Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2012-10-30


The Human Hearts: Another (Shrimper, 2012) A John Darnielle sideman and philosophy Ph.D. who wrote a 33 1/3 on Elvis C.'s Armed Forces, Franklin Bruno knows pop from the beginning--19th-century sheet music. He delivers these songs with a brass-tacks brio that recalls the songsmith-sung demos on a Cole Porter comp and also plays all keyboards and most guitars. Love the Costello-without-shame opener and the title tune that's all quarter-of-three Sinatra. But my avorites on this consistently and straightforwardly songful album are the rocking "Cheap Sunglasses," about the girlfriend he saw through, and the rhumbaing "Not Just When We Kiss," about the one he stuck with. It's not Brad Paisley's "Then." But it belongs on the same mixtape. A-

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby: A Working Museum (Southern Domestic, 2012) Three by Eric with two excellent, four by Amy with all excellent and one or two on her life list, four collaborations with woozier results except on the penultimate "Tropical Fish," which is blown away forthwith by Amy's "Do You Remember That," the love song of the year if "Not Just When We Kiss" isn't. The couple share a sense of detail that grounds even the vaguer songs--Sanskrit tattoo, Kajagoogoo records, sombrero too big for the overhead. Plus, oh yeah, their scrabbling, high-talented, headstrong lives. A-

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