Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-07-03


Japandroids: Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl, 2012) Kind of heartwarming that it's still possible for a young band to rock out with palpable joy about the pleasures, terrors, and life lessons of the road--the songs of experience thing, as if the road is reality in a way their jobs in Vancouver weren't. Helps that they're a duo--decreases the mathematical likelihood of a member nutting out, increases each member's share of the measly take. Also helps that they're not actually young--around 30 is my guess. Rendering this an escape into youth rather than from it by guys old enough to realize that if they hope to make a success of their hustle they need to turn into something like professionals--tunesmiths, even. A-

Dabke: Sounds of the Syrian Houran (Sham Palace, 2012) From seven weddings and such in southern Syria, 42 board-tape-to-vinyl-only minutes collected by Sublime Frequencies' Mark Gergis and released in an edition of 1000. Why you should want such a fetish object is simple--access to the most intense music you'll hear all year, including anything by Gergis's related discovery Omar Souleyman. It's very male and replete with strange noises: grunts and yelps, chipmunk squeals, and the buzzy overtones of a bamboo flute called the mejwiz--sometimes live, sometimes sampled, sometimes, Gergis says, both. Yes the music drones--it's supposed to. No you won't understand a word they're singing--insofar as they're singing any. A little one-dimensional sure--assuming you're not from southern Syria yourself. A-

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