Gift guide



Crooked Rain Crooked Rain: L.A.'s Desert Origins (Matador)

1994's Crooked Rain Crooked Rain crystallizes a time when bands could get by just fine playing for beer money and sleeping on floors, just before the alternative revolution turned this world inside out. It brushed Pavement up against the mainstream – the first and only time they did so – thanks to minor radio hit "Cut Your Hair" and Stephen Malkmus' lyrical jabs at Smashing Pumpkins and Stone Temple Pilots, but within the ever-insular college-radio community, it was an unqualified smash. More cohesive and accessible than debut LP Slanted and Enchanted, it lives on in patches of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Radiohead's "National Anthem," which cribs its buzzing riff wholesale from "Hit the Plane Down." (It also struck a huge diminished chord locally, inspiring a long list of bands, including Fivehead, Okkervil River, Moonlight Towers, and Zykos.) Malkmus is Oscar Wilde in a CBGB shirt, a heavy-lidded poet of band life for whom no detail is too minor, no aside too superfluous. His perpetual bemusement with music-industry machinations drives the album. Raucous "Unfair" is a sarcastic small-town take on the L.A. scene, "Cut Your Hair" a pristine send-up of indie stereotypes, and "Gold Soundz" glitters on the memorable line, "So drunk in the August sun, and you're the kind of girl I like." No matter what they're playing at any given moment – moseying country on "Range Life," despondent fuzz on "Fillmore Jive," assertive jangle-rock on "Elevate Me Later" – Malkmus' laid-back bandmates are reliably in the pocket. (Check groovy Dave Grusin fan letter "5 – 4 = Unity.") The second disc of bonus tracks – all 36 of them! – is predictably unpredictable, gems like "Raft," "Kennel District," and "Fucking Righteous" strewn among outtakes, alternates, and goofs. "It's a brand-new era, but I came too late," drolls Malkmus on the whispery "Newark Wilder." Almost. Now, as then, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain arrives just in time.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: Patricia Vonne
Patricia Vonne
Shine a light

June 30, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle