After releasing videos alongside the advance singles “Viktor Borgia,” “Rushing The Acid Frat,” and “Come Get Me,” Stephen Malkmus’s solo record Grooved Denied is out in the world today. Stream the new album/Purchase the clear vinyl edition or CD HERE.
Malkmus’s solo dates are selling out quickly, see a full list of his May ’19 Groove Denied performances as well as upcoming shows with The Jicks below.
Stephen Malkmus will partake in a Reddit A.M.A. today at 4pm Eastern– more information about that interview is available here.
Ahead of the release of Groove Denied next Friday March 15th, Stephen Malkmus has premiered the track “Come Get Me” and its accompanying lyric video. The new song follows the recent release of “Viktor Borgia” and “Rushing The Acid Frat.” Malkmus’s Groove Denied performances are quickly selling out, see an updated list of dates both solo and with The Jicks below.
Stephen Malkmus had a vision … or so begins the lyrics to “Rushing The Acid Frat,” the newly released single from his forthcoming ‘Groove Denied'(out March 15th). The song title, inspired by Stephen’s memories of a specific student fraternity (think less beer-pong-bros, more “Grateful Dead druggy tie-dye” vibe) at his UVA alma mater, is a “Louie Louie”-style shindig rumpus, which he imagines as the soundtrack to a “Star Wars bar scene in such a frat … it’s kinda 12-bar but gigged with psych lyrics.”
In the accompanying video (above), created by Robert Strange and James Papper, features an animated Stephen taking a romp through LA’s Koreatown and Hollywood Forever Cemetery, followed by a trip to the moon, and back to a field on Earth (fun fact – it’s Ben Kweller’s ranch in Texas), tinged with hallucinatory enhancements.
Along with this May’s solo dates, additional shows have been added at NYC’s The Kitchen and the Art Institute Of Chicago (ticket links below).
For once, the rumors are true (some of ’em, anyway). The “rejected” electronic album that Stephen Malkmus has been alluding to over the past year will see the light of day on March 15th. That said, ‘Groove Denied’ is not a plunge into EDM or glitch-city. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. ‘Groove Denied’ is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a recent video interview, “It’s kind of funny to mess with stuff you’re not supposed to mess with.”
The first taste of Stephen’s new groove can be sampled today, with the release of single “Viktor Borgia,” and its accompanying video. The title playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. . “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982,” says Stephen, adding “and also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”
Stephen will embark on a brief solo tour, sans Jicks, in May. The newly announced run of dates can be found below. A full bio, composed by Simon Reynolds can be found as well.
When Stephen Malkmus first arrived on the scene in the early Nineties, as frontman and prime creative force in Pavement, the area of music with which he was associated couldn’t really have been further from the techno-rave sounds of the day. Electronic dance music, then as now, was about posthuman precision, inorganic textures, and hyper-digital clarity. Whereas the lo-fi movement in underground rock championed a messthetic of sloppiness, rough edges, and raw warmth – a hundred exquisitely subtle shades of distortion and abrasion. “Imperfect sound forever” was the rallying cry for a micro-generation of slacker-minded dreamers and misfits.
Fast forward to the present and here comes Malkmus with a surprising new project that embraces the very digital tools and procedures he’d have once gone out of his way to avoid. Groove Denied – Stephen’s first solo album without his cohorts the Jicks since 2001 – was made using Ableton’s Live, a software sequencer and “digital audio workstation” that is the preferred tool of discerning techno producers and deejays worldwide. Instead of a human-powered rhythm section of electric bass and drums, Malkmus’s arsenal further includes drum machines, along with a host of plug-in FX and “soft synths” (digital simulations of vintage electronic hardware that inhabit your computer rather than take over your entire living room).
For the first time on record, what you hear here is just Stephen and the Machine(s).
But Groove Denied is not a full-blown plunge into EDM or hiptronica, into the soundworlds of Deadmaus, Villalobos and Skee Mask. In fact, there aren’t any purely instrumental tracks on the album. Every song is precisely that: a song, featuring Malkmus staples like an artfully askew melody and an oblique lyric. But Groove Denied is Stephen playing hooky from his customary way of going about things, jolting himself out of a comfy routine. As Malkmus commented recently in a video interview, “It’s fun to mess with things that you’re not supposed to.”
This departure from the tried-and-tested stems back to earlier in this decade, when Malkmus spent a couple of years living in Berlin and was exposed to the city’s vibrant club scene Back in the Nineties, Stephen had given rave culture a wide berth, in part because of bad personal associations with the drug MDMA (he’d had “a really really bad trip” on Ecstasy in 1987, bizarrely on a visit to New York to see Miles Davis perform). But in Berlin, thanks to a younger deejay friend, Malkmus made forays into the city’s world-famous all-night party scene and became fascinated by techno. “The music can be great… you can zone out, dance, and focus on music – or just get wasted!”
It would not be entirely off-base, or an overly cute rock-historical reference, to describe Groove Denied as Stephen Malkmus’s Low. Although largely recorded in Oregon, the bulk of the album was written while he was living in Berlin. Updating his home studio with Ableton and teaching himself rudimentary Pro Tools, Malkmus “started fucking with effects and loops”. He compares the process of track-construction to the way his kids “used to make these girls on my iPhone – choosing hair colour, dresses, etc. That intuitive swipe and grab thing. Chop and move the waves. Apple computer scroll style of thinking.” It’s a very different way of making music to the feel-oriented way of coming up with chord progressions and rhythm grooves on a guitar alone or jamming with a band. And in fact, electric guitar – while it does feature on Groove Denied – is really “just color for the most part”.
Yet while the methodology behind Groove Denied is absolutely 21st Century, the reference points for the sound-palette hark back to the pre-digital era. “The electronic music side of the album, I wanted it to be sonically pre-Internet,” explains Stephen. “So the EQ-ing is a bit 1970’s, that sloppy DIY sequencing. And the influences are kinda 1981 post punk – actually quite British.” “A Bit Wilder”, one of the stand-out cuts, specifically recalls Cabaret Voltaire, its slack-stringed dank-with-reverb bass a dead ringer for the Stephen Mallinder sound. “Yes, I was thinking the Cabs – and Section 25, whose 1981 album Always Now I think is a serious underdog stoner album. That grey industrial Martin Hannett sound. But also all these cute DIY group that imitated The Cure back then – loners with 4-tracks tape recorders and dreams of “Killing An Arab”.” Malkmus says he was trying to conjure or reinhabit the “fan perspective” on things like Joy Division and the Cure – the sort of “getting it a bit wrong” that unintentionally brings something new into the world.
Groove Denied is frontloaded with this Cold Wave redux sound – a style we’ve never heard from Stephen Malkmus before. Opener “Belziger Faceplant”, for instance, features a most peculiar processed vocal that sounds withered and grotesque, like a deflated wrinkly balloon still lingering on in your house weeks after a party. “I envisioned ‘Belziger Faceplant’ as made by someone off their head after a night out in Friedrichshain,” says Malkmus, referring to a district of the former East Berlin now rife with techno clubs like the legendary Berghain. “Coming back at 5 AM, firing up the laptop in the morning light and trying to make a song, but the instruments are tripping over each other. You can’t even speak because of all the Ketamine or whatever!” Malkmus adds that he’s never tried K but “for some reason I imagine it like that”.
Then there’s “Viktor Borgia,” a title that playfully merges the name of the comedian-pianist and the ruthless dynasty of Italo-Spanish nobles. With its stately melody and the almost-English-accented vocal, the coordinates here are early Human League or even Men Without Hats. “Yes, I was thinking things like Pete Shelley’s ‘Homosapien’, the Human League, and DIY synth music circa 1982. And also about how in the New Wave Eighties, these suburban 18-and-over dance clubs were where all the freaks would meet – a sanctuary.”
“Forget Your Place” features another eerily wobbled vocal a la “Belziger Faceplant” plus dub-style detonations of submarine sonar and nagging bleeps. Frankly, it sounds pretty darn wasted. “Like ‘Belgizer’, this is a pretty solid Ableton-based track – moving waves around, finding a trippy loop and throwing an echo on it,” explains Stephen, adding that “at times it feels almost childish, working with Ableton – like finger painting. But ‘Forget Your Place’ also makes me think about death – don’t ask me why!”
Alongside the early Eighties “minimal synth” and industrial influences, the other main palette of tone-colors audible on Groove Denied is closer both to Stephen’s comfort zone and to what his fans would expect from him: “warped psych,” as he terms it, that avant-garage tradition of dirty guitars and ramshackle grooves, except that in this case, it’s “one person pretending to be a band.” That illusion is pulled off magnificently on loose ‘n’ swinging tunes like “Come Get Me” and “Love the Door,” although the electronic element manifests still with the crisp and prim pitter of drum machine beats and a spume of Moog frothing all over “Door”. Then there’s “Rushing the Acid Frat”, whose title came from Stephen’s memories of a student fraternity at the University of Virginia that, unlike the typical beery bro frathouse, had a “Grateful Dead druggy tie-dye” vibe. Malkmus imagined “Rushing” as a “Louie Louie”-style shindig rumpus to soundtrack a “Star Wars bar scene in such a frat… It’s kinda 12-bar, but gigged with psych lyrics”.
As the album enters the homestretch, it returns to more familiar Malkmusian terrain, with a warmer, grittier sound. “I did frontload Groove Denied with the stuff that signals “80’s/cold,” he says. “That stuff excited me the most – and it sounded braver. If I had another year, it could have been all in that style.” Still, with the second half offering gorgeous tunes like the hazy-lazy ramble “Bossviscerate” and the glittering “Ocean of Revenge” – both graced with his signature style of odd-angled melodic beauty – who’s complaining? Mellow closer “Grown Nothing” feels like Malkmus easing back towards the sound of his recent album with the Jicks, Sparkle Hard. In fact, although it has been released after Sparkle, 70% of Groove Denied was completed before work on the Jicks record. Indeed, Malkmus’s explorations with sound-processing influenced that album, most notably with the unexpected appearance of Auto-Tune on a couple of tracks.
Groove Denied will shake up settled notions of what Malkmus is about and what he’s capable of, repositioning him in the scheme of things. But looking at it from a different angle, his engagement with state-of-art digital tech actually makes perfect sense. After all, Nineties lo-fi – the sound in which he and Pavement were initially vaunted as leaders and pioneers – was nothing if not insistently sonic – it was all about the grain of guitar textures, about gratuitously over-done treatments and ear-grabbing effects. Noise for noise’s sake. It’s just that it was looking to older modes and antiquated technology. From the Big Muff and the Cry Baby Wah pedal through to today’s deliberately distorted deployment of pitch-correction, there’s really an unbroken continuity: the creative misuse of technology, the aestheticization of mistakes and flaws, wrongness-as-rightness.
As Stephen tweeted recently on the subject of Auto-Tune’s omnipresence in contemporary music-making: “We long 4 transformation….and we humans fucking luv tools.”
Simon Reynolds, Jan 2019
(Tour Dates, New Shows sans Jicks In Bold, On Sale Friday Jan 25, 10am Local Time)
As we reach the end of 2018, it would not be an exaggeration to say we’re in the midst of many difficult moments in human history. The icecaps are melting. America is on the brink of a constitutional crisis. You can’t walk 15 feet in any major metropolis without breaking your neck on a discarded scooter. Your personal data (including everything we collect in this campaign) is being used for nefarious means. Nearly 15% of the public believes we actually told someone to “sound more like Adele.” Nearly $40 million was spent to produce “The Hurricane Heist”
All of that said, there is still beauty, mystery, and grandeur in what’s left of the fine arts. And when you’re done with the fine arts, there’s Matador’s incredible array of 2018 titles from Belle and Sebastian, Body/Head, boygenius, Car Seat Headrest, Lucy Dacus, Iceage, Interpol, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Liz Phair, Snail Mail, Kurt Vile and Yo La Tengo. Will these records help you sort out a world gone mad? hey, they’re great, but not THAT GREAT. Almost certainly, and that’s why your friends at Matador —a label as magnanimous as it is humble — are offering an unprecedented 25% OFF when you use the code, “terribletimes” thru December 13. Orders of $40.00 and above receive a free tote bag and take it from me, a tote bag skeptic, you’re way less likely to drop shit all over the sidewalk when you have a stylish bag.
Prior to tomorrow’s show at LA’s Greek Theatre with Courtney Barnett and Waxahatchee, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks visit KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” for a live session today at 11:15 pacific time.
Stephen Malkmus interrupted an afternoon otherwise spent sitting around an empty Denver venue waiting to soundcheck with the Jicks by visiting Colorado Public Radio’s “Open Air” for the 3-song acoustic sesssion below (AND DON’T THINK WE AREN’T GRATEFUL)
The Jicks return to the road October 5 in Los Angeles supporting Courtney Barnett. Check the schedule below — there’s a new headlining date ate Brooklyn Steel on January 25 of next year.
During the first leg of Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks’ Sparkle Hard tour, the group stopped off at KEXP’s Gathering Space in Seattle to play tracks off the new album. Those performances are online now, and The Jicks are back on the road too, performing tonight at Slim’s in San Francisco. Before their show, they’ll be live-streaming a session at Light Rail Studios at 6pm EST/3pm PST, which you can watch HERE.
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have been on a tear this year, releasing their new album Sparkle Hard, performing on CBS This Morning, releasing mini-documentaries, and touring across North America. Today, Malkmus and director Brook Linder release an acoustic version of Sparkle Hard track, “Solid Silk.”
The Jicks are back on the road beginning next Tuesday in Petaluma, carrying on to a few more sold-out dates in California. See their full itinerary below, including UK/EU dates in October.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks visited the set of “CBS This Morning” this past Saturday for performances of ‘Sparkle Hard”s “Solid Silk” and “Refute”, along with Stephen being interviewed by the program’s Anthony Mason (below)
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks on tour (new date in bold) :
After a wait some might describe as “interminable”, or perhaps even “long”, ‘Sparkle Hard’, the latest & greatest album from Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks is now available to purchase or download. If you’re in the Seattle area this coming Tuesday, consider making your way to KEXP’s Gathering Space at noon AND NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE IT’S A LOVELY SPACE FOR GATHERING(S).
Via director Brook Linder, here’s an acoustic performance of Stephen Malkmus’ “Middle America”. The Jicks’ previously announced US tour commences June 1 ; the June 14 date at Brooklyn’s Music Hall Of Williamsburg is sold out but a second show has been added the following night (see below).
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to hear an extended conversation between author/screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis (left) and guitarist/vocalist/fantasy sports enthusiast Stephen Malkmus (right)? Me neither, but your opportunity to do so can be found above!
During January’s week-of-release whirlwind of NYC activity for the release of ‘Wigout At Jagbags’, SM & The Jicks took up Bobby Bonilla’s kind offer to show them the Bronx and topped it off with a session at WFUV. “Shibboleth” is shown above ; there’s also versions of “Lariat” and “Scattegories”.
The 6th album of studio mastery from Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, the not-at-all Dag Nasty baiting ‘Wigout At Jagbags’ is in finer record stores and is available from all better digital retailers today. (ALSO AVAILABLE DIRECT FROM US).
As previously mentioned, Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks and Momofuku’s Milk Bar have joined forces to bring us Wig Out At Jagbags inspired new flavor, “Cinnamon & Lesbians”.
Starting tomorrow, visit Milk Bar’s Williamsburg location (382 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn) to get a taste of “Cinnamon and Lesbians”, available for this week only.
All purchases of this very special soft serve will come with a limited edition poster designed by the one and only Gary Panter . SM & The Jicks will also be making a special in-store appearance at Milk Bar Williamsburg tomorrow at 4pm to sign posters and enjoy some ice cream with fans.
And don’t forget the band are performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon tonight!
Watch the video for Cinnamon and Lesbians here. Pick up Wig Out At Jagbags (out tomorrow!) on the Matador Store.
Jagbaggers, we’ve got a lot more exciting Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks news to announce.
Firstly, just a reminder that Wig Out At Jagbags is currently streaming in full on Amazon. Listen up and love it here.
Secondly, on Monday, January 6th, 2014 Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks will be performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Interested in attending? Enter here for a chance to win seats on the band bench and an opportunity to surround the stage during Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks’ performance. Please make sure you include the following band code: SMJ, in your entry form.
Thirdly, if you didn’t win the Other Music private in-store contest fear not. The band will also be playing an in-store at Generation Records in NYC on Tuesday, January 7 at 8pm. Come by and ring in the release of Wig Out At Jagbags. All you gotta do to get in is pick up the record at Generation on Jan 7. First come, first served. More details on the below flyer.
Synchronize your Malkmus/Jicks watches:
NOW – Wig Out At Jagbags streaming in full on Amazon.
Monday Jan 6 – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performance. Win a chance to attend here.
Tuesday Jan 7 – Generation Records in-store performance.
Thursday Jan 9 – Other Music private in-store for contest winners. Winners announced here.
And hey now, there’s a good chance we’ll have even more Malkmus & The Jicks fun stuff to announce in the coming days. Just keep it here for more…
Matador Store Pre-order:
Pre-orders from the Matador store receive pre-order-only “Pick Up The Spare” 7” (single sided 7” on strawberry red vinyl) – while supplies last!
Pre-order from iTunes receive a download of “Lariat” instantly, and non-album track “Pick Up The Spare” on release date.
The band will be touring UK/Europe in January, with US dates to follow starting in Feb:
Mon Jan 13 — Leeds | Brudenell
Tue Jan 14 — Glasgow | Oran Mor
Wed Jan 15 — Manchester | Gorilla
Thu Jan 16 — London | Forum
Sat Jan 18 — Paris | Divan Du Monde
Mon Jan 20 — Madrid | Joy Eslava
Tue Jan 21 — Barcelona | Bikini
Thu Jan 23 — Milan | Tunnel
Sat Jan 25 — Fribourg | Fri-Son
Sun Jan 26 — Frankfurt | Zoom
Mon Jan 27 — Berlin | Postbahnhof
Wed Jan 29 — Copenhagen |Vega
Thu Jan 30 — Hamburg | Knust
Fri Jan 31 — Cologne | Gebaude 9
Sat Feb 1 — Brussels | Botanique Orangerie
Sun Feb 2 — Amsterdam | Bitterzoet
It was the 40th anniversary of the release of Can’s Ege Bamyasi LP (an album known to me in my youth as Ege Bamyasi Okraschoten, because I didn’t know anything), and WEEK-END Fest was happening in Cologne. The dates were November 30 through December 2, 2012, and the festival featured artists such as Ian Svenonious, Justus Köhnke, Alexis Taylor (of Hot Chip), Scritti Politti, Deerhoof and Stephen Malkmus.
WEEK-END Fest co-curator Jan Lankisch (of Tomlab Records decided to ask Stephen, currently residing in Germany, whether he wanted to play the entirety of Ege Bamyasi with a band of German musicians Jan had rounded up. And Steve loved the idea. So after a few rehearsals, Steve was joined by Sebastian Blume (synths), Felix Hedderich (bass), Jan Philipp Janzen (drums) and Phillip Tielsch (guitar) for a truly magical & wondrous performance of one of the greatest albums of all time. It took place on December 2 at the Alte Kranhalle in Cologne, and was committed to tape by the band. The sound quality is fantastic; the performance jumps out of the grooves and bubbles its way through your stereo.
We are releasing the LP as a 3500-copy limited edition on green vinyl for Record Store Day, April 20, 2013. (Domino will be releasing it on red vinyl in Europe.) The hand-printed silkscreened sleeve was designed by David Shrigley, who also designed the poster for the event, inspired by the original artwork for Ege Bamyasi. It is being printed in Germany by Slowboy.
We’re truly honored to be part of this special collaboration between tons of talented artists.
“This was the first Can LP I bought brand-new (Torquay, July 1972), and it is still my favourite.”
— Julian Cope, Krautrocksampler
“Ege Bamyasi was one of those marginal cut-out LPs (along with the 1st Stooges, Rhinoceros, Ambergris a.o.) that you’d find in the bargain bins of department stores in the early 70s. For kids with no money and an allure to weirdness these cheapos were significant listens. Ege Bamyasi with its okra can cover and live circus rock shot on the back was completely singular. And it sounded cool as shit. I still check it as one of the top 10 greatest rock LPs of all time, and it remains a perpetual inspiration.”