Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Two new essay collections, published by Duke University Press

Book Reports features reviews of not only the pop-music tomes you'd predict but also literary fiction, Marxist-adjacent cultural commentary, feminist debates over pornography, and even books about the past decade's financial crisis. It follows a collection that Christgau published last year, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017, which includes Christgau's takes on, among many other things, classic rock, Kanye West, the music of Desert Storm, Lollapalooza, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and so-called guilty pleasures--a category that Christgau rejects, since, for rock critics, as he puts it, "pleasure is where meaning begins." Together, these collections make the sneaky case that Christgau is not just the Dean of American Rock Critics, his self-awarded and perhaps slightly off-putting nickname, but one of America's sharper public intellectuals of the past half century, and certainly one of its most influential--not to mention one of the better stylists in that cohort. Fun is a big part of why.

--David Cantwell, The New Yorker

And It Don't Stop

Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide continues beyond its 50th anniversary in his subscriber-supported newsletter, And It Don't Stop. Read about it, sample the merchandise, and subscribe.

News

Consumer Guide

Robert Christgau published his Consumer Guide: November, 2019, with thirteen reviews, including a couple of oldies. This is part of his subscription newsletter, And It Don't Stop.

Book Review

Robert Christgau wrote a review of Ted Gioia's Music: A Subversive History at Los Angeles Times.

Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide: October, 2019 was published through his And It Don't Stop subscription newsletter.

Robert Christgau's now-monthly Xgau Sez questions and answers column was also published through And It Don't Stop, where it is a public post. It is also belatedly archived in the usual place.

Another recent public post is A Dot of Iowa Blue.

Consumer Guide, September 2019

Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide: September, 2019 has been published through his Substack subscription newsletter, And It Don't Stop. The records reviewed are:

  • Charlotte Adigéry: Zandozi (Deewee) ***
  • Hayes Carll: What It Is (Dualtone) B+
  • The Daisy Age (Ace) A+
  • Lana Del Rey: Norman Fucking Rockwell! (Interscope) ***
  • Lost in China (Riverboat) B+
  • Madonna: Madame X (Interscope) A-
  • The National: I Am Easy to Find (4AD) A-
  • The Paranoid Style: A Goddamn Impossible Way of Life (Bar/None) A
  • Pink: Hurts 2 B Human (RCA) **
  • 75 Dollar Bill: I Was Real (Glitterbeat/Tak:til) A-
  • Bruce Springsteen: Western Stars (Columbia) *
  • Taylor Swift: Lover (Republic) A-

Public posts will always be freely available at the above link, and Christgau intends to write more as he likes (e.g., There's Always Music in This Joint, on Rich Krueger), but future monthly Consumer Guides will be subscription only. To subscribe, go here.

XgauSez

Robert Christgau answers a new batch of reader questions in XgauSez.

Robert Christgau's first monthly batch of new Consumer Guide reviews will appear in his Substack-based newsletter, And It Don't Stop, Wednesday morning. To get these reviews delivered to your mailbox, sign up for a subscription and help support Christgau's unique, far-reaching reviews of extraordinary new music ($5/month).

And It Don't Stop

Robert Christgau announced (via Twitter):

ANNOUNCING--you know I care if I stoop to all-caps--And It Don't Stop, iteration who-can-count of my commercial staple, the graded album capsule. It will cost ya or it won't happen, but not quite yet. You know I care if I say retweets appreciated.

In email, Christgau wrote:

I just announced the launch of a Substack blog called And It Don't Stop. There was a glitch with the subscription details at first, but it's been fixed. Basic deal is $5/month for CG capsules, everything else--at the very least a book brief, often other stuff too--free.

Link to And It Don't Stop: Music. Books. Politics. Old Age.

Link to intro: It's a Start.

Robert Christgau also write a book review of Nicholas Lemann's Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream: To Bust You Shall Return.

XgauSez

New batch of XgauSez questions and answers.

The Consumer Guide database has been updated to include the final Expert Witness reviews written for Noisey. The review-by-date list is here. Here's a list of 2019 albums. The current stats show 17271 albums from 7553 artists on 3347 labels, with 15212 reviews.

XgauSez

New article by Robert Christgau:

Also recently added to the website:

XgauSez

New batch of XgauSez questions and answers.

XgauSez

New batch of XgauSez questions and answers.

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Nicki Minaj's 'Queen'

New in Expert Witness:

  • Desaparecidos: Payola (Epitaph) A-
  • Nicki Minaj: Queen (Young Money/Cash Money/Republic) A-
  • Mekons: Deserted (Bloodshot) ***
  • Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis: NYN (Riverboat) ***
  • Western Centuries: Songs From the Deluge (Free Dirt) ***
  • Wreckless Eric: Transience (Southern Domestic) ***
  • Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center (Dead Oceans) **
  • Robert Cray: Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm (Jay-Vee) *

After this column was posted, Christgau tweeted:

I do this for money as well as love. So just in case this is the last Expert Witness not just at Noisey, which I'm sad to announce it is, but anywhere, it sticks to albums I'm way late on and albums I wanted to be sure to weigh in on. Enjoy. Consume, even.

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Charly Bliss' 'Young Enough'

New in Expert Witness:

  • Chai: Punk (Burger) A-
  • Charly Bliss: Young Enough (Barsuk) A-
  • Tacocat: This Mess Is a Place (Hardly Art) **
  • Abjects: Never Give Up (Yippee Ki Yay) **
  • Drinking Boys and Girls Choir: Keep Drinking (Damnably) **
  • Pup: Morbid Stuff (Little Dipper) *
XgauSez

New batch of XgauSez questions and answers.

Expert Witness: Lizzo's Casual Confidence

New in Expert Witness:

  • Lewis Capaldi: Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (Capitol) A-
  • Lizzo: Cuz I Love You (Atlantic/Nice Life) A-
  • Kevin Abstract: Arizona Baby (Question Everything, Inc./RCA) ***
  • Lizzo: Coconut Oil (Atlantic/Nice Life) **
Expert Witness: Robert Christgau on Vampire Weekend's Puzzlers and Big Thief's Minor Miracles

New in Expert Witness:

  • Big Thief: U.F.O.F. (4AD) A-
  • Vampire Weekend: Father of the Bride (Columbia) B+
  • Martin Frawley: Undone at 31 (Merge) ***
  • Fred Thomas: Aftering (Polyvinyl) **
  • The Yawpers: Human Question (Bloodshot) *
Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Dub Master Lee 'Scratch' Perry

New in Expert Witness:

  • Lee "Scratch" Perry: Rainford (On-U Sound) A-
  • Tanya Tagaq: Toothsayer (Six Shooter) A-
  • Sneaks: Highway Hypnosis (Merge) A-

Here's a choice quote from David Cantwell's New Yorker review of Robert Christgau's essay collections, Book Reports and Is It Still Good to Ya?:

Book Reports features reviews of not only the pop-music tomes you'd predict but also literary fiction, Marxist-adjacent cultural commentary, feminist debates over pornography, and even books about the past decade's financial crisis. It follows a collection that Christgau published last year, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017, which includes Christgau's takes on, among many other things, classic rock, Kanye West, the music of Desert Storm, Lollapalooza, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and so-called guilty pleasures--a category that Christgau rejects, since, for rock critics, as he puts it, "pleasure is where meaning begins." Together, these collections make the sneaky case that Christgau is not just the Dean of American Rock Critics, his self-awarded and perhaps slightly off-putting nickname, (he has insisted that he was a little bit drunk and a little bit joking when he coined it), but one of America's sharper public intellectuals of the past half century, and certainly one of its most influential--not to mention one of the better stylists in that cohort. Fun is a big part of why.

XgauSez

New batch of XgauSez questions and answers.

Here's another excerpt from Robert Christgau's new Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading: My Friend Marshall, on Marshall Berman.

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba's 'Miri'

New in Expert Witness:

  • Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Miri (Out Here) A-
  • Youssou N'Dour: History (Naïve/Believe) A-
  • Two Niles: To Sing a Melody: The Violins and Synths of Sudan (Ostinato) B+

New review of Robert Christgau's essay collections Book Reports and Is It Still Good to Ya?:

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Quelle Chris' Crisis Raps

New in Expert Witness:

  • Quelle Chris: Guns (Mello Music) A-
  • Epic Beard Men: This Was Supposed to Be Fun (Strange Famous) A-
  • Quelle Chris: Being You Is Great, I Wish I Could Be You More Often (Mello Music) **
  • Epic Beard Men: Season 1 (Strange Famous) *

Robert Christgau will be at Word Bookstore, 126 Franklin St., in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Thursday 5/23 at 7:30 PM, for a discussion of his new collection of book reviews and essays, Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading.

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Reviews Music From Priests and the Coathangers

New in Expert Witness:

  • The Coathangers: The Devil You Know (Suicide Squeeze) A-
  • Priests: The Seduction of Kansas (Sister Polygon) A-
  • Camp Cope: How to Socialise and Make Friends (Run for Cover) **
  • Ex Hex: It's Real (Merge) *

A new batch of XgauSez questions and answers appeared last Tuesday.

Robert Christgau's second Duke University Press collection in six months, Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading, is shipping now. Some shopping options are listed on our book page (although consider your local bookseller). You can read the introduction here.

XgauSez

New batch of questions and answers.

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