Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The woman on the cover of the latest Crooked Fingers album is buck naked except for a rubber mask of an elephant with a pair of short tusks and a trunk curled upward like an upside-down letter jay. She has what can be imagined as red-colored toenails in the black-and-white photograph and a hand out-stretched at 45 degrees to the sky as if she were helping the buck naked man with the rubber hog mask on hang an imaginary, black-and-white cluster of mistletoe. There's another cluster of bush and a pair of somewhat glossed breasts arched out in pose. The man in the pig mask is bronzed up, with the toes of a swimmer.
His torso is bony and fit and his pecker hangs like a limp noodle in a lake of black pubes. These two individuals, it might be fair to say, would have never agreed to this photo shoot or to being so unclothed on the cover of an album jacket had they not had those masks. It's only for the artsy-ness and for the anonymity that they're there, bare in their skin and musculature - four nipples pricked out in the cold air and all of the stressed points on the bodies accentuated by shadows and utilized tendons and flexors. For the right money, this could be a non-point, but this is indie rock, so it wasn't for the money. They could be proud perhaps without those masks covering their faces, even as the parts that make everyone blush some time or another, but mostly because they have what seems to be time on their sides. They have not been able to age in all the wrong places yet, to sag in the arms, the jowls, the breasts and in the ass. The varicose veins haven't begun to snake in around the knees and down to the calves. The ships are still running fairly normally, keeping taut and not getting brittle in the seams.
These are still the salad days for the two naked bodies on the cover of Forfeit/Fortune and despite the obvious nod to Fleetwood Mac's self-titled album cover and an eerie coincidence in the new Deerhoof album's cover, Crooked Fingers lead man Eric Bachmann had to have intended so much more because he's the kind of guy who intends more that one would initially presume. Bachmann, the tall man who looks a shade like Justin Vernon of Bon Iver had the young cabin dweller been born 10 years ago, was visiting two months ago and contemplating a move - to somewhere else, to anywhere else. Love had led him astray again and he needed some new scenery. He was considering somewhere out of the country, but he'd determined nothing at that point and was just mulling his unlimited options.
He was cool and still had his southern accent hanging on tightly like a birthmark, though there was a deeper man (yes, deeper still) just below that surface that seems to come out in his ever-evolving music. His are the thoughts of a man who's been through the brambles and had the tears of his shirt sleeves and pant legs go all the way through to the skin and that typically stings like a bitch. Some of those gashes may have even called for stitches. It's interesting how now would be the time to bring a Paris Hilton quote into the essay from the latest Esquire magazine, where she says, "You may not be able to be hot when you're seventy-five in a conventional sense. Like, young people won't think you're hot. But your husband will, and so will people your own age." It doesn't seem so out of place in describing Bachmann's protagonists and the cover models of his album as they exist in a time period that is wholly felt, but the insecurities of grandeur and delusion, broken down muscles, wrinkle lines, receding hairlines, love's lasting scar tissue warrant the unpleasantness of closer inspection. Being the same old as you were young is only a mind trick, not a real option. He sings, "Come on feel the modern dislocation," as it's an infringement not just oddly, but internally, causing men to pretend and people to shut themselves off a little bit, be traces of their former selves. To be old and wise and naked or old and confused and naked, or at least feeling either of those ways often, is what Crooked Fingers does properly and with such striking strokes of that seasoned Bachmann dust.