Selected by Dan
When a band breaks up and
the front man emerges as a solo act, fans and critics get their knives ready - look for
instance at the scathing attacks on Sting by former Police fans and the music press.
But the consensus seems to be that Stephen Malkmus - ex-singer and frontman for much
beloved indie-rock band Pavement - is off to a good start in his solo career. With his
new, self-titled release now out on Matador, and with an imminent Japan tour, fans get a
chance to decide for themselves.
Pavement first came on the scene in 1989, when college dropouts Malkmus and Scott Kannberg
hooked up in Stockton, California. The pair later expanded to include Gary Young on
percussion, Bob Nastanovich on drums and Mark Ibold on bass. The quintet debuted with Slay
Tracks (1933-1969) in 1989, soon becoming heroes of the indie scene thanks to Malkmus'
caustic but witty observations and the band's likable lo-fi sound.
A decade-long mission saw Pavement steadily ascend to the top of the alternative circuit,
to occupy a hallowed ground shared by groups such as Sonic Youth (whose feedback-drenched
experimental approach was a major influence), and Yo La Tengo. But at the peak of their
career, Pavement disbanded.
Malkmus emerged on his own with a live solo debut at New York's temple of indie-rock, the
Bowery Ballroom, on Jan 25, during which he crash-tested tracks off his brand new album, Stephen
According to a Spin reviewer, the show was stellar: "Malkmus has gone from front-man
to only-man, and the role suits him well," the critic opined.
Malkmus was accompanied by his new band - The Jicks - who will no doubt join him in Japan
Malkmus plays Shibuya Club Quattro on May 16-17. See listings for details.