Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Jon Langford & Skull Orchard

  • Old Devils [Bloodshot, 2010] B+
  • Here Be Monsters [In De Goot, 2014] A-

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Old Devils [Bloodshot, 2010]
"Live for next week/Live for last year," the 52-year-old advises devilishly and also oldly in the lefthand panel of a triptych about aging that's completed by the unfinished "Book of Your Life" and the killing "Getting Used to Uselessness." After that, fittingly but dishearteningly (although under the circumstances that's fitting too), the songcraft wends its way gradually downhill; not even the title track provides much of a rise. Only then comes a finale called "Strange Ways to Win Wars" and Langford is on top of things again--not young because he's not that kind of liar, just strong and clear-eyed as he quietly and suggestively surveys our disheartening politics: "And no one is spared, no one is spared/No one is spared, no one is spared." B+

Here Be Monsters [In De Goot, 2014]
Once it hits home, the opening "Summer Stars" could be the gravest song of his life, a threnody for an earth ruined by the ecological/economic catastrophe most of us foresee in our grimmer moments--a vision no less vivid or plausible for its reliance on metaphor. The metaphors that follow are easier to duck and in the case of the amelodic "Mars" ignore. But starting midway in with "Drone Operator," the lyrics become more pointed, one political indictment after another, with Langford's precisely articulated, barely contained rage his version of what they call soul. Sing it, brother. A-