Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Asylum Street Spankers: The Last Laugh [Yellow Dog, 2014]
This farewell album from an alt-folk aggregation that never got out of Austin begins so casually and changes up so abruptly it risks disorienting old fans while putting off new ones. Eventually, however, it jazzed me and touched me throughout. It's not just that they dazzle on multiple acoustic instruments while joking around as usual. It's the way Christina Marrs oversings a song worthy of her many passions on the questing "Ludicrous Heart." The way third wheel Nevada Newman just figures "Fuck Work." And especially the way Charlie King tops an acidly secular "Don't You Hear Jerusalem Moan" ("The Catholic preacher makes a lot of noise / He's down in the rectory altering the boys") with the unabashed sentiment of "Savor Every Day": "I had this real good friend of mine / He told me, Charlie, I may not be here for a long time / But I am here for a good time / I sure miss that friend of mine." A-