Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2013-09-20

2013-09-20

Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses): The Low Highway (New West, 2013) Still mad, which is what he's best at, but feeling his sobriety too, and good for him ("Burnin' It Down," "Calico County," "Remember Me") **

Firewater: International Orange! (Bloodshot, 2012) Cop Shoot Cop's Tod A enlists Balkan Beat Box's Tamir Muskat to bring his sardonic invective, and I quote, "up from the underground" ("Dead Man's Boots," "The Monkey Song") **

Nona Hendryx: Mutatis Mutandis (Righteous Babe, 2012) After a lifetime of well-regarded overstatement, her straight protest album embraces r&b subtleties no one who starts with "Strange Fruit" will believe are there ("When Love Goes to War," "Strange Fruit") ***

Roger Knox and the Pine Valley Cosmonauts: Stranger in My Land (Bloodshot, 2013) Jon Langford and friends bring Aboriginal "Black Elvis" to Oakland to cherry-pick conscious country songs bogged down in more protest-music mawk than anyone admits ("Took the Children Away," "Steets of Tamworth") *

Kobo Town: Jumble in the Jukebox (Cumbancha, 2013) Pan-West Indian Toronto calypsonian thinks always, reproves often, wines never ("Kaiso Newscast," "Joe the Paranoiac") **

Femi Kuti: No Place for My Dream (Knitting Factory, 2013) Lyrics sharper, angrier, stronger, band and especially voice less so ("Carry On Pushing On," "No Work No Job No Money") ***

Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones (Xtra Mile/Epitaph, 2013) For once the campfire punkrocker nails the Billy Bragg album his excitable fans always said he had in him ("Glory Hallelujah," "I Am Disappeared") *

121212: The Concert for Sandy Relief (Columbia, 2013) Featured artists in order of performance quality: Springsteen, Sandler-Shaffer, McCartney, Keys, Joel, Bon Jovi, Rolling Stones, Waters, Clapton, Martin, Who (Adam Sandler and Paul Shaffer, "Hallelujah [Sandy Relief Version]"; Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, "Land of Hope and Dreams"; Paul McCartney, "Helter Skelter"; Bon Jovi, "It's My Life") *

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