Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reviewed :: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Mirror Traffic

[It's with great pleasure that we welcome our new contributor Los Gamester to our digital home. After discussing his involvement for what feels like a few years, we finally found a good excuse to get him going and thought we would exploit his love for all things Malkmus with this review. Thanks for joining us LG --Ed.]

Greetings,I’m Los Gamester . Unlike your dedicated scribe Bryan Hamill who’s capacity to listen to new music continues to amaze me, I tend to pick favorites and stay with them forever. I’m still trying to find the value in that Fine Young Cannibals CD I bought in 1988 (my worst album pick EVER). I’m a Pavement fan. There is no band I've seen more frequently. I once went to see them open for Radiohead just to see Malkmus and the lads. My wireless network is called Unseen Power (look it up, kids) and all of my computers have Pavement related names. It wasn't always that way, the lyrics were cryptic, the sloppiness was, well, sloppy and there was the whole Bob thing. Fellow Ash Gray Proclamation contributor, Echos Myron worked on me by repeatedly playing Wowee Zowee until one day I turned and said “play that song", Fight This Generation again. Pavement however, is never coming back. Sure, they were O.K. at Agganis Arena last year but they were horrible at Matador 21. However that weekend I was given my first and long overdue taste of the GBV live experience and they were outstanding, but I digress. It was clearly a victory lap for the quintet from Stockton and beer made it better, but the sun has long since set on Pavement.

As for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks' releases. I have it all and its good, but as the albums have come out I find I purchase them longer and longer after the release dates and none has made heavy rotation. I’m not sure I could name a song from Pig Lib despite knowing all the tunes. So on to Mirror Traffic, fire up Stick Figures in Love, I've listened to it 10 times so far and the hook is totally stuck in my head. The song fades out to its signature riff leaving you wanting for more,I dare you not to replay it. I haven’t been this excited about a Malkmus album in a long time and I must say it feels great. The tracks are a journey through genres, each one more interesting than the next. Spazz and Tune Grief, are quick jaunts with distorted lyrics that will make Pavement fans happy. Tigers and Senator will make Jicks fans happy with angular guitar lines and strong pop hooks. Tracks like No one is (As I are be) are up in the air, not sure I like Malkmus' vocal on this one, but the music is so Sunday morning with cup of coffee I’m thinking this one is going to get better with age. Mirror Traffic is by far the tightest Jicks album yet. The things that made Pavement great (interesting lyrics, hooky changes in tempo, some whimsy and Malkmus’ voice) are all still there. Add to that a formidable band as strong as their lead singer and great production (thanks to Beck) and the album moves to must have status. As a final seal of approval, when I asked Mrs. Los Gamester what she thought of Stick Figures in Love she loved the music but couldn't hear the lyrics and understand the words, some good things never change.


Echos Myron - Writer said...

Nice job, Senior Head.
Though asking price and Brain Gallop are the strongest tracks.

Los Gamester - Writer said...

More it rotates the better it gets. For the record we are all waiting for the follow up to your inaugural post, now almost a year old.