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Real Emotional Trash [Vinyl]

4.1 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Vinyl, March 4, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Malkmus releases his first record in three years with the Jicks, entitled REAL EMOTIONAL TRASH.
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (March 4, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B0012L2JVE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,718 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven DeCaluwe on March 9, 2008
Format: Audio CD
Long story short--another excellent effort from Malkmus, in what's becoming a very rewarding solo career, more focused on pure songwriting and musicianship than his first gig (it's hard to believe that the # of Jicks discs is creeping up on the # of Pavement discs. Of course, that discounts all the b-sides, singles, outtakes, Peel sessions, etc. But I digress...)

Anyway, yes, this album is a little bit of a grower. Yes, some of the songs are quite long. But as one of the earlier comments suggested, the Jicks make the run-time worth it, and once you become familiar with some of the songs' twists and turns, tracks like 'Hopscotch Willie,' 'Baltimore,' and the glorious title track become the highlights of the album. Don't confuse the term 'jam' with endless, pointless solos. In each of the more discursive tracks, malkmus uses his instrumental prowess (and the newly amped-up Jicks, thanks to Janet Weiss) as a bridge to take the song from point A to B, rather than as mere navel gazing. So settle in and get familiar with these songs, the trip is worth it.

The shorter songs are just as nice, relying more on killer melodies, touching lyrics, and inventive arrangements to establish a variety of moods, from the somber "Cold Son" and "Out of Reaches" to the peppy and smitten "Gardenia."

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't expound just a little bit on the Jicks' new secret weapon, the aforementioned Ms. Weiss.
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Format: Audio CD
To explain just how deeply I love this album, let me tell you first off that I'm on my 2nd copy already! That's right, I wore out CD #1. This album rocks; shreds; cooks with gas. Glorious. Hallalujah brothers that there's a songwriter like Malkmus alive today! It's classic rock with indie lyrics. It sweeps, it swoops, it dives, it sings, it sways. Everybody should have a copy. The new Sgt. Pepper.
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Format: Audio CD
Stephen Malkmus's trajectory as a solo artist is beginning to remind me of former Replacements leader Paul Westerberg. The casual, offhanded brilliance that was so commonplace for the solo artist's "old" band is still there, you just have to dig a little more for it and put up with more attempts that don't work. Suffice it to say, this album is not the second coming of Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. But for what it is, it's enjoyable if you have the patience for extended improvisational passages and an overall retro-70s sound.

This album reminds me quite a lot of some of Sonic Youth's more accessible material (Murray Street), as well as Wilco's latter day work (A Ghost Is Born) and of course Built To Spill (Perfect from Now On). What all of this music has in common is a penchant for extended instrumental interplay. None of this could accurately be lumped under the "jam bands" category (those bands owe more of a debt to jazz and the Grateful Dead, while SM and the other bands mentioned above seem to come more from the Television approach, reference: Marquee Moon), however all of it teeters on the edge of self-indulgent noodling if it's not done right. Fortunately, all of these musicians (SM included) handle things tastefully and integrate an accessible sound with their tendencies to head into meandering territory.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I love this record. There's immense pop sensibilities in songs like Gardenia and Baltimore, and the hot-cold, dread-metal-then-sweet Dragonfly Pie is a great album opener. Besides the Dylan-esqe near-ballad We Can't Help You, you have longer, often nuanced tracks Hopscotch Willie and Real Emotional Trash. It finishes with the deeply satisfying Wicked Wanda. My favorite Malkmus solo effort thus far.
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Format: Audio CD
If we classify music as art, we should recognize this definition of art: having the capacity to stimulate the senses in unexpected ways, even after after repeated exposure. No collection of an artist's output can be deemed "perfect" due to the subjective nature of art itself. The real test of a piece of art, then, is not how we label it, but how often we are drawn back to it.

That said, Malkmus and his collaborators have produced a recording that sounds great right out of the gate and bears repeated listening. I kept listening to this disk for a solid 8-10 days--to the exclusion of everything else in my library--and have continued to revisit it on a weekly basis. The guitar parts, though vaguely reminiscent of prior artists and styles, are continually intriguing--quite a good thing given that this is a guitar-driven recording. I can't slight the Jicks, whose empathetic support lend this project a dynamism in which Malkmus quirky lyrics and lithe guitar musings thrive. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the entire endeavor rocks!
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