Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Music We Missed in 2016

Article credited to "Village Voice Staff" with signed album reviews of:

  • John Escreet: The Unknown (Sunnyside), by Martin Johnson
  • Lesley Flanigan: "Hedera" (Physical Editions), by Sophie Weiner
  • Horse Lords: Interventions (Northern Spy), by Sasha Frere-Jones
  • Kitten: Heaven or Somewhere in Between (Scary Kid), by Maura Johnston
  • Kvelertak: Nattesferd (Roadrunner), by Dan Weiss
  • Metá Metá: MM3 (Planet Woo), by Sasha Frere-Jones
  • Mic Write: ONUS Chain (Shadow Firm), by William E. Ketchum III
  • Tanya Tagaq: Retribution (Six Shooter), by Robert Christgau
  • Tweet: Charlene (eOne Music), by Vanessa Okoth-Obbo
  • Anna Wise: The Feminine: Act I (self-released), by Dan Weiss

Tanya Tagaq
(Six Shooter)

Seeking an album worth covering alongside Nadya Tolokno's scabrous Pussy Riot EP in the bleak aftermath of Trump's electoral coup, I lit upon an equally radical woman from northern latitudes: Inuk performance artist Tanya Tagaq. At 41, Tagaq has been recording for over a decade. She's teamed up with Björk, won Canada's Polaris Music Prize for 2014's Animism, and had a Joe's Pub gig reviewed in the New Yorker. In the wake of the Polaris, Retribution has been praised south of the border for its fierce intensity, its ritualistic grooves, its unusual sounds, its haunting throat-singing, its frightening global warming lecture, and the dulcet cover of Nirvana's "Rape Me" it goes out on. I'd just add that its ghostly menace and fatalistic rage are focused and magnified immeasurably by our political crisis. Tagaq is a feminist whose core issues are Inuit rights and the climate change that's melting her culture, but they imply a worldview: Her m.o. is to meet extremism with extremism. Playful and jovially profane in conversation, she switches to a performance aesthetic that's both radical and plastic. Retribution is never fun to listen to. But these days that's one more thing that makes it so satisfying. -- Robert Christgau

Village Voice, December 27, 2016