February 9, 2009

Monday morning come a-crawling in
from another weekend choked
with cigarettes and sin

Martín Ramírez, Untitled (Horse and Rider with Large Horn), 1962

* Pitchfork interviews Stephen Malkmus. excerpt:

Pitchfork: Was there an intention for Brighten the Corners to be a tighter record? It definitely seems like the lyrics were more deliberately composed, especially in comparison to Wowee Zowee.

SM: The lyrics just came out more fully formed, I don't really know why. Wowee Zowee was more off the cuff and more odds-n-sods, everything included, warts and all. There's sloppy takes and stuff that we still liked, songs like "AT&T", I'm playing drums on it and I don't even know how to play drums. It was better than the tight version, so we put it on there. It was more like "We're just going to do this at Mitch Easter's studio and it's gonna be all this sound, and it's all gonna be mixed in the same place." I don't remember it being necessarily tighter, but when we were mixing it and stuff, there were certain directives, like not as much compression. On Wowee Zowee, the engineer did more experimental mixing-- messing around while we were mixing with compressors and echoes. Brighten the Corners is more straight ahead, like, let the tape run. There were some things added to it, but it was pretty kinda dry, and not so much reverb and not so much compression as the other record.
Pitchfork: Do you feel like you're more mature now? One of the things I've picked up on in your last two records is that there's some songs that seem like you're imparting wisdom, or advice. "Malediction", "It Kills", "We Can't Help You"-- like an indie rock life coach.

SM: Yeah, right. I suppose! The earlier stuff is more like "this is happening to me," but now there are more songs that are accusatory or something, or more declaratory. I don't know where that voice comes from, like, "I've been down the road, we've been there and done that." That's sort of like a tougher style, or a less vulnerable style. Not to mention the Royal Trux again, but they're always like that. "You're Gonna Lose": It's sort of a rock voice. "We're tough, get used to it" or "Get with it man!" It's not like a "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"-kinda one where the guy is hurt or vulnerable. The feeling-sorry-for-myself style of song-- I'm not as into that. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is kinda like "I'm feeling sorry for myself," but in the end, it's still a song about a guy trying to get laid.

Pitchfork: So aside from maybe "Fillmore Jive" on Crooked Rain, Brighten the Corners is sort of the first place where you're stretching out in the songs, and playing longer solos. You've become more associated with that now, but what initially took you to that place, with a song like "Type Slowly"?

SM: We were touring with Silkworm, and they were having some jam breakdowns, and I remember being like "Yeah, there's a place for that." It was already in the song structures as far back as Crooked Rain, and before that it was more of a post-punk guitar style, I think influenced more by the Swell Maps or maybe Chrome, but there wasn't any noodling going on. I think my melodic ideas were getting more concerned with guitar and less sing-songy ooh-oohs. It just kinda took over. Pavement, from the very beginning, was led by the guitar, the melodies were in the guitar lines, and guitars that were tuned differently. It was in G and D, different tunings that brought out melodies on the high strings, and I was imitating them or not playing them on the guitar, just singing them, so it's always been a guitar band.

My interest in music changed, and I was getting into that Fairport Convention electric folk music, and I can't remember exactly what else. Just kinda harder 1970s things, the Groundhogs and groups that were like acid rock bands. It's a typical thing where like punk bands went metal, you know, indie rock bands went...rock, straight rock or something. It happened so many times. We were gonna change, and we weren't going to go techno.

* Photographs from the final Silver Jews show.

* Why are we listening to these people again?.

* Boycott Kelloggs.

* "Let's have some new cliches." -- Samuel Goldwyn


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