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It’s been over a year since David Berman—-the slacker-poet with the drawled baritone whose band Silver Jews made some of the best, strangest, and least assuming indie rock of the last two decades—-announced he was done making music. Which was and is a bummer. But it’s not the subject of this post.
See, for at least as long as he’s made music, Berman has made cartoons——off-kilter, ür-Groening scenes that come from the same witty, rough-and-tumble place as his songs. He published a book of them last year.
And then, perhaps improbably, he did some doodles for the Cheniers, a jangly, noisy, Clean-loving Arlington group led by Washington Post music critic David Malitz. The art bedecks the band’s debut “Trouble!” 7-inch, which drops later this month on the local label Windian Records.
I e-mailed Malitz and he sent me these images, which he says will look less cut-and-pasted once the sleeves are printed. As for how it all came about, he writes:
Basically I just asked him. I did a pretty epic interview with him around when he spoke at the Corcoran a couple years ago in conjunction with a Jeremy Blake exhibit. And I stayed in very irregular touch with him since then. He actually was in D.C. for a few months last year and came to one of our shows, which was exciting. He got the Wingtip Sloat reference I made between songs. His book of cartoons is pretty weird and hilarious and I figured I’d at least ask him if he wanted to do it. He said sure, sent back a bunch of options, and that was that. The picture on the back (with the dude at the well) cracks me up.
You can’t buy “Trouble!” yet, but you can hear it at the Cheniers MySpace page.