Real Emotional Trash
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
It may be living in the past to bring up Pavement when speaking of Stephen Malkmus, considering he's released several successful solo albums since the breakup of the seminal '90s band that he founded. Unfortunately, Pavement was too important and Malkmus' subsequent output too minor to warrant judging him in the vacuum of a Pavement-less universe.
Like Frank Black and the Pixies or Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins, Malkmus will forever be associated with Pavement because of what the band represented for a specific time and place. That doesn't mean that solo work is unwanted or unnecessary; it simply means that the breakup of Pavement was the end of an era, and anything released by Malkmus since has been (and will continue to be) an echo of that era, a pale shadow of what once was. Like a high school reunion, minus the classmates.
It's no surprise, then, that there is serious talk of Pavement's second coming. Really, who wants a high school reunion if none of your old pals are going to be there? Like Black and Corgan, Malkmus is either really lonely or really broke (although Pavement was never that commercially successful, so it's gotta be the loneliness). Regardless, a Pavement reunion is on the horizon, and, in the meantime, Stephen Malkmus has another fake Pavement album to satisfy the fans.
And how is Real Emotional Trash?
There are some stylistic flourishes, the highlight of which is a self-indulgent 10-minute title track that starts off as vintage Malkmus (in full awkward-storyteller form) before digressing into a noisy Wilco-type jam. These kinds of surprises are few and far between, though, and Malkmus sticks mostly to what he knows best: Pavement songs.
And it's pretty good, for a Pavement album. --Joshua Kline
Light and Limber
Brain Thrust Mastery
We Are Scientists
The second album from the indie, but not really darlings who specialize in a certain kind of pre-packaged aw-shucks goofiness (the kind that makes you famous on MTV2) is another danceable pop-rock confection that works best when things are light and limber. Like the debut With Love and Squalor, Brain Thrust Mastery contains moments of brilliance ("Ghoul" and "Lethal Enforcer" stand head-and-shoulders above the rest of the album, as well as every 80s retro pop act currently en vogue), but for every genuine thrill there's a guilty pleasure, along with the occasional head-scratching WTF moment--such as the god awful faux-sincerity of "Spoken For."
Sure, they have ballads to sing and lost love to mourn, but slow moments on an album like this are enough to bring the whole thing to a grinding halt.
Fortunately, aside from "Spoken For," slow and sincere are few and far between, and the majority of the album is infused with an infectious, throbbing rhythm that's sure to dominate dance floors and club mixes for the next year.
Aside from the occasional emotional overflow (such as the inexplicable Killers-meet-Jimmy Eat World anthems "Impatience" and "Tonight"), Brain Thrust Mastery works well as a guilt-free social CD, perfect for smart kids who like to party but haven't yet discovered the joys of LCD Soundsystem. -JK
Lil' Tae Rides Again
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey
Established local artists JFJO have long done Tulsa proud with their psychedelic brand of improv jazz that's recognized coast to coast as being at the forefront of its genre. Now, with their latest album, Brian Haas, Reed Mathis and Josh Raymer have employed the genius of electronic producer Tae Meyulks to help push the band towards new heights of clarity and purpose.
Where previous albums took days to record, Lil' Tae took over a year, and with good reason. JFJO have all but completely re-defined their sound; the album is ominous, ambient, and very, very electronic.
Layers of atmospheric melody, digitally manipulated percussion, and roving undertones of a sinister low end make for a beautiful sonic collage of mood and color, one that practically begs to be listened to in an altered-state. Reminiscent of Squarepusher and Aphex Twin, along with the occasional nod to Eno, Lil' Tae breaks new ground for the Tulsa trio by presenting a lush soundscape of cinematic psychedelia that's unlike anything being done in Oklahoma right now.
One can only imagine how all this will translate live, and on, April 4 Tulsans can be the first to find out as the Blank Slate plays host to the Lil' Tae CD release party (see Music, page 45). -JK
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