Tuesday, August 14, 2007


"What about the voice of Geddy Lee?/How did it get so high?/I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy/I know him and he does/Then you're my fact checking cuz"

These were the lyrics I'd recite everyday to Brittany, a plump fifth grader in my second year of teaching. I'd ponder about the voice of Geddy Lee, and she'd respond that he does, in fact, have a high-pitched voice. Of course, it helped that her parents were huge Rush fans and had named Brittany's older brother after the falsetto-singing, bass guitar virtuoso from Toronto. Undoubtedly, Brittany's parents became big fans of Geddy Lee's unique delivery while listening to songs like "Tom Sawyer" or "Working Man" on FM rock stations.

"Stereo" is Pavement's version of R.E.M.'s collaboration with KRS-One in 1991's "Radio Song". SM's delivery is somewhat rap-like but with absurdity dominating his narrative as opposed to the overtly political message of "Radio Song". Instead of complaining about the shortcomings of corporate radio, Pavement chooses to marvel at the diversity of ridiculousness found all across the dial, including their own songs.

The lyrics highlight some amusing anecdotes that illustrate this variety. Observations of farm reports, sports call-in shows, and conservative talk radio with the ever-present classic rock dominate SM's listening experience. This multitude of material is only broken when the band hears their own song on the radio and (somewhat predictably) goes wild with delight.

As Brighten the Corners' opener, "Stereo" demonstrates a much more focused band with a more conventional sound (for radio possibly?) than the previous release, Wowee Zowee. Maybe the band backed off the weed or actually rehearsed together, but whatever they did, BtC marks a point in the band's history when the songs began to resemble a more traditional rock sound that could find a place on radio. (This, of course, ignores the fact that "Cut Your Hair" was a minor radio hit.) Although, it was still their own version of that tradition, BtC wasn't anything like the classic rock, including Rush.

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