Stephen Malkmus – “Xian Man”

Stephen Malkmus is about to release his third album in three years. Following 2018’s Sparkle Hard alongside his longtime band the Jicks and 2019’s electronically inclined solo effort Groove Denied, the once and future Pavement frontman will allegedly take a rootsy tack with this year’s Traditional Techniques. Malkmus recorded this new one with Chris Funk from the Decemberists and indie rock journeyman Matt Sweeney (Chavez, Zwan, Superwolf, Skunk). The three albums are billed as a trilogy of sorts.

Traditional Techniques is credited to Stephen J. Malkmus. It supposedly draws from centuries of folk-rock traditions and is based around his 12-string acoustic guitar while incorporating a wide range of sounds including Afghani instruments. Its lead single, “Xian Man,” seems to confirm those reports, but its sometimes noisy guitar onslaught is not exactly a far cry from certain Pavement and Jicks tracks of yore (e.g. the one literally titled “Folk Jam“). Funk and Sweeney will be part of Malkmus’ live band supporting Traditional Techniques alongside Brad Truax (bass) and Jake Morris (drums) and sometimes Qais Essar (rabab) and Eric Zang (kaval, udu, daf).

Hear “Xian Man” below.

01 “ACC Kirtan”
02 “Xian Man”
03 “The Greatest Own In Legal History”
04 “Cash Up”
05 “Shadowbanned”
06 “What Kind Of Person”
07 “Flowin’ Robes”
08 “Brainwashed”
09 “Signal Western”
10 “Amberjack”

03/31 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Ave
04/01 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
04/02 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
04/03 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners
04/04 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
04/05 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
04/07 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
04/08 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
04/09 – Richmond, VA @ The National
04/10 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
04/11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
04/13 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
04/15 – Boston, MA @ Royale
04/16 – Montreal, QC @ L’Astral
04/17 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
04/18 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
04/19 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall

Traditional Techniques is out 3/6 on Matador. Pre-order it here.

CREDIT: Samuel Gehrke and Chris Shonting