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All This Sounds Gas

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Album Review

Depending on your partisanship, there's two ways to view Scott Kannenberg's decreasing contributions to Pavement during their final years. It would be easy to say that Stephen Malkmus was holding Spiral Stairs back, refusing to give him more than a couple of songs per record, and then shutting him out entirely from Terror Twilight, yet Malkmus maintains that Kannenberg brought no songs to the Terror sessions, and thereby felt no guilt in leaving him off of that record. In any case, Pavement simply ran out of steam after Terror Twilight, and Malkmus formed the Jicks in 2000 while Kannenberg formed Preston School of Industry. Since both bands released their debuts within six months of each other in 2001 (the Jicks becoming an eponymous release by Stephen Malkmus, since Matador believed he had a marketable name), it's hard not to draw comparisons between the two, especially since they pretty much deliver exactly what you'd expect, but just a little bit different. Where Malkmus delivered a record that sounded exactly like a Pavement record, only looser, funnier, and heartfelt, Preston's debut, All This Sounds Gas, sounds like a bunch of Spiral Stairs songs, only not as loose, funny, or heartfelt. Kannenberg's songs always balanced Malkmus' by offering lovely, delicate, un-ironic pop miniatures that contrasted the elegant mess of his partner, but on his own, he works overtime to replicate his own sound and the sprawl of Pavement, in order to prove himself as a songwriter and bandleader on his own terms. He tries so hard — and, not entirely without avail, either — that he winds up with a record that unintentionally adheres to the indie-rock rules that Stephen Malkmus ignored. This is what Pavement would have sounded like if they became the equivalent of Sebadoh, cranking out a version of Slanted & Enchanted each year, turning out records that satisfy listeners who want Pavement without unpredictability, humor, diversity, and, yes, mess — without Stephen Malkmus Jenkins, that is. And, on those terms, All This Sounds Gas delivers pretty well, but there are no more than a handful of standouts, and by the end of the album, it's clear that while Spiral Stairs may have been key in making Pavement a genuine indie touring band, Malkmus is the one that knew how to make records.

Biography

Formed: 2000

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

After the demise of slacker rock kings Pavement in late 2000, guitarist/songwriter Scott "Spiral Stairs" Kannberg immediately formed a new band, dubbed Preston School of Industry. Joining Kannberg are drummer Andrew Borger (Tom Waits, Moore Brothers) and bassist Jon Erickson (Moore Brothers). After Kannberg discovered a demo full of rejected and forgotten tunes he'd penned for Pavement's final recording, Terror Twilight, the newly formed trio set upon bringing the songs to life and recording a debut....
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All This Sounds Gas, Preston School of Industry
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