Thomas Anderson/Craig Finn
Thomas Anderson: The Moon in Transit (Four-Track Demos, 1996-2009) (Out There)
By electing to expend his Dutch East India advance on a fancy tape recorder instead of the Velvet Underground reunion, this Austin singer-songwriter acquired the means to preserve his songs in analog form, and here's the fruit. There were two good albums and then three marginal ones over two decades, so who'd expect a grab bag to be his best? Yet it is. With all four tracks laid down DIY, it's even squarer rhythmically than his norm, and his calm drawl verges on the spectral. But it also verges on the hypnotic, and the guy can write stories and work up tunes. After a brief fanfare, there's an opener about the Donner Party so gruesome and precise I sometimes skip to the merely spooky "Heckling Houdini." Also featured are a 33-year-old groupie-turned-granny, a cross-dressing uncle, Ubangi-stomping Warren Smith, a painfully slow lunch with Nefertiti a few years or millennia too late, driving till you're dizzy in a dumbshit town, and the one about lost love and "Antihistamines": "Chlorpheniramine, Diphenhydramine,/Doxylamine, Phenindamine,/ Tripolidine and Pheniramine,/I can't cure my pain with antihistamines." A MINUS
Craig Finn: Clear Heart Full Eyes (Vagrant)
On a wittingly laid-back solo debut where the declamatory Hold Steady frontman knows he can't bring off the country vocals his best songs deserve, he nails three flat-out anyway: "Terrified Eyes" (couple destroyed by their hospital bills), "When No One's Watching" (snazzy scuzzball seeks needy women), and "Balcony" (she does with her new man what she did with her old man back when he was new). The rest tend more, how to say it, evocative. But at least they evoke specifics‑-Middle American dramatis personae as marginal as Wussy's. B PLUS
How many Neil Young CDs you think I have in my A shelves? Come on--how many?
Jesus. No wonder I never even thought about trying to score that box thing he did.
Why don't I ever seem to listen to the Wrens' Meadowlands?
Answer: Because I have to lie down on the floor and reach behind some books to pull it out.
Franco was close to Mobutu--too close, though they had their differences. Rochereau was minister of culture under the Kabila government.
I did a Franco Rock & Roll & for the Voice and a Congo one for B&N that goes into these matters somewhat.
While I'm here, I should inform the Tulsa contingent that if Anderson didn't actually form Angry Young Grad Student Music in Norman he certainly got angry there.
I'd lose a lil' respect for Xgau if he adds Japad to his blogrollI'm sure the prospect of losing your respect will weigh heavily on Christgau's mind as he makes what's sure to be a momentous decision.
PS Moe Willems was great despite his professed distaste for all contemporary pop culture. The host's kids started the interview. I didn't stay for the taxi driver who was trying to break whatever Guinness record he was trying to break.
I belong to a support group for that kind of sickness. It's daily therapy but it helps, and it beats self medication although that has it's rewards too. ( My qualifications to join were thus- I did see Styx on the Grand Illusion tour many moons ago pre-musical awakening)
On the subject of The Nicky poll , which I dearly love but it's causing me daily mental gymnastics and relistens of many records. On one hand I have albums that I loved as a wide eyed kid and those shaped me while living under the tyranny of my ...blah blah blah. These records were organically culled from the influence of AM/FM radio and of course later MTV. And on the other hand I have a lot of records I only found later through scholastic studies of RS, Spin, and later Trouser Press and then the CG books. My exposure to the world of music was self taught and my list reflects my slow fumbling stumbling journey toward musical/self awareness which continues to this day. So I'm working through those early LP's of my youth to see if they are still the G.O.A.T.'s of my youth or if they are just goats now. Is my memory of these youthful albums still to be trusted? Did anyone else here go through a lot of over analysis of their records too? SO ,what it distills down to is a list of records that I would take with me and Wilson to a Deserted Island which is ironically located right off the coast of the Island of Misfit toys if you will. Some of my choices may raise some eyebrows...so it goes.
Lassez les bons temps rouler!
Nick - Ballot sent.
I only wish I had room for Johnny Cash and Madonna and Kanye West and the Plastic People of the Universe and Willie Nelson and Charlie Parker and Ray Charles and Otis Redding and Bruce Springsteen and Replacements and Dusty in Memphis and Lucinda Williams and Tricky and The Who Sell Out and Tom Ze' and Every Picture Tells a Story and Sonny Rollins and THe Friends of Rachel Worth and Tabu Ley Rochereau and Elvis and 69 Love Songs and Lefty Frizzell and Have Moicy! and Al Green and Fats Domino and The Indestructible Beat of Soweto and Youssou N'Dour and Paul's Boutique and Fela and Two Sevens Clash and Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf and Another Green World and PJ Harvey and Louis Jordan and 12 Songs and Hank Williams and The Band and Curtis Mayfield and Layla and Field Day and George Jones and
as we all are here in the fly-over states
-an excellent lesser bandleader with great political skills whose name escapes me right now,
I'm sure Bob means Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay, known as Dr. Nico. With Tabu Ley as vocalist, Nico's L'Orchestra Africa Fiesta became arguably the most popular band in sub-Sahara Africa. But he got out of music too early and died in 1985, just when he could have begun to cash in internationally.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.