My favorite Pavement song is 2/3 of a song

Pavement are a band I’ve never really been able to get into. I appreciate that they’re sort of a quintessential indie rock band–basically a slacker version of The Replacements: sloppy, fun live performances, an implosion right before they should’ve been huge and lots of disdain for their more self-serious peers.

I even appreciate that Stephen Malkmus is an excellent musician. He’s maybe just a half-tier below Jay Mascis on the indie rock guitar god totem pole.

Still, it’s never really clicked, but there is an exception. I absolutely adore most of the song “Shady Lane/ J vs S”. Specifically, I love the “Shady Lane” portion.

I’m on board as soon as the song gets to the hyper-specific, very funny second verse. “Redder shade of neck on a whiter shade of trash/ this emery board is giving me a rash.” Those are some  of my all-time favorite acerbic lyrics, and one of the more creative ways I’ve heard a redneck described in song.

The rest of the song is just a shaggy, plodding joy that always makes me inadvertently nod my head. It’s catchy, and while the lyrics never really soar to the heights of the second verse, it does include awesome somewhat-obtuse but memorable phrases ( You’ve been chosen as an extra in the movie adaptation of  the sequel to your life).

Unfortunately, what could have been a tight two-minute musical joy has to unwind with “J vs. S” a zonked out minute-long guitar outro that sort of wrecks things.

Still, the part of the song with lyrics are among my favorite 160 seconds of music.

Author: Ben Hohenstatt

I was born April 7, 1992. I'm a reporter in Alaska, and an alum of Auburn University. I am an avid fan of music, Chicago sports teams and pop culture in general.

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