My College Rock

A roundup.


Pavement is a prefab cult band. Because the music is verbose and deliberately throwaway, it’s model college rock. As slacker-dandies given to lo-fi snobbery, they’re clever. I used to hate them. Today the rubble is warm and inviting. And that makes it fun. (Hear: “Kennel District,” Wowee Zowee [1995].)


With plenty of cheek, cactus and Dali, theirs is a ghost-town approach. (Hear: “Havalina,” Bossanova [1990].)


Ten years on, the sound of OK Computer (1997) is full and bright. People hoped this would be their next record (not just Radiohead’s). Believers sang like Thom Yorke. They couldn’t wait for Jonny Greenwood to play the guitar again.

But the band dulled. More and more, contrivance is boss — and pure sonic fascination has its rewards, but not at the expense of melody or good old-fashioned hooks. Today our glum chums are mad at Tony Blair, and they’re bent still on being abstruse. However, In Rainbows (2007) is something else.

I keep listening. (Hear: “Fake Plastic Trees,” The Bends [1995].)


Patisserie for Commies. They make furniture music that smells like vinyl. (Hear: “Les Yper Yper Sound,” Cybele’s Reverie EP [1995].)

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