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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Wig Out At Jagbags
Matador (US) / Domino Recording Co. (UK)

Back in last millennium Pavement (1989-1999) ruled the US indie, being the kings of slack rock. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have been rolling on since 2000, and they have come up with album number six, Wig Out At Jagbags. Moreover, they are still maintaining their cool.

'Jagbag' can have more than one meaning:
1. 'Someone who is doing something unintelligent. It is a combination of a jag-off and a douchebag, a person who is a jackass, used for the ultimate insult (particularly in Chicago, and in the Midwest)'
2. 'A statement which describes the unfortunate, the sorry, or the lowly, but not as to demean the person. The term "jag bag" is generally used as a term of endearment - a way to let them know they are down, but not out.'
3. 'Someone who is not paying attention while someone in authority, such as a coach, is talking.'
4. 'The semen filled reservoir-tip of a used condom' (Urban Dictionary)
...I guess we can skip point 4.

The album is produced by Stephen Malkmus and his The Jicks, who are Joanna Bolme (who has been playing with indie rock bands Calamity Jane, The Minders, and Quasi), Jake Morris and Mike Clark. Bolme is the only long stay (along with SM), as she's been on-board S/M Jicks throughout all 6 albums. Wig Out At Jagbags has got its ups and its downs, and some in-betweens. It is just like a SM & The Jikcs album should be like, or should sound like. That said, this is also the way Pavement sounded like. Malkmus' songs take off and go places he never foresaw them to go. It's just like that. He's an oddly eccentric word-smith and tune-smith, and (it seems) everything he (& his Jicks) do there's humour involved. Tongue-in-cheek. Irony. Things not to be taken at face value. Am I wrong? No, I'm not. It's a good thing this is good stuff, good humour, and last but not least: good songs. "Lariat" pops out catchier for every listen, being a trademark Malkmus song, with a true Pavement vibe (glowing, warming). It is a nostalgia trip, memory lane revisited. Both musically, as well as lyrically (for Malkmus). It makes me recall Wowee Zowee - Pavement in their prime. Last moonth I wondered about the meaning of 'lariat'. Well, it's obvious, hence the lyrics '...we lived on Tennyson, and venison, and the Grateful Dead...': British Poet Lord Alfred Tennyson was.. 'The Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom is an honorary position appointed by the monarch of the UK on the advice of the Prime Minister. The role does not entail any specific duties, but there is an expectation that the holder will write verse for significant national occasions.' (Wikipedia) I guess Malkmus is some sort of a Indie Rock Poet Laureate... Let him write verse for significant national occasions...

As an album Wig Out At Jagbags is a bit uneven, even though it's more even than un-. Or maybe not. Anyway, there are enough cool tracks for this to be another indeed decent record from Malkmus and his Jicks. It's a special mixture of genres (and genius?), openers "Planetary Motion" and "The Janitor Revealed" being progressive pop of some kind. "Lariat" rules, yes, being a hymn to the '...music of the best decade ever', which was (according to Malkmus) ...the years between 19__ and 19__? The aforementioned humour is somewhat...British, isn't it, with songs and melodies inspired by Brits as well? Ray and The Kinks? Pete and The Who? Jarvis and Pulp? Damon and Blur? Huh? The Pixies-like song "Shibboleth" floats out and all-over the place, Kim Deal-ish basslines, Joey Santiago-ian guitars, David Lovering-y drumming, and all. Even the vocals remind me of Frank B. "J Smoov" is another cool track, a bit 60s-like (Love?). "Rumble At The Rainbo" is brilliant, being a punk-rock ode. "Cinnamon & Lesbians" are another one of the key tracks, while "Surreal Teenagers" is maybe the master track. It's also being the longest track by far (5:36). Epic rock, sort of. Takings us back to the 197..

I have come to think of this idea Stephen Malkmus will write a rock opera one day. I guess he is able to. Baz Luhrmann will probably direct the movie. It will be crazee.

Copyright © 2014 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks articles/reviews: Lariat, Mirror Traffic.

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