"Middle America," Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
By now, Stephen Malkmus is a reliable American institution. In the years since the break-up of the beloved indie rock group Pavement, he's made six albums with his backing band the Jicks and, while fans can argue over their favorite, each record is sturdy and playful in a way that's rare for an aging guitar god. "Middle America," the first new Jicks material in four years, finds him in a reflective mood. "Time gets to me," he warbles at multiple points, drawing you into a calming web of poetic observations, pastoral images, and plainspoken advice like "open the door and piss if you need to." It's the sound of a curious mind untroubled by its place in the world.