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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Stephen Malkmus
Real Emotional Trash
Matador

Rating: 8.5/10 ?


March 4, 2008
I haven't even listened to ten minutes yet* of the newest release from Stephen Malkmus, and I can make this bold assessment: it's unfair. It's not fair how biased I am toward anything Stevie (that's how he signed his name on my copy of his debut); it's not fair how much talent this man reeks; it's unfair how effortlessly cool his slacker vocals and bluesy guitar licks are. If all in love is fair, than Stephen Malkmus is the poster boy for musical love a, er, unfairs.

After all, his pre-solo get-up, a Stockton rock band named Pavement, was always the outfit du jour of tastemakers. For the better part of that watershed decade, the Nineties, they were the not-so-secret little band that was always better than whatever band everyone was currently in love with. But unlike a sordid Plan B, Pavement were the real deal. More sardonic, off-kilter, musically daring, and engaging than your main squeeze could purport to be. Yet! They never achieved the main street status of R.E.M., Nirvana, Green Day and hordes of others. Pavement rode in the sidecar, but somehow managed to steer, swerve and crash the damn thing. And their five albums prove what an awesome ride it was.

Back to Mr. Malkmus, and his esteemed solo career. Real Emotional Trash is his fourth release, in a prolific post-Pavement run. Natch, the forty-something indie statesman sounds like he's having more fun continuing to rock than raising cute kids in Portland. Songs go on for as long as they damn well please. Guitar and keyboard riffs are as sinewy as anything by a brother Allman. And that voice, that higher-education voice of a generation, feels as welcome as an honorary degree, and definitely as ironic. How does it compare to his previous three records - or eight, if you count his former band? Suffice it to say that's a rhetorical question. If Joe DiMaggio made albums… well you get the point.

His terrific backing band, the effeminate Jicks, somehow manage to sound eerily like Pavement. Ah, and therein lies the puzzle piece: Pavement were a raucous band indeed, but foremost they were players of songs, and it's the songs of Malkmus that carried the flag then, and capture the flag now. The topics, as clear as Southern California smog; their modal chord progressions, as twangy as tang; the surprising details that keep the listener off-balance. This is the stuff that Malkmus paves his musical roads with, and apparently it's here to stay. Like fellow indie rainmaker Britt Daniel of Spoon, this traction doesn't wallow around in ruts. It's so sharp, it cuts right through.

*Unlike writers from certain "men's magazines," I indeed listened to this whole album. A lot.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro

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