New music reviews: Pixies, Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks

What's on the Evening Times' playlist this week? Here are Stef Lach's latest music reviews...

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EP: Pixies - EP2 (Self released) *****

They've long been hailed as pioneers of the quiet/loud/quiet style of rock songwriting, and the Pixies can now also be branded pioneers of the smartest new way to release music.

Albums are dead, or so many people seem to say. And singles, which are no longer available in any physical format other than the odd vinyl version, are not profitable.

When they announced last year that they'd drip feed new music in small batches, Pixies probably didn't know what to expect.

Neither did fans, for it had been so long since the Boston band had released any new music.

The four-track EP1 was a stunning release, as The Playlist enthusiastically told you at the time.

Now the band have put out EP2, four more tracks and every one of them downright brilliant.

Blue Eyed Hexe is classic Pixies - Black Francis' screamed vocals bringing to mind the superb U-Mass and other previous Pixies hits.

Greens and Blues is a gorgeous track that begins with a sense of pop-fuelled optimism before Francis' slightly mournful vocals change the tone unexpectedly.

What's great about this track is that is obviously a Pixies song, but sounds like it could comfortably have fit alongside the other tracks on EP1 and is hopefully, therefore, a hint at what we can expect from the band in the future.

"I said I'm human but you know I lied, I'm only visiting this shore," Francis sings. And on this form, he really could be from another world.

Magdalena is built on a chunky guitar riff and is where you really notice the lack of departed Kim Deal's gorgeous backing vocals.

While fans will always long for that voice, the lack of it contributes to the band's strong new sound.

Snakes is arguably the least immediately likeable track on offer here, but it grows on you pretty quickly.

It brings to mind early R.E.M and lacks a little of that Pixies energy, but is still a very good track.

You can download all four songs for £4 at the band's website, while a limited vinyl version was also available but sold out almost instantly.

Kim Deal's replacement by Kim Shattuck was sacked within a matter of months and bass duties are to be taken over by Paz Lenchantin - once of A Perfect Circle and Zwan.

Things are very much all-go in the land of Pixies. Don't miss out.

Album: Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks - Wig Out At Jagbags (Matador Records) ****

The brains behind one of the greatest American indie rock bands of all time has delivered a collection of 12 new songs that some would argue rival anything he's produced in the past.

Stephen Malkmus will always be fondly remembered for his work with Pavement and it's easy to forget this is his sixth album with The Jicks.

Sure, he's older and maybe a little jaded - something he addresses fairly frequently on this record - but he's not lost that songwriting touch.

The album is, of course, entirely lo-fi and gets off to a great start with Lariat.

Rumble at the Rainbo is also a perfect slice of summery indie pop but, for our money, the best on offer here is the superb Chartjunk.

A jazz-fuelled (at least as jazzy as any self-respecting indie king would allow himself to be) pop at the music scene of today.

If anyone is qualified to speak on that particular subject, it's Malkmus.

We're listening, Steve.

If you like the sound of Pixies and Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks, check out Stef Lach's Spotify playlist for this week - a selection of tracks from similar artists to those featured in this week's reviews.

Like Pixies? Check out...

What's The Frequency Kenneth? - R.E.M

Whatever Happened To Pong? - Frank Black

Wound Up - Le Reno Amps

Like Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks? Check out...

Spit On A Stranger - Pavement

On Your Own - Blur

Corduroy - The Wedding Present

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