What Am I Listening To 2014 – “Houston Hades” by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

Posted: January 17, 2014 in Album Reviews, What Am I Listening To 2014
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Stephe Malkmus Wig OUt at JagbagsOn the appropriately titled “Wig Out at Jagbags”, former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus seems to have something to say about everyone he encounters. from aging punks to surreal teenagers, from Houston trucker drivers to pop chart toppers and many others in between.

Right from the start you can tell this album is going to have a bit of personality.  Each song is a pretty much a uniquely creative construct with good stylistic diversity and enough interesting ideas, quirky lyrics and unusual melodies to fill out the album.

There’s a solid foundation of pop hooks here, and you can hear how this album could have gone in a more polished direction had that been the vision, but the lo-fi production and twisted arrangements might make this music an acquired taste for some. Over the course of the album you’ll hear everything from ELO-style harmonies to atonal guitar fills. Personally I like that sort of thing when it’s done well, as it mostly is here. Think Beck with a soupcon of Rundgren and a few dashes of Zappa with a bit of rough sandpaper run over it all and you’re halfway there.

This album might not burn down the charts but it’s worth hearing if you’re looking for something a bit off center within the margins of an enjoyable listening.

I’ve chosen “Houston Hades” for the What Am I Listening To 2014 basically as a gut decision. It struck me as perhaps having a wider appeal than some tracks, yet It will give you an idea about the album. There really isn’t a track you could call representative of the whole.


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