Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  Expert Witness
Books:
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
    RSS
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
  Archive
Venues:
  Noisey
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Jeffrey Lewis & the Junkyard [extended]

  • 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-
  • Em Are I [Rough Trade, 2009] A-
  • A Turn in the Dream-Songs [Rough Trade, 2011] A-
  • Hey Hey It's . . . the Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band [self-released, 2013] A
  • Works by Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010) [Don Giovanni, 2018] B+

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Jeffrey Lewis: 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") *

Jeffrey Lewis: 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"). **

Jeffrey Lewis: 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-

Em Are I [Rough Trade, 2009]
Wry and contemplative, suddenly established anti-folkie delivers strophic tunes about the riddles of eternity, a pet pig of questionable historicity, trying to catch some Z's on a Greyhound bus, and that greatest of all riddles, love. Aided by his rickety little band, every one flows unimpeded by musical fooforaw, the occasional chorus included. At his worst, Lewis can be a wise-ass scold. At his best he's a vulnerable master of the humorously ineffable and a tribute to the humanism of a SUNY education and the Lower East Side. A-

Jeffrey Lewis: 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-

Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel: Hey Hey It's . . . the Jeffrey Lewis & Peter Stampfel Band [self-released, 2013]
To borrow a keyword from the "Mule Train" finale, you could complain that this clippety-clops. Presumably the revised version the liner notes promise will move at a smarter clip, because the drummer who spent a single weekend recording 13 songs she'd met a week before will since then have spent long sticky nights with them on tour. But that's only if the revised version materializes, which cannot be counted a certainty even though 37-year-old stripling Lewis is the least occasional of Stampfel's life list of weird birds. And however shambolic the songs are or aren't, you'll want to hear almost every one anyway. Where to begin? "All the Time in the World" redefining immortality? "Indie Bands on Tour" redefining folk culture? "Do You Know Who I Am?! I'm %$&*?in' Snooki!!" celebrating a reality Stampfel has never really encountered? The Tuli parody, the Stampfel remake, the Patti Page rewrite, the Tommy Jackson lyrics-added, the one that has the 74-year-old Stampfel apologizing that he doesn't "yet have the skills to write a '64-'65 Beach Boys song"? Put it on shuffle and decide for yourself. A

Jeffrey Lewis and the Deposit Returners: Works by Tuli Kupferberg (1923-2010) [Don Giovanni, 2018]
Late great New York bohemian Kupferberg loved "parodies," which originally just meant songs that set new lyrics to old tunes: the more erotic than fetishistic "I Want to Hold Your Foot," say, or "This Train Is Bound for Brooklyn," as in "This train is bound for Brighton / If you wanna go to Bay Ridge you're not on the right one." But he also wrote the enraptured Fugs threnody "Morning Morning," covered by such worthies as Joan Baez and Spyder Turner but done just as right by the living-room sing-along Lewis convened for this album. This approach has its limitations, but gets the job done. Try "What Are You Doing After the Orgy?," melodicized by Lewis from a Kupferberg notebook, which dreams of extracting friendship from orgasm. Try "Life Is Strange," where an aged heir of Aristide Bruant reports he's perfectly OK with never having once seen Paris. B+