[caption id="attachment_9874" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Photo courtesy of Johanna Kostannus"][/caption]
Pavement, beloved by all sorts of indie-rock boys everywhere, is now accessible for girls. Or so Finnish singer Astrid Swan would want you to believe. Next week, Swan will release Hits: Pavement for Girls, an album of nine recontextualized covers that will certainly remind you (or your favorite Pavement fan) of the Great Reunion Tour the slacker-phenoms completed last year.
For Swan, a singer that's largely unknown in the U.S. (2007's Poverina most likely got lost in the Cat Power/Feist hysteria of that year) dropping an album that makes you think of Malkmus in a new way is a surefire way to make a splash in indie U.S.A. And she does so with a certain grace, opting to ignore the band's "hit song" "Cut Your Hair" and digging into some of the later gems like "Shady Lane" and "Major Leagues," songs that were never as beloved as they should have been. Musically, too, she avoids taking an acoustic guitar and doing the lo-fi-meets-whispery-voice thing that so many singer-songwriters favor when they're "stripping down" a song. Lined with distant, soft rhythms, a guitar in the forefront and Swan's smokey voice, "Here" becomes an exercise in Pavement-as-sultry, a notion not even the most imaginative of us could dream up. And her cover of classic Pavement tune "Box Elder" flips the slacker notions of "having a lot of things to do" and makes you believe that something's to be accomplished. Swan's mid-tempo arrangement is coupled with spacey blips and a fluttery synth, and feels more connected, less messy (though it does lose some of that beloved Pavement slop-charm).
Swan isn't the first to drop many songs in album form in tribute to Pavement. In 2005, saxophonist James Carter released Gold Sounds: A Tribute to Pavement, an album of saxophone covers. But you want to hear words with your Pavement covers; Swan's connection feels kitschy at times, sure, but serves as a nice reminder that Pavement isn't just for boys and fallen slackers after all. [Stream Hits: Pavement for Girls here.]