Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Big Lazy: New Everything [Tasankee, 2002]
From the Raybeats and Love Tractor and the Dixie Dregs to Tortoise and the Thinking Fellers Union and Frisell Feeling Frisky, guitar-based instrumental groups have long been a fact of the rock and roll life, and generally they split the difference between expert and professional. These three guys--headman Stephen Ulrich playing one guitar at a time, agile Paul Dugan dwarfed by his string bass, and show drummer Tamir Muskat doubling as chief producer--up the ante. They cross genres without making a thing of their eclecticism. They love melody, and they also write it. They seem through-composed even when they're improvising. They're virtuosic and interactive without speed runs or shows of collective sensitivity. Most endearingly, they don't think intelligence requires subtlety. Their last album was soundtrack in mood. This one's more program music--told that one track was called "Train Travel" and the other "Tavern Life," you'd know which was which. You might have more trouble distinguishing "Tavern Life" from "Homesick." But by then you won't care much. A-