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Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks : Wig Out At Jagbags

It’s worth noting that with the addition of sixth album Wig Out At Jagbags, Stephen Malkmus‘ Jicks-assisted discography has now outgrown that of his esteemed previous band Pavement; at this point he’s also piloted his “new” group longer than he led his old one, and yet – because of the latter’s status as one of the most venerated outfits in indie-rock history – any new release seems destined to be measured against former glories. It’s somewhat unfair given that this phase of Malkmus’ career now qualifies as a fully-fledged second act rather than a tacked-on epilogue to the Pavement story, as evidenced by this rather excellent latest helping of surrealist pop and classic rock chops. Following on from the tasteful – and, with hindsight, perhaps slightly over-polished – experimentation of 2011’s Beck-produced Mirror Traffic, the punchy, to-the-point (twelve songs in 40 minutes) Wig Out feels at times like the singer/ guitarist is trying to reconnect with his punk rock roots, even if he knows how ridiculous dudes approaching 50 look slam-dancing to songs about living fast and dying young; despite their complex prog-inspired time signatures, the likes of the jagged “Planetary Motion”, “Lariat” and grungy “Shibboleth” strut as if Malkmus and his Jicks were still snot-nosed youngsters with something to prove, whilst more leisurely-paced dad-rockers like “Cinnamon & Lesbians” (below) and “Independence Street” recall Thin Lizzy’s tough guy swagger and Television’s effortless elegance without overstaying their welcome or crossing the line between genuine guitar heroics and self-indulgent muso posturing. Sadly there’s little evidence of the Krautrock influence teased in the press release, but a few new tricks  – horns on “Chartjunk”, synth-heavy easy listening on “J Smoov” – combined with typically quirky lyrics and hooky melodies make for Malkmus’ best work in a decade; it’s out January 6 via Domino Recording Co. and you can stream it in full until then at Amazon.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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