All through the summer of 2001, the news media fueled speculation that congressman Gary Condit, who represented the San Joaquin Valley, might have been involved with the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy — especially after he belatedly admitted he had carried on an affair with the much younger woman. Years later, Levy’s remains would be found and another man convicted of her murder, but by then the media had moved on to other stories; the events of September 11, 2001, saw to that. Even so, the scandal ended Condit’s political career. I hadn’t seen his name in nearly a decade before I saw that New York band Cymbals Eat Guitars had named a song after him.
Mind you, singer-guitarist Joseph D’Agostino (aka Joseph Ferocious) is not the kind of songwriter who takes a story like Condit’s and tells it straight. Instead, in “Gary Condit,” he sings “We left the dog on the highway median glaring sky to map microbial floaters against it.” Huh? Effective imagery, but what’s it got to do with Condit?
The band’s music is similarly scattered and enigmatic, but powerful. Cymbals’ well-received debut, Why There Are Mountains, sounded like Pavement, Modest Mouse, and Slint having a three-band rumble in a dark alley. D’Agostino has said that the ambitious follow-up, Lenses Alien, was inspired by Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But I think it sounds more like an evolution of D’Agostino’s ’90s influences. It’s the music we might be listening to if September 11 had never happened and we were still talking about Gary Condit.
Hooray for Earth and Sundrop Electric open the show.
CYMBALS EAT GUITARS: Casbah, Wednesday, October 5, 2501 Kettner Boulevard. 619-232-4355. $10/$12 day of show.