Friday, July 20, 2007

Pavement vs. Weezer

Yes, the Headline is shocking but please read on.

Several weeks ago, a couple of friends and myself were discussing music/bands over a few drinks. One thing led to another and next thing you know we're discussing Weezer. I think it all started while a gentleman (hired help) in a bar was acoustically strumming Island in the Sun by Weezer (which, is on a not so stellar 2001 Green Album). Naturally, if Weezer comes up, mention of the Blue Album will soon follow. It did. I was the first to plead my case and say how great the Blue Album is and go on and on about what a great, great album it is and how every track is a winner. Then the question came up - "Well, is it better than Wowee Zowwee?" or maybe Pavement. I kind of felt uncomfortable discussing the two bands together (both kind of the same in some ways, but also so so very different).

Anyway, next thing you know Jim E and Jim V decide to put the two albums head to head. I always like a good music debate and I wanted to be involved at least to add some color if needed.

Quickly, a little background on both bands before we go any further.

Not that they need an introduction but Pavement is a legendary indie rock band from Stockton, CA and known by every skateboarding kid thats ever slid on a pair of vans. They formed in 1989 and continued through the late 90's. They are among one of the first rock bands of the current age to gain a moderately wide degree of success without the support of a major label. A very influential band throughout the late 90's and even today. Since the breakup, Stephen Malkmus solo efforts have been very well received. Personally, I love everything hes done since Pavement (sometimes even more than Pavement...there, i said it). Despite not having tons of commercial success, Pavement does have two albums in Rolling Stones, 500 greatest albums of all time.

You know who they are. A nerdy looking Rock band based out of LA. They formed in 1992 and are still intact today despite losing a few original member (one being Matt Sharp of The Rentals). Their first album commonly referred to as the Blue album received a lot of attention due to Undone (The Sweater Song) and Buddy Holly. Both videos produced by Spike Jonze. Also, this album was produced by Ric Ocasek. This album is rated 297 out of Rolling Stones, 500 greatest albums of all time.

So, back to the question "What's better, Blue Album or Wowee Zowee?"
When it first came up my first thought was to go with the under overall favorite of the two, I already decided in my head that it would be Wowee Zowee.

After listening to them both that next week I changed my mind.

Here is why-
Wowee Zowee has SOME great songs on it, and band versus band I will choose Pavement all day long! But, Wowee Zowee has 18 songs on it and I'd say a handful of them are not necessary at all (maybe should've put them on a B side). It seems like they decided to throw everything recorded onto this album and not waste the tape. I've read from other members they were smoking a lot of pot at the time and just thought everything was that good. Pavement is an amazing story, a lot of what I love about them was their attitude, and the fun in discovering the genius behind the distortion and high pitch Malkmus' screams.

As for the Blue Album, when this album came out (in '94)...I was 15. It was different than anything I was listening to at the time. It was post grunge, and not so deep or serious. It was bedroom rock at its finest. You listen to the album now and its still great. Every track is a winner in my ears. Yes, its more polished but I dont think you blame a band for that.

As I look back now, I feel Weezer carried a little of the same attitude as Pavement but it was more packaged and definitely more marketable.

So, as an album - I vote a band I vote Pavement.

What are your thoughts?

Right Click, and Save as Target to Download

Pavement - Father To a Sister of a Thought (MP3)
Pavement - Grounded (MP3)

Weezer - My Name is Jonas (MP3)

Weezer - Only In Dreams (MP3)


RuegDog said...

I imagine this epic battle much like a trecherous jaunt through the American Gladiator's 'Assault'. On one end you've got Rivers Cuomo "Nitro" firing well produced tennis balls into your headphones...but the always prepared Stephen Malkimus brings his secret weapon...a lap steel and well placed paino snippets. Although the lap steel direct hit initially startled Nitro, his bag of tricks proved to be the strongest. Remember this, a an album full of great songs will always beat an album with a few epic songs. Also remember, if you plan on taking on Nitro, save your ammo til you get chose enough to the tower. Weezer wins!

Garrett said...

I do love American Gladiators.

I really wanted Pavement & SM to win but I couldnt do it.
Maybe there needs to be a seperate discussion on just the bands and not so much album focused?

As always, thanks for the comments / analogies Reugdog. Keep them coming.

Mr. Vranicar said...

I'll take the long form schizophrenia of Wowee Zowee over the short form pop genius of Weezer's Blue album on almost any given day.

That's no knock on the Blue album. It is a classic that merits strong accolades. But it comes in at only 41 minutes long, whereas Wowee Zowee contains over 55 minutes of throttling guitar and quizical lyrics.

I don't buy into comments suggesting there are some throw aways on Wowee Zowee. Sure there are some unpolished cuts but this is an album that needs to be listened to in its entirety every time. I realize that's asking a lot in an ITunes world.

Wowee Zowee gets my vote.

Quebert said...

Maybe it was inability to buy Vans in my size that ruined it for me, but I've never fully "gotten" the Pavement adoration. They found and maintained a unique and new sound but I don't think it was so profound that every raw cut needed to be on the LP. The faithful would listen to a b-side collection, so what's the rush? This all leaves me conflicted and graciously bowing out of the Pavement discussion.

I will, however, chime in on Weezer. Honestly I think the Blue Album is a true artifact of the era. It was the perfect set up for a soft landing after grunge. It was released 36 days after Cobain "quit the band", as I like to call it. Corgan was steering the Siamese Dreaming into an Infinite Sadness and the genius that was Filter was a year away. ... Ok, I f*ing hate filter, but that was the natural next step of mainstream alternative. Setting the stage for the Chevelles and Salivas of the future. The genius in the Blue Album is that it makes such a profound contribution and was instantly relevant for all the right reasons, to the mainstream. This opened doors for the era emo, and polish of the Yellowcards that I know we all love. While Pavement was onto something more original, Weezer was playing in a different arena. For better or worse.

I vote Blue Album.

morghan said...

that's a tough one. i was late coming into pavement, probably because they weren't as "commercially successful" and easily accessible as weezer. I think the real question should be: "Pinkerton vs. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain." am i the only one that liked Pinkerton? it was more heavier and more "pixies-esque" than the blue album.. though, i have a special place in my heart for "surf wax america"


RuegDog said...

On the Pinkerton vs. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain discussion. Pinkerton wins hands down. Love that album.

Garrett said...

Mr. Vranicar
I appreciate your comment about Wowee Zowee being an album that needs to be listened in its entirety every time. I would agree with you there. However, I think it says something for a band to have a short concise album that packs a sharp punch. I still think even lisening too Weezer (Blue album) in its entirety gets the nod. You know I like Pavement more, overall but the Blue Album has a special place in my heart (maybe its a coming into adolescent thing)I was 15. Of course, as we all know, what make art fun is that everyone looks (or listens) and sees (or hears) things differently. If everyone liked the same that would be boring.

Nice job of laying out the timeframe of when this album was released. I was trying to think of where that was sandwiched inbetween and you layed it out nicely. I wish you liked Pavement. Maybe try listening to some Stephen Malkmus solo stuff. Its great.

I love Pinkerton, you're not the only one. That album alone is such and interesting story. When it was released in '96 it was labled the worst album of the year by Rolling Stone. It started out slow but became pretty popular in small circles (cult status you could say). In 2004 Rolling Stone stuck their foot in their mouth and gave the album 5 stars. Also, another weird thing about that album is that Rivers absolutely hated it and said it was a complete embarrassment.

Shane said...

The only comment i have is that jason is a freakin genius.

Anonymous said...

Pavement scrapes my knees while Weezer makes me feel athletically superior.

Weezer in a landslide.

Anonymous said...

I feel a little dirty entering the fray. Both albums are sensational. I hate having to pick one. I've proscratinated making a decision. I've gone back and forth several times. But, if push comes to shove, I have to go with Wowee. Why? I hate using words to describe music (it just doesn't seem write) but the "tipping point" for me was Ric Ocasek. I don't necessarly mean that in a bad way as I love the cars, but for my tastes he added a level of polish that makes Blue too clean for me. And I'm becomming more of a grit appreciator. Also, after several listens of both albums over the past two weeks, I'm kind of done with Blue. I think I got it. But with Wowee I get something newer, deeper, richer with every listen. It reminds of Big Star from the early seventies. A crazy puzzle of sounds, moods and expressions. Wowee is not as regimented or disciplined as Blue (which points me to Ric). Funny enough, I agree with all the posts. But I end up in a different place.

Garrett said...

Wow, i never would have thought Ric Ocasek would be a reason for not liking an album. I do see your point though. That gritty, raw sound is Pavement all the way, I love it too. I like to think it takes a good ear to hear the magic within that rawness.

To me, i dont think being polished is a fault in the case of the Blue Album. Really though, the albums are so different. Pavement was doing their own thing and you can tell Weezer set out to make a Rock album. Its hard to put the two head to head but we still did it and it was fun. Next Faceoff suggestions??

Mr. Vranicar said...


Your Ric Ocasek take is an interesting one. It made me realize that he may be the link to why I believe "Do The Collapse" is the lesser of all Guided By Voices albums. Mr. Ocasek produced that album with the intended purpose of making the GBV sound less "garagey."

In the end, "Do the Collapse" was too polished for its own good. Many GBV fans feel the same way as I do about that album.

So I see the light on your comment about Ocasek being the missing link. Somehow, I don't think Ric Ocasek would have meshed well with Malkmus.

That's not to say that "Moving in Stereo" does not still send shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

Jim V said...

I don't know who wrote this above comment but I find it spot on and great.