Music Reviews
Wig Out at Jagbags

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks Wig Out at Jagbags

(Matador) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

Gabbie:  Okay, I just want to establish initially that you have listened to the album once through, and I have listened to it literally (figuratively) eight thousand times.

Christina:  Yes, this is correct. Well, technically 1.5 times, but the .5 was while I was cooking/very drunk.

G:  Very good. I just put it on again, and I have to say that the opening track makes me want to punch small children in the face at this point. PLA-NE-TA-RY-MO-TION.

C:  Ha, yeah it really just plods along.

G:  I think I was excited about it at first but it's just like a beating drum in my head now.

G:  That's getting ahead of things, though. First impressions? My take after fifty spins is that this is "Pavement lite."

G:  (P.S. The song just changed to the second track, The Janitor Revealed, and it's already a huge relief.)

C:  Let me start off by saying that I am a huge Pavement fan and Malkmus & the Jicks' Pig Lib is one of my favorite albums ever, but I do think that each album since then has gone downhill.

G:  Didn't we agree that this is better than Mirror Traffic, though?

C:  To me, a lot of the songs on this album just sound like lazy Pavement ripoffs. It's almost like Malkmus is like, "How little can I get away with at this point?" I actually think that Mirror Traffic has a couple more actually catchy songs than this one. At least there's a little variety in the type of songs and song structure.

G:  I think this one is more homogenous, yeah. I actually felt pretty stupid when I first listened to Wig Out at Jagbags because it sounded like early Beck, and I hadn't even realized that Mirror Traffic was Beck-produced. Maybe something rubbed off on Malkmus? Or else yeah, it's just more laziness.

C:  You can definitely hear the Beck influence. I also think that the Pavement tour a couple years back wasn't really good for Malkmus's solo stuff. I feel like he was starting to be a little more experimental and then kind of just got pulled back into what he used to be doing.

G:  I also hear a lot of the Dead in this. And then you get to Lariat, which I believe is a single, and he literally says sings "We lived on Tennyson and venison and the Grateful Dead."

C: Oh, yeah lots of Dead. Maybe that's why I'm not a huge fan because I hate the Dead.

G:  Dude, me too! I'm so embarrassed that I hate them, but let's get real.

C:  I can handle some of their studio stuff, but oh God, when they just start wanking off their guitars, I can't take it.

G:  I am not really a jam band person. Just makes me think of those fucking jug bands in college and this dude I dated who made me go to a Phish show outside of Pittsburgh and blech. So yeah, Steve-o, maybe stay away from that. OH! Speaking of Malkmus and live shows and touring, weren't we both at the Pavement reunion show in Philly in 2010? Before we knew each other?

C:  Yes! You and me and everyone in Philadelphia.

G:  Right, everybody born in 1987 or earlier.

C:  Or, every guy I've gone on an OkCupid date with in the last 3 years.

G:  Right? I think you're right about the tour ruining his groove and pushing him into more Pavement territory. But let me get this straight, Pavement is the be-all for me. I don't mind more of that. But Jagbags is not doing it for me as a Pavement redux, if that's what it was meant to be, and I doubt it was.

C:  I just found this. Malkmus says in a statement: "Wig Out At Jagbags is inspired by Cologne, Germany, Mark Von Schlegell, Rosemarie Trockel, Von Spar and Jan Lankisch, Can and Gas; Stephen-Malkmus-imagined Weezer/Chili Peppers, Sic Alps, UVA in the late 80's, NYRB, Aroma Charlottenburg, inactivity, Jamming, Indie guys trying to sound Memphis, Flipper, Pete Townshend, Pavement, The Joggers, The NBA and home life in the 2010s …” So...he is inspired by Pavement. He is not known for his modesty.

G:  Ha ha indie guys trying to sound Memphis. Plus inspiring himself. Nice. I mean, what was it you were saying about J Smoov? You were like "this is literally a Pavement song" or something.

C:  I did the Arrested Development, "OH COME ON."

G:  HA! Yeah, I thought he was actually re-doing Range Life.

C:  I swore it was a Pavement or old Malkmus song that he just put on this album. Let's listen.

G:  Already there. Yeah, all I hear is Range Life. Just sing along. Maybe also Heaven is a Truck. I think this is the entire problem with Jagbags. I am not going to remember any of these songs until they're playing. I have no recall for them. Whereas Pavement sticks to your ribs.

C:  On the second listen I don't hear it as much, actually.

G:  Whatever, I'm the music writer and I'm calling it! Total self rip-off.

C:  But yeah, I agree. Nothing really stands out. I was rocking the fuck out to Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain this morning and I just can't ever see myself doing that with any of these songs.

G:  Ugh. yeah. Rumble at the Rainbo is playing now and he's so fucking literal. I AM PLAYING A PUNK ROCK SONG NOW.

C:  THIS IS MY PUNK ROCK SONG GUYS. But it's SO not punk at all.

G:  No, it's Pavement lite. NEXT!

C:  The intro to this one is promising, but then the cheesy horns come in. And it sounds like Dexy's MIdnight Runner's song.

G:  Yeah, Chartjunk is definitely his Get Back. "Check out my sweet trumpets and harmonies!"

C:  Now I'm getting shades of Billy Joel. Gross. Now I can't get the image of Malkmus singing Moving Out out of my head.

G:  Ew. Well, speaking of aging rock stars…I always thought Malkmus was the hottest. Cocky, but (and?) hot. Maybe it's legit for him to be showing wear and tear by now?

C:  Oh yeah, he was a dreamboat.

G: I'm envisioning him as Peter Frampton in that weird Beatles/Sgt. Pepper movie they made in the '70s.

The one where Aerosmith plays the villains?

C:  YES. That's perfect. It's so weird, I like this jam part in Chartjunk. I'm liking parts of the songs, but very few songs as a whole. Like you get little flashes of his past genius. A riff here, a funny lyric there. But I just get an overwhelming sense of laziness.

G:  Totally agree. The next track, Independence Street, I think is only salvaged by good lyrics -- "I don't have the stomach for your brandy/I can hardly sip your tea." But you already see how annoyed I am by how literal the rest of his lyrics seem to be. WE GET IT. STUFF USED TO BE GOOD ONCE.

C:  I mean, he's never really been known for a light touch or subtlety, but this seems heavy-handed to a crazy degree.

G:  I actually really love Scattegories, but it's one of the shortest songs on the album. And maybe the most reminiscent of Pavement, arguably? Ha ha, "Condoleeza's Rice" is a pretty clever lyric, but everybody knows how much I love puns. Nobody else does.

C:  Yes, agreed. It actually has a definite end, versus degrading into a shred storm. Also, I heard that the Cinnamon and Lesbians ice cream flavor sucks.

G:  Sounds like something Little Baby's would serve.

C:  Close. Momofuku Milk Bar:

G:  Ugh. Of. Course. Of course this is a real thing already. God. I hate when people make fun of "hipsters," whatever the fuck that actually means, but I'm this close. This makes me want to flip tables over. I'm fucking done.

C:  Yeah, I really don't like the last song, either. I got really annoyed the first time I listened to it. I can't put my finger on why.

G:  Honestly, this whole album really annoys me at this point. The more I talk about it the more it annoys me. Especially because I was pretty excited when I went through it the first time. No staying power with this one.

C:  Maybe we're both on our period. AMIRITE LADIES?

G:  HEYYOOOO. Whatever. C+. Bring on the new Pixies album.

C:  YES PLEASE. I think C+ is totally fair.

G:  I can already see people freaking out when I give this a 5/10 and inevitably somebody says that's not a C+. The ratings don't translate to grades, people!

C:  He could do so much better.

G:  He has done so much better a million times. Skip this one, is my advice.

C:  Exactly, compared to almost everything else he's done, it's just not even worth the time.

G:  Agreed. Thanks for making me feel better about ragging on one of my idols.

C:  Haha, my pleasure. I do feel kind of bad talking shit on him, but I'm just, disappointed.

G:  Same. It is what it is.

Thanks to my friend Christina Finger for helping me hash out this album.