A roundtable discussion of Soundgarden’s new album, “King Animal,” by Matt Kalb! and RIKK.
ER: So, let’s do this. I DVR’ed some vintage UNC basketball on ESPN Classic last night and Stingy is coming over to watch in like an hour.
MK: Oh burn.
ER: Not really. So did you listen to this thing that Finn insisted we hear?
MK: Yeah, I wasn’t really sure why there was so much push from him on this. I mean, it’s not like I
have ANYTHING ELSE to do, you know. And this blog is pretty 2009.
ER: Well, yeah! (laughs) So I guess first of all, fuck you, Finn, for making us do this.
MK: Well, don’t hold back. Really let us know how you feel about this.
ER: Whatever. I basically agree with David that Chris Cornell is generally pretty hurt. He’s seriously the worst thing about this record, which is no “Third/Sister Lovers,” if you ask me. Which Finn did.
MK: Well, don’t oversell it here. You don’t want the people reading the blog, i.e. Stingy, to get their hopes up in the event that you inadvertently set the bar too high.
ER: (laughs) Do you disagree?
MK: On what?
ER: That this shit is pretty strugglin’.
MK: Hey, what is your dog doing?
ER: Ramona! Stop that! (gets up, removes sippie cup from dog’s mouth). She’s really into this cup
MK: Well, I can see why. It’s definitely pretty appetizing. I was considering gnawing on that myself but didn’t want to be rude.
ER: That reminds me, am I STILL the only one who Finn keeps texting pictures of dogs to?
MK: Well, don’t insult his girlfriend like that.
ER: Seriously, that’s like the only communication I get from him any more, aside from stupid shit like, “hey, want to revisit my teenage years with me and listen to the new Soundgarden album?”
MK: Well, don’t downplay your irritation or anything. We all know how busy you are with your archival UNC basketball footage advocacy these days.
ER: Yeah, man, that shit’s good! James Worthy was the man! Plus -- those uniforms back then were hype!
MK: Well, don’t get too bogged down in details. Like the panning of Kim Thayil’s guitar on the aptly titled “Blood on the Valley Floor.”
ER: What is that?
MK: Track four.
ER: You got that far? I lasted through a song and a half.
MK: Well, that sort of ruins the point of this exercise, if you will.
ER: Are you saying you actually listened to this?
MK: Well, I had it on in the background. Judah actually listened to it more than I did and he sort of gave me the skinny. Like a book report, if you will.
ER: You steal any mixing tips for Le Weekend?
MK: Well, I did mention to Bob that he should start slinging his bass a lot lower and writing some songs on a ukelele. And I considered getting Robert another ride cymbal.
ER: You gonna rock a Peavey stack now?
MK: Well, that might affect my tone. And I don’t know if Bob would greenlight that action.
ER: I think it was Bjorkback who said one time that Bob Wall wouldn’t even let him use a Peavey head to hold his bass drum in place.
MK: Well, he kinda changed his tune once he realized there was an amp he didn’t have to move just sitting at the Big House.
ER: He was in like, every band that played at the Big House for a while.
MK: Well, don’t underplay his contributions.
ER: You want a beer? (gets up, walks to fridge)
MK: Well, I thought you’d never ask, so I definitely didn’t come prepared with my own rum and sarsparilla or anything. (produces bag containing bottle of Sailor Jerry rum and 4-pack of organic sarsparilla)
ER: Sarsparilla? Who are you, a resident of Deadwood? You got any buffalo jerky in there either, pardner?
MK: Well, don’t make references I might understand or anything. I personally would have gone with, “Who are you, Sam Elliott?” Can I have a glass and some ice?
ER: Yeah sure. Probably got some limes around here if you need. And here, use this Soundgarden cd as a coaster. I can’t believe he fucking bought it and sent it to us.
MK: Well, at least let’s put the disc on and I’ll use the case as a coaster. For empirical purposes, we really do owe it to Finn to fully immerse ourselves in the task before we expend energy on an elaborate critique. You know, since he asked so nicely.
ER: Mine’s not gonna be that elaborate. I don’t know what sort of Nick Kent/Lester Bangs kinda shit you got planned, but this is pretty cut-and-dry to me.
MK: Well, at least be the Truman Capote to my David Fricke.
ER: Oh, shit, you just dropped the D-Fricke reference. You know, I bet he actually wrote a review of this record for Rolling Stone since he’s still around. Let me Google that shit.
MK: Well, let’s not go down a rabbit hole or anything.
ER: (Googling) Can’t find it, but I did find this picture of Rasheed Wallace dunking on Kobe Bryant from a few years back.
MK: Well, I don’t know what that means. Are you trying to say there’s a connection between the two? I thought Pearl Jam was the 90s grunge band that liked basketball. Soundgarden always seemed more like a band that would be into NASCAR. Or duck hunting.
ER: Duck Hunt! Remember that Nintendo game? That was my jam!
MK: Well, I was always more of a Metroid guy. But only so I could lord my high scores over David in college. He was always trying to figure out “why” that little guy needed to keep hopping up and down some chamber.
ER: I had you pegged as more of a Double Dragon kind of guy. Or Dungeons & Dragons.
MK: Well, let’s not stereotype me as skilled with a 12-sided die or anything. Can we just put this on for a few minutes?
ER: Yeah yeah. Here. (fiddles with cd player, removing a disc from the changer) Was rocking that new Le Weekend earlier. (holds up that new Le Weekend cd)
MK: Well, let’s not set the bar even higher for Soundgarden. I mean, Chris Cornell may have (makes air quotes) “changed the game” with his lyrics for “Slaves and Bulldozers,” but I really took him to school with that “Heroic Cutlets,” if I may say so.
ER: You may. But I will point out that “Heroic Cutlets” definitely seems to adhere to the Soundgarden song title template circa 1994. Exhibit A being “Fresh Tendrils,” off “Superunknown.”
(pause as opening riff of “Been Away Too Long” kicks in)
MK: Well, give it time. I’m sure this is just the teaser for a much more elaborate melodic development.
ER: Sounds like Razzle.
MK: Well, Razzle never incorporated that much compression. And I think Bjorkback used real drums.
ER: I do think Cantwell had a pedal that sounded like this.
MK: Well, maybe. But I guarantee that Bob Wall can’t hit those notes.
ER: Who would want to?
MK: Well, there was a time and a place. The time was about 4:30 p.m. one afternoon in 1991 as Terry Date sent the rest of the band on a pizza run and made Chris Cornell hit that one note on “Jesus Christ Pose” over and over. That definitely qualifies as “want to.”
ER: Oh shit, Terry Date. What else did he do?
MK: Well, he manned the boards for Screaming Trees, Fishbone, White Zombie.... I think Pantera.
ER: Screaming Trees! Shit, we really should just break out the “Singles” soundtrack.
MK: Well, didn’t you say Stingy was coming over soon?
ER: Yeah, that might actually be appropriate.
MK: Well, it would only be appropriate if you DVR’ed a UNC game from 1991 and had the “Singles” soundtrack in the background.
ER: I could rock that. I bet Graham would dig it.
MK: Well, where is Graham?
ER: He’s practicing scales in the bedroom.
MK: Well, why is he doing that? And can he even fret yet?
ER: Shit, son, that’s one of the first things I taught him! Can he fret? He can fucking capo the shit out of a short-scale bass. I'm working on getting him to play harmonic while rocking the intro to "Three Days."
MK: Well, I started Judah early but not that early. Don’t put pressure on the kid or anything.
ER: That’s probably Stingy.
MK: Well, it would make sense, that since he IS coming HERE, that that bell would be HIM. I don’t know, call me crazy. I’m not a rocket scientist.
ER: Hey Matt, any movie starring Anthony Michael Hall from 1982 called. It wants its rocket scientist reference back and stricken from any further use into the 21st century. (speaks into intercom) Yo.
Stingy: (on intercom) Hey. It’s Matt.
MK: Well, whoa, I’m in two places.
ER: Break yoself, fool! (hits button to unlock front) When he gets up here, we should just give him this record and let him review the whole thing. You know he will.
MK: Well, I don’t know that, actually. Plus I don’t know if Stingy could lay claim to possessing the lyrical chops of Chris Cornell and the fret gymnastics of Kim Thayil. Like yours truly.
ER: You totally got that description of Kim Thayil from a David Fricke review of “Badmotorfinger.”
MK: Well, ok. You got me.
ER: You know, I’d totally be way more down reviewing like a new Velvet Crush album, or even a new Cinderella record. But I just can’t get down with these lyrics. Did he just say “the dogs are feasting on the bones of the ghost of the christmas tree”?
MK: Well, I hope so. That would probably be better than what he actually said. Which I’m not sure because I was tweeting at David Fricke while you were talking.
ER: Tweets! I need to get on The Twitter. Is Dean Smith on there?
(knock at door)
ER: The Stinge tolls for thee.
MK: Well, I’m not sure if he knows I’m here.
ER: (opening door) What up. Welcome to the Soundgarden listening party.
Stingy: Black Hole Sun.
ER: Not really. That was 1994.
Stingy: Still classic. Need to get some Stingebiggs action on that jam.
MK: Well, that would depend on your definition of "some."
Stingy: Like homecoming performance style. That's what the people want. Here, I brought my phone. Can you order some food?
ER: Yeah. Only if YOU listen to this god-awful Soundgarden album for us.
MK: Well, Finn for some reason asked me and Eric to listen to the new Soundgarden album and post a review on the blog.
Stingy: Did you see those photos i put up a few weeks ago?
MK: Well, yeah. You did email us about it.
Stingy: Yeah but the photos were actually a few weeks older.
MK: Well, you told us in the email.
Stingy: (upon hearing a wordless wail from Chris Cornell) Le Weekend needs more screams like that. Actually, you should make a solo record with Timbaland like Chris Cornell.
MK: Well, I'll pose that to the board and see how it takes. My guess is that a large majority would be opposed, including myself, but Bob's always a swing vote.
ER: What timing is that? At this point I start to just get annoyed. Biggie don’t want no apple pie -- I don't want no song that has to make me count.
MK: Well, that's 15/4. And I see your point. But the numbers never lie.
Stingy: Remember that "numbers never lie" bit from that Spike Lee movie "Mo Betta Blues"?
ER: Oh shit! Stingy on the obscure references!
Stingy: It's not that obscure. John Turturro and that other guy.
MK: Well, that song was definitely terrible. Did he just say his hair was moving at the speed of sound?
Stingy: That’s questionable. Do you have any peanut butter?
ER: What, you don’t bring your own?
Stingy: Well, I have apple butter and white bread, but Shana only buys natural peanut butter, and I gotta have some corn syrup in my diet.
MK: Well, as a father, I can attest to the fact that your health comes first. So kudos on maintaining that.
ER: I think we have some Skippy up in here, but it’s sugar-free, I think.
Stingy: That’s questionable. Whoa, that guitar solo is pretty awesome.
MK: Well, it would be, since Kim Thayil is expressing himself with some slight modality that counteracts the shifting harmonic structure that is being outlined by that (uses finger quotes) “Sgt.
Stingy: What is an arpeggio?
ER: It’s Italian for finger sandwich.