Stephen Malkmus announces his new album, Traditional Techniques, out March 6th via Matador, lead single, “Xian Man,” and a North American tour. Traditional Techniques, Malkmus’ third solo LP without the Jicks (or Pavement), is new phase folk music for new phase folks, with Malkmus as attuned as ever to the rhythms of the ever-evolving lingual slipstream. It’s packed with handmade arrangements, modern folklore, and 10 songs written and performed in his singular voice. An adventurous new album in an instantly familiar mode, Traditional Techniques creates a serendipitous trilogy with the loose fuzz of the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard (2018) and the solo bedroom experiments of Groove Denied (2019). Taken together, these three very different full-lengths in three years highlight an ever-curious songwriter committed to finding untouched territory.
Malkmus took on Traditional Techniques as a kind of self-dare. Conceived while recording Sparkle Hard at Portland’s Halfling Studio, Malkmus had observed the variety of acoustic instruments available for use. The idea escalated within a matter of weeks into a full set of songs, and shortly thereafter into a realized and fully committed album. When he returned to Halfling, Malkmus drew from a whole new musical palette–including a variety of Afghani instruments–to support an ache both quizzical and contemporary. The resulting Traditional Techniques is expansive and thrilling. Alongside gorgeous folk music, there are also occasional bursts of flute-laced swagger, straight-up commune rock (“Xian Man”), and mind-bending fuzz.
Centered around the songwriter’s 12-string acoustic guitar, and informed by a half-century of folk-rock reference points, Traditional Techniques is the product of Malkmus and Halfling engineer/arranger-in-residence Chris Funk (The Decemberists). Matt Sweeney (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Chavez) plays guitar throughout.
Malkmus will embark on a North American tour this spring with an entirely new band (more shows will be announced in the weeks to come). The Traditional Techniques live band is Malkmus (vocals, guitar), Funk (pedal steel, keys), Sweeney (guitar), Brad Truax (bass), and Jake Morris (drums), joined at times by Qais Essar (rabab) and Eric Zang (kaval, udu, daf). A full list of dates can be found below.
Stephen Malkmus Tour Dates:
Tue. March 31 – Minneapolis, MN @ First Ave
Wed. April 1 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall
Thu. April 2 – Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Fri. April 3 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners
Sat. April 4 – Nashville, TN @ Cannery Ballroom
Sun. April 5 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
Tue. April 7 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
Wed. April 8 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Thu. April 9 – Richmond, VA @ The National
Fri. April 10 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
Sat. April 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Mon. April 13 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Wed. April 15 – Boston, MA @ Royale
Thu. April 16 – Montreal, QC @ L’Astral
Fri. April 17 – Toronto, ON @ Danforth Music Hall
Sat. April 18 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
Sun. April 19 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall