By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Former Pavement lead singer Stephen Malkmus and his current group the Jicks come to Slim’s to celebrate their latest album Sparkle Hard with a sold-out show Wednesday.

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Malkmus and Pavement co-founder Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg his  put the Central Valley city of Stockton on the map in the late ’80s when the pair started recording music together as Pavement in 1989. A series of tuneful, lo-fi noise pop EPs established the group as a unique new voice the underground rock scene, earning the band critical praise and comparisons to like-minded post-punk mavericks including Mark E. Smith’s group The Fall, R.E.M and Sonic Youth.

By the time Pavement recorded it’s proper debut album Slanted and Enchanted, the band had filled out to include drummer Gary Young (who helped record and produce the early EPs at his home studio), bassist Mark Ibold and percussionist Bob Nastanovich. Matador Records released the album in 1992 was quickly hailed as a modern rock classic with its mix of fractured arrangements, indelible melodies and Malkmus’ well-crafted lyrics.

Pavement would rise to become one of the most beloved bands of the decade, producing a string of celebrated efforts including the equally adored, more accessible 1994 follow-up Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, the following year’s sprawling experiment Wowee Zowie, and the focused indie-rock tunefulness of Brighten the Corners.

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The band dissolved following their swan song recording Terror Twilight in 1999, but Malkmus and Kannberg has already ventured into solo work and other projects prior to the official split in 2000. Kannberg unveiled his SF band Preston School of Industry, while Malkmus had already played with songwriter David Berman’s band the Silver Jews in the ’90s before launching his solo career. He formed his new group, the Jicks, drawing from players found in his new home of Portland, OR.

Though Matador Records insisted Malkmus release his eponymous solo debut under his own name instead of the new band’s moniker, the 2001 effort earned solid reviews that hailed the effort as a return to form for the songwriter. Their second album Pig Lib embraced a looser, more band-oriented vibe that scored even higher praise from critics.

Malkmus scaled back his activity after the birth of his two daughters during the later part of the 2000s, but continued to reap critical acclaim with the band’s releases including Real Emotional Trash in 2008 (the first to feature Quasi and Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss) and Mirror Traffic three years later. Malkmus also enjoyed brief detours, reuniting with Pavement for a celebrated tour in 2010 and performing one of his favorite albums, Can’s Ege Bamyasi, in its entirety for a German music festival with the Cologne-based band Von Sparr in 2013. Malkmus and Kannberg also performed a number of Pavement songs together with the Jicks in 2016 during two shows at the Chapel in San Francisco celebrating Spiral Stairs’ 50th birthday.

Malkmus and company recently returned after a four-year gap between recordings, issuing their latest effort Sparkle Hard last May. Filled with the songwriter’s usual creative melodic flair and more commentary on current social events than usual — it features references social media, Black Lives Matter and the #metoo movement — the recording once again proves that Malkmus remains at the top of the indie-rock heap. For this sold-out show at Slim’s in San Francisco, the band will be joined by Soccer Mommy, the Nashville-based outlet for indie-pop songwriter Sophie Allison.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Wednesday, July 18, 7 p.m. $25 (sold out)