Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-10-18


Kimya Dawson: Thunder Thighs (Great Crap Factory, 2011) Too bad Dawson's DIY imprint is above the Deluxe Edition hustle, because tracks 13 to 16 are "bonus" yuck at its most useless. Yuckiest of all is the insipid anarcho-pastoral finale "Utopian Futures," which dreams an ideal world that would in fact lack--among many things I enjoy, such as non-DIY CDs--the library system she celebrates so heartily right before the album's true climax, the inspirational memoir of vanquished dysfunction "Walk Like Thunder." Oh well. She's 37 now, married and a mom, and like most aging hippies can be a crank or a lump--in her case, usually the former. So be glad her gift for whimsy and/or confessional lifts most of what we'll call the "real" album. Highlights include the pregnancy report "All I Could Do," the literary reflection "Miami Advice," and an ecumenically non-utopian protest song called "Same Shit/Complicated"--to which I will merely add that Madison, Wisconsin isn't the only place with some nice cops. B+

Jeffrey Lewis: A Turn in the Dream-Songs (Rough Trade, 2011) So maybe the idea of this oddly constructed album is to "turn" from some OK meditative songs at track five, commencing a run of six A-OK outgoing ones before re"turn"ing to three meditative ones--and then breaking a minute of silence with the gangsta-ripping "Mosquito Mass Murderist"? That's a guideline, anyway. Try "Cult Boyfriend," one of the funnier and more philosophical of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or "When You're by Yourself," one of the sadder and more touching of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or the all-encompassing "Krongu Green Slime," a cartoonist-cum-folkie's six-minute history of consumerism from "the time before land" to "the time after land." It's also about the meaning of life, if there is one. A-

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