Why Sasha Frere-Jones Really Is A Great Rock Critic

If you are someone who, like me, gags each and every time you read the wooden prose of Jon Pareles, wherein he talks about “Mr. Reed’s guitar vamps,” etc. it really is a delight to read Sash Frere-Jones in The New Yorker.  Yeah, he’s a little full of himself.  Name a really great rock critic who isn’t?  From John Mendelssohn to Byron Coley, Lester Bangs to Robert Palmer, the best rock critics have always made one step back, laugh, and go “What the…”  And Frere-Jones has the gift.  I hadn’t listened closely to the drums on Led Zep’s “Good Times, Bad Times” for years until Frere-Jones, writing about the reunion concert last autumn, shined the spotlight on the late John Bonham’s polyrhythmic perversity.   And then came his preview of the Feelies/Sonic Youth show in New York last week.  Here’s how he described the link between the two bands: “To be wildly reductive about the whole thing: the Feelies are the logical extension of the breakneck strumming in the Velvet Underground’s “What Goes On,” while Sonic Youth are the logical extension of Lou Reed’s solo.”  That is so good that if ever The New Yorker casts him out onto Times Square, look for Tulip Frenzy to host an online bake sale, just to keep the boy going.

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