by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
It’s actually a pretty slow weekend, until Sunday night when Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks headlines at The Waiting Room.
So how’s the new Malkmus/Jicks album, Wig Out at Jagbags, released last month on Matador? If you’re familiar with Malkmus’ recordings and the last couple Pavement albums, you already know what to expect. The music and style doesn’t stray from his usual slacker indie formula of laidback arrangements centered around his rather narrow, unadorned vocals. Like the best of Pavement, there’s still plenty of wonky jam moments and odd time shifts to keep you guessing.
Along with Beck’s stream-of-conscious haiku, Malkmus writes some of my favorite “smart” rock lyrics — playful and funny but always with a stab of cynical insight. Lines like “We lived on Tennison and venison and the Grateful Dead” (from “Lariat”); and “Come and join us in this punk rock tomb / Come slam dancing with some ancient dudes” (from “Rumble at the Rainbo,” which ends with the sad truth: “No one here has changed and no one ever will…“).
Every Malkmus record has one song that takes a shot at someone or something. This time it’s “Cinnamon and Lesbians,” which has Malkmus “Shanghaied in Oregon” making Portlandia-style observations like “Raised in a numbers trailer / With grass-blowing funky neighbors / Come downtown ’cause we’ve got a cure for your head lice.” Nice.
Then there’s “J Smoov,” where Malkmus pulls in a sunset horn section and strings and an amazing stumble-through trombone solo that sums up the song better than the lyrics, which are more obtuse than usual. That solo was the first thing on the album that caused me to look up from whatever I was doing and glance at the sleeve to see what I was listening to.
At times Malkmus both lyrically and musically reminds me of very early Steely Dan, back when Steely Dan was a rock band and not a yacht-rock jazz-fusion project. Is Malkmus a Gen X version of Donald Fagen? Maybe, maybe…
The summary: It’s just another Malkmus record, so if you like Malkmus (or in my case, love Malkmus) than it’s a must have (I bought it on vinyl the weekend after it was released).
Needless to say, I’ll be there Sunday for the show. The last time Malkmus came through two years ago (down at The Slowdown, review here) it was quite a treat. Get there early to see Tyvek, who just played at the Sweatshop Gallery Tuesday night. $17, 8 p.m.
Also Sunday night is the 8th annual Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. The ceremony is being held at the DoubleTree Hotel downtown. Details here.
I’d give you my predictions but I’m so far out of the loop with the OEAAs that I was surprised it was still being held. There’s a few real oddities in the categories this year. Two bands listed in the Best Album category, for example, don’t even live in Nebraska. I guess they’ve stretched the qualifications to merely “having once lived in Nebraska.” No doubt the music category of the OEAAs represents a very (very) small subset of Omaha music, but relevant nonetheless to those bands’ fans, whether or not the bands are relevant to anyone else.
Happy Valentine’s Day (to those of you who observe it). Have a good weekend.
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.