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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
+ Tim Hecker - Harmony In Ultraviolet
+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
+ Múm - Peel Session
+ Deloris - Ten Lives
+ Minimum Chips - Lady Grey
+ Badly Drawn Boy - Born In The U.K.
+ The Hold Steady - Boys And Girls Together
+ The Blood Brothers - Young Machetes
+ The Places - Songs For Creeps
+ Camille - Le Fil
+ Wolf Eyes - Human Animal
+ Christina Carter - Electrice
+ The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
+ Junior Boys - So This Is Goodbye
+ Various Artists - Musics In The Margin
+ Rafael Toral - Space
+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
+ Dudley Perkins - Expressions
+ Growing - Color Wheel
+ Red Carpet - The Noise Of Red Carpet
+ The Essex Green - Cannibal Sea
+ Espers - II
+ Wilderness - Vessel States

44.1 kHz Archive

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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Pig Lib

I'm really unmoved by this Malkmus gear. And, that said, as celebrated rock-figure, Malkmus is plenty worthy of unsureness. Routinely put up for greatness, he's one of those figures who seem like they've never really done much to justify such charges. I mean, the chap's a wonderful type, for sure; he's funny and he knows his shit. He's due to play a bunch of dates in England where the supports, if I'm reading the listing properly, include Wizz Jones, Bert Jansch, and the totally incomparable Vashti Bunyan. So, Malkmus has definitely dug digging through obscure reaches of the English folk revival. So what? Unless you're Sonic Youth, you usually don't get extra points for your own records just because you know a lot about other people's. And, like, so, I'm thinking, Malkmus is great, but his records sure aren't. After all, his first post-Pavement outing (self-titled, and all) was a little on the, uh... how shall I put this... dull side. Indie-rock's iconic slacker showed that the new freedoms of being totally in charge didn't necessarily mean he'd be able to hit the ground running under his own name. As frontman for Pavement, Steve Malkmus had taken smart-ass lyrics, riffs ripped off of The Fall, and intra-band frictions just about as far as they could go. Minus such tensions, Malkmus relaxed, and the result sounded like yet another rock hero growing old and getting comfortable. Of course, tension, or tightness, was hardly what defined Pavement. They were a musical shaggy dog — only intermittently great, occasionally falling into greatness, often falling on their swords. Their records, even in hindsight, committed to history, seem like they need both a wash and a shave.

Interestingly, though, here, now, with this second solo Malkmus disc, Pig Lib, SM is presiding over a tight-ish band for the first time ever. With The Jicks having had a couple years together, they're starting to sound like a genuine rock combo, who know each other and know their way around each other. Time together has stripped communication down to essentials; these newfound lean-and-mean ways help to tighten the tonal belt plenty.

But, here's the rub. Despite the fact that the band actually plays in a taut fashion, the disc is looser than a, uh, tasteless metaphor. From song to song things still stylistically stumble in ways that make things seem, invariably, kinda disjointed, or double-jointed, or something. Just like every other record Malkmus has been involved with, it doesn't feel like an album, doesn't feel like one whole work, doesn't feel focused, or of some specific intent. Pig Lib sounds rambling and goofy and slump-shouldered and half-assed and happened-upon and lazily comfortable with every step that it takes.

Which is fine, generally speaking. I dig that shit, too. But, in such, this disc sounds like every other pot-headed post-school jam-band that makes comic interpretations of their favorite styles. Albeit one with better taste. And, to create a great record from jams convening with that feeling is hard to do. Malkmus has come too far and spent too much money recording this to be able to turn that trick. I simply see Pig Lib for what it is: mediocre.

by Anthony Carew

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