Album Reviews | Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags (2014)

Slanted and EnchantedI try to listen to everything, but I have blank spots, for sure. One of them is Pavement, whose seminal 1992 album Slanted and Enchanted created indie rock as we now know it. Pavement was fronted by alternative singer/songwriter Stephen Malkmus, who has led an enormously productive career in both Pavement, on his own, and as the frontman of the Jicks. I have barely listened to any of his work aside from a few customary listens to Slanted and Enchanted over the years, so I guess 2014‘s Wig Out at Jagbags by Malkmus and his band the Jicks is, at long last, my entry point into his career. Judging by the music, I suppose I could have done worse, since Wig Out at Jagbags is mostly pretty wonderful stuff. It’s full of Malkmus‘s trademark idiosyncrasies (even I’m aware of them), but it’s a healthy dose of original, that’s for sure.

Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (Reduced)Malkmus kind of reminds me of the film director Wes Anderson, who’s similarly idiosyncratic and likewise has a loyal, if small, fanbase that falls head over heels in love with everything he does. Wig Out at Jagbags is a long way from the raw lo-fi angst of Slanted and Enchanted, but Malkmus‘s craft is simply marvelous, and several tracks are highlight material, such as “Lariat,” “Houston Hades,” “J Smoov,” and “Chartjunk.” If you’re worried you need to already be a fan of Pavement in order to like Wig Out at Jagbags, you can rest easy, since this is pretty accessible stuff. Hopefully by the time Malkmus releases his next album, I’ll be in a better position to judge it against the rest of his work, particularly Slanted and Enchanted and 1994’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.


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