rock, they’re part of the successor to classic rock, said successor pretty much being dad rock. Newer bands can cite Pavement as an influence, but also be like “We’re making our own path, man…”

    • SM said, on July 20, 2020 at 7:33 am

      Thanks. Dad Rock is about right.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: