Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Fiddle/Mandolin Swarm: Holiday for Strings [Don Giovanni, 2016]
Not to be confused with the former Holy Modal Rounder's 2014 album--same label, same cover artist, but by the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Banjo Squadron and in my reluctant judgment most of the way to an aimless mess. This one, itself accounted "pretty messy" by its irrepressible auteur, has new songs, with the timely "New Johnny Got His Gun" written 40 years ago. After 78 years in the general vicinity of earth, Stampfel's intense cartoon keen is finally getting raggedy around the edges. But having waited all this time to record "I Can't Stop Loving You," he brings it on home, and where the Squadron's new banjo tunes wandered, the Swarm's woozy rendition of the 1962 lodestar "Tel-Star" is on point--and no less pretty or pointed than the freshly minted "Lily," named after the daughter who's not in his band. Not until she picks up a fiddle, mandolin, or banjo, anyway. How about kazoo? A-