Stephen Malkmus, formally known as SM, formally known as that tall, skinny guy who knows more neat metal guitar riffs than anyone in Stockton, Calif., was the leader by default of Amerindie’s greatest band, Pavement, which called it quits last fall after a year of waffling.

A lot of people think Amerindie died the moment Liz Phair appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, but Pavement kept the banner flying for the rest of the ’90s without making a fuss about it. The band’s most convincing claim to true independence was its lack of a clearly defined band identity, which is easy to maintain when your members are scattered all over the U.S.

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