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Christgau with an extended essay on one of America’s most excellent and underrated bands, Wussy.

Who knew anything good could come from Cincinnati?

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  • c u n d gulag

    What’s wrong with Cincinnati chili on spaghetti?

    Ok, a lot…
    But it sure tastes great!

    • Fail.


      • c u n d gulag

        Yeah, but it’s Soooooo gross, it’s great!

        Let’s just agree to disagree.

        How about Ken Griffey Jr.?
        Sure, he was born in Donora, PA, but he was raised in Cincinnati.

        • We are getting into Farley territory by taking about the Reds, but I will agree that Ken Griffey Jr. is a great thing to come out of the Queen City.

          • RhZ

            Gimme a five way with the cheese on the side!

            (They put too much cheese on those things)


          • urban meemaw

            And Barry Larkin and Pete Rose, both from Cincinnati?

        • Bill Murray

          Griffey Jr. was born on the same day as Stan Musial who was also born in Donora

          • c u n d gulag

            And, on MY All Star Team, I’ll take “Stan, da Man!” – aka “The Donora Greyhound,” over Jr.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks


        Five-way chili is quite possibly America’s worst regional food specialty.

        There’s pretty good deli in the Queen City, however.

        • c u n d gulag

          I don’t know about that – deep-fried Coke, and butter, have got to be the worst.

          Or, are those not really regional, but just State Fair fare?

          • Timb

            So, Cincy okay, indy gross? I swear I will hound you about your hatred of my podunk city until I found what happened to you here

            • RhZ

              Don’t worry, if you feel bad we can always laugh at Evansville…or Ft. Wayne. Or Toledo!

              • Timb

                Yay. I was just amused/amazed at c u n d ‘s hatred of Indy, as compared to Baltimore…

                • RhZ

                  Deep-fried coke and butter are specifically Indy inventions?

                • c u n d gulag

                  Jeez, talk about keeping a grudge!

                  I’m sorry if I insulted Indy.

                  I didn’t mean to. I’m sure it’s a great town/city.

                  I’m a coastal elite, who likes seafood, and who’s never lived further than 200 miles from the ocean – so wtf do I know about charms of landlocked cities like Indy?

                  I heard that the reporters who went there to cover the Super Bowl, said the city did a great job.

                  I’m sorry – PEACE!

    • rea

      Only a full trial at the Hague for crimes against humanity would suffice for whoever got the idea of putting chili on noodles.

      • djw

        See, I actually think chili on spaghetti could be just fine, if the chili actually had some decent flavor and a least a touch of heat(and wasn’t smothered in a mountain of extremely low-grade cheddar cheese).

        • Scott Lemieux

          I’m with djw. Chili on spaghetti, to me, is a great idea in principle (chili is great on rice, for example.) The problem is that Cincinnati chili is terrible.

          • Thlayli

            Chili is just meat sauce, right? It makes perfect sense.

          • Uncle Kvetch

            Never had Cincinnati chili in Cincinnati, but we’ve made the Cooks Illustrated version at home several times, and I have to say it’s pretty damn tasty.

        • RhZ

          Ha yeah its sweet with cinnamon I believe. I would not eat that chili by itself, no way. Indeed, its not chili at all, as most people think of the term.

          But throw noodles, beans and onions in there, and I am good to go! Cheez optional, oyster crackers, not.

  • Joe Boehmouth

    I stumbled on this band kund of randomly and they are really good. Not much to add of substance besides that, but thanks for the Christgau piece.

  • djw

    Roughly a month ago, I resolved to be less lame about the local live music scene, and managed to stay up late enough to head out to one of the local pubs for a show, selected more or less at random; $5 cover. Wussy was the headliner. That was my introduction to the band; they pretty much won me over right away.

  • sparks

    Who knew anything good could come from Christgau? How is the old trend-hopping fraud, anyway?

    • Uncle Kvetch

      That was my reaction too. Based on that piece RC seems to have mellowed considerably — there was virtually nothing that made me want to hunt him down and smack him upside the head with a rolled-up Village Voice. That’s progress.

      Then again, just in case anyone thought he’d completely lost the ability to make no sense whatsoever:

      “when so much indie favors voices that are automated, anonymous, humongous, genteel, or classically trained”

      Now that’s the Christgau I remember.

      • djw

        Right; I don’t care for Christgau at all, but if you focus on his incredibly obnoxious writing, it’s easy to forget that his taste is idiosyncratic and sometimes interesting, if you can ever figure out what the hell he’s actually saying.

        This article is actually fairly legible, and even pretty good when he’s writing about the band and not trying to be clever or getting his digs in. I’ll nominate “When Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore split last October, ripples of unease rocked quasi-bohemian bedrooms all across America” for the most cringe-worthy line here.

        • djw

          that was meant as a reply to howard, but I suppose it fits here too.

    • it’s entirely possible to disagree with christgau on any number of things; it’s certainly true that his prose can descend to the gnomic.

      but to call him a “trend-hopping fraud” takes ignorance of a right-wing scale: it’s a completely inane remark.

      wussy is a great band (and yes, i first heard of them, like so many great unknown bands, from christgau, whom i first read about 45 years ago and who, just to reinforce the point, has never been a trend-hopping fraud).

      • Xgau, just has his taste, and I think where he grates on people is he will make no excuses for his enjoyment of certain genres (even the “ironic” ones), but he doesn’t like your genre, it just so happens to be (especially if your “genre. Maybe that comes across as unfair, but I love reading him on old old bands like Grand Funk and Yes. I think it is his highly distilled dismissiveness that is off-putting. Yet he likes KC and the Sunshine Band. He’ll occasionally reevaluate or give bands second/third listens and this is why he’s good- and he’ll just say he came around and why, without writing some Pitchforkian master’s thesis about the band changing (instead of you know, his taste or feel for the music).

        • Scott Lemieux

          Don’t forget, say, his essay defending Garth Brooks. Unlike some of his contrarianism, it was highly unconvincing! But the relevant sins weren’t irony or trend-hopping.

          Indeed, one of my favorite critical lines is his “Irony–an excuse for anything and a reason for nothing.” (I also think he was right about the very, very, very trendy JSBE, for what it’s worth.)

          • Yeah, “asshole coming and going” is a great line and note the grade was still a B-minus. Also, Veruca Salt were slammed all over the place as bandwagonners and trend apers, yet Xgau ignored that in the link and gave them their due. Note how he gets immediately the BS about two bands with women in the same genre being one too many. Off course he doesn’t make all boats- it’s music.

            • Uncle Kvetch

              OK, I’ll give Christgau his due: that takedown of John Spencer is sweet. I saw the JSBE open for somebody or other in ’93 or ’94 and still remember it for its distinctive brand of awfulness.

              But then again, my beef with Christgau has never been about his likes or dislikes, but the way he (sometimes) writes about them.

      • sparks

        I know the man from years past when that’s exactly what he was. I used to call him “The desperately hip Robert Christgau”. If he has mellowed and become more incisive, it’s far too late for me to care anymore. His one saving grace to me was that he was willing to give black music in its varied forms a chance when popular music was becoming re-segregated, expending effort on a genre a lot of rock writers stonily ignored.

        • sparks, if i were you, i would entertain the possibility that i was simply wrong in years past.

        • pete

          Another saving grace was his early adoption of punk. And rap, at least some forms of it. Another was his homophilia. Another was his willingness to dump dinosaurs relatively early. Another was that he noticed Springsteen’s sense of rhythm (or lack of it) early, and that Jackson Browne’s singing beat his writing. I don’t agree with all of Christgau’s opinions, and sometimes his writing is opaque (though usually stimulating) but he’s had a long and honorable career.

        • Halloween Jack

          This would be the same guy who dismissed Jimi Hendrix as a “psychedelic Uncle Tom.” Fuck that assclown.

    • It’s difficult to take seriously a man who declares himself, seemingly unironically, “Dean of American Rock Critics.” Really?

      • pete

        “Dean” was a joke he made more than 40 years ago. That it still pisses off some people is presumably why he keeps on saying it. Well, that and self-promotion, but we are talking about rock music fer chrissake.

    • Jason

      How is the old trend-hopping fraud, anyway?

      Yeah, this is just a ridiculous remark. As with Pauline Kael, Christgau detractors take legitimate grievances and blow them up into totalizing rejections that say more about themselves than about the objects of their ire.

  • DocAmazing

    Isn’t Bootsy Collins from Cincinnati?

    • king records, an important r+b and hillbilly label (james brown’s first recordings were on a king subsidiary) was from cincy.

      completely unsurprisingly, the guy who ran king, syd nathan, was a famous crook, but when it comes to ’50s records entrepreneurs, that almost goes without saying.

      • Richard

        So many great records came from King.. And while Nathan was a crook, he saw the essential similarities between blues/r&b and country music, regularly having his r&b artists record country songs and vice versa.

        • urban meemaw

          Bootsy is from Cincinnati. I believe Nathan also hired the first African American A&R execs (or one of the first.) One of the fascinating things about King is that in 1940’s/50’s heavily segregated Cincinnati, the work force was integrated. Also, not only did artists cover each others’ genres, r&b musicians would play back up for the country artists.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Jeff Ruby’s has a picture of the owner simultaneously hugging Bootsy Collins and Ken Griffey Jr. that is clearly the greatest picture hanging in any American restaurant.

      • i think it was the robert palmer-scripted pbs history of rock and roll about 15 years ago that included a wonderful interview with bootsy talking about taking acid one night while he was still playing with james brown and retreating off stage when he saw spiders crawling up his bass and how “the godfather wasn’t down with that at all!”

    • Timb

      And Rosemary and George Clooney?

      • steelpenny

        Rosemary is from Maysville, Ky. U.S. Grant is from Ripley, O. right across the bridge.

  • steelpenny

    Afghan Whigs? There’s nothing wrong with Greg Dulli. And I know some people who like the Ass Ponys. And I think Johnny Paycheck is from SW Ohio (Hillsboro maybe?). Also, the wickerpedia informs me that the Isley Brothers were from Cincinnati.

    • Scott Lemieux

      The leader of the Ass Ponys is actually in Wussy. They were pretty good; Some Stupid With A Flaregun is a good record with a great title.

      • rea

        From Deep Purple lyric, no? Smoke on the Water?

        • Scott Lemieux


      • Anonymous

        Lohio (Ass Ponys album) — the BEST.

  • DocAmazing

    Cincinnati is not without its boosters:


  • Ted

    Second the Afghan Whigs. I can’t imagine Gentlemen ever not being one of my favorite albums.

  • heckblazer

    Reform Judaism? Hebrew Union College in Cincinatti was the first Reform Jewish seminary.

  • Bill Murray

    The Libertines (US) are the greatest band from Cincinnati

  • Ted

    Also The Libertines, who had at least one great single “Everybody Wants to Be My Sister” which can be found here:

    If you count Dayton as practically Cincinnati then you have Guided by Voices.

    • Anonymous

      Wow, thanks for that link — I was obsessed with that song in my youth.

      (Not so) incidentally:

      Heartless Bastards are from Cincinnati.

      Most of the guys in The National are from Cincinnati.

      • Ted

        You’re welcome. You can buy their “Greatest Hits” CD on Amazon, which includes EWTBMS. Incidentally I was composing my 1:47 comment when Bill Murray posted his comment and didn’t see it before I posted mine. I think the Afghan Whigs are clearly a better band than the Libertines though.

        We may have had similar youthdoms – I hope not for your sake.

  • Seitz

    You want to hear a good band from Cincinnati, check out Bad Veins. They’re pretty terrific live as well. Not many bands feature a third “member” that’s actually a huge reel to reel player.

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