So we all know that Preston School of Industry is Spiral Stairs’s own band, created in the aftermath of Pavement. They’ve had a couple of records and an EP, and this is one of them. And this post contains my thoughts about it.
Well, now we’re all caught up and fully briefed on the reason for our being here today, let’s get on with it.
Everything you’d expect is firmly in place on Monsoon; jangly guitars, interesting song structures, simply beautiful melodies and, I found this surprising, a little bit of a Lou Reed thing going on with the vocals. Basically, it’s a Pavement album but , uh, not. It’s missing the lyrical playfulness that Stephen Malkmus usually brought to the proceedings.
But this isn’t gonna all be about comparing the two bands. This band, if Pavement had never existed, would still be absolutely worth hearing, and for really good reasons. These songs are strong, sunny and, well, a little odd. And I like “a little odd,” yessir I do. Really cool instrumentations, and a feeling that I didn’t quite know where the song was going to go next (and I mean that in a good way!). You know, playing this again, I hear Frank Black influences in there too. And hey, if a band is influenced by Frank Black, consciously or unconsciously, it’s a good thing.
There’s a whole list of musicians that played on the album including, interestingly, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. If that helps lend credibility to this project in your mind, then you’re clearly not into this for the right reasons.
I’m so happy that some of the Pavement guys kept doing other things, sharing their visions with the rest of us. This is a great road trip album. I picture a convertible, top down on a sunny desert day, the sparse landscape whipping past as the wind flings our hair and these pop ditties fill our ears over the roar of the tires on asphalt.
Yeah, this is a lot of fun. Some day I’ll tell you about All This Sounds Gas, too.