Wowee Zowee

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Wowee Zowee
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 11, 1995
RecordedNovember 14–24, 1994, Easley Recording Studios, Memphis, Tennessee
February 10–14, 1995, Random Falls Studio, New York
December 2–5, 1994 and January 2–5, 1995, Speed Mix Studio[1]
GenreIndie rock, noise pop
Pavement chronology
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
Wowee Zowee
Pacific Trim
Singles from Wowee Zowee
  1. "Rattled by the Rush"
    Released: March 1995
  2. "Father to a Sister of Thought"
    Released: June 20, 1995

Wowee Zowee is the third studio album by American indie rock band Pavement. It was released on April 11, 1995 by Matador Records. The album showcased a more experimental and spontaneous side of the group, returning them to the clatter and unpredictability of their early recordings after the more traditional rock sound of 1994's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

Rolling Stone speculated that the relative success of their previous album (having sold 169,000 copies by this time[citation needed]) was a reason for this album's eclectic nature; the magazine's review claimed Pavement were afraid of success. Stephen Malkmus refuted this, saying that, while his judgment may have been clouded by excessive marijuana usage, the songs "sounded like hits" to him.[2]

Matador Records released an expanded two-disc edition of this album under the title Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition on November 6, 2006, which featured extensive liner notes, outtakes and B-sides.[3]


The songs "Grounded", "Flux = Rad", "Pueblo", and "Kennel District" were originally written at the same time as the songs that became Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, and rough versions appear on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins disc 2.

The album was recorded at Easley Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, with the exception of some tracks recorded at Random Falls, a recording studio in New York.

Title and cover art[edit]


The album's title is an homage to former drummer Gary Young, who would frequently yell "Wowee zowee!" when excited.[4] The phrase also notably dates to Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention's 1966 album Freak Out!, which also displayed the album title in a cartoon speech balloon and featured a track titled "Wowie Zowie".

Dick-Sucking Fool at Pussy-Licking School (conceived by Bob Nastanovich) was briefly considered as a potential album title, but discarded after being considered too risque by the rest of the band.[5] Nevertheless, the phrase is included in the album's booklet art. The would-be title was a nod to the Rolling Stones' Cocksucker Blues.[5]


The cover art was painted by New York-based artist Steve Keene. The painting is a copy of a photograph originally found in Life magazine's 1972 World Library title The Arab World, which depicted two sitting women, dressed in dark robes.[6] To their right stands a dark colored goat with curled horns. Omitted from Keene's copy of the photograph is a girl in a tan dress holding a baby, stationed between the two sitting women.[6] The caption below the original photo reads, "A midday rest is enjoyed by three Arab women and a goat on an arbor-shaded porch. Fellahin women often wear black robes over their other clothing."[6]

Malkmus picked the artwork from a stack of 50 or more works that Keene produced during a live painting session at one of his exhibitions.[6][7] Malkmus chose the piece due to its resemblance to the front cover of Guru Guru's 1972 album Känguru, a cover that he had always admired.[8]


Professional ratings
Contemporary reviews
Review scores
Chicago Tribune2.5/4 stars[9]
The Guardian1/4 stars[10]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[11]
Q3/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[13]
The Village VoiceA[16]

Wowee Zowee was released to middling reviews from critics.[17] Rolling Stone's Mark Kemp found the album "scattered and sloppy" and felt that Pavement had "turned in a handful of half-baked performances".[13] Los Angeles Times critic Lorraine Ali likewise criticized it as "a sloppy effort, even in Pavement terms. It comes off lazy and unfinished, never attempting to reach out or connect as previous albums did".[11] Kevin McKeough of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the album "teeters between material that solidly focuses the band's strengths and mannered, indie-rock indulgences".[9] Spin writer Eric Weisbard reacted with muted praise, noting its "impressively distinct range of sounds and moods" while nonetheless stating that only certain tracks ranked "with Pavement's hallowed best".[15] Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian was especially critical, quipping that it "probably helps to be a 15-year-old boy to appreciate Pavement" and that the band does not "release albums so much as in-jokes and their fourth continues the tradition."[10] Sullivan concluded that Malkmus' "monotone occasionally gives way to a pained little yips" and Spiral Stairs "sometimes hits on a lifting melody, but mostly he sounds as confused as his colleagues."[10]

Among more positive reviews, Select's Roy Wilkinson remarked that "there's plenty of Pavement's lazy elegance, particularly when the elegiac sweeps of 'We Dance' recall Hunky Dory".[14] In his glowing assessment of the album, Village Voice critic Robert Christgau wrote: "It's rarely hard or fast or chaotic, and if it was their sacred mission to humanize guitar noise, they've betrayed it like the reprobates they no doubt are. But if their vocation is beguiling song-music that doesn't sound like anything else or create its own rut, this reinforces one's gut feeling that they can do it forever."[16]


Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[18]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[19]
Spin5/5 stars[20]
Uncut4/5 stars[21]

Retrospectively, Wowee Zowee has been reappraised in highly positive terms. According to Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield, the album had come to be widely viewed as a "masterpiece",[17] and even, among many "diehard" Pavement fans, the band's best album.[19] Sheffield also remarked that Christgau was the album's boldest defender upon its release, and that he even suggested that it was the band's best work.[17] In 2020, Rolling Stone ranked the album 265th in its updated list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time—ahead of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (434th) and behind Slanted and Enchanted (199th).[22] It had not previously appeared in earlier editions of the list.

In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that repeated listening reveals the album to be "a dense collage of '90s rock & roll that recasts the past and present into one rich, kaleidoscopic, and blissfully cryptic world view".[18]

In 2002, Rolling Stone voted Wowee Zowee the 12th Coolest Album of all time.

In 2010, author Bryan Charles wrote a book about the album as part of the 33⅓ book series, in which he interviews all members of Pavement, as well as Matador Records founders Gerard Cosloy and Chris Lombardi.

The indie rock band Boat parodied the album's cover art, among several others, on its 2011 release Dress Like Your Idols.

Jason Lytle included Pavement's "Motion Suggests" when he compiled Artist's Choice—Below the Radio, a various artists collection. That song's actual title, "Motion Suggests Itself", was incorrectly listed on Wowee Zowee due to a transcription error and was not corrected until the expanded reissue eleven years later.

As of 2010, the original version of Wowee Zowee had sold 129,000 copies, and the reissue had sold 32,000 copies. These numbers are a notable drop-off from their previous release, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, which sold 246,000 of the original and 75,000 of the reissue.[23]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Stephen Malkmus, otherwise noted.

  1. "We Dance" – 3:01
  2. "Rattled by the Rush" – 4:16
  3. "Black Out" – 2:10
  4. "Brinx Job" – 1:31
  5. "Grounded" – 4:14
  6. "Serpentine Pad" – 1:16
  7. "Motion Suggests" – 3:15
  8. "Father to a Sister of Thought" – 3:30
  9. "Extradition" – 2:12
  10. "Best Friend's Arm" – 2:19
  11. "Grave Architecture" – 4:16
  12. "AT&T" – 3:32
  13. "Flux = Rad" – 1:45
  14. "Fight This Generation" – 4:22
  15. "Kennel District" – 2:59 (Scott Kannberg)
  16. "Pueblo" – 3:25
  17. "Half a Canyon" – 6:10
  18. "Western Homes" – 1:49 (Kannberg)


Adapted from the album liner notes.[1]

  • Stephen Malkmus – vocals, guitar, mixing
  • Bob Nastanovich – percussion, vocals
  • Scott Kannberg – vocals, guitar
  • Steve West – drums, percussion
  • Mark Ibold – bass
  • Doug Easley – pedal steel guitar ("Father to a Sister of Thought"); engineer
  • Sibel Firat – cello ("Fight This Generation")
  • Davis McCain – engineer
  • Mark Venezia – engineer
  • Bryce Goggin – mixing
  • Jan BL – mixing
  • Rich Costey – mixing
  • Gregory Hull – mastering


Chart (1995) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[24] 37
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[25] 75
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[26] 60
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[27] 25
UK Albums (OCC)[28] 18
US Billboard 200[29] 117

Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition[edit]

Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition
Pavement - Wowee Zowee Sordid Sentinels CD Cover.jpg
Compilation album by
ReleasedNovember 7, 2006
RecordedMarch 3, 1994–March 15, 1995
GenreIndie rock
Pavement chronology
Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins
Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition
Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition
Professional ratings
Review scores
Blender5/5 stars[30]
Drowned in Sound8/10[31]
The Guardian3/5 stars[32]
Record Collector3/5 stars[34]
The Skinny4/5 stars[35]
Slant Magazine4.5/5 stars[36]
Spin4/5 stars[37]
Stylus MagazineA+[38]
Uncut4/5 stars[39]

Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition is a two-CD compilation album by Pavement released on November 7, 2006. It contains Wowee Zowee in its entirety, as well as 32 of the band's other songs from that era, 18 of which were previously unreleased.

Matador Records offered extra items to people who pre-ordered the reissue. Those who chose to pre-order the album received a code redeemable on the Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition website for a rare recording of a live Pavement show at the Palace in Los Angeles on April 21, 1994. Also included in the pre-order deal was a free 7" record which included previously unreleased studio versions of the songs "Black Out" and "Extradition" and a poster based on a painting that artist Steve Keene originally contributed for the original release of Wowee Zowee in 1995.

The track "Motion Suggests Itself" was mistitled on the original release by the omission of its title's final word due to a transcription error. The Sordid Sentinels Edition finally rectified this mistake.

A different version of "Easily Fooled" appeared on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain: LA's Desert Origins as "The Sutcliffe Catering Song". Also, an early version of "Brink of the Clouds" with an intro and outro appeared on the same album.

Disc one[edit]

Wowee Zowee

  1. "We Dance"
  2. "Rattled by the Rush"
  3. "Black Out"
  4. "Brinx Job"
  5. "Grounded"
  6. "Serpentine Pad"
  7. "Motion Suggests Itself"
  8. "Father to a Sister of Thought"
  9. "Extradition"
  10. "Best Friend's Arm"
  11. "Grave Architecture"
  12. "AT&T"
  13. "Flux = Rad"
  14. "Fight This Generation"
  15. "Kennel District"
  16. "Pueblo"
  17. "Half a Canyon"
  18. "Western Homes"

Wowee Zowee session outtake

  1. "Sordid"

Rattled by the Rush EP

  1. "Brink of the Clouds"
  2. "False Skorpion"
  3. "Easily Fooled"

"Father to a Sister of Thought" single

  1. "Kris Kraft"
  2. "Mussle Rock (Is a Horse in Transition)"

Pacific Trim EP

  1. "Give It a Day"
  2. "Gangsters & Pranksters"
  3. "Saganaw"
  4. "I Love Perth"

Wowee Zowee session outtake

  1. "Sentinel"

Disc two[edit]

I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack

1. "Sensitive Euro Man"

Wowee Zowee session outtake

2. "Stray Fire"

Recorded March 3, 1994 at Hilversum, Netherlands

3. "Fight This Generation"
4. "Easily Fooled"

Wowee Zowee session with Doug Easley on piano

5. "Soul Food"

Homage to Descendents tribute album

6. "It's a Hectic World"

Steve Lamacq Evening Session (March 15, 1995)

7. "Kris Kraft"
8. "Golden Boys/Serpentine Pad"
9. "Painted Soldiers"
10. "I Love Perth"

Medusa Cyclone/Pavement split 7"

11. "Dancing with the Elders"

Recorded live at Wireless JJJ Radio in Australia (July 7, 1994)

12. "Half a Canyon"
13. "Best Friend's Arm"
14. "Brink of the Clouds/Candylad"
15. "Unfair"
16. "Easily Fooled"
17. "Heaven Is a Truck"
18. "Box Elder"

Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks compilation

19. "No More Kings"

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy soundtrack

20. "Painted Soldiers"

Wowee Zowee session outtake

21. "We Dance" (alternate mix)


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  2. ^ Zoladz, Lindsay (2018-05-11). "Stephen Malkmus Trusts the Process". The Ringer. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  3. ^ "Matador Records". Archived from the original on 2006-06-15.
  4. ^ KEXP article: "33 1/3 Odyssey: Wowee Zowee by Bryan Charles Archived 2014-01-16 at the Wayback Machine."
  5. ^ a b 33 1/3 Series: Wowee Zowee by Bryan Charles, 2010. P. 128.
  6. ^ a b c d 33 1/3 Series: Wowee Zowee by Bryan Charles, 2010. P. 123–124.
  7. ^ "Steve Keene, Artist of Pavement's Wowee Zowee Cover, Looks Back 20 Years Later". Esquire. Retrieved 31 December 2019.
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