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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Wig Out At Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus is known for his entertainingly bizarre lyrics and catchy guitar riffs that create a specific, laid-back California sound that should be forever on repeat. The former Pavement frontman defined early indie rock and has kept his original free sound with his band the Jicks on their latest record, Wig Out At Jagbags.

The LP could easily be confused with the work of Pavement, proving Malkmus’ heavy influence in both bands and his talent leading musicians. Even though Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ sixth album does not present any growth for the band, it rides the ideal formula for tunes that never get old.

Half of Malkmus’ golden formula lies in the words. Malkmus employs his typical talk-sing vocals with some strung out words that are charmingly out of tune. In “Cinnamon and Lesbians,” he uses a clever play on word style with amusing rhymes that only make sense to Malkmus himself. He keeps listeners hooked as they anxiously wait for whatever strange words he will come up with in the next verse.

The second half of the golden formula depends on the mighty guitar. Uplifting guitar harmonies frame most of the songs on the LP while the rest enjoy great variations from minor keys to tamed frenzies. The track “Independence Street” has a great blues flair that alternates between catchy chord progressions and soulful melodies.

Every so often there are breaks in the riffs with odd chord choices and out-of-time strums that don’t seem to flow together. With other musicians it would be a fault, but those oddities have become a Malkmus trademark that fans have come to love. The main purpose for “J Smoov” is for Malkmus to demonstrate his talent for composing and to brandish smooth guitar playing.

Though every song has a distinct, captivating groove, “Lariat and “Cinnamon and Lesbians” are the standouts. But each song pulls its weight to create a good balance of slow and fast songs, and amalgamating in a collection that would be hard for anyone not to enjoy in part.

Amanda Hayes

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