Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
You can't keep your eye on Andre Perry and John Lindenbaum every hour of every day. Don't know if anyone's tried that yet, but it would cost a fortune and it would be exhausting. At the outset, it might even seem like an amusing, investigative proposition, but it wouldn't last long and before too much time had passed, you'd stand as a broken man, well beyond the threshold, any threshold. The exercise would go a long way toward answering a lot of the questions that get raised in the songs that the two Bay Area friends put on their Lonelyhearts albums. Oh, I suppose they aren't necessarily questions raised in the songs, just outside of the songs. They make you damned curious - Mr. Perry and Mr. Lindenbaum do -- about how they find themselves in such precarious situations enough times to write so many songs about them. They aren't looking death in the face and laughing, but they're seeing the world in different light and shadows than most ever happen to. One of the ways that people who live in San Francisco describe the city is how they can make you feel in nearly every song. The locals, when they're giving you directions will give the standard nine blocks east and then five blocks north set of directions, but then they'll double back and say, "But there are two blocks in there that you don't want to walk down. You'd better just get a cab." You can roughly be one block away from one of the country's most high-end shopping areas - Union Square - with Louis Vuitton and Armani storefronts chilling there and it's a neighborhood you're best to take the long way around so you never see the winos and the crack heads. Lots of crack, the natives will tell you. While Perry and Lindenbaum are both students of the printed word - and fictionalization is entirely possible - the way that the songs on Dispatch and Disaster Footage At Night speak and the way that they're so heavy with detailed fruit, it makes it very difficult to not take the storylines at their word. They've stumbled around at night and wound up places where they would have been advised not to have traveled into. They might try to make friends. They definitely listen to those people, for the anecdotes would be worth the weight of the conceived danger in gold bullion. They let time ramble on in a stream of consciousness, drunken but still functioning way. They seem to party with everyone who wants to and the songs that come out of it all - very Pixies-like and very wry - are like urban graffiti, the work of two guys equipped with enough spray paint to last them a lifetime. Everything feels like a blended up night that's half fucked up and half absolutely run of the mill for Perry and Lindenbaum. The latter sings, "You were on fire when you walked away," in describing a rough and rude night in Oakland - a place known for murder - and it almost seems as if the person in question walked into the situation doused in gasoline or lighter fluid and those sniveling and casting a leery eye in his or her direction gladly strike a match and set the trail alight. He sings all-around like Michael Stipe getting reflective about the hard thoughts and like a West Coast version of Craig Finn knocking around a dictionary and a smorgasbord of sketchy ordeals - many of them involving the same people: the hoodrats, the amateur and first-time drinkers and those with bloodshot eyes and the permanent hint of bourbon on their tongue.