Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Loudon Wainwright III: Here Come the Choppers! [Sovereign Artists, 2005]
For a decade Wainwright has been keeping it real with songs about family trauma and songs about what a shit he is--themes sometimes addressed simultaneously, as in "Year," where he first meets his latest daughter on her first birthday. Once his political songs fell flat because he wasn't scared or angry enough. Now when he's a shit you wonder why you should care--which is kind of hip-hop, don't you think?--but Bush has him so scared and angry he makes up for it, with a dedicated posse of El Lay studio vets getting in their licks. "No Sure Way" mourns the WTC, "God's Country" renounces Nashville, and "Choppers" imagines a bombed Los Angeles devastated as logically and surreally as a bombed Baghdad. And "Choppers" is no more disturbing than "My Biggest Fan," which could inspire any singer-songwriter to do an emotional cost-benefit analysis on the touring life--and leave a 400-pound aficionado feeling flattered anyway. A-