Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Battle Hymns [, 2017]
Pay what you want, but with every penny forwarded to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and, I clicked the suggested 20 bucks for this Portland-scene "protest record." Though it does fade at the end, a perceived historical imperative focuses these aesthetes on the proudly political. Not only is there no alt-poetic obscurantism, there's nothing preachy-programmatic-etc. about the sure shots, which outnumber the OKs two-to-one unless you're "bored" by phraseology like "We Won't Go Back," "Fight the Hate," "Save Our Soul," and "Love in the Time of Resistance," in which case Love Always, Mary Timony, Boss Hog, and Corin Tucker will get in your face about it. Most historic are Quasi's allegorical "Ballad of Donald Duck & Elmer Fudd" and Mac McCaughan's post-slack motherfucker "Happy New Year (Prince Can't Die Again)." "This year it seemed like nothing really mattered / You could be any horrible thing and rise to the top of the shitheap," he recalls. "Next year might be better / But I don't see any proof," he admits. Yet he brims with love and energy anyway: "Play the long game, muster up some cheer," he advises, then predicts "The South won't rise again." He's from North Carolina, so let's hope he knows something. A-