Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Two new essay collections, published by Duke University Press

Book Reports features reviews of not only the pop-music tomes you'd predict but also literary fiction, Marxist-adjacent cultural commentary, feminist debates over pornography, and even books about the past decade's financial crisis. It follows a collection that Christgau published last year, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017, which includes Christgau's takes on, among many other things, classic rock, Kanye West, the music of Desert Storm, Lollapalooza, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and so-called guilty pleasures--a category that Christgau rejects, since, for rock critics, as he puts it, "pleasure is where meaning begins." Together, these collections make the sneaky case that Christgau is not just the Dean of American Rock Critics, his self-awarded and perhaps slightly off-putting nickname, but one of America's sharper public intellectuals of the past half century, and certainly one of its most influential--not to mention one of the better stylists in that cohort. Fun is a big part of why.

--David Cantwell, The New Yorker

And It Don't Stop

Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide continues beyond its 50th anniversary in his subscriber-supported newsletter, And It Don't Stop. Read about it, sample the merchandise, and subscribe.



New batch of questions and answers.

Expert Witness: Ariana Grande's Garden of Sonic Delights

New in Expert Witness:

  • Ariana Grande: Sweetener (Republic) A-
  • Amber Mark: Conexao EP (Virgin EMI) A-
  • Diana Gordon: Pure (self-released) ***
  • Ariana Grande: Thank U, Next (Republic) ***
  • Robyn: Honey (Konichiwa/Interscope) ***
Expert Witness: Todd Snider's Replayable 'Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3'

New in Expert Witness:

  • Todd Snider: Cash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3 (Aimless) A
  • Leyla McCalla: Capitalist Blues (PIAS America) A-
  • Our Native Daughters: Songs of Our Native Daughters (Smithsonian Folkways) **
  • Leyla McCalla: A Day for the Hunter, a Day for the Prey (Jazz Village) *
Expert Witness: Aesop Rock and Tobacco's Funny Collab, 'Malibu Ken'

New in Expert Witness:

  • Malibu Ken: Malibu Ken (Rymesayers) A-
  • Serengeti: Dennis 6e (People) A-
  • MC Frontalot: Net Split (Level Up) **
  • Serengeti: Jueles - Butterflies (Audio Recon/Deacon) *
  • Serengeti: Music From the Graphic Novel Kenny Vs the Dark Web (Burnco) *

New questions and answers were posted Tuesday, March 5: Xgau Sez. New batches will appear every third Tuesday.

Expert Witness: Dreezy's Step Up and Nūr's Spooky, Abstract Rap

New in Expert Witness:

  • Dua Saleh: Nūr (EP) (Against Giants) A-
  • Dreezy: Big Dreez (Interscope) B+
  • Bali Baby: Resurrection (Twin) B+

Two new pieces in Publishers Weekly, related to Robert Christgau's forthcoming (April 12) essay collection Book Reports: A Music Critic on His First Love, Which Was Reading (Duke University Press):

Expert Witness: Carsie Blanton's Unabashed Politics

New in Expert Witness:

  • Carsie Blanton: Buck Up (Carsie Blanton) A
  • The Paranoid Style: Rock & Roll Just Can't Recall + 3 (Bar/None) A
  • The Rails: There Are Other People in This World Not Just You (Thirty Tigers) ***
  • Kate Vargas: For the Wolfish and Wandering (Kate Vargas) ***
  • Caroline Rose: Loner (New West) **
  • The Regrettes: Feel Your Feelings Fool! (Warner Bros.) **
Expert Witness: Jazz-Rock Staple Harriet Tubman

New in Expert Witness:

  • Harriet Tubman: The Terror End of Beauty (Sunnyside) A-
  • Thiago Nassif: TrÍs (Foom) A-
  • Qais Essar: The Ghost You Love Most (self-released) ***
  • The Hot 8 Brass Band: On the Spot (Tru Thoughts) ***
  • RAM: August 1791 (Willibelle) **
  • Nordub: Sly & Robbie Meet Nils Petter Molvaer Feat Eivind Aarset and Vladislav Delay (OKeh) **

New questions and answers were posted Tuesday, February 12: Xgau Sez. From this point, new batches will appear every third Tuesday.

Expert Witness: Alex Chilton's Fragile Love Songs

New in Expert Witness:

  • Alex Chilton: From Memphis to New Orleans (Bar/None) A-
  • Alex Chilton: Ocean Club '77 (Norton) A-
  • Big Star: Live on WLIR (Omnivore) B+
  • Alex Chilton: Songs From Robin Hood Lane (Bar/None) *

The Village Voice released their 2018 Pazz & Jop package, including:

Expert Witness: Saba's Humanist Hip-Hop

New in Expert Witness:

  • Saba: Care for Me (Saba Pivot) A-
  • The Coup: Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack (Interscope) A-
  • Czarface: Czarface Meets Metal Face (Silver Age) ***
  • G Herbo: Humble Beast (Machine) ***
  • Saba: The Bucket List Project (Saba Pivot) **
  • 1800 Seconds: Curated by Pusha T (Mass Appeal) *
Expert Witness: The Ex's Protest Music and Idles' Rage

New in Expert Witness:

  • The Ex: 27 Passports (Ex) A-
  • Idles: Joy as an Act of Resistance (Partisan) A-
  • Marie Davidson: Working Class Woman (Ninja Tune) *
  • Public Service Broadcasting: Every Valley (PIAS America) *

New questions and answers will be posted Tuesday, January 29: Xgau Sez.

Robert Christgau's Is It Still Good to Ya? is a finalist for NBCC Criticism Award

The National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors has announced its finalists for 2018 awards. There are six categories, and Robert Christgau's Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017 has been selected as one of the five finalists in Criticism. The NBCC Awards have been awarded annually since 1975.

New XgauSez

New questions and answers were posted Tuesday, January 15: Xgau Sez.

Expert Witness: The Delines' Depth and Kacey Musgrave's Quiet Sell

New in Expert Witness:

  • The Delines: The Imperial (Decor/El Cortez) A-
  • Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour (MCA Nashville) B+
  • Marianne Faithful: Negative Capability (Panta Rei/BMG) ***
  • Brandi Carlile: By the Way, I Forgive You (ATO) **

Robert Christgau lists his favorite albums of 2018 in this year's annual Dean's List.

New questions and answers will be posted Tuesday, January 15: Xgau Sez.

Expert Witness: Robert Christgau Takes on Mitski's Disquieting Angst

New in Expert Witness:

  • Mitski: Be the Cowboy (Dead Oceans) A-
  • Soccer Mommy: Clean (Fat Possum) A-
  • Adrianne Lenker: Abysskiss (Saddle Creek) *
  • Nice as Fuck: Nice as Fuck (Loves Way) *

New questions and answers were posted Tuesday, January 1: Xgau Sez.

Lupe Fiasco, Meek Mill, Lil Wayne, and Vince Staples

New in Expert Witness:

  • Lupe Fiasco: Drogas Wave (1st & 15th) A-
  • Meek Mill: Championships (Maybach Music Group) B+
  • Lil Wayne: Tha Carter V (Young Money) ***
  • Lupe Fiasco: Drogas Light (1st & 15th) **
  • Vince Staples: FM! (Def Jam) *

New questions and answers were posted Tuesday, December 18: Xgau Sez.

CupcakKe's Literotica and Leikeli47's Smokescreens

New in Expert Witness:

  • Cupcakke: Ephorize (Cupcakke) A-
  • Leikeli47: Acrylic (Hardcover/RCA) A-
  • Cupcakke: Queen Elizabitch (Cupcakke) B+
  • Leikeli47: Wash and Set (Hardcover/RCA) B+
  • Cupcakke: Eden (Cupcakke) ***

New questions and answers west will be posted on Tuesday, December 18: Xgau Sez.

The Goon Sax's Humble Reflections

New in Expert Witness:

  • The Goon Sax: We're Not Talking (Wichita Recordings) A-
  • Mad Crush: Mad Crush (Upon This Rock) B+
  • Flasher: Constant Image (Domino) ***
  • Weakened Friends: Common Blah (Don Giovanni) **

New questions and answers west posted on Tuesday, December 4: Xgau Sez.

Events, interviews, and reviews of Robert Christgau's recent book, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017:

Note: We are currently experiencing a problem with accented characters stored in the Consumer Guide database being presented as garbage.

New in Expert Witness:

  • Sons of Kemet: Your Queen Is a Reptile (Impulse!) A-
  • Doctor Nativo: Guatemaya (Stonetree) A-
  • Celestial Blues (Ace) ***
  • Sons of Kemet: Burn (Naim) **

New questions and answers on Tuesday, December 4: Xgau Sez.

L7's Feedback-Drenched, Feminist Aggro

New in Expert Witness:

  • L7: Fast andFrightening (Easy Action) A-
  • Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (Blackheart) A-
  • The Beths: Future Me Hates Me (Carpark) ***
  • Lala Lala: The Lamb (Hardly Art) *

New questions and answers last Tuesday: Xgau Sez.

Also note that the website now has a RSS 2.0 feed. It is (for now anyway) updated manually as new articles and/or significant revisions are made to the website.

Expert Witness: Some Inventive, Alternative Hip-Hop

New in Expert Witness:

  • Homeboy Sandman & Edan: Humble Pi (Stones Throw) A-
  • Open Mike Eagle: What Happens When I Try to Relax (Auto Reverse) A-
  • Atmosphere: Mi Vida Local (Rhymesayers) **
  • 2Mex: Lospital (Water the Plants) *
  • Red Pill: Instinctive Drowning (Mello Music) *

New questions and answers will be published on Tuesday, November 20: Xgau Sez.

Christgau's new book, Is It Still Good to Ya? Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017, was published October 26 by Duke University Press.

Website was updated on Thursday, including all Expert Witness reviews from January to last week.

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