[A Major Label exec with a business ponytail — known in some circles as a “biz-pone” — sits in his office, smoking a cigar. A stooge walks in and stands at attention.]
Major Label exec: What in GOD’S name do YOU want?
Stooge: Well, we’ve got troubling news from the front that I thought I should—
MLe: NEWS FROM THE FRONT, WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO? BLAST YR HYDE TO HADES… [composes self, strokes mustache, waves at stooge to go on]
S: Sorry sir, it’s just that one John Dwyer is at it again, and many of your generals — the people who made this record label what it is — simply can’t compete with his firepower.
MLe: Why haven’t we signed the SON OF A BITCH ourselves?
Stooge: We simply can’t offer him a package frilly enough. You see, no one gives a — ahem — FUCK about us any more.
MLe: ExCUSE me? We signed BREAD. We signed STEALER’S WHEEL back when everyone thought Gerry Rafferty was but a world-class POOF. You tell me you think we don’t have the firepower? I say maybe I just need to strangle me a stooge.
S: Thee Oh Sees run their own record label, and release records on several other independent outlets. They do it all THEMSELVES. I’m not sure what we can do to make this whole thing Corrupt as SHIT.
MLe: We’ve never let progress stop up before. Remember rap music. Holy CHRIST. [rubs his forehead] We had to deal with BLACK people, for fuck’s sake.
S: Sure, we did weather that storm. Hell, we made people think we were, how you say, “down”?
MLe: Exactly. And don’t forget: We signed BREAD.
S: Right. How could I forget? So — what say you? What shall ever we do about the lo-fi revolution?
MLe: What we always do — sign all the best bands and release their worst albums. What the EFF do you think I want to do?
S: But I told you, Thee Oh Sees, like all of Dwyer’s bands, just aren’t interested in selling a shitload of copies and making a ton of money off people.
MLe: That IS a problem. Who are these fucking people? Can’t we just concoct a bunch of shitty-sounding bands to compete?
S: I’m sad to say the music industry, perhaps, has turned on us. People are touring on their own, incurring and paying for their own expenses, churning their own cheese. You can sign a bunch of sound-a-likes, but we can’t control what people hear and force our bands on the public like drunken uncles anymore. Our infrastructure of dominance is frail, our resolve WEAK. Sorry, I just get emotional about this.
MLe: But how can these clowns release so many albums in such a short period of time? Where’s the profit margin? Where’s the bottom line? Where’s my slice?
S: Boy, I wish I could tell you. Thee Oh Sees are the quintessential modern post-punk band. They mine the past. They nod to the future. They DOO-wop. They’ll never be huge, but they make a huge difference to a lot of people. Dwyer has the record-collector wisdom and band history most can only dream of, and Thee Oh Sees is his best-yet vehicle of expression. His duets with Brigid Dawson are by now instantly recognizable. He makes me WET—
MLe: Woah, dude, too much.
S: Sorry. But take, say, their new record, Warm Slime; it’s just solid, thick as a brick and hard as my—
S: Right, again, sorry. Anyway, Slime takes the best elements of the band — the rockin’/rollin’ of Thee Master’s Bedroom; the softer, hazier, nuanced wrinkles of Cool Death of Island Raiders; their best, tipsy, woozy, Barrett-era, Floyd-ian whimsy of Sucks Blood — and crystallizes them for all to hear. Lotta new wrinkles, too, like a sharp, delightfully tacky bass-guitar vamp on the title track and some truly appreciated Spacemen 3-ish sonic miracles. It’s tight, it’s catchy, it’s lidless, wreathed in echo and flame. It’s cold, like a morning of pale spring still clinging to winter’s chill, yet it’s also poppy and bouncy.
MLe: Aren’t those last few descriptions stolen straight from Lord of the Rings?
S: Indeed. They are. But trust me, one band to rule them all—
MLe: Oh man, you’re a HOOT!
S: I try, sir.
MLe: Cassette-recording, file-sharing, and now this. We’re really fucked on this one. With bands like Thee Oh Sees out there, delivering what the kids want, how the hell are we supposed to muck it all up by throwing large sums of money around and enslaving 20-year-old kids, much less more seasoned vets like Dwyer? I don’t want to go back to selling restroom supplies — I WON’T go back to selling restroom supplies. Damn, there’s no way around it; I’ll have to go back to selling restroom supplies.
S: Toilet brush, sir?
MLe: Yes…thanks. Thanks a lot. You’ve always been a loyal shill for this company.