MCMXCVII #badglowup

For Jim Adams’ blog bounce, for Sunday, January 10, 2021, Jim has requested MA, meaning a tune with a title that begins with either the letter M or the letter A. MA must refer to Master of Arts, one of which, I don’t mind admitting, I do not have. No, in fact by MA Jim means “Mature Audience”

I thought of a song with an unusual title, that begins with A.

“And Then (The Hexx)” was done by Pavement songwriter Stephen Malkmus, as a b-side to “Spit on a Stranger” in May 1999, I read somewhere. It sort of provides a conclusion to the 1997 Pavement album, Brighten the Corners. Quietly now, that’s the Pavement record where the entire quintet is present and performing at once–it’s sometimes known as “dream pop.”

A second version of the song “And Then (The Hexx)” is again (!) the conclusion, as though an encore, after the band has heard their patrons’ cheers, to the next, and last, Pavement album, Terror Twilight. Strictly speaking, to the best of my understanding, the song is “And Then (The Hexx)” for the Brighten the Corners b-side, and simply “The Hexx” for Terror Twilight.

Pavement is chiefly the work of rock musician Steve Malkmus, who around the year 1990 put together ideas for what became a classic all-American rock record, Slanted & Enchanted, while the young man was in high school in Stockton, California. Nice work if you can get it.

“And Then (The Hexx)” came eight years after their debut on indie label Drag City, Steve Malkmus playing with bandmates Gary Young, Scott Kannberg, Steve West, Mark Ibold, and Bob Nastanovich. “And Then (The Hexx)” is eerie, and it has happiness to it as well.

Malkmus hasn’t ever stopped playing, having reinvented himself twice, since Pavement folded. First he played as Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and more recently, since 2018, if I am doing the gentleman justice, just Stephen Malkmus, solo as it comes. I’ve seen video of Malkmus performing his old songs by himself for the groove denied tour.

Terror Twilight producer Nigel Godrich was keeping active on Twitter in the month of December 2020, when he tweeted on the thirteenth of December, 2020, that,despite what Godrich called “the dark” of December, Godrich proferred the advice,”get your SAD lamp out and party!” SAD indicates seasonal affective disorder, mild depression brought about by a lack of sunlight, in a cold climate.

Just updated my @stationrotatio1 December Vibes…… dark and beautiful month… I’m looking forward to the new year and new times with salivation. Stare at a wall and enjoy…. or get your SAD lamp out and party! #stationrotation— nigel godrich ?? (@nigelgod) December 13, 2020

The feeling echoes what Steve Malkmus says in 2002 in the documentary Slow Century. Godrich’s observation is certainly deliberate. Indie humour.

“Get your handkerchiefs out,” Malkmus says, “and party.”

A Chicago-based online magazine highlighting music, motion pictures, and TV, consequence of sound’s DAN CAFFREY says, “‘Spit on a Stranger’ looks back on a relationship that’s gone kaput — maybe a relationship with a band.”

“Spit on a Stranger” was, I’d say, the first single for Terror Twilight. I have the impression that, of the five band members comprising the band in 1999, that other than Steve Malkmus, they wanted to hang it up.

Of them, perhaps only Malkmus didn’t feel like a loser. When touring the Terror Twilight record, Malkmus often hung a pair of handcuffs on stage, from his mic stand, to illustrate how he felt making a living in a rock band. Unfair.

Dissected: Pavement
ON AUGUST 11, 2015, 3:00PM

“Terror Twilight,” Caffrey writes, “has a reputation of being Pavement’s tamest album, and that’s true, musically speaking — the tempos are sturdier and there’s much less yowling, despite a ripping harmonica solo (?!) from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.” Wikipedia says Jonny Greenwood, from Radiohead, played harmonica both for “Platform Blues,” and for “Billie,” both of which are Terror Twilight songs, the song Billie penned about Billy Graham.

Whether the various elements of Terror Twilight, Caffrey says for consequence of sound, scare the shit out of you or not, the lyrics prove that, even when they had run out of momentum and had to be practically forced by producer Nigel Godrich to come up with new material (the band reportedly was more concerned with playing Scrabble than recording) — even when music didn’t sound quite like itself, Pavement was still Pavement.

Not sure that’s true. What I read in the day was the opposite sentiment.

I saw in a more recent interview, it is somewhat eluding me where I heard this (I think it was organized by Vanity Fair for Seattle radio not too long ago), when Malkmus was talking about getting ready to play shows with Pavement, Malkmus said that to this day he likes the game of Scrabble, playing these days more frequently online instead of in a rock tour.

I presume that’s Pavement fandom knowledge. Malkmus has said publicly he got really quite good. In a round of Scrabble, you make words on the game board utilizing letters, which add to the score.

Anyway, some fans consider “And Then (The Hexx)” to be a Brighten the Corners song, because of the 2009 rerelease of Brighten the Corners with the second CD with “And Then (The Hexx).” It is also the conclusion to Terror Twilight, which when discussed is usually just called “The Hexx.”

I still like to think of “The Hexx” as “And Then (The Hexx),” and that’s why it fits into Jim’s MA prompt challenge. However, the true release date of “And Then (The Hexx)” should be 1997, not 1999.

I’ve decided not to show these verses. The video’s here, however.

And Then (the Hexx)
Composed by
Stephen Malkmus

Release Year

The Hexx