3 out of 5
Produced by: Various
Here’s something about pavement: Love ’em, hate ’em, have no opinion of them… they were madly influential. Or, at the very least, they came to be
representative of a very influential sound: college indie rock. Malkmus’
slacker vocals and half-sensible half-random lyrics; the winding riffs that
would percolate into sing-song choruses. A million and a half bands would come to be described as sounding like Pavement, whether or not the influence was acknowledged. Given that, when trying to assess a two-disc, 30-plus track album of Pavement covers, how many bands can you criticize for not doing much to alter the song’s DNA? In other words – how many of the bands on Everything is Ending Here sound exactly like the band to which they’re paying tribute because that’s just how their band sounds?
In a world where I’m fully informed about every band ever, I might be able to give you a better breakdown of this. But Italian label Homesleep stuck mostly to associates for this collection, which means a _lot_ of bands which were / are unheard of to me. This isn’t to suggest that the comp didn’t knock down some allstars like Silkworm or Tindersticks, nor is it to suggest that those who were featured are unworthy in any way; on the whole, every track is pretty good. Just, again, only a handful of our players tried (as far as I can hear) to shake up the original to meet their own unique styles – Solex and Future Pilot AKA stick out in this regard or, more in general, the first disc – while the remaining groups just sorta jammed out (plugged in or acoustic) Pavement style. Talent and energy definitely shine through – Oranger and Lenola rock – and the acts I would consider more seasoned like Fuck or Silkworm do make the songs their own without having to tweak much, but what this really comes down to is why you’re checking this out: Is it because you love Pavement? Is it because you’re tracking down every song by some contributor? Is it because you found it in a discount bin? The good news in the first case, and I’d even say this to Pavement haters, is that the group wrote some damn catchy songs, and as those on the comp were apparently given choice as to what to contribute (which does lead to a triplet of ‘Here’…), the guess would be that they chose songs they liked,
and thus delivered them in, generally, an equally catchy form. So your beloved band emerges unscathed. In the second case, you’re committed to this album regardless of what you think of the rest – which is sort of my position. (The third case I’d have to guess you are sort of swayed by 1 or 2 in some way…) All of this makes the comp hard to rate. Whittled down to just those tracks that took the core song and spun it into something wacky, it’d be a different experience. But spread out to what has to be at least 90 minutes of music – of covers, the majority of which are fairly straight-forward – it loses definition.
Besides Spearmint’s obnoxious commentary on what, unfortunately, is the opening track, Everything is Ending Here is a pretty solid compilation. But it can’t quite be treated as a sampler, as you can’t be certain this is how these bands sound otherwise, nor would it be a great way to get to “know” Pavement. So… here we are. Three stars.