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Pavement

If Pavement's 1992 debut LP, Slanted and Enchanted, was one of the most influential albums of the '90s (and it was), its follow-up, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, is arguably the better of the two. Where the former was all blissful melodies, obtusely poetic lyrics, gorgeously ramshackle guitar, intelligence and attitude buried in an easily penetrable bog of noise-muck, the latter was largely a more accessible nod to as many of the band's forebears as could be fitted into an album proper.

From the melodic lift of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" on the opening track to "Silence Kid" to the Smashing Pumpkins dis on "Range Life," the album is a guided tour of everything great about rock 'n' roll and the American experience, filtered through the lenses of dudes who dig Creedence and Sonic Youth in equal measure. The catchiest song on the album--the near-hit "Cut Your Hair"--is a feminist anthem in disguise: "Darlin' don't you go and cut your hair / Do you think it's gonna make him change?" Elsewhere, Dave Brubeck's West Coast cool-jazz anthem "Take Five" and a section of the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" are assimilated in "5-4 = Unity."

Now comes the inevitable two-disc deluxe re-release treatment. When Slanted got similar treatment in 2002, collectors reacted by saying, "Cool, now I've got this stuff in a handy, remastered, easy-to-transport form." This time they'll say, "I had no idea this much great stuff was out there."

Whether you've never heard of the band or you're a Pavement completist, you won't be disappointed.

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