As you may or may not know, Preston School of Industry is Scott Kannberg's, (AKA Spiral Stairs, ex-guitarist (and sometime singer/songwriter) for Pavement), new band. Now, personally, I've never been in the position of being an ex-member of a very popular and well-loved indie band. However, should I ever find myself in that situation, I think I would take it upon myself to create a new record that sounded quite different than the output of my previous very popular and well-loved band. Especially since, in this case, the main mover of said band, Mr. Stephen Malkmus, has already taken it upon himself to create a record that sounds almost exactly like the old band. Having said that, and considering the proliferation of bands who sound a whole lot like Pavement, do we really need another one (even if the guy really was in Pavement in the first place)? Back in his Pavement days, Mr. Kannberg was known to toss off a gem or two per record -- songs that fit right in with the band's aesthetic, but made it known that Steve Malkmus wasn't the only guy in the band who could wield a pen. Songs like "Date W/IKEA" and "Two States", some of Kannberg's Pavement highlights, were great songs, and even album highlights. Now, if All This Sounds Gas had been a Pavement record, ol' Scott would have been given rights to two songs. Those would have been "Falling Away", which is a great, catchy, 3-minute slice of laid back California style indie pop, and "History of the River", which is a considerably darker, but no less affecting pop song. The rest of the record, however, is a jumble of shoulda-been Pavement B-sides -- songs which, in and of themselves, aren't bad, but just sound so much like latter-day Pavement that it's pretty hard to take them terribly seriously.
The press release states that Spiral "sidesteps all comparisons to previous incarnations to begin building the foundations of a whole new dynasty of his own". Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. You'd think that spending ten years in one of indie rock's most original, well-regarded bands would have taught him a thing or two as far as re-inventing himself goes. Unfortunately, it seems that the only thing he really learned was how to write a Pavement tune, and he's having a little trouble trying to figure out what to do with himself now that Pavement is no more. I mean, really, he's even still using the same old pseudonym! I don't know how old Kannberg is, but he's certainly not old enough to be rehashing old times and resting on his laurels. Let's hope that next time around he figures out that Pavement broke up a few years ago. -- Jeremy Schneyer