From Publishers Weekly
The goofiness and magnetism of rock is celebrated in this exuberant memoir. Rock critic and memoirist Almond (Candyfreak) describes himself as a drooling fanatic of rock and roll with a morbid passion for obscure bands, arcane record collections, and proselytizing his musical tastes. This freewheeling mix tape recounts the central role music played in his relationships, sexual encounters, and life transitions, while sprinkling in idiosyncratic lists, from Rock's Biggest Assholes to Silly Names of Rock Star Spawn, and tragicomic exegeses of songs great and terrible. His rock-critic gig enables his obsessions, giving him cover to profile, hang with, and otherwise stalk rockers while gazing into the bleak underside of their lives, the desolation in which... art continues to bloom. Almond deftly straddles the line between intellectual and fan. He's canny about the ways rock stars manipulate their idolators, yet happy to be seduced by them. He veers smoothly between funny, cruel takedowns of rock fatuity while registering its emotional impact (the song I Bless the Rains Down in Africa may be the lovechild of Muzak and imperialism, but you can't help sort of digging it). Almond's snarky, swoony counterpoint makes for a hilarious riff on the power of music. (Apr. 13)
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*Starred Review* Almond makes clear from the start that he’s no rock star, just a guy who obsesses over music he can’t play. Dreams of rock stardom danced in his adolescent head, but he soon realized, watching Springsteen’s 1975 concert film at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, that he’d never make it and better get used to it. So he and like-minded friends became “Drooling Fanatics”—“the sort of guys and dolls who walk around with songs ringing in our ears at all hours.” If you’ve read Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity (1995) or seen the movie, you know the type. Almond fills the book with gratuitous lists (e.g., of bands shamelessly overexposed by the “alternative” press) and the neurotic urge to overshare personal details. It isn’t enough that he’s an obsessive listener. He needs others to like what he likes. Among the many pleasures his rants afford are his deconstructions of bad pop songs (e.g., Toto’s “Africa” and Air Supply’s “All Out of Love”), but really, dipping into his ramblings at virtually any point quickly becomes addictive, impertinent fun. His hilarious musings seem to contain elements of both Hornby and David Sedaris, but he’s truly a character of his own idiosyncratic making. --June Sawyers
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