Pavement's mysterious best-of tracklist: our guesses

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It was intuitively understood, by many (which is to say, probably as many as the total population who own an Arrested Development DVD set), that '90s slack-rock wiseacres Pavement would never reconvene for a reunion tour. Then they did.

A greatest hits album? Forget about it. Then last week, Matador Records announced that such a comp would, in fact, be dropping from the ether in March.

So what do we know about Quarantine the Past? We know that it will contain 23 previously released Pavement songs, which is a drop in the bucket when one considers that this band released five studio albums, an early odds-'n'sods comp, several EPs and CD5s (remember those?), and then reissued four of the five studio LPs with tons of goodies that were unreleased up to that point.

So: we know nothing, and, to drum up publicity for the tour and the release, the band and its label are sagely capitalizing on that lack of knowledge with a contest that allows fans to try to guess the tracklist for fun, prizes, and limited prestege. (If you're gonna participate, don't dawdle; the deadline is next Tuesday.)

You're free to do what you want, but I'd rather scrap with random strangers on the Internet about my ideal Quarantine the Past tracklisting. So check it out below, and - please - tell me why I'm wrong and offer your own versions, too.

What follows is grouped categorically, not in straight one-after-the-other order, and isn't entirely representative of my nicene creeders proclivities. For example, nothing from Watery, Domestic made the cut -- not because I don't love that EP, but because picking just a track or two would have been like choosing between one's children. Mentally bisecting Wowee Zowee -- quite possibly my favorite LP ever - was hard enough. Apologies to Increase Mather, "Trigger Cut," "Summer Babe," every version of "The Hexx," and Scott Kannberg's ego.

Okay, fists up; let's do this.


The Crowd Pleasers

If you're a Trekkie or an X-Men fanatic, there are certain phrases that, when overheard, excite you, because they identify the speaker as a potential comrade. For Pavement freaks like yours truly -- who will be quivering in our Chucks, waiting for S.M. and Spiral and the gang to plunge into one of these songs - that phrase might be something like "What about the voice of Geddy Lee?/ How did it get so high?/I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy..."

1. "Rattled By The Rush" - Two verses of collapsing paradigms, saturation metaphors, and sinewy, stoned-triumphant guitarplay, then the bottom falls out, and it's as though God's simpering (albeit through an anguished, steaming amplifier) straight into your ear.

2. "Cut Your Hair"

3. "Stereo"

4. "AT&T"

5. "Range Life"

6. "You Are A Light" - The last few seconds of this sinister, lushly appointed tune always make me feel like I've been chloroformed and kidnapped and I'm being taken away in a demonic ice-cream truck.

7. "Elevate Me Later"

Gnarly Gems

Less likely to be requested at shows, maybe, but no less awesome.

8. "Heaven Is A Truck"

9. "Box Elder" - We pretty much covered this one last week.

10. "Home" - I should really have "Put your fingers in my mouth/Pull my lips back and watch me smile" tattooed on my forehead already.

11. "Grave Architecture"

12. "Transport Is Arranged"

13. "Folk Jam"

Interlude Illin'


Who says a thesaurus is necessary to grasp everything happening in Pavement songs?

14. "J vs S"

15. "5 - 4 = Unity"

16. "Colorado" - Sleepy, gentle-psych synth exercise that feels longer than it actually is - which is a good thing.

B-Side Baubles/C-Side Splendor

Proof-positive that some of their best stuff didn't even make the albums.

17. "I Love Perth" - Blink-and-miss-it-twice Valentine to a special girl - or maybe to Australian surfing coasts.

18. "Fucking Righteous"

19. "Harness Your Hopes" - A pean to fidelity that's as flippant and cryptic as it is sincere; the quintessential Pavement jam in the same sense that "Pricked in the Heart" is the ultimate Fiery Furnaces song. Listen close, and you'll hear strains of "Harness" playing during my wedding video.

20. "False Skorpion" - Like the soused hick frontman of some bluegrass-punk band had a big-ass fight with his girlfriend and immediately wrote the angriest, least coherent song ever about having a big-ass fight with one's girlfriend.

21. "Strings of Nashville"

Choice Cover

22."It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" - Here they affirmed their Faust fandom, then drug it into the Stereolab.

The Outlier

23. "Love Is Lies" - On my copy of cobbled-together fan bootleg Appetite for Deconstruction, this song is titled "Tiny Tim," but Google cryptic treasures like "Satan's in the manger, we're all in danger now that he is here" and the Internet argues otherwise. Why this never came out is beyond me, though I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a cover of some underheralded prog group S.M. adores.



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