Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Backxwash: Deviancy [Grimalkin, 2019]
Raised in Zambia and sent off to British Columbia for a computer science degree, the trans woman Ashanti Mutinta then relocated to Montreal and in 2018 released two Bandcamp-streamable suck-an-MC hip-hop EPs that knew their way around: F.R.E.A.K.S (try "Pink Bandana") and the more assured Black Sailor Moon ("Voodoo" or "Aesthetic"). With its eight tracks clocking in at a shade over 20 minutes, this 2019 EP is a leap forward so chocked with content that it feels like an album. Undermining horrorcore's nihilist-cum-neanderthal devil worship by identifying with the leftwing humanists of the Satanic Temple, her "Bad Juju" aims a middle finger at a patriarchy she blames by name and her "Devil in a Moshpit" calls out the sexual predators who lurk in scrums she knows too well. Nor is she afraid to admit that sometimes she's afraid. "You Like My Body the Way It Is" is a love song that ventures into unfamiliar territory: "Maybe it's my boobs they could be a little bigger/Maybe it's my cooch they could seam it a little different." And the closing "Burn Me at the Stake" reminds us of what she already knows full well--that the suppression of her kind of gender defiance has an especially hideous history. A