Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-05-10


Pistol Annies: Annie Up (RCA, 2013) A lark evolves into a business proposition as an album of 10 inspired three-minute songs eventuates in an album of 12 expert three-and-a-half-minute songs. Because the three principals are still smart and spunky, some of these are superb: the family dysfunction playlet "Hush Hush," the objectification expose "Being Pretty Ain't Pretty," the 'til-death-do-us-part "I Hope You're the End of My Story." But because the three principals are Music City pros with a release schedule, some of them are merely expert, and two drag big time: the ensemble's five-minute "Blues You're a Buzz Kill," which is the latter solely, and Angeleena Presley's one-dimensional "Loved by a Workin' Man," which kisses up to the usual Nashville-male chauvinist cliches. A-

The Uncluded: Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers Entertainment, 2013) In a year when someone named Binki Shapiro ain't Kimya Dawson, someone named Aesop Rock will wash Adam Green right out of your head. Protesting the decline of the laundromat and promoting the rise of organ donation, ecumenicizing "Superheroes" with "Fluffernutter/Shawarma/Reuben/Cuban" and eulogizing the friend of a friend who justified Dawson's fear of flying, it's the return of the deeply goofy male-female duet. The tunes are Dawson's because Ae-Rock doesn't do tunes, but his beats beef up those tunes just like his gruff, clotted flow beefs up her itty-bitty soprano. Most important, her poetic confessionals function as glosses on his rhymes, which are a touch more straightforward in any case. True, they bog down into his big think for a spell. But all is redeemed by a spirited finale designed to jar the downhearted from facing life, as they put it, tits up. A

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