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Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – “Middle America”

By Dalton Puffer; For the Clock
On March 11, 2018

Stephen Malkmus is at it again. The renowned American front man and singer-songwriter of the lo-fi, indie alternative band Pavement has been writing music and turning heads since the end of the 80s. And his ability to do so has yet to waver.

Though, unusual to Malkmus' style, and seemingly in light of the contemporary America, he has become a bit more reflective of the current times.His first song in four years with The Jicks – “Middle America” -- is a true ode to the late Pavement we all knew. The soft pulse of a rolling guitar and the croon of Malkmus' many refrains come on in abundant supply with this song, not much unlike his others.

It seems we'll never come to see the day when Malkmus runs out of hooks. Hooks that always compel the listener to plug their earbuds deep, shutting out the noisy world and losing themselves to the buoyancy of his music.

Pavement was a band that cared little for what others think, easily revealed through their slacker riffs, tone and lyrics; their cool style always knew how to grab the attention of people. Fortunately, this style still holds true with The Jicks. But, in this single, there seems to be a new voicing of emotion—a voice which many may be able to relate to in spite of current events.

“Middle America” reveals a bit more of a contemplative side lyrically, one that we've yet to really see much of from Malkmus' projects. "I will not be one of the watchers./ I will not disappear...Time gets to me and I/ wonder how to simplify.” It seems that Malkmus is starting to feel more solemn about the world around him; he seems now to be in the middle of it all.

And, right now in the United States, we all seem to feel a little “in the middle.” A lot has been happening the past year that would make one feel this way, and it's no surprise that Malkmus would be feeling it as well. With the release of this single, Malkmus & The Jicks also announced a two-month tour which will finish in Malkmus' hometown of Portland, Oregon in August. They said they will only be playing small venues, and no festivals.

“Middle America” is a great addition to the repertoire of Stephen Malkmus' legacy, and one which all are highly encouraged to listen to.

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