Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Chris Butler

  • The Devil Glitch [Future Fossil, 1996] **
  • Easy Life [Future Fossil, 2014] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Devil Glitch [Future Fossil, 1996]
one song with a shitload of choruses, or, "Sometimes you can fix something 550 times/there's special grace in repetition" ("Track 3: Mars Williams--sax player from the Waitresses"; "Track 15: Christopher D. Butler--computer music wiz") **

Easy Life [Future Fossil, 2014]
It has its slow spots, especially on a few fast-forwards from 1970, but this cobbled-together concept album by a long-scrabbling professional on the rock fringe earns its subtitle: "The Bohemian Dream & American Nightmare of Kent State 1970." The buoyant title track evokes the late-hippie mindset as accurately as Neil Young's melancholy "Don't Let It Bring You Down," and the surrounding historical detail powers an acute portrait of a movement that was simultaneously casual and righteous--a movement of young people who'd never seen their world contract and couldn't believe it actually might. Part one of the long tale that ends the album proper climaxes with a road trip to see the Dead in Cleveland, during which Butler sneaks onstage and plays beer can until Jerry tells him to shut the fuck up. In part two, the bummed-out kid gives his drum kit to Jeff Miller three weeks before Miller becomes one of four Kent State students slaughtered by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. The postscript is Creedence's "Fortunate Son," which lest you've forgotten is about not being one. B+