Demo Universe

Belying the notion that hometapers never leave their bedrooms, Rob Christensen gives us front row seats at the Hot Brew in Fortuna, California. Prepare to weep into your cappuccino. In his songs, a series of struggles to sustain hope and faith in the face of disappointment, disenchantment and loss. Stripped to their intimate essence -- simple strumming and a bruised, raspy voice -- tunes like "September Knows," from Rob's brilliant The Truth Hurts cassette (1997) are at times even more effective than the originals. Recorded direct to cassette on Saturday, Nov. 14, 1998, At The End Of The Day is a lo-fi map to buried treasure. Start digging!

AUTOreverse

A live set from November 14, 1998, in the best folk-rock singer-songwriter tradition - right down to the Dylanish harmonica (on "Kiss and Run"). And like many other such, the "songwriter" side is generally stronger than the "singer" - he can carry the tunes and everything, and sometimes gets the right emotional effect on me, but at other times he sounds sort of, I don't know, too sorry for himself or something. I like the tunes and have even found myself walking around singing "Janie Sims." The near rhyme "emotionally / close to me" is pretty memorable all by itself. Rob's a strummer as opposed to a picker (again in the best tradition); the guitar is there to get you to listen to the lyrics. Rob Enge sits in on bass on the last four (of eleven) tracks. It says here there's a couple more albums (Smile Slightly and The Truth Hurts); I like this one well enough to have played it several times and look forward to hearing the others.

AUTOreverse

Rob is a singer-songwriter in the fashion of those for whom the tag was invented; Dylan, Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Randy Newman, etc... In fact, Rob's vocal style puts me in mind of Randy Newman by way of Jim Shelley. Rob writes, plays, and records his own songs which employ a straight ahead folk-rock approach. The lyrics explore the singer's emotions regarding various relationships, and like the songwriters I mentioned above, Rob is usually able to coin a phrase for the chorus that sums up his attitude about the situation, an attitude that most listeners can identify with. Of the three CDs, At The End Of The Day is recorded live in front of a bar/pub audience, and features Rob alone on the acoustic guitar. The up-tempo rock tunes suffer a little here, but the more folky tunes really come alive.

Reviews By Ray

Rob Christensen's new release is a CD-R of a live acoustic performance from November of 1998. Christensen's songs, which often have a lonely, desolate feel to them, have a new sense of urgency in a live setting. In fact, what really surprised me was just how much Rob's songs are reminiscent of Bob Mould or Paul Westerburg (esp. the latter). Many of the songs, "Janie Sims" and "Club Scene", for example, have a desperation to them that is totally different from the studio recordings. As a live performer, Rob is totally at ease, joking occasionally between songs, and performing his songs with conviction. Christensen's music is definitely worth looking into. He also has two cassette releases available, Smile Slightly and The Truth Hurts. I've said this before, and gosh darn it I'll say it again, anybody into the lonely hazy sound of Mazzy Star would really dig Rob Christensen's songs. And it was cool hearing those songs in a different light on this live recording.