Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2014-11-21


Chumped: Teenage Retirement (Anchorless, 2014) I don't just admit that I prefer the kind of lo-fi pop-punk where I not only understand the words they're singing but understand what those words mean. I brag about it to people I hardly know. Speedy Ortiz? Solid, dissonant sound justifying jerrybuilt, obscure poesy. Anika Pyle's outfit is thinner sonically for sure. But they certainly make noise and they certainly rock, and Pyle's keen, intense, legible little soprano is a positive attraction. You can hear her feeling scared and getting mad and caring about her friends. I like that a lot. A-

Cloud Nothings: Here and Nowhere Else (Carpark, 2014) Further adventures in the aesthetic of the tantrum ("I'm Not Part of Me," "Now Hear In") ***

The Coathangers: Suck My Shirt (Suicide Squeeze, 2014) Their keyboard player threw it in seven years after they started learning their instruments, and who can blame her? In rock and roll, the chasm between a lark and a career is wider than ever. So the other three women plighted a troth with their catchiest, toughest, angriest, most sexual batch of songs yet--a few times they're even sweet, which I always sensed they had in them because they always preferred passion to cool. Unlike some promising bands I could name but won't (who might TPC be? SSG? CYHSY at a stretch?), they don't think punk is the gateway to prog. Johnny Ramone and Kathleen Hanna, we thank you. NOW and NARAL too. A-

Half Japanese: Overjoyed (Joyful Noise, 2014) Exulting "As Good Can Be" over the chords of "I Wanna Be Your Dog," which given how loyally he follows his wife around may not be such a bad match ("In Its Pull," "Our Love") ***

Oblivians: Desperation (In the Red, 2013) Uncommonly uncompromising garage barrage, its admonitory peak an obscure modern soul song ("Call the Police," "Fire Detector") **

Parkay Quarts: Tally All the Things That You Broke (What's Your Rupture? EP, 2013) Maybe some classify our finest current punk band as garage because they're the first punk band anyone can recall that's also significantly a groove band--in the "Whippin' Post" rather than "Super Bad" sense, natch. Tuneful-toothache opener aside, the standouts on this unnecessarily unheralded EP are certainly the five-minute "The More It Works," where I'm just going to assume "it" refers to his penis, and the seven-and-a-half-minute "He's Seeing Paths," where they bring out the cowbell like the damn Chambers Brothers as they follow a bicycle rider around the five boroughs. (Well, maybe the Fall.) A-

Parquet Courts: Sunbathing Animal (What's Your Rupture?, 2014) Or maybe they are a garage band--one with dreams. Certainly Andrew Savage has succeeded at composing songs with distinct hooks at differing lengths and tempos and constructing an album that reveals more goodies the more you play it. I've stopped wondering about the real-world coordinates of the mamacita whose offer of refuge suffuses the unforgettable seven-minute slow one that gets special play on the back cover, and the title cut is just too fast to be about a cat. But two different songs dis two different women without making Savage sound like a dick. And "Black and White" gets the frenzied compulsion to run out of your skin just right. (Not tight enough for the Buzzcocks.) A-

Sunwolf: Angel Eyes (El Rey, 2013) For six songs, DC trio reiterate the garage-protopunk verities anew ("Push It," "Angel Eyes") **

Swearin': Surfing Strange (Salinas, 2013) Sweet sad gal and dreamy nerdy guy let their tuneful murk do the talking--well, drawling ("Dust in the Gold Sack," "Watered Down") *

Typefighter: The End of Everything (Huge Witch, 2014) Know how to do that roiling-bashing-chiming thing, topped off by an especially gritty-declamatory-delighted singer ("I Like the Way You Are," "Happy") ***

Wire: Change Becomes Us (Pinkflag, 2013) No grail for any but the staunchest believers, but give them credit for not losing interest ("Love Bends," "Doubles & Trebles") ***

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