Calling Stephen Malkmus and Indie Rock legend would probably not be stretching the narrative. No, not one bit. After all, he virtually invented the Genre with his early 90’s stint with Pavement, played it forward with his solo work, and with The Jicks as he appears here on the splendidly good album Wig Out At Jagbags, he sets the flag in the ground on what should hold up as one of the best albums of 2014, and is daring the rest of the field to capture it.
There is a lot to like here. The almost Kinksian “The Janitor Revealed” is a psychedelic marvel, and “Chartjunk” is based on the real life, mostly fractured and always contemptuous relationship between Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles and player Brandon Jenkins. It is not often a step back three is mentioned in a song, and the Bachman Turner Overdive meets Chicago tunage on the track makes it a must listen for non sports fans as well.
The album has a ragged in a good way feel to it with some real sweet Malkmusian guitar rock and several neo-psychedelic spin-out jams. The clever Pavement style wordsmithing is quick, to the point and nimble, but not overly dense and usually fun. At its core, this is a pop record with a twist. There are enough improvisational jazz type interludes to make you smarter, and several of the songs including “Cinnamon and Lesbians” would not have been out-of-place on one of the more ear friendly Frank Zappa albums.
The only real bone to pick on this album is the negative light they shine on the best city in Texas on “Houston Hades” where he says this town is so impressive from a distance, but hey, he was probably here in the middle of a heat and humidity wave that fried his brain, and since the song is so good all is forgiven.