Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rachid Taha: Bonjour [Knitting Factory, 2010]
In 2009 the Algerian-born internationalist set down in New York and recorded 10 terrific tracks sans Cantabridgian avant-eclectic Steve Hillage and avec Parisian chanson-rocker GaŽtan Roussel. On the whole they're prettier than his casbah-rocking norm, especially the love songs that open and close, and when he claims that the uncommonly cushy Middle Eastern beat on "Ha Baby" is actually part-country (as in Nashville country, really), you can half hear what he means. Quality dips ever so slightly tracks six-through-eight, including a celebration of ancient Arab-Jewish amity and a whispered one he IDs as "how to talk about death while staying alive." But my only real complaint is that there are no trots--just enticing descriptive phrases alongside mostly Arabic script, though not on the title track, which begins "Hello Kitty bonjour Violent Femmes." In a world where too many are set on paradise, I believe this guy is committed to the party of this world, which is also my party, and I want ever detail I can get. A