Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Cracker [Virgin, 1992] Neither
  • Kerosene Hat [Virgin, 1993] Dud
  • Garage d'Or [Virgin, 2000] *
  • Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey [429, 2009] **
  • Berkeley to Bakersfield [429, 2014] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Cracker [Virgin, 1992] Neither

Kerosene Hat [Virgin, 1993] Dud

Garage d'Or [Virgin, 2000]
All any nonsophomore need know of a minor popster, major wiseass, and great lost indie-rocker ("Teen Angst [What the World Needs Now]," "Mr. Wrong"). *

Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey [429, 2009]
The view from the desert as the sun sets on the American empire ("Yalla Yalla [Let's Go]," "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me"). **

Berkeley to Bakersfield [429, 2014]
Camper van Beethoven joker-in-chief turned Cracker singer-songspokesperson David Lowery was always too ironic by approximately 72 percent. But he's older than that now. The Californian turned Georgian pursues what musical career remains to him, lectures in business at UGA, and devotes much of his energy to his unofficial post as scourge-in-chief of a supposedly futuristic streaming economy that he claims, accurately, is "unsticking it to the man and sticking it the weirdo freak musicians!" And this crusade has awakened in him an explicit class consciousness often discernible in his songs from the start and just as often undercut by his snark. The Berkeley disc of this double-CD celebrates what might be called protest culture, lobbing stink bombs at the rich as it celebrates the lifestyles of the quasi-bohemian lower middle class. The Bakersfield disc aims for an Inland Empire country-rock that goes soft the way country-rock does but still sneaks a migrant laborer and a dead junkie in with the San Bernardino boy and the red-state union man, neither of whom lack charm themselves. Politics! On an American rock album! So much rarer a thing than the snark-damaged claim! A-