Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Featuring "Birds" [Up, 1998] A-
  • Field Studies [Up, 1999] **
  • American Gong [Kill Rock Stars, 2010] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Featuring "Birds" [Up, 1998]
Unlike most young quasi-intellectuals with a keyb and a tune sense, Sam Coomes isn't too cool to sing from his own experience. Bitter but not self-indulgent about it, he's better on wage slavery, which he hates, than on love, which he merely finds wanting, and peaks when he explains how they intersect on the profoundly weary "It's Hard To Turn Me On." Nor would he give off so much life without the furious drumming of Sleater-Kinney's own Janet Weiss, who no doubt found it harder to turn him on when she was his wife. A-

Field Studies [Up, 1999]
if someone were to call Sam Coomes an archetypal indie whiner, how would you respond? what about if I did? ("A Fable With No Moral," "Empty Words") **

American Gong [Kill Rock Stars, 2010]
A mere 15 years after the fact, Northwest duo enlist bassist, rev whine into shout, and churn out a darn good grunge album. The new member's female backing vocals and the old partner's Dave-Grohl-not-Ralph-Molina drums move things along. Sam Coomes is still disgruntled: with whoever he's sleeping with, with running away, with dystopia itself. But he's catchier about it, and rockier. Maturity comes in many forms. A-