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.

Reviewing 2014: Tracks

Posted in Records, Review by SM on December 29, 2014

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I will skip the pleasantries and get to what is typically the easiest of easy blog posts: lists of videos. These videos are of the 20 best tracks of the year according to me. Most are found in my favorite albums, but a few outliers are there as well. Also, keep in-mind that I typically like to keep these lists to one-per-artist/band. So, here are 20 separate efforts by 20 separate entities.

Taylor Swift “Shake It Off”

Let’s just get this one out of the way right now. Look, that beat is killer and my daughter loves her some Taylor Swift. Plus, it’s a good message for my kid. So, I stand by it.

Viet Cong “Continental Shelf” (Warning: video NSFW)

Mark these dudes as my most anticipated full-length debut of 2015. It’s dark, dank, foreboding… Reminds me of a ridiculous black IPA. Man, I’m thirsty.

Ought “Today More Than Any Other Day”

I could have chosen so many songs from my band of the year, but I went with the one that has everything. There’s the stripped-down, slow build. Metacognition. Disillusionment with modern society and commercialism. A rousing chorus. Danceability. Da-da-da’s. Entropy. Everything.

Parquet Courts “Instant Disassembly”

A sloppy rocker – almost Pavement-esque – with a touch of faux Britishness, “Instant Disassembly” is the best kind of ear worm. Not only does the melody stick, but the singer’s problems aren’t too far from the listener’s own.

Your Friend “Tame One”

I almost went with “Bangs” for this one, but I don’t think I could go wrong with either. The voice, the drone, the build all make Your Friend a band/solo artist to watch this coming year.

Alvvays “Archie, Marry Me”

I like Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura, but while the former messes around with pop music and that latter has somehow fallen off my radar, Alvvays will have to do. “Archie Marry Me” is all kinds of John Hughes angst and is a standout for the year.

Angel Olsen “Forgive/Forgotten”

SO MANY SONGS. I could list all the songs off Angel Olsen’s excellent Burn Your Fire for no Witness, but I will stick with my arbitrary rule to only list one song per artist/band. For this list, you get a rocker.

The War on Drugs “Red Eyes”

I honestly did not like the direction The War on Drugs took this year. It’s way more Springsteen than Vile, but they’re still a pretty good band as evidenced by the moving “Red Eyes.” That Springsteen-esque “woo” is pretty nice, but I sorta wished there was more of this on the entire record.

Sharon Van Etten “Your Love Is Killing Me”

I sort of lost touch with Sharon Van Etten this year until the above video for “Your Love Is Killing Me” crossed my path last month. It’s sprawling and Van Etten’s voice holds up as a powerful accomplice.

Ex Hex “Don’t Wanna Lose”

When an album kicks you in the teeth, it should do it from the first moments of the first track. Congratulations, Ex Hex. This album rawked like we all rawked in 1984 at a drunken high school party in a corn field. Thank god for Mary Timony finding her muse.

Sun Kil Moon “War on Drugs Suck My Cock” (NSFW)

The most interesting thing Sun Kil Moon and The War on Drugs did this year was to have a pseudo-feud. I actually appreciate Mark Kozelek’s crankiness as we are misunderstood curmudgeons. The song is actually quite funny despite its dark tone.

Caribou “Can’t Do Without You”

I know all the words to this song and they just repeat over and over in my head. Hit play and you’ll understand. It will cause you to either love or hate me.

Future Islands “Seasons (Waiting on You)”

One of the moments of the year for indie music was when Future Islands debuted this song on Letterman. The official video is good as well, but you needed to see why Future Islands broke this year and “Seasons (Waiting on You)” will land on many, many year end lists, often at the top.

New Tongues “El Condor Pasa”

The best covers are usually covers of misappropriated songs. I have no other evidence of this fact outside of this track. New Tongues flat-0ut destroy Art Garfunkel’s afro and strip the blood diamonds from the soles of Paul Simon’s tiny shoes.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks “Lariat”

“We grew up listening to the music from the best decade ever. Talkin’ ’bout the 80’s!” All kinds of nostalgia in this one and it perfectly summarizes Mirror Traffic.

Swearing at Motorists “Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role”

Love, regret, drugs, faking it are all common themes Swearing at Motorists squeeze into every 2-minute anthem.

Tweedy “Please Don’t Let Me Be So Misunderstood”

I could have pulled several tracks from the Tweedy record, but I liked how this one encapsulated the project’s effect on the elder Tweedy. It’s not quite a punk rock banger, but it’s certainly a step back toward the cow punk of his past. Spencer’s work on the skins is pretty impressive as well.

Peter Matthew Bauer “Latin American Ficciones”

I like a good stripped-down rocker now and again. I had no idea that the dude playing keys and bass for the Walkmen had this sort of frontman, guitar-licking persona inside him. This track alone made the record a must-buy for me.

The Afghan Whigs “Algiers”

A nice take on the “Be My Baby” drum beat opens The Afghan Whigs return. I don’t even mind the auto-tune.

Hospitality “Inauguration” (Merge 25 version)

Trust me. The version they released via the Merge 25 Or Thousands of Prizes is superior IMHO to the LP version. I couldn’t find it online, so I give you the version above.