23. David Pajo—Slint
Louisville's Slint followed a formula common to bands of its era—in that its songs started quietly and then got dynamically louder. It’s a trick date-stamped to a certain time period, sure, but it can be argued that no band made you feel you’d travelled as far from a song’s unassuming intro to a high-volume climax as Slint, and a lot of this is owed to the work of guitarist Dave Pajo. He never made it as simple as a chord progression and one well-timed step on a distortion pedal. From the outset of any Slint song, he starts upping the tension immediately with shifting melodies and textures; once you think you know the riff to one of the Kentucky band's songs, it switches up. “Good Morning, Captain,” off the band’s second and final album for Touch and Go, Spiderland, is a master class in the whole soft, loud gesture. The song begins with a seasick groove that builds to such tension that when a distorted chord finally arrives, it washes over the listener like a wave, then immediately disappears.