Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-10-25


Deer Tick: Divine Providence (Partisan, 2011) Divided 50-50 fast ones-slow ones, this doesn't rock as unreservedly as the bar-burning "The Bump," "Something to Brag About," and "Let's All Go to the Bar" want you to think. But it's sure the right course correction for guys who've always fetishized the eternal old-timey more than any band from goddamn Providence should. There's release along the lines of "I don't care if you puke in my ride/Let's all go to the bar/Baby just as long as you take your piss outside/Let's all go to the bar." And on drummer Dennis Ryan's "Clownin' Around" there's an equally satisfying release from heroin, the closet, child abuse, or some combination of the three--maybe prison, maybe death, maybe hell. A-

The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams (Egyptian/CMF/Columbia, 2011) Unlike Woody Guthrie, Williams is loved more for his singing than his lyrics, and boy does some of this retrofitted doggerel lack character as entuned and delivered. Hank's granddaughter Holly and Amy's hubby Vince you'd guess, Uncle Merle reciting a farewell sermon probably not. But what you definitely wouldn't figure is Nashville tastemonger Patty Loveless accessing her inner twang or a Dylan named Jakob grabbing an unusually witty lament (OK, maybe he had dibs of some kind). And what you'd only hope is Alan Jackson imparting just the right gravity to the despairing opener--or Jack White two-stepping his find so lustily you know he has an all-Hank cover album on his life list, and that it can't possibly match up. B+

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