June

In honor of the new Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks album Sparkle Hard, I hereby declare June to be Malkmunth.

1. “Smith & Jones Forever” – Silver Jews

Stephen Malkmus was sporadically a member of this band throughout their run. This is one of my all-time favorite albums, but it’s very hard to represent it with a single song. It’s a shambling mess of an album that’s best taken as a whole.

The leader of Silver Jews, David Berman, who retired from music to pursue his hobby of smoking crack cocaine full-time (that’s half true), had an idea for a rotating lineup of musicians. He once said:

“not like steve — same band everytime
not like will — different band everytime”

He wanted a balance between Stephen Malkmus’ steady band arrangement with Pavement and Will Oldham, another friend and solo musician who as a solo artist works with a rotating cast of session musicians. So basically Stephen Malkmus (and other members of Pavement) was a member of this band on every *other* album.

(**Side note** My best man quoted several lyrics from this song in his speech at my wedding, making us the central hobo characters of Smith and Jones, holding up our trousers with extension cords. I modified “Spit on a Stranger” in my speech at his wedding— “Ashley is a prize and Alex you’re a catch and together you’re a perfect match.”)

2. “Nomadic Revery (All Around)” – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy

The aforementioned Will Oldham went by several pseudonyms early on in his career before finally settling on Bonnie “Prince” Billy. This song is mixed quieter than the others on this playlist, which made it really difficult to sequence.

Johnny Cash chose the title “I See a Darkness” track on his American Recordings sessions that also turned out the famed “Hurt” cover, but this one has always been a personal favorite of mine, mainly because of the multi-tracked vocals swirling all around through the climax.

3. “Rattled by the Rush” – Pavement

A Pavement classic.

4. “Work Hard/Play Hard” – Palace Music

As I said before, Will Oldham went by a lot of different names early on in his career, mostly variations on the word “Palace,” like Palace, Palace Brothers, and Palace Music.

(He’s also the photographer responsible for the cover of Slint’s album Spiderland, hence the misdirect playlist photo)

This song and numbers 1 & 2 were unavailable before Drag City put their libraries up for streaming. I’ve missed all 3 of them quite a lot.

5. “Shiggy” – Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

Of course the new album had to be on here somewhere.