Stephen Malkmus and The Kicks / Clearlake - Manchester MDH - 16.4.01

With "Lido" Clearlake have just released one of this years best debut albums. Guitarist and singer Simon Pegg is such a delicate looking fragile waif that he makes Jarvis Cocker look positively butch by comparison. Despite having to use Stephen Malkmus' keyboard due to their own having blown up, Clearlake play us the delightful "Don't Let The Cold In" and charm us all with their melodic indie music with lyrics worthy of Morrissey at his most prolific. This charming band from Brighton are my tip for most promising newcomers of 2001.

When Pavement announced they were to split up the nation was dumbfounded. However, Stephen Malkmus is back with his brand new band The Jicks (the name is Portland Oregon slang, a cross between jerks and dicks). Playing songs from his debut long player Stephen seems more relaxed and more at ease with his new band mates, but to be honest it's not a million miles away from Pavement. That unmistakable voice is present and correct and his flair for songwriting hasn't lost any of its appeal.

Despite the addition of occasional keyboards his sound hasn't drastically changed. The solo songs, impressive though they are, don't come anywhere near the brilliance of "Major League" or anything from the entire Pavement back catalogue. He still larks about on stage playing tremendously diverse guitar solo's and loves to jam occasionally. Its all still a little too one dimensional and repetitive. Surprisingly he manages to slip in a couple of cheeky covers. REM's "One I Love" and Radioheads "Creep" have never sounded so jubilant.

Stephen Malkmus still knows how to work a crowd and write great songs like new single "Discretion Grave" but if anyone came expecting a radical departure from his previous band then they'd have left feeling bitterly disappointed. So we've bid a fond farewell to Pavement, but Malkmus is here to stay touring and recording for our listening pleasure.

Nicholas Paul Godkin