Pavement

With their fractured songs, unexpected blasts of feedback, laconic vocals, cryptic literate lyrics, and defiant low-fidelity, Pavement were one of the most influential and distinctive bands to emerge from the American underground in the '90s. Pavement, along with Sebadoh, were the leaders of the lo-fi movement that dominated U.S. indie rock in the early '90s. Initially conceived as a studio project between guitarists/vocalists Stephen Malkmus and Scott Kannberg in the '80s, Pavement gradually became a band during the early '90s. Along the way, their initial EPs and debut album, 1992's Slanted & Enchanted, earned a devoted following of musicians, indie fans, and critics. Before long, the group's aesthetics -- a combination of elliptic, cryptic underground American rock, unrepentant Anglophilia, a fondness for white noise, off-kilter arrangements and winding melodies, songs that frequently had shifting titles, and literate, clever lyrics -- were imitated by underground bands through America and Britain. By that point, Pavement had become an actual band, one with a notorious, acid-fried ex-hippie drummer called Gary Young. Young left the band in 1993 as the band made the move to clean up their sound, if not their sensibility, on 1994's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. Their revampment resulted in a near-hit with "Cut Your Hair," but the mainstream decided Pavement were too strange for their tastes and the band decided it preferred the underground, leaving the group as one of the most popular -- and the most influential -- American indie rock bands of the '90s.