Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-06-07


Archie Bronson Outfit: Coconut (Domino, 2010) This strange album features a nuevo garage trio who got signed after playing the local of a Domino honcho. Leading with the lasciviously macho "Cherry Lips," their 2006 album swore fealty to the garage-revival ethos, but though Time Out! and Mojo liked its testes, sales did not ensue. So in 2010 they handed production to a DFA honcho. At their best--namely, the echoing hypno-raves "Magnetic Warrior" and "Wild Strawberries"--they now sound like the Seeds turning into Joy Division after somebody spiked their hash with MDA. Admittedly, they do occasionally get embarrassed and try to respect their roots--the garage kind, and even the roots kind. One way or the other, however, the singer's buried so deep you couldn't figure out what he was saying if you cared, which you don't. 'Course, sales did not ensue this time either. B+

Battles: Gloss Drop (Warp, 2011) Take the title literally. The prospect of touring having proved too much for leader-keyboardist Tyondai Braxton, out go the castrati choruses, the precision interlocks, the neatness that is the curse of math-rock. Instead, general pitch levels drop while the drums explode. "Like a car wreck, only in tune," I heard one guy puzzle as he left a show that revved up all the consequent incommensurabilities even further. So much better than a Ferrari that never needs a tune-up, muse I. In the studio they're less accident prone, and they still tintinnabulate some. But now they also grunt. A-

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