Multi kontra kulti
Gogol Bordello: Pura Vida Conspiracy (ATO)
Although half the old band are gone, the first two songs resume their crusade with undiminished bravado and a new melodicism that never quits. "Dig Deep Enough," Eugene Hutz half implores and half commands. Why should we, old-timer? Because "We Rise Again." Just as powerfully, the next two dabble in both lyricism and the nostalgia Hutz has mocked so adamantly. And although thereafter the songwriting dips from world-historic to merely excellent, this tension powers a revitalization that had damn well better incorporate some change, because without it the "living and loving" Hutz insists are the ridiculously simple yet damnably difficult secret of human existence will stiffen and die. No other band worth caring about risks the cosmic like Hutz's immigrant tatterdemalion. Re-examining his past, he imagines a future you can hum in your mind. A
Gogol Bordello: Multi Kontra Culti Vs. Irony (Rubric '02)
Recorded with Ori Kaplan still providing Gypsy brass and Eugene Hutz still learning to write melodies and speak Roma, this prophetic effort peaks twice: with the long-vanished debut single "When the Trickster Starts a-Poking (Bordello Kind of Guy)" and "Baro Foro," a six-minute faux-Roma romp keyed to the more-more-more Sergey Rjabatzev violin riff that has anchored their climax ever since. But down from those peaks isn't so damn far. "Let's Get Radical" and "Punk Rock Parranda" are as disruptive as trans-everything trickster ideology-poking gets. A MINUS
Glad to see discussions of first encounters with our host's work. I found the 70s book in the early 80s in the Paperback Centre in Suffolk Street, Dublin (no longer there, sadly, Nora may remember it and its sister shop in Stillorgan). Couldn't afford to buy it at the time, still at school. I think the UK edition had a navy or black cover, with a picture of a pair of lightweight headphones with an electric current running beween the ear pieces.
I bought Any Old Way You Choose It second hand in the Winding Stair Bookshop in 1985 (I worked in that shop a couple of years later when I was in college). I made a rookie mistake and lent it to someone in 1988, never got it back of course. I bought the reissue when it came out.
Bought a remainder copy of the 70s book (sorry Bob) in Barnes and Noble on 5th Ave when I was in New York in 1986. I did follow our host that summer (I remember a Creem reprint of a Consumer Guide featuring King of America and Psychocandy) but I didn't get to follow him regularly till the Voice went on line in the mid 90s. My brother bought me the 80s book in 1990, and got me The Mekons Rock'n'Roll to go with it, and while I didn't share his view on the Smiths, say, I remain totally grateful for that book turning me onto African music.
Esquire-which I'm pretty sure pre-dates the VV.
PS Who's better? Not that I'm an expert witness or anything.
Just to go a little bit further, opinions can be wrong, but that's not what I meant. Morever I don't think tolerance is much of a virtue either. I'm sorry I don't have the time to expound on this further, but explaining something well does not mean it is right. Not that I give a fcuk about ethics when it comes to this, but when I hear a dud and it sounds great to me after multiple listens, then to me he was wrong. I am the arbiter of what I like at the end of the day. Again I want to know what was his thinking behind it, which is entirely why I read him. Really fcuk the grades, they mean very little to me. Ok an album gets an A, but why? Ultimately for me the arguments matter, and he may very well have a good one but if I listen to it and its sh!t, well it's not I disagree but more like "wtf was he hearing?". Does that make sense? It is irrelevant who is right/wrong on some sort of objective horizon. OK so what if this is entirely solipsistic. I read to see what other folks recommend and then I'll be the final judge on it.
It's kinda like people who dismiss Armond White and his movie reviews because hey he doesn't fit the mold of other reviewers. The difference to me does he write well and actually think? Then he is worth reading, even if there are times he completely missed the mark. I'm not one to only read things I "agree" with. Really if you want to give a great critique about someone or anything in general, then you need to dive in and swim around the thought behind it. So a lot of these Xgau haters know nothing of what they speak of, they get mad because he gives their beloved album a C+. Why not actually read what he writes, understand his thought, then critique him on that. Now that would be much more interesting to me than simple dismissals. That's all for now, ciao!
And no I don't think White is a good writer in any meaningful sense of the term.
"there have been some really great stuff he has reviewed and even some stuff he was wrong about."
I see this idea with this phrasing a lot when admirers talk about Bob's work--it's not just you. What I don't get is the phrase "wrong about." I would prefer "even some stuff we disagree on," ("upon"?) which to me makes sense, but I find "wrong" frustrating. I mean, he explains himself SO WELL that even if you disagree you have to hand it to him for, far more often than not, at least making a good case for his opinion.
For example, I wouldn't say he's "wrong" about the metal albums he's reviewed, despite the fact that I like them. In fact, if he changed his opinion substantially, I worry my dissertation on his work my burn to ashes. (It's okay, I have a digital backup :) He makes a strong and intelligent argument--one worth contemplating even if you, like me, need to hear Metallica's "Blackened" at least once a week. I'm not even sure I disagree with him--I just like it nonetheless.
In sum, sorry to put you on the spot about this, but I want to open this dialogue up to fellow EWers, and, well, you're the most recent person to write that particular phrase. So, um, thanks for that :)
Hi all. Back from holidays to boost the Aussie contingent on the blog.
First discovered Christgau: 1983 (70's Consumer Guide)
Greatest pre-Christgau purchases: Layla, Paul Simon, Rubber Soul, 12 Songs, Tracks, Goldrush
First post-Christgau purchases: Have Moicy!, Hokey Pokey, Jack Johnson
First discovered Village Voice Website (hence monthly Christgau reviews): 1997
Least appreciated Christgau A+: Of Human Feelings
Fastest purchase following Christgau recommendation: Hell on Heels (15 mins)
Greatest "Wish I'd Listened to Christgau earlier": Rilo Kiley
Like yours, my life hasn't been easy, every year a push-pull between euphoria and despair, and I do like to check out the far end of either pole no matter how much cause I have in either direction. But I end up recalling all of these years like gorgeous cinema because of how I've soundtracked them, bedecking each in vibrant patchwork adornments of kaleidoscopic sonic flavors. It's gotten richer and smarter ever since I got into Christgau Theory, in some instances because he's led me to other great musichounds whose tastes I eagerly explore. It's true, I've never found a musical expeditionary of the same precision and reliability as our host. But he does work very hard at it.
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.
live local music on
Enter your ZIP code to see concerts happening in your area.
Data provided by Zvents