Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Yo Ma Ma-Stephen Kalinich & Jon Tiven

  • Symptomology/Shortcuts to Infinity [MsMusic, 2012] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Symptomology/Shortcuts to Infinity [MsMusic, 2012]
Kalinich started writing lyrics for the Beach Boys in the '60s and went on from there; Tiven fronted the Yankees' 1978 garage-rock one-off High 'n' Inside before establishing himself as the go-to producer for soul singers too far over the hill to bring his songs alive. But now, at 70 and 57, the two collaborators pack two distinct garage-rock albums into one double-jewelbox, with Tiven the vocalist on all 31 tracks after a layoff of over three decades. Predictably, I prefer the punky Symptomology to the hippieish Shortcuts to Infinity, but on both records the familiar-sounding tunes stick to the eardrums, delivering lyrics that are quite funny or sufficiently wise. Formally and sonically, it's received save some extraneous horns. But as human expression it's inspired, with Cody Dickinson's North Mississippi drums driving it toward the immediate future. A-