Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2018-02-09

2018-02-09

Jason Eady: Jason Eady (Old Guitar, 2017) Smooth alt-country lifer writes his own songs without creating his own identity ("Where I've Been," "Black Jesus") *

Case Garrett: Aurora (Suitcase, 2017) Inspirational Verse: "What you think about screwin'? It don't have to last very long" ("The Thought of You," "She Never Liked Elvis") **

Rich Krueger: Life Ain't That Long (Rockink, 2018) Born on a Wednesday full of woe, a 58-year-old Chicago neonatologist undertakes to show the world he's also a major songwriter, complete with wavery high baritone that hurts so much it'll make ordinary mortals wince. Although most of his evidence dates from the current century, only two selections are near new. The most recent goes on about Nero--"At night in his garden, Christian torches glow / He entertained the masses with fiddle and bow"--before observing that "a lie is a lie, and not 'fake news,'" and should you wonder what a Christian torch is, the CD comes with a useful booklet that will also make you wince. So will "The Gospel According to Carl," which re-enacts the pre-suicide ruminations of a car salesman who just discovered his conscience, and "Ain't It So Nice Outside Today?," which diagnoses suffering sinners who lust for life against all odds. Two songs praise Sid Vicious, a bunch indicate in agonizing yet generous detail why the guy's love life hasn't been everything it might, and the most memorable of all can't get over that girl he ditched so stupid when he was 17. Krueger's band accommodates horns, violin, accordion, and femme chorus. He borrows afterhooks from Bonnie Tyler and Jose Feliciano. And somehow I never mentioned that he can be pretty funny. Also nice. A

Scott Miller: Ladies Auxiliary (F.A.Y., 2017) All-female band lifts Americana vet to unaccustomed heights without squelching a mother-in-law joke I hope none of the gals thought was funny ("Jacki With an Eye," "Lo Siento, Spanishburg, WVA") **

Modern Mal: The Misanthrope Family Album (Mal, 2017) Modern Mal are what might happen if blurry reincarnations of Leonard Cohen and Dolly Parton hooked up to form a bent Americana band in the Michigan north woods. Dolly hopes he'd love her even if she wore different-colored shoes; Leonard hopes she never sees him in his old earmuffs. Two of their songs adduce astronomical as opposed to astrological metaphors, and two others are lightened by glockenspiel colors with their roots in Dolly's Fender Rhodes. Inspirational Verse: "Death death death, where do you take us next?" B+

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