Robert Christgau

Robert Christgau contributes regular music reviews to All Things Considered.

Christgau began writing rock criticism for Esquire in 1967 and became a columnist at New York's Village Voice in 1969. He moved to Newsday in 1972, but in 1974 returned to the Voice, where he was the music editor for the next 10 years. From 1985 to 2006, he was a senior editor at the weekly as well as its chief music critic. He is best known for the Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll, for over 30 years the nation's most respected survey of rock-critical opinion, and his Consumer Guide column, where he began to publish letter-graded capsule album reviews in 1969. The Consumer Guide is now published by MSN Networks. Christgau is also a senior critic at Blender.

Christgau has taught at several colleges and universities, most extensively NYU, where after stints with the English and journalism departments, he now teaches music history in the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music. In 1987, he won a Guggenheim fellowship to study the history of popular music. In 2002, he was a senior fellow at the National Arts Journalism Program, where he is now a member of the national board. He was the keynote speaker at the first EMP Pop Conference in 2002, and a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University in 2007.

Christgau has published five books: the collections Any Old Way You Choose It (1973) and Grown Up All Wrong (1998), and three record guides based on his Consumer Guide columns. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The London Times, Playboy, The New Yorker, Video Review, Blender, Spin, The Nation, Salon, Believer, numerous alt-weeklies and many other publications. Most of his writing can be read on his website, robertchristgau.com. His capsule reviews are also part of the editorial content at the online music service Rhapsody.

Christgau was born in 1942. He attended New York City public schools and got his B.A. from Dartmouth in 1962. He married Carola Dibbell in 1974. In 1985, they became parents of a daughter, Nina.

Music Reviews
4:44 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Album Review: 'Runaway's Diary'

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 11:46 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Memphis singer songwriter Amy LaVere specializes in lyrics that are more barbed than her sweet soprano prepares you for. Our music critic, Robert Christgau, thinks she's never gotten that balance quite as right as she has on her new album, "Runaway's Diary."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RABBIT")

AMY LAVERE: (Singing) Old man, I hear they call you rabbit...

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Music Reviews
4:16 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Album Review: 'English Oceans,' By Drive-By Truckers

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 7:50 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The band Drive-By Truckers are in their third decade playing alternative country music tinged with Southern pride. Critic Robert Christgau says they put out a great album in 2008 then hit a lull. But he says their latest album, out this week, is a true comeback.

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Music Reviews
4:53 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Sam Baker's 'Say Grace' Is At Once Beautiful And Broken

Sam Baker's Say Grace is his fourth album since he started making them in 2004, at age 50.
Chrislyn Lawrence Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 6:31 pm

Sam Baker has a backstory that must be told. In 1986, at age 31, he was traveling by train in Peru when a bomb from the terrorist group Shining Path exploded right next to him. The little girl he'd been talking to was killed along with half a dozen others, and his own injuries required 18 operations. His mangled left hand was rebuilt; work on his ears left him with a loud ringing that never stops, though Baker says he's made his peace with it.

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Music Reviews
3:52 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Marc Ribot Isn't Trying To Comfort Anyone

Ceramic Dog is Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and Shahzad Ismaily.
Barbara Rigon Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 30, 2013 8:01 pm

After six years as a sideman for many soul veterans, Marc Ribot made his name in 1985 with Rain Dogs, the album that marked Tom Waits' permanent transition from eccentric singer-songwriter to truly weird singer-songwriter. Ribot has held down straight gigs since then, but his work has tended toward the avant-garde. That's much less true on the song-oriented second album by the trio he calls Ceramic Dog.

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Music Reviews
6:21 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Jonny Fritz: A Country Jester Gets Personal

Jonny Fritz's third solo album, after two under the alias Jonny Corndawg, is called Dad Country.
Josh Hedley Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 8:16 pm

Dad Country is the ersatz debut of Jonny Fritz, but it's actually his third album: He recorded the first two under the name Jonny Corndawg. I enjoyed his 2011 album Down on the Bikini Line, but it's so much slighter, so much sillier and more risqué, that at first I didn't connect the two. From the new album's first seconds, Jonny Fritz sounds more intense and pained.

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Music Reviews
3:55 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Homeboy Sandman: A Rapper Leaves Law Behind

Homeboy Sandman's fourth album is called First of a Living Breed.
Gavin Thomas Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 5:43 pm

The bare facts of Homeboy Sandman's back story don't sound very hip-hop: prep school in New Hampshire, Ivy League B.A., even some pieces for The Huffington Post. But, as is often the case with class and race in America, bare facts don't tell the whole story.

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Music Reviews
4:30 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

By This 'Beak And Claw,' A Trio Shall Synthesize

Left to right: Son Lux, Serengeti and Sufjan Stevens collaborate on a sometimes humorous but mostly beautiful EP.
Illustration by John Ciambriello

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 10:55 pm

Sufjan Stevens is a classically trained singer-songwriter whose recent work has leaned symphonic. Son Lux is a classically trained beatmaker whose solo albums do indeed evoke luxury. Serengeti is a self-trained rapper who creates voices for a panoply of full-fledged characters who range from scufflers to yuppies. Billed as s / s / s, this ad hoc trio has just released an EP called Beak and Claw that somehow synthesizes their specialties.

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