Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Middle Brother

  • Middle Brother [Partisan, 2011] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Middle Brother [Partisan, 2011]
Deer Tick's John McCauley is the centerpiece of this Americana supertrio. Compared to Matt Vasquez of the florid Delta Spirit or Taylor Goldsmith of the wan Dawes, he's got the melodies, the wit, and the cultivated rasp. What he doesn't have is the ripeness of spirit without which roots music dies on the vine. So the doting Vasquez love song "Blue Eyes," the lyrical Dawes lost song "Thanks for Nothing," and the clippety-clopping Replacements road song "Portland" all augment the deep craft and acrid wordplay of the guy who's why you heard them--in fact, who's why you heard this varied, consistent, tune-conscious album. Catchiest of all is the McCauley road song "Mom and Dad," sing-song rather than clippety-clop and better for it: "Mama gave a camera to her little star/All she gets is pictures of hotels and bars/No Big Ben, no Statue of Liberty." A-