By Ian Crocker, Broadside Correspondent

When thinking about the year 1992, what comes to mind?

Gangsta rap? Flannel shirts? Nicktoons? Maybe the 90s are a forgotten memory — a period of time that was much like today in that the underground had become the mainstream.

With the sudden and widespread recognition of albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind and Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, popular music had shifted.

While “Smells Like Teen Spirit” blasted at every jock-laden party around, the independent music fan wondered what was left to look forward to in terms of ingenuity and edginess.

Enter Pavement and their debut album, Slanted & Enchanted. Not only did this ’92 release showcase a talented young group, but it also laid the blueprints for bands decades later.

The best way to describe Slanted & Enchanted’s sound would be to compare it to a night of cheap whiskey on the rocks — it goes down smooth yet comes up harsh. With jagged guitars and lyrics resembling the spoken word, Pavement constructed a splintered sound unheard of at the time.

The album’s opener, “Summer Babe,” sets the stage with an effervescent bass line and noodling guitars juxtaposed with the start and stop musings of lead singer Stephen Malkmus. Whereas a majority of mainstream and indie acts take a wildly serious approach to their performance, Pavement is able to outdo them all in execution and appear to have much more fun while doing so.

“Two states, we want two states,” Malkmus shrieks on the track “Two States.” Well, Slanted & Enchanted made sure that was the case in the American rock ‘n’ roll scene in the early 90s.

Separating themselves from the polish of major label radio rock, Pavement put out an album filled with fuzzy lo-fi gems.

From the Wire-inspired post-punk of “Perfume-V” to the urgent Black Francis-esque yelping on “No Life Singed Her,” Slanted & Enchanted puts to display the myriad of influences of the band. Moving away from the feedback, Malkmus and Co. put forth the indie-balladry of “Here” and the delicately arranged “Zurich is Stained,” further cementing the versatility of this masterpiece.

Sure, several great albums come out each year — a collection of songs that invade your mind and get your toes tapping — but how many albums can take their place as truly influential? Pavement’s Slanted & Enchanted deservedly takes the cake as a truly inspired and important piece of work.

Not only an aesthetic landmark, this album also laid the groundwork for today’s current trends; Slanted & Enchanted helped rejuvenate the independent music scene long before “indie rock” was a genre and household term.