Originally published in Arthur No. 28 (March 2008)
C & D: Two guys who will remain pseudonymous reason together about new records
C: [While rummaging through the teeming mail bin.] Hey, look at this. It must be from that new guy who’s always lurking around. What’s his dealio anyway? He’s what my gran would call a nosey nelly.
D: I think he’s here to like, streamline shit. [Reading aloud] To Whom It May Concern: “In my private meetings with Arthur staff and contributors, we have received many disturbing reports regarding the personal, professional and spiritual-energetic conduct of C & D, or as they fancy themselves, ‘The Arthur Music Potentate.’
“There is widespread unease amonst Arthur staff about C & D’s taste in mucic, which has been described to us as ‘bewildering,’ ‘psychedelic parochial,’ ‘arguably harmful,’ ‘contrary to the public’s interest,’ ‘more narrow than their trousers’ and ‘frankly vampiric.’ I don’t quite know what all that means but it’s interesting.
“Moving forward, I have been unable to confirm that C & D are receiving payola from 86 record companies and nineteen out of our fair nation’s top twenty coolmaking marketing firms, but verification of such nefarious activity is only a matter of time.
“I am also unable to confirm their membership in the ‘Brownie-Meinhaus gang.’
“However, in my own cross-examination sessions with C & D, in which, I am preparted to testify, we did not waterboard at all 😉 , I was able to determine that they have indeed ‘lost the keys’—their words—for two of Arthur humor/motorcycle advisor Peter Alberts’ Royal Enfield motorcycles; they have indeed borrowed Arthur contributor Paul Cullum’s all-region DVD player for an ‘increasingly indefinite period’; they confess to doing two cut-and-runs at Sugar Hair Salon in Silver Lake; plainly abused Mandy Kahn’s standing offer to drive them to and from various watering holes of ill repute; and, as you may have surmised, it was indeed they — or them? I can never remember ;-( — who affixed ‘Ex Libris C &/or D’ label-plates to all the reference books in the staff library.
“Furthermore, C & D have charged 38 parking tickets to the Arthur expense account since last June. Woe betide their decision to start chillaxing out in Malibu.
“C & D have presumptuously intercepted others’ mail, especially advance vinyls from the Holy Mountain label. They play the Carbonas self-titled LP at bicuspid-crushing volume everyday before lunch. They crack each other up at staff meetings by prefacing every statement with ‘You must learn, we are the Gods of this magazine!’ They are always ordering curry. Plus they’ve used up all the paperclips, and not, I am saddened to report, in a fashion that paperclips were designed to be used.
“The Editor-in-chief, art directors and even the printer have complained that C & D are always late with their copy, which in turns holds up production of the magazine and inhibits crucial cashflow, all for something that, quoting the Editor, ‘nobody really reads or cares about anyway.’
“In my many years of optimal-sizing firms, I have been forced to make many difficult and even gut-wrenching decisions. This however is not one of them! ;-)- C & D should be shown the door, and the sooner the better. We will call it a suspension of enduring duration. Now would really be the time to pull the trigger on this. I know people who can do it.
“JUST SAY THE WORD.”
D: [gulps] Doh!
C: I always told you we would are the men who knew too much. [puzzles] But how did they find out about the brownies? I told you to watch out for those new surveillance cams.
D: I thought they were fake. And chicken tikka is not a curry.
C: Ha! And neither is lamb biryani. Wait a second… Fake surveillance cams? That’s a GREAT idea.
D: I know a guy! Just say the word!
C: [cackling] Okay but first let’s get one more column in, shall we? “They” never read this so we can say whatever we like and they won’t know til it’s at the printer, hahaha! The funny thing is we REALLY ARE the potentate around here. But if our services are no longer required here, we’d like to say one thing:
D: SAYONARA BITCHES!!!
C: Because we are in control of the horizontal. We’re the last people that see this bad boy before it’s sent to the printer…
D: Oh yeah! Heh heh.
C: …which means whatever we type here gets printed.
D: Which means…
C: They come from Memphis, they sound like Wire and the Buzzcocks, nine songs in 22 minutes. You know what you have to do.
D: Wire and the Buzzcocks? More like attach a wire to your bollocks! [helpfully] And they have a song called “Assvogel.”
C: That’s not a song, it’s a movement. And I think you know what kinda movement I mean…
D: Ahem. It is on the Goner record label. Which is what we are now. Goners.
C: Memphis is the one place I’d be interested in moving to. Start the car, I’ll get my duffel. Here’s to life in exile after abdication!
D: [brightens] I’ve been a goner since the beginning.
C: Being a goner is a serious thing. Who do you think is the original goner?
D: Robert Mitchum, no question. Yeah, that’s it, the Carbonas are the Robert Mitchum of rock!
C: I’ve been into these guys since before everyone else!
D: Except for me. I invented these guys. I put a bunch of purple pills in a blender along with a soiled Led Zep patch from my older sister’s jean jacket. Shazam!
C: ‘Old Growth’ is on the shortlist for greatest album title ever, and it’s a pretty good description of the music.
D: Here’s a better one: take a grandfather clock made of diamond-cut crystal, fill it with molasses and drop in on your head!
C: I can’t believe they’re firing you, D. You just keep getting better. Woah, this song is some serious blues shufflage. It’s like a beer commercial for really stinky homebrew.
D: There’s something about this guy’s voice that hits me like a arctic wind. Pass me my mittens. And the b-o-n-g. It’s been a bong time since I rock ‘n’ rolled!
D: Graveyard, eh. Must be a Goth band.
C: Actually they’re not Goth. They’re not even American!
D: [listening to first track, ‘Evil ways’] Right away you know that no matter what happens, you’re gonna at least hear good tone guitar. This is far too good to be American.
C: You are correct sir. They are in fact Swedish.
D: The world’s greatest mimcs. The arch-inhabitors.
C: He pitches his vocal a bit Danzig, a little bit Bobby from Pentgaram. A little bit Jim Morrison. A little bit of the mighty John Garcia.
D: And it must be admitted, a little Cornell.
C: A little bit’ll do ya. This is Ween-quality mimicry here! Reminds me of that band Witchcraft in that they’re going further out. [listening to “Lost In Confusion”] That’s basically the Doors, right there.
D: It is like Witchcraft, but this singer has more hair on his chest.
C: … So, what do you think of that drumming?
C: Well you know, all those old rock drummers used to play jazz drums too: Ginger, Graham…
D: Keith, Charlie…
C: I listened to this album several times without realizing it. Just kept coming back. I keep coming back to the Graveyard, D.
D: That’s where you’re gonna end up. Might as well get there early and check it out.
C: Vintage live recording from krautrock greats Harmonia, never-before-released!
D: How is this possible? Harmonia are some of the original electronic goners.
C: If you turn it up loud enough you can hear people talking—
D: I can’t hear anything except analog electronic perfection.
C: Frankly I am perplexed by the liners which talk that like this Harmonia are barely known, even to konfirmed krautrock fans. Says here, these guys exist somewhere out beyond the “how to buy Krautrock section in your local record shop.” Is this guy insane???
D: There is no local record shop!
C: No, I mean I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Krautrock section at a record store that DIDN’T include Harmonia. And there is a local record shop, actually. It’s not final for vinyl just yet, my friend.
Lie in Light
D: Oh ho-ho, here we go. Straight from Harmonia into their young disciples.
C: Steady pulsing kosmiche jam. two-man band from Memphis. Or Brooklyn. Or Germany.
D: It’s roadtrip music for a midnight drive on the Autobahn. I’d like to see these guys in a steel cage match versus Fujiya & Miyagi. Then we’ll see who’s the real king of next-gen krautrock!
C: Cloudland Canyon scores early by using “Krautwerk” as a song title. They’re certainly inhabiting a role.
D: I prefer inhabiting a roll, if you dig my way. Anyway, I dig their seriously skulled-out drone vocal dual harmony trip too. And, as a bonus, they appear to have put photos of their seriously babetastic girlfriends on the inner sleeve.
C: Don’t give up hope, D. Those may be their sisters.
C: It’s Laetitia from Sterolab’s band.
D: [definitively] Stereolab arranged by David Axelrod.
C: Axelrod would say he could make this 5000% better. And he’d be right!
D: I still think it’s pretty good.
C: Stereolab is one of those bands for me like where one day you realize you own 11 albums and you can’t remember how that happened. Like Tom Petty or something. They’re just there, they sound good all the time, never totally essential but always dependable.
D: Musical comfort food.
C: Not the deepest stuff but something pitched a bit differently—more steady, life isn’t so bad while we’re playing this rhythm.
D: It’d be a finer world if people hackysacked and threw their frisbees to this rather than to Umphrey’s McGee.
C: But would it really?
D [thinks]: Maybe it IS the hackysacking itself that’s the problem.
D: I say heck no to techno.
C: I say turn it up! I love to rave as long as I don’t have to leave the house. Ooh, nevermind chocolate and peanut butter, I wanna know who got the crystal meth grit in my tub of Vick’s Vap-O-Rub! [leaps off couch and begins swinging arms like a baboon in heat] Does the Aphex Twin know that Clark is running away with his fanbase?
D: It’s like the saying goes: Last night a DJ stole my wife.
C: This album is immense, mind-melting, and has big digi-balls under it’s crushed microchip-covered bib. Phwwwaaaargh!!
The Bees Made Honey in the Skull of the Lion
C: …And then turned my bones into gelatinous masses.
D: E – A – R – T – H: beautifully decaying, slow gothic western-toned dark time music.
C: I nominate this as the soundtrack to the books-on-tape version of that book The Pesthouse.
D: Great idea!
C: Let’s make it happen.
D: I know a guy!
(In the Red)
D: New Dirtbombs.
C: Sounds like old Dirtbombs.
D: Dirt don’t change.
C: Can you imagine ol dirty dirtbombs?
D: I can, actually.
C: A band that sprang fully formed, tupla-like from the brain of journalist and tchoupitoulian bear farmer Gabe Soria.
D: I believe Gabe Soria also is the original creator of the Felice Brothers.
C: But Staggerin’ Stan Lee always takes all the credit.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Real Emotional Trash
C: A blastmaster from the past, back again! Just when you thought the Malk had done already his best work, he returns with a masterwork.
D: He’s kinda like Roger Clemens in that sense.
C: Wellll…..I doubt Clean Steve is shooting HGH into his jugular. He did something way better and got Janet from Sleater-Kinney to play drums in his band. Now that’s playing with power.
D: If there was a Cy Young Award for drummers, Janet would have won it more than once.
C: [listening to the breezy fretwork of “Cold Sun”] Dude, where’s my hackysack!
D: [eyes pop out as the next track’s choogle-blooz-boogie revs up] This is the best guitar playing, since, since, I, uh…
C: You are actually dribbling down your chin in disbelief!
D: Once the Malk was a preppy wiseacre, now he’s a sage-like poetaster. His music is heavier than it’s ever been, and I daresay he’s grown into his trousers. “Can’t be what you wanna be/ gotta be what you oughtta be.”
C: That’s pretty good, but how about this lyric: “He was dancing like a pit bull minus the meat.” The song’s called “Hopscotch Willie”—it’s like a dimestore crime novel with a dimebag inside.
D: Yeah a dimebag of high-grade Quicksilver riff pummelage! Listen man, this is just too good. We should call the Malk.
C: You sure he wants to talk to you? What about you hijacking his golf cart at the Dinah Shore open back in ’99?
D: The cart-jacking? That’s bongwater under the bridge, my friend. Here, I’ll call him… [dials on his cell phone while C looks on incredulous] Hey, Steve.
Steve Malkmus: Yo.
D: Um, Steve, first things first, I hope there’s no hard feelings about the golf…mishap…of some years ago.
SM: We’re cool.
D: But, I mean, what is it about you and golf courses?
SM: Well, golf courses and country clubs — which is what I wrote my thesis about — use all this iconography from old England. It’s an English game, in England it signified money, so you’re belonging to something older, like the Mayflower or something. Golf courses themselves… in America they’re kind of a perfect fit with Manifest Destiny, and with the idea of the West being this wide-open nature, this big American image in people’s minds, and a golf course is like a perfectly… it’s like nature, it’s wild, but it’s been refined by man a bit. You’ve conquered nature but you’ve just mowed it so it’s just right, so you’re sort of in the wild but it’s an American wild. Our golf courses are much different than English golf courses. How it started was the courses were just next to the beach. They didn’t refine them really. They were just flat hills, rolling hills that you played on. But we’ve made these ones that are just perfectly manicured. You can put a Hawaiian-style golf course in Minnesota.
D: Are there golf courses in Portland?
SM: Oh yeah. There’s a lot of water here. It’s not like Palm Springs. I went to Palm Springs there with my dad. They have these little tiny watering things, little black strips, for every little plant. There might as well be CIA bugs at every corner. You don’t even know, it’s so manicured and manufactured. But here, it rains a lot. All you need is a lawnmower, I guess, and good drainage. I’ve been with these sort of wild guys, they’re like contractors, almost Jackass-inspired, you know, they get a 12-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and drive around and gamble on every hole and be sort of like hooligans. They’re not really taking it back so much as getting a little rowdy within the system. But that happens on $27 public courses, so it’s not like they’re not sharing a locker with the oncologist or something.
D: “Sharing a locker with the oncologist”? Steve, you are a great man, and we thank you.
SM: No problem. I mean, you’re welcome.
C: Wait, before you go Steve, any endorsements?
SM: Amplifone guitars.
C: Political endorsements?
SM: Well, we’ve been told, and it seems it’s gonna happen, that John McCain… I’m not saying I like John McCain or anything but my dad’s friend is running for the Senate seat of that guy that got caught in the bathroom of Minnesota, and it seems like McCain is their guy, he’s not only gonna win the Republican thing, he’s gonna win the whole election and it’s already decided, you know? Like that’s how the Republicans think: four steps ahead. Even if it’s not true, they just believe the hypnotism. They really understand hypnotism. “It is because I say it is. Until it isn’t.” I don’t know. Giuliani tanked. McCain’s like the guy that’s at the golf course with guys like my dad. The white males relate to him. At least he thinks for himself, he’s slightly in that tradition of Goldwater, where being Republican almost blurs into liberal in terms of individual rights and stuff like that. We’re pulling for Obama here. My wife’s from Chicago. He’ll be our candidate til he loses. We’ll vote for Hillary if she beats him. I can’t imagine a president being named Huckabee but then again: “President Obama”? I’d probably be surprised by that too.
C: Thank for the real talk, Steve.
D: And for rocking our day!
SM: Bye guys.
C: Great record for rainy days with your sweetie, if you have one. And if you don’t, you should!
D: [singing] “Because she’s a BEACH…house!”
C: And with that, we are out of here.
D: SEE YOU BEACHES!!!