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Lifestyle

January 12, 2014

Reviews of new pop music releases

STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS, ‘Wig Out at Jagbags’

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“Wig Out at Jagbags” is the first Jicks album since Stephen Malkmus reunited with his old Pavement buddies for a tour, and its emphasis on wit, wordplay and concision could be residual effects of revisiting his classic indie-rock songs from the ‘90s. Though this, the sixth Jicks album, still has some bluesy chord changes, heavy guitar solos, and dissonant freakouts, “Wig Out” is not nearly as jammy as 2008’s “Real Emotional Trash” or 2003’s “Pig Lib.” The band recorded “Wig Out” in Denmark while Malkmus, 47, and his family lived in Berlin. (They have since returned to Portland, Ore.)

The funny “Lariat” and catchy “The Janitor Revealed” possess Pavement’s breezy charm, and the album is dense with great Malkmus quips. With its inside-basketball jokes (including the easy-listening, ironically groovy “J Smoov”), and its jabs at, among other things, hipster nostalgia for the Pavement era and Foxygen, “Wig Out at Jagbags” is Malkmus at his ironic, comic best.

— Steve Klinge

LIL B, ‘05 F --- Em’

1/2

Bowie may have started 2013’s most worthwhile album trend — no massive prerelease buildup — with Beyoncé following in hot, top-selling pursuit, but Lil B has exceeded even these superstars with his own massive F-bomb. On Christmas Eve, sans any advance warning, the controversial (remember 2011’s “I’m Gay (I’m Happy)?”), Twitter-savvy rapper / producer dropped “05,” a mixtape of 101 new tracks, free, in the spirit of the holiday.

No hype could prepare you for almost six hours of music, let alone Lil B’s spaced-out atmospherics and cutting, sung-spoken flow, with lyrics often critical of the hip-hop game and the cliché of rap’s violent subject matter. The eerily operatic “Praying 4 A Brick,” the airily soulful “Rob the Jeweler,” and the loopy “Cocaine Option” allow Lil B to sound off in menacing, echo-heavy manner. But tracks like “I Own Swag” and “Bloggers Anthem” are somewhat sillier. Then again, you’re never quite certain whether Lil B is serious or sarcastic. That’s part of the intrigue. You’re unsure what he’s griping about during the driving “Bar Mitzvah,” but its fluid bass and celebratory Sound of Philly-style strings are worth sitting through 100 other songs to get to.

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