Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered and mastered by Matt Oliver
There is a scene at the start of a new biography by William Hjortsberg, about author Richard Brautigan that describes the house where the beat era writer shot himself in the head. The house in Bolinas, California, was known to have unsettling characteristics. Apparitions were seen on numerous occasions and the previous tenants - a married couple - had both committed suicide in the house as well. A friend of Brautigan's - novelist Don Carpenter - was offered the place for $100 a month after his apartment in San Francisco burned to the ground.
"Keith Abbott and a buddy came over with his truck. They packed up Don's furniture and drove it to 6 Terrance Avenue. Because of a ruptured disc, Carpenter was unable to lift anything heavy, so he went inside to have a look around while Keith and his friend unloaded. 'I've never had a more awful, dreadful, terrible, foreboding feeling,' Don Carpenter recalled. 'Except when I thought I was dying of cancer.' Don went back out to the driveway. All his furniture stood waiting to be moved inside. 'Keith,' he said. 'I can't live here.' Because he had done none of the physical labor, Don felt uncomfortable about this. 'These guys were doing this for free. I didn't want to say, 'We've got to pack up this truck and go back to Mill Valley,' But I did and Keith understood perfectly.'"
It was shortly after that episode that Brautigan became unreachable by phone, his answering machine message - the only trace of his voice left out there - becoming slurred as the battery wore down. He was dead on his floor, decomposing for almost two months, with the radio blaring.
It's a story like this one - of a house possessed - that comes to mind when we're listening to the music of Austin group, Lord Buffalo. The house that they sing of on this medley of "Skeleton Eyes" and "End of the Century" is of the same dreadful and eerie nature as the one Carpenter likened to dying of cancer and Brautigan just gave direct association to his gruesome and perplexing death. The house that Lord Buffalo describes here - with their dark and folky imagery - is one where the mice are running wild in the walls, chewing on celery and electrical wires. You can hear their tiny feet padding about everywhere at night, as the candlelight burns a soft, faux moonlight against those walls. It might not be that the house is the only thing contaminated. It seems like love has its own mice crawling around in it, or is as infested as that house. They sing, "Oh you burn in the night, with your sycamore skin," and later, "I was in love, where I was supposed to be/Ready or not/Three feet in front of me," and the feeling is - on this untamed night - that something's going to happen and it might not be good.