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View Full Version : Robert Christgau is a pompous cock



SoulDischarge
06-23-2009, 06:14 PM
Go ahead. Look up his review of any of your favorite albums and see if he doesn't take all the fun out of them in four or less sentences, even when he gives it a good rating.

bmack86
06-23-2009, 06:16 PM
I killed Christgau with my big fucking dick

pancakespancakes
06-23-2009, 06:18 PM
http://rockcriticsarchives.com/interviews/robertchristgau/christgau1med.jpg

Better yet just look at him.

MissingPerson
06-23-2009, 06:20 PM
A name like that can surely only belong to a once-off Family Guy supporting character.

SoulDischarge
06-23-2009, 06:23 PM
The Arcade Fire: Funeral [Merge, 2004]
First you notice that the opener really is kinda gorgeous, with its twin-xylophone-echoed piano flourish and all. Then you isolate Win Butler's sob and fantasize about throttling the twit, an immature impulse unmitigated by the lyrics, which are histrionic even for a guy who's just lost a grandparent (or whoever). But if you keep at it till the next song, which tells the story of his runaway older brother getting bitten by a vampire, you begin to admire his resilience--he's retained a sense of the ridiculous, which is more than you can say of most young twits who sing about losing a grandparent (or whoever). And that's how the album goes--too fond of drama, but aware of its small place in the big world, and usually beautiful. N.B.: if you're considering Montreal, which is certainly my favorite Canadian place, the ex-Texans and -Haitian here want to make clear that it's horribly cold. A-

That's probably the most praise I've ever read him give an album.

kreutz2112
06-23-2009, 06:26 PM
Who is this guy? Really, I am legitimately asking. Why should we care?

MissingPerson
06-23-2009, 06:27 PM
Yeah, (obviously) they were the two reviews I read first, so I was kinda confused what the problem was.

I mean this:


To remind us that anxiety is in his bones, Win Butler refurbishes the 2003 plaint "No Cars Go" as a football cheer about the safe place just before sleep. But everywhere else he emerges from his precious privacy and names the things he has to be afraid of, things he shares with all of us -- religions run amok, rising tides, the surveillance state, a cowboy-in-chief with so little to lose he could start World War III on a dare. He doesn't tame his fears by naming them, or hint that they can be overcome, although in "The Well and the Lighthouse," he advises the lighthouse: "If you leave, them ships are gonna wreck." But he and his large band of unarty art-rockers rock so hard and so beautiful they can propel anyone who listens past the end of the record. They thud rather than thunder. But what a loud and joyous thud it is

is a fairly elegant summation of Neon Bible, even if he does score it too high.

pancakespancakes
06-23-2009, 06:33 PM
Who is this guy? Really, I am legitimately asking. Why should we care?

He invented the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll... which is probably a pretty cool contribution to music criticism, and more than likely, his only one.

Other than that, he was born without talent, he never developed any talent, he hasn't an ear for music, and he's been around forever. Which is why he writes for Rolling Stone.

JebusLives
06-23-2009, 06:41 PM
music critics are all parasites, this one just seems more of a parody than the average.

MissingPerson
06-23-2009, 06:42 PM
Right, I've read some of his stuff, and although he is indeed an unusually pompous cock, he nonetheless stands dwarfed in the shadow of somebody like Sasha Frere Jones, whose pompous cockery is of such biblical magnitude it can interfere with the very tides.

Not the shittiest of a shitty breed by any stretch, I'd say.

bmack86
06-23-2009, 07:21 PM
OH, Christgau is just about the worst. He calls himself the Dean of Rock Critics. Thurston Moore had an awesome feud with him because he reviewed one of their albums without having heard a copy of it.

sonnyboy11
06-23-2009, 07:28 PM
I could be wrong, but I want to say Chirstgau is responsible for ripping the greatest live band ever, Queen, on every studio effort they put forth. Of course some of that may be due to Wenner's micro_managing- he hated them too. Bottom line is Queen was amazing live and had some good studio efforts. Rolling Stone can eat my ass.

bmack86
06-23-2009, 07:29 PM
YOu're probably wrong since he only recently started writing for Rolling Stone. He used to be the main critic and senior editor at the Village Voice.

TomAz
06-23-2009, 07:32 PM
Christgau is an interesting read. I have a book or two of his. He has his point of view and it's well thought out and he delivers it with wit, sometimes.

that said, he is indeed a pompous cock and gets so many reviews wrong that I fantasize about throttling the twit. He was once on the cutting edge of thinking about what pop and rock mean, but it's passed him by.

bmack86
06-23-2009, 07:34 PM
http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/lp/ep03b.jpg

sonnyboy11
06-23-2009, 07:34 PM
YOu're probably wrong since he only recently started writing for Rolling Stone. He used to be the main critic and senior editor at the Village Voice.

Fair enough. Quick reponse by the way! I appreciate that. Still, I cannot stand Rolling Stone these days.

I used to read VV when I lived in NY but not the music articles so much, oddly enough. I mainly wanted to know who was playing where, when. And I read the social articles. I'll be back there in the city for a few days this year and I'm definitely looking forward to it.

MissingPerson
06-23-2009, 07:38 PM
that said, he is indeed a pompous cock and gets so many reviews wrong that I fantasize about throttling the twit.

'Cause of the histrionics.

TomAz
06-23-2009, 07:39 PM
OH, Christgau is just about the worst. He calls himself the Dean of Rock Critics. Thurston Moore had an awesome feud with him because he reviewed one of their albums without having heard a copy of it.

I think I read an essay of his (Christgau's) once that he considers himself friends with Kim & Thurston and has been to their house and met their kids.

I also think I read a review of his that said he listened to albums a minimum of 10 times before reviewing them.

I bet he's full of shit on both counts.

TomAz
06-23-2009, 07:41 PM
Also, when writing an essay for the Pazz & Jop poll for the Village Voice, he accused all other reviewers of being racists. this was recently, within the last 5 years.

Still-ill
06-23-2009, 07:46 PM
Just ignore him, he'll die soon enough...

TomAz
06-23-2009, 07:51 PM
'Cause of the histrionics.

right. though to be fair, I think he has a point, because (1) I think i also once used the word "histrionics" in reference to the first AF album in a post on this or the old board and (2) that's why I like Neon Bible better.

wmgaretjax
06-23-2009, 08:12 PM
I remember reading a while back that the Moore vs. Christgau thing was all a hoax, but I can't seem to remember where I saw that.

Regardless of what you think about the guy's opinions and how he goes about unabashedly jizzing all over your face, he's fucking smart.

pancakespancakes
06-23-2009, 08:55 PM
he's fucking smart.

If this is somehow true... he clearly doesn't like to show off.

Abe Lincoln
06-24-2009, 02:09 AM
One of the most hilarious things ever recorded is Lou Reed on one of his many live albums (non-bootleg) where he does a 10 minute long version of "Walk On The Wild Side",with about 5 devoted to ripping on Christgau.He and that guy from the LA Times (Hilburn) are my least favorite music critics.Lester Bangs is of course the greatest,and that guy from Rolling Stone now that only reviews old bluegrass records is good also.

TomAz
06-24-2009, 08:25 AM
from Salon interview (http://archive.salon.com/ent/music/int/2001/05/09/xgau/index6.html) from 2001


Do you think you worked out of that way of thinking?

I think that the culture simply passed me by. Canonization is institutional. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a canonizing institution. Jann Wenner has worked to make Rolling Stone the keeper of the canon since 1970. I don't like that, because he uses institutional power and he uses economic power to enforce those standards. Similarly, when MTV does one of its incredibly stupid historical rundowns -- which it does four times a year of some dumb shit or other -- it's using its institutional and economic power to enforce a canon. I just express my tastes. But I think that there was a time in, say, the '70s when my tastes were so in keeping with the conventional critical wisdom that I was a kind of a canon keeper.

Kind of an anti-canon canonizer?

I was and I wasn't. For the critics I wasn't. Maybe for the industry I was 'cause I always liked punk. But critics never had any problems with the Sex Pistols and the Clash; it was just the industry that did.

None of your books has presented your work in a canonizing way. Maybe specific essays do.

Somebody may well ask me to write a canonizing record book.

And would you?

If the money were right, I wouldn't hesitate to do it. But even then, Dr. Dre and Radiohead would not be in that book. Now Radiohead is the most important rock band in the world by acclamation. Bull fucking shit, you know. They suck. And whether I'll be vindicated or not I don't know.




Do you have a top five artists of all time?

Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry, the Beatles and the New York Dolls. Those are the ones that mean the most to me. The reason the Dolls are in there is that there ought to be something that was a skyrocket that didn't prove to last. And for me they were a life-changing band. Al Green and George Clinton would probably be my next two. If there were a woman, it would probably be Billie Holiday. The artists that have meant most to me in the last 10 years are probably Pavement and Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth, of course, once called for my death.

Did that endear them even further?

No, it didn't. I hated it. At first it was in "Kill Yr. Idols," where they actually did call for my death.

That's scary.

Yes, because there are nuts out there, you know. Then there was the Flexi-single and someone suggested they call it "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick." Which I then listed as in my top 10 singles only at Carola's suggestion. I called it "I Killed Christgau With My Big Fucking Dick and Now It Don't Work No More."

MissingPerson
06-24-2009, 02:34 PM
right. though to be fair, I think he has a point, because (1) I think i also once used the word "histrionics" in reference to the first AF album in a post on this or the old board and (2) that's why I like Neon Bible better.

It seems to me slightly churlish to gripe about songs about kids sounding immature. It would be like ripping on Hail to the Thief for sounding a bit gloomy. That said, like I say, can't really disagree with either of those AF reviews. I think they're pretty much on the money.

More blatant examples of cockery, please?

TomAz
06-24-2009, 03:00 PM
www.robertchristgau.com

JebusLives
06-24-2009, 03:02 PM
OH, Christgau is just about the worst. He calls himself the Dean of Rock Critics. Thurston Moore had an awesome feud with him because he reviewed one of their albums without having heard a copy of it.

I just googled "Christgau Moore feud" and this freaking thread came up *eyeroll*

TomAz
06-24-2009, 03:03 PM
The Soft Bulletin [Warner Bros., 1999]
Tiptoeing along the precipice that divides the charmingly serious from the hopelessly ridiculous, this year's Prestigious Pink Floyd Tribute by a Long-Running Band of Some Repute and Less Distinction enjoys two advantages over OK Computer and Deserter's Songs. Not only does it map out a sonic identity, the chief selling point of all these records, but it's not above pretty. And lead genius Wayne Coyne mixes up the quotidian and the cosmic in the best American psychedelic tradition, with a social dimension more grounded than the usual dystopian mishmash-heroic scientists, gosh. All that granted, however, listeners with no generational stake in how old alt bands impact history are obliged not only to contend with Coyne's wispy voice and chronic confusion, but to stifle their giggles when Steven Drozd bangs his drums all over a song mixing up summer love and mosquito bites. That is,these guys are Not Joking. Ever. Which makes them hopelessly ridiculous. B

Still-ill
06-24-2009, 03:03 PM
www.robertchristgau.com

Dont post spam, Tom.

hawkingvsreeve
06-24-2009, 03:12 PM
The Soft Bulletin [Warner Bros., 1999]
Tiptoeing along the precipice that divides the charmingly serious from the hopelessly ridiculous, this year's Prestigious Pink Floyd Tribute by a Long-Running Band of Some Repute and Less Distinction enjoys two advantages over OK Computer and Deserter's Songs. Not only does it map out a sonic identity, the chief selling point of all these records, but it's not above pretty. And lead genius Wayne Coyne mixes up the quotidian and the cosmic in the best American psychedelic tradition, with a social dimension more grounded than the usual dystopian mishmash-heroic scientists, gosh. All that granted, however, listeners with no generational stake in how old alt bands impact history are obliged not only to contend with Coyne's wispy voice and chronic confusion, but to stifle their giggles when Steven Drozd bangs his drums all over a song mixing up summer love and mosquito bites. That is,these guys are Not Joking. Ever. Which makes them hopelessly ridiculous. B


That's quite an elaborate way to say absolutely nothing at all.

bleep
06-24-2009, 03:12 PM
he and I have found common ground

Archers of Loaf

* Icky Mettle [Alias, 1993] A
* Archers of Loaf Vs. the Greatest of All Time [Alias, 1994] A-
* Vee Vee [Alias, 1995] A
* The Speed of Cattle [Alias, 1996] A-
* All the Nations Airports [Alias, 1996] A-
* Vitus Tinnitus [Alias, 1997] *
* White Trash Heroes [Alias, 1998] A-
* Seconds Before the Accident [Alias, 2000] **


Sleater-Kinney

* Sleater-Kinney [Chainsaw, 1995] A-
* Call the Doctor [Chainsaw, 1996] A
* Dig Me Out [Kill Rock Stars, 1997] A
* The Hot Rock [Kill Rock Stars, 1999] A
* All Hands on the Bad One [Kill Rock Stars, 2000] A-
* One Beat [Kill Rock Stars, 2002] A
* The Woods [Sub Pop, 2005] A

TomAz
06-24-2009, 03:17 PM
he likes punk rock and its derivatives, yes. Mostly. not always.


Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables [I.R.S., 1980]
I do want there to be more punk rock--I do, I do. I do want there to be more left-wing new wave--really. By Americans--I swear it. But not by a would-be out-of-work actor with Tiny Tim vibrato who spent the first half of the '70s concocting "rock cabaret." Admittedly, I'm guessing, but I'm also being kind--it sounds like Jello Biafra discovered the Stooges in 1977. C+

TomAz
06-24-2009, 03:27 PM
one last example to make everyone happy.


Summerteeth [Reprise, 1999]
Old-fashioned tunecraft lacking not pedal steel, who cares, but the concreteness modern popcraft eschews ("Summer Teeth," "She's a Jar"). **

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot [Nonesuch, 2002]
purty music, but I yawn like a lawn when I hear him recite ("Jesus, Etc.," "I Am the Man Who Loves You") *

A Ghost Is Born [Nonesuch, 2004]
Not counting the 11-minute synth drone that Jeff Tweedy says reminds him of his migraines, the most blatant of the mannerisms that riddle this privileged self-indulgence is its dynamic strategy. Play the soft parts loud enough to hear and the loud parts will demonstrate the limitations of your cheapjack sound system, you pathetic transistorized consumer clone. Fortunately, there is a counterstrategy. Play the soft parts as faintly as they deserve and you'll still be able to make out the guitar workouts that are the only conceivable attraction the album will hold for any neutral party not seeking an associate degree in sound engineering. Once Tweedy wrote legible songs. They didn't add up to much because he didn't, but they had their shallow charms. Here he's beyond such compromises. "Handshake Drugs" we get, and the NPR-ready one about the best songs not getting on the radio is a clever feint. But it's hard to imagine any of the suckers who fell for the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot hype striving to identify with, say, "Muzzle of Bees." Not impossible. Just hard. B-

JebusLives
06-24-2009, 03:35 PM
"yawn like a lawn"?? If you're going to write a one-sentence dismissal of one of my favorite albums, at least make it remotely clever.

The cliched phrase "so far up his own ass" will henceforth be forever associated in my mind with Robert Christgau.

SoulDischarge
06-24-2009, 05:07 PM
That's quite an elaborate way to say absolutely nothing at all.

Exactly.

TomAz
06-24-2009, 08:29 PM
"yawn like a lawn"?? If you're going to write a one-sentence dismissal of one of my favorite albums, at least make it remotely clever.

I took that line as a parody of "I shake like a toothache" on 'Ashes of American Flags'.

wmgaretjax
06-26-2009, 12:53 PM
LIstening to Ryan Adams' Gold on Andrew's recommendation. Christgau had only this to say:

"asked for Gram Parsons, they gave me Billy Joel"

Five songs in this seems like a legitimate evaluation.

psycobetabuckdown
06-27-2009, 05:13 PM
My favorite Cristgau review: Portishead's "Dummy" I believe he just said "Lounge music for androids" or something to that effect. I mean, we could simplify and underrate Chuck Berry in four words, but that would just be, um, pompous.

kitt kat
06-28-2009, 06:00 PM
I killed Christgau with my big fucking dick

and then changed the name of my song.

no, but seriously. he's a grouchy old man who makes me hate music journalism.

bmack86
06-28-2009, 06:15 PM
Well, it was originally Kill Yr Idols anyway. Byron Coley switched it for a 7" he put out.