Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-07-19


Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti: Mature Themes (4AD, 2012) After myriad albums of which I've heard half a dozen, 2010's mysteriously well-regarded non-DIY debut Before Today all too prominent among them, Ariel Rosenberg sneaks in a good one. By cult say-so a no-fail songsmith denied his place in the stratosphere by his lo-fi principles (cf. Daniel Johnston, Robert Pollard, Kurt Vile), he gears up his factory to roll out a line of relatable tunes, many with relatable lyrics attached, adding up to . . . songs! These tend silly whether stubbornly kinky (the betesticled statement of musical intentions "Kinski Assassin," the "symphony" for a "nympho at the bibliotech") or proudly ridiculous (the late "Houdini do this, do that" whereby a middling track escapes the doldrums, the Descendents joke Ariel's fans aren't old enough to get). The tunes are also silly. Singing and arrangements too. Mature my patootie--and that's a good thing. A-

Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel: Hey Hey It's . . . the Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band (self-released, 2013) To borrow a keyword from the "Mule Train" finale, you could complain that this clippety-clops. Presumably the revised version the liner notes promise will move at a smarter clip, because the drummer who spent a single weekend recording 13 songs she'd met a week before will since then have spent long sticky nights with them on tour. But that's only if the revised version materializes, which cannot be counted a certainty even though 37-year-old stripling Lewis is the least occasional of Stampfel's life list of weird birds. And however shambolic the songs are or aren't, you'll want to hear almost every one anyway. Where to begin? "All the Time in the World" redefining immortality? "Indie Bands on Tour" redefining folk culture? "Do You Know Who I Am?! I'm %$&*?in' Snooki!!" celebrating a reality Stampfel has never really encountered? The Tuli parody, the Stampfel remake, the Patti Page rewrite, the Tommy Jackson lyrics-added, the one that has the 74-year-old Stampfel apologizing that he doesn't "yet have the skills to write a '64-'65 Beach Boys song"? Put it on shuffle and decide for yourself. A

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