Tag Archives: Stephen Malkmus

Klosterman vs. Malkmus

Stephen MalkmusRemember back when Liz Phair came out with her Matrix-produced pop album and rebuked her indie fanboys by saying she’s always been attracted to manly Marine type dudes as opposted to bookish music nerds? Well, bookish music nerds are getting rebuked once again by another 90s indie icon. This time Stephen Malkmus reveals that he’s really, really into fantasy league sports to Chuck Klosterman in an interview for GQ.

The only member he consistently communicates with is multiinstrumentalist Bob Nastanovich, but that’s mostly because they’re in some of the same fantasy leagues. “Stephen is a pretty difficult guy to access,” Nastanovich explains via telephone, calling from a racetrack in Illinois where he’s working. “If you’re not in the same town with him, you don’t really hear from him. I’ve found that the easiest way to get in touch with him, even if it’s about a Pavement-related issue, is to propose a trade in one of our fantasy leagues and attach my question in an e-mail memo.”

Klosterman adds, “I cannot exaggerate the degree to which Malkmus enjoys fantasy sports; he almost seems to like them more than music. […] Malkmus does not watch the NHL, yet he still participates in a fantasy hockey league. He’s that kind of guy.”

That’s almost too weird to believe. Or is it? Lots of music geeks love sports, I guess…

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O.G. Indie War: Kim Deal vs. Stephen Malkmus

Angry John Sellers stirs up some shit with Kim Deal in Time Out New York:

You know, [Stephen] Malkmus is being a bit of a bitch in interviews recently. One thing he said last summer referred to me as “trashy mouth.” And he just did this article in Spin where he alluded to me unpleasantly, saying [something like], “You know, I always thought that Pavement could have had one of those big hits in the early ’90s with ‘Cut Your Hair,’ but I guess people preferred ‘Cannonball.'” […] I liked Pavement. But if he keeps fucking smacking his mouth off about me, I’m going to end up not being able to listen to any of their fucking records again. Anyway, I thought, God, man, “Cut Your Hair” isn’t as good of a song as “Cannonball,” so fuck you. How’s that? Your song was just a’ight, dawg.

Awwwwww shit. This is going to make Biggie vs. Tupac look like a couple kittens fighting over a ball of yarn. We’re all gonna have to choose sides in this war. Better get strapped.

MP3: The Breeders – “Bang On” from Mountain Battles, out April 8 on 4ad.

MP3: Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Cold Son” from Real Emotional Trash, out now on Matador.

Pavement reunion

EW.com pulls an NME and twists a few qualified, tentative quotes into a fullblown Pavement reunion.

Stephen Malkmus: “Something small in 10 years like the Zeppelin thing sounds good to me… Obviously, the arena would be smaller than theirs, though.”

Mark Ibold: “Why not next month?” he jokes. “No, it needs to be carefully planned.”

Scott Kannberg: “Matador is having a 20th anniversary party soon, so maybe we’ll try to do something for that.”

In other words, It’d be fun, but don’t hold your breath.


Pavement – “Rattled By The Rush” from Wowee Zowee: Sordid Sentinels Edition

Pavement – “Heckler Spray/In The Mouth Of A Desert” from Pavement Live At The Palace

Pitchfork Fest 2007: Days 2-3

Forkfest beer tentFriday night was a fun bonus, but the real festival started on Saturday. That’s when the place filled up with perfectly unkempt indie kids, all the vendors were in full effect, and they kept scruffs like me out of the VIP section.

The importance of the weather cannot be overstated. When it’s hot as balls like it had been for the previous two Fork Fests, it becomes hard to drink the Goose Island beer and revolting to get too close to other sweaty people. When it’s over 100 and humid as hell, you need an American-style light lager. In fact, you need a lot of them. And you have to wear shorts even if your legs are pasty.

But when it’s mid-70s and breezy, you can wear jeans if you want, you can drink good beer, and you can work your way through a thick crowd occasionally bumping into a scantily clad young person without immediately being covered in stank. You can even eat Chipotle. Why not?

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Stephen Malkmus – Face the Truth

Stephen MalkmusFace the Truth (Matador)

What’s it like to face the truth with Stephen Malkmus? Unsurprisingly, it’s not a straightforward experience. There’s little heart-baring on his new cd, but there is a grab-bag of cryptic, prankish lyrics set to catchy melodies that, as usual, have more to offer than they seem to at first.

There’s a certain disappointment, though, in listening to a collection of songs called Face the Truth and finding them as nonchalantly disengaged as ever. As soon the elegant ellipse seems to momentarily reveal vulnerability, singing “Now I need some help to find out what I feel” (“It Kills”), he then immediately adds: “It kills the time.” Whew! How much commitment can one man take?

You might miss the emotional risk-taking, but you also can’t resist the beats and melodies on Face the Truth. I had it on my headphones on my way in to work this morning and was nodding, harmonizing and air-drumming along for most of the way. Malkmus seems endlessly inventive (though “Post Paint Boy” sounds like “Bring on the Major Leagues,” I did notice) in creating heart-stoppingly lovely melodies, like the hymn-like choral beauty of “Loud Cloud Crowd” and the gorgeous “Freeze the Saints.” The album is tender, pretty, catchy, even joyful – it just isn’t primal.

I want him to be more primal. When Malkmus bid good night to the rock and roll era on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, he did so in a song that escalated into absolutely killer passion. Where is that passion now?

That’s some of the problem of the aging rocker: what do you say about growing stability, contentment, a good relationship? Paul Westerberg stumbled with this subject matter, writing some honest but boring odes to domestic life. Malkmus hasn’t succumbed to that entirely (in fact he writes a snappy number celebrating home cooking called “Mama” that proves domesticity can yield a good pop song), but there’s some of it on Face the Truth. “Help me languish here” feels like a rephrasing of “all that we want is a shady lane.” He puts this stuff forward with more rock urgency than some of his peers have, but the subject matter seems to be resting, embracing contentment – languishing.

Some would say he’s been languishing his whole career – never quite putting it all on the line. But there have been times when he screamed (like that awesome wail of “torture!” on Slanted and Enchanted) and sounded like he was pleading to the gods for meaning, substance, belief. Maybe he was more fully engaged by the specter of rootless, drug-addled youth in the landscape he inhabited in his early days with Pavement. He’s still writing great songs, but he no longer sounds haunted, possessed, as he did when he yelled in escalating volume: “They don’t need you anymore, little girl, little boy, little girl, little boy, aaggghhhhhhh!” – a wild scream that merged with one of the greatest, most impassioned guitar solos in rock.

It was also one of the greatest screams in rock. God knows what he was screaming about – maybe he was just celebrating the crest of the song, but the emotion was there. And that willingness to be in the moment and go fucking nuts is part of what makes Malkmus great. Getting older doesn’t have to mean you stop screaming. His work has always had an air of tossed-off brilliance, but now it feels like polite brilliance. That just can’t go on forever. Happy he may be, but the laconic smartass-indie-rocker surely can’t just offer us politeness for the rest of his career.

Download “Baby C’mon” courtesy of Matador.

He’s Got Style, Miles and Miles

A recent New York Times article discusses the recurrence in our culture of melodrama and earnestness, especially since 9/11. The writer was focusing on recent movies like “Far From Heaven,” that despite appearances, have steered away from ironic distance and ended up engaging their subjects with impassioned seriousness. (At least, that’s his argument about “Far From Heaven,” which he initially found tongue-in-cheek and not earnest enough.) In passing, he mentions Beck’s “Sea Change” and Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” as other examples of the new seriousness.

It may be, and I have no quarrel with saying goodbye to too much ironic cleverness. But there’s a new example of “straight,” non-ironic presentation in the media that I don’t think I can tolerate. Stephen Malkmus has done a cheesecake shot to promote his new cd, “Pig Lib.” The Village Voice has a photograph of him lying on a bed, his arms thrown over his head, his face turned langorously toward the camera. It looks like any old handsome, empty Calvin Klein model till you tip the paper sideways and there’s his face! His intelligent, chiseled face that used to wear its beauty so casually! He used to not even seem to realize he was exquisite! Suddenly he’s using it and exploiting it and even seeming to enjoy it!

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Coalesce as Rock Band

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

The Warsaw, Brooklyn NY, Dec. 6, 2002

I’m going to tell you something that makes me look like a weirdo or perhaps, just a sad person. I once wrote a song about Stephen Malkmus and gave a tape of it to a roadie at a Pavement show. “Will you give this to Stephen?” I asked. The roadie looked at me kindly, like he must have looked at all the Stephen maniacs, and said, “I’ll make sure he gets it.” I was thrilled! Pavement’s roadie had spoken to me kindly! Talk about a brush with greatness. However, that was that. I never heard a word about my offering. (Did I have my name and phone number on the tape? OF COURSE.) Years later, Malkmus said in a chickfactor interview that ‘kids’ sometimes gave him tapes with songs about him: “They go, ‘Steve Malkmus! Steve Malkmus!’ Stuff like that.”

Continue reading Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Coalesce as Rock Band