Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks

Mirror Traffic

Matador Records

He’s never sounded so mellow, gentle, and wiser, with the wisdom of age in his singing and lyrics. He still thinks everything is an ironic joke, but the irony has receded a bit, replaced by warmth, and even comfort. And fondness for bygone good times, like when he and little Micky smoked some pot in his van.

Now that he’s gotten his jam band impulses out with Real Emotional Trash, he prunes his guitar playing back somewhat, and what emerges is a cross between Pavement, Jorma Kaukonen and 90s Liz Phair. He is still a tremendous guitar player, one of the best of the last 30 years, and now that he’s older, he allows his playing to have sincere emotion. He cares, and it’s reflected in his playing.

Mirror traffic is his best solo album yet, but could it have been made if Pavement had continued its reunion? Did Pavement have to die for good so that he could make this great album? Perhaps answers the first question; a sad yes to the second. His new one ranks with Pavement’s best work, and with Pavement toast, this album is what replaces that band wonderfully. []

Andrea Weiss

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Horrors


XL Recordings

The Horrors combine the pretty, somewhat gloomy atmosphere of 80s era Church with the drive, and the drolly romantic languor of early Psychedelic Furs. It's a wonderful updating of both bands, and a worthy follow-up to their 2009 Mercury Prize nominated Primary Colours. []

Andrea Weiss


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