As my time at CU Boulder comes to a close, I’ve realized just how much Radio 1190 has molded and morphed my music taste. Looking back, albums like “Sargasso Sea” by Pram, “Spiderland” by Slint and “Brighten the Corners” by Pavement that my peers showed me early in my time at the station have had a lasting effect on the music I make, listen to and play on air.
While Slint and Pavement are well-known names, Pram hasn’t quite gotten the recognition they deserve. Hailing from Birmingham, England, Pram has released albums throughout the ’90s and 2000s, and as recently as 2018. While their sound has naturally evolved, Pram has maintained their distinct sound of haunting, psychedelic art pop. “Sargasso Sea,” named after a region of the Atlantic Ocean, paints a picture full of aquatic life. As vocalist Rosie Cuckston breathes out her melodies, wavy synths, tight snare hits and funky bass lines move the songs along, taking the listener on an undersea adventure. As I listen to the catchy “Loose Threads” or the ominous “Cotton Candy,” I can imagine floating through colorful colonies of coral at the ocean floor, eels and jellyfish sliding past me. “Sargasso Sea’s” dreary lullabies never fail to guide me into a wavy trance beneath the surf.
Slint’s six-track “Spiderland” is a foundational work in both math rock and post hardcore. The album captures the isolation and anger of four boys from Louisville, Ky. Slint originally formed as a high school band, but you’d never know it from their sound. The dark emotions of their music convey a sadness that’s heartbreaking for how young the band was. Britt Walford’s rolling drum beats set the foundation for all of “Spiderland’s” sprawling, dynamic tracks. Lead vocalist Brian McMahan spends most of the album muttering out vocals over dissonant, distorted guitar lines, but every few songs lead to a wailing climax. The songs tell poetic stories of carnival rides, disgruntled party goers and a shipwreck in a storm. The final track, “Good Morning Captain,” builds to the final screams: “I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.”
When I first heard Pavement, I thought they sounded like a standard indie rock band, but then I realized the opposite was true: Standard indie rock bands sound like Pavement. The true extent of their influence on the genre is immeasurable but clearly substantial. Their penultimate album, “Brighten the Corners,” isn’t their most popular, but in my opinion, it captures the best of the band. Stephen Malkmus’s catchy wordplay delivers lines such as “a voice coach taught me to sing, he couldn’t teach me love” and “they will drown you in a crick in the neck of a woods.” While some of these lyrics seem to have more meaning than others, while listening to the album, I think to myself, “How clever!” more than once per song. I’m not a person who listens to lyrics too deeply, but Pavement forces me to look them in the eye.
Of course, there’s far more music than we could ever play on Radio 1190, but I will always hold strong that our library is full of gems. Being in a community of music lovers throughout my college career has changed my taste for the better, and I’m thankful for it.
Askari is a music director at Radio 1190. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists