Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Fanfare Ciocarlia: It Wasn't Hard to Love You [Asphalt Tango, 2021]
Initially convened a few hundred miles from Kyiv in the eastern hills of Romania near the Moldavan border, this highly professional Belgian-backed Romani horn band leads its first album since 2016 with a Bill Withers cover and fills it out with quite a few compositions by Tel Aviv-trained, U.K.-based session pro Koby Israelite. How exactly any of these facts pertain to the horrors of Ukraine with its shockingly courageous comedian-turned-president who in 2006 won a Dancing With the Stars competition I couldn't further specify at this time. But it does. Having gradually warmed to it since its September release, I was nonetheless startled to find how bracing and relevant the blaring, proactive fanfares of "Cruzzzando El Campooo" and "Pannonicated Polka" felt at this moment. May they remain unalloyed, untragic forces for good between the Wednesday when I'm writing this and the Wednesday when you get to read it. A-