Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Dylan Hicks: Sings Bolling Greene [Two Deuces, 2012]
This is complicated. Minneapolis critic and singer-songwriter Hicks recently published a debut novel called Boarded Windows, about which you can believe Dana Spiotta ("eloquent and unusual") and Greil Marcus ("whispered, confided, mused") or you can believe me ("buncha bohos wax clever about art until you want to paste someone"). Its seventh most important character is a country-singing aesthete of implausible renown named Bolling Greene. But these aren't simply Hicks's renditions of Greene's previously nonexistent songs. They're also songs about goings on in the novel itself to which Greene couldn't have been privy as well as a leftover about a golf course that, as Greene's widow complains in the notes, it's impossible to imagine the vaguely delineated cult hero writing. I love the first four and like all 10, because the same fine distinctions that make my teeth hurt at 252 pages are piquant at a hooky half hour of rhymes I can ignore at will. If you crave concrete detail in your songwriting, here's your fix, from "West Texas wind/Blowing headlines in my lap/Lonely Man Takes Nap/Chubby Girl Learns Tap" to "The musty olive carpet/The sticky minibar/The grainy baby movie/The broken VCR." A-