Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks

There used to be a bunch of MP3’s available for Stephen Malkmus so that you could get a great sense of what the erstwhile Pavement frontman has been up to for most of the last decade — and if you haven’t been keeping up, you’re missing out. We’re down to one: the sprawling, guitarilicious Randy Newman cover (!) “Baltimore,” all 6 minutes and 37 seconds of it. The new album is called Real Emotional Trash and as far as I can tell there is no release date yet, so don’t wear out this stocking stuffer too soon because it may be all you get for Christmas.

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Radio 4

My sister Christy saw these guys play at Coachella a couple weeks back and sent me an email asking what I knew of them, especially their percussionist (what is this, a dating service?). To my embarrassment, I knew nada. After reading up, I see that one of their two singers is Anthony Roman, formerly of Garden Variety, who I do know for his ragged, plaintive punk of some 10 years back. After listening up, I hear funky homage to Britain’s most danceable post-punk bands (Wire, Gang of Four, The Clash) and the feelgood politics of NY peers !!! and Out Hud. So thanks, sis, for keeping your brother’s ear to the street (apparently the Mitubishi ad they were featured in didn’t do it) — and happy birthday!

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Bitmap is the solo project of one Luke Barwell, formerly of the British band Salako (not to be confused with former Crystal Palace, Coventry, and Reading winger John Salako, now at Brentford, if you’ll pardon the English soccer reference). For all of you out there wondering what Revolver would have sounded like had Beck been fronting the Beatles, with Brian Wilson as sound engineer, Bitmap’s latest album Micro/Macro will satisfy that curiosity.

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Empress was the alter ego of that mad Leeds outfit Boyracer, with several members having stints in Hood. But while Boyracer has been fast, frentic, and fun, Empress was haunting and mesmerizing, with the stillness of Low and the sensuousness of Movietone. And if you haven’t heard Empress already, well, now it’s time.

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