Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-04-30


Ceramic Dog: Your Turn (Northern Spy, 2013) Situated between the forlorn yowl "Lies My Body Told Me" and the impersonal slave chant "Masters of the Internet," the title track, a wordless showcase for leader Marc Ribot's guitar, redeems "rockism"'s raging glory days. I mean, these guys are pissed, yet without a hint of sexist strut or blues-boy self-pity. Six songs-with-lyrics, each with its own vocal signature although there's not a proper singer to be heard, and six instrumentals, some straight and some avant and one a loving yet crudely irreverent "Take Five" cover, converge toward the same goal: demolishing your musical illusions. Really, folks, don't try to download this one free. They want their money. When they say "We're not human like you/We live inside your iPod," that's called sarcasm. A-

Chelsea Light Moving: Chelsea Light Moving (Matador, 2013) For better or worse, and it's both, this is kind of what you'd figure sort of: a Sonic Youth record dominated by that band's most important member. It's also a record that makes us love Steve Shelley, because John Mooney's drums never propel Thurston past virtual pogo territory--and that says nothing of what a nice change it used to be to have someone besides Thurston sing. Imagine that "Sleeping Where I Fall" addresses his former bassist-wife if you want, but believe that the whole album is conceived as a bohemian history lesson. Present and accounted for are a flower child who prefers her music free, a song by Darby Crash, a song about Darby Crash, a song to William S. Burroughs, a song linking Dylan to Frank O'Hara, and "Groovy & Linda," who FYI were real hippie speed freaks surnamed Hutchinson and Fitzpatrick who were murdered in a boiler room two blocks from my apartment in 1967. B+

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