Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jeffrey Lewis

  • The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane [Rough Trade, 2002] *
  • It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through [Rough Trade, 2003] **
  • 12 Crass Songs [Rough Trade, 2008] C-
  • A Turn in the Dream-Songs [Rough Trade, 2011] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane [Rough Trade, 2002]
forlorn, funny (anti) folkie who isn't getting laid ("Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song," "Life") *

It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through [Rough Trade, 2003]
Doubles as a cartoonist, where it's harder to cram so many words in ("Don't Let the Record Company Take You Out to Lunch," "You Don't Have to Be a Scientist to Do Experiments on Your Own Heart"). **

12 Crass Songs [Rough Trade, 2008]
Drolly self-deprecating anti-folkie covers iconic anarcho-punk Purists for ultraleft analysis in musical form--that's just what this reeling world could use, you'd think. And indeed, it's not altogether stupid. But it's also hate-filled and hateful--not just the Crass, but second-generation beatnik Lewis, who like most hereditary bohemians was brought up to think he's better than normal people. However well he understands capitalist exploitation, his emotional response is stunted: "I hate the living dead and their work in factories/They go like sheep to their production lines." ("Like sheep"--what a cool image!) Historically, people in this economy have taken what they can get and had some fun in their spare time. They like Sarah Palin because they know she's as smart as Jeffrey Lewis and suspect they're not all that far behind themselves. C-

A Turn in the Dream-Songs [Rough Trade, 2011]
So maybe the idea of this oddly constructed album is to "turn" from some OK meditative songs at track five, commencing a run of six A-OK outgoing ones before re"turn"ing to three meditative ones--and then breaking a minute of silence with the gangsta-ripping "Mosquito Mass Murderist"? That's a guideline, anyway. Try "Cult Boyfriend," one of the funnier and more philosophical of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or "When You're by Yourself," one of the sadder and more touching of the many reflections on romantic frustration this lifetime bohemian's cult career has afforded. Or the all-encompassing "Krongu Green Slime," a cartoonist-cum-folkie's six-minute history of consumerism from "the time before land" to "the time after land." It's also about the meaning of life, if there is one. A-

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