Stephen Malkmus – Xian Man

Not that this track needs my input (if you escaped it yesterday, you probably weren’t paying attention), but this wasn’t what I’d been expecting from a new Malkmus LP and it’s certainly a pleasant surprise. The last record seemed like exactly what someone of Stephen’s stature has (and should have) the freedom to make. It was a left turn that didn’t always lead down clear streets but the journey was scenic nonetheless. The first cut from the upcoming Traditional Techniques seems like another left, albeit this time right into my wheelhouse. Along with Matt Sweeney in tow and Chris Funk arranging, Malkmus burns through a set of dessert blues that feel like Matt and Steve have been spending some time picking through the Subliminal Frequencies catalog and attending a Tinariwen set or two. There’s a feeling of blues, but its smoke-smeared and winding down the paths that usually have Ben Chasny and Sir Richard Bishop lurking in the shadows at the end. Feels like a good mood on Malkmus, as there’s no need to perfect the untucked aleternatives he’s already helped foster. This too feels like a whim. They might not all stick, but take the chances, bring along a few ringers on guitar and I’ll be there waiting, that’s for sure.

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