PRESTON SCHOOL OF INDUSTRY Whale Bones (Domino)
PRESTON SCHOOL OF INDUSTRY All This Sounds Gas (Domino)
Preston School Of Industry is a solo project created by former Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs, left high and dry when Stephen Malkmus announced the dissolution of his former band. He describes the single "Whale Bones" - apparently written before the break-up and passed over in consideration for inclusion on the final Pavement album - as "an autobiographical take on a certain band coming home from tour - the end of the story", as lines like "Played their final show of a lifetime" seem to corroborate. Its certainly as fine and chunky as anything late period Pavement could be bothered to muster, and the other two tracks on this promo pressing ("To Crush It For Good", essentially an instrumental remake of the main feature, and "Imperial") are more than just makeweights.
And "All This Sounds Gas" is the Preston School Of Industry album, and it's marvellous. To brush aside the inevitable comparisons, yes, it does sound like Pavement, and yes, it's easily as good as the Stephen Malkmus album. Recorded on relatively simple 16-track machinery, there's a rich vein of country-rock stirred into the expected Pavement-esque soup of mixed metaphor, Stairs' claimed influences including Smog and John Prine. It seems more concentrated than Pavement albums had become in recent years, thicker and denser, even, but still trades in cryptical lyrical envelopment (sample song title: "A Treasure @ Silver Bank (This Dynasty's For Real)") and nagging, fully worked-through melody (ooh perm any track from the ten on display, although "Falling Away" is about as easy-going and obvious as the album gets, and "Solitaire - Bluson" is a soaring, feelgood classic powered by the sort of happy keyboard riff rarely encountered outside Grandaddy albums). If you loved Pavement, there's no reason at all why you won't recognise the deep seam of goodness to be mined from within "All This Sounds Gas".PRESTON SCHOOL OF INDUSTRY Falling Away (Domino)
Preston School Of Industry sprawl from the brain of former Pavement person Spiral Stairs, and "Falling Away" is the second single to be taken from his/their fine debut long player "All This Sounds Gas". Apparently something to do with the threat of California falling in the ocean, "Falling Away" is 3.5 minutes of glorious garage guitar pop, full of itself and a fabulous, appropriately tumbling hookline. It should have been welded to the charts for months on end; it wasn't, but if you seek weirdly normal jangly thrills - and when was the last time Pavement were this energetic? - it, and to be honest everything released this year by Preston School Of Industry, deserves your time and trouble.