Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-04-23


Chicha Libre: Cuatro Tigres (Barbès EP, 2013) They're Brooklyn-based revivers-imitators of an early-'70s Peruvian cumbia-Andean-psychedoolic pop synthesis that loses an essential quantum of charm at a cultural distance--I much prefer the Roots of Chicha comp that got them going. But here they acknowledge their true roots with four covers on a vinyl-or-download CDs-are-for-squares EP, one of them a chicha "classic" called "Rica Chicha" that was the last of the four to grow on me. The first--by a mile, it's cute and militant simultaneously--was the Clash's "Guns of Brixton." The second was the Simpsons theme. The third, even more unlikely and almost as inspired conceptually, was Love's "Alone Again Or." Fun fun fun till Daddy takes the portable stereo away. A-

The Rough Guide to the Music of Hungary (World Music Network, 2012) Somewhat more contemporary and very nearly as "Gypsy" as the label's 2008 Hungarian Gypsies comp (and with only three artist repeats, two of them standouts), this skims off much of the schmaltz in which what-us-Balkan? Hungarians have always indulged. Faster and less melodramatic, it's more Balkan as a result. By all means avoid if violins make you fiddle about, but by all means consider if you could use an infusion of the most uncivilized stomp and swerve Europe has to offer. Although the last third does fade some, be sure to stay awake for Parno Graszt and Mitsoura. And if afterwards you crave schmaltz for some reason, the Tárkány-Müvek bonus disc will be waiting politely to grease you up. A-

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