And you thought Pavement was lo-fi on Slanted and Enchanted.
Before S&E dropped, Pavement released three EP's and the single for "Summer Babe." They put out their first release (Slay Tracks (1933-1969)) themselves, but the other stuff (including Demolition Plot J-7 and Perfect Sound Forever) was released on Drag City. The label collected those releases and ended up making a really nice compilation of Pavement's early output. It's a weird mix of stuff, but definitely essential for the Pavement fan. I need to someday buy the actual EPs on vinyl, but they ain't cheap. And I already have the music. You see my dilemma.
The stuff from Slay Tracks is, while being fairly shittily recorded, great. "You're Killing Me" is notable for not having any drums on it, though there is this weird tape hiss in the background that somehow seems percussion-y. "Box Elder" was the first song that got the band recognized, and it's one of the catchier tracks on this whole comp. The other tracks from the EP are awesomely noisy, and always border on sweet abrasiveness. Feel the angst.
The tracks from Demolition Plot J-7 are blazing noise, but they inch ever closer to what would become the Pavement sound. "Forklift" is probably the best track of the bunch, but that shouldn't take anything away from the spazzy fun of "Spizzle Trunk" and "Internal K-Dart."
Perfect Sound Forever is where shit gets really exciting. "From Now On" is more cohesive than the early stuff, and "Debris Slide" is purely awesome. But it's "Home" that really makes it all come together, and ends up being the last real song (the clanky rattle of "Krell-Vid User" doesn't really count) before everything busts open with "Summer Babe." Like I said, that single is included here, too, but that stuff also ends up on the deluxe edition of S&E.
Though this is indeed the earliest Pavement stuff, you may be tempted to start at the beginning if you've never heard the band before. I would advise against that, but that's just me. The songs here can be rough. But if you like Slanted and Enchanted, you'll find stuff to like here.