Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Vulgar Boatmen: Wide Awake [No Nostalgia, 2003]
Between their flat rhythms and their undemonstrative vocals, this long-running hobby band have to hit it just right to hit it at all, which on this retrospective happens most of the time: if not sweet tunes, then sharp lines or even driving grooves. So cannily generalized they make the polite romantic disconnections of academia stand in for those of all white middle-class America, their songs sound like what Ricky Nelson might have sung if he'd grown up to be a manager in the conglomerate that bought the Emporium rather than the wastrel who pursued a musical career. A-