Distro Gem #2: Double Deuce - Camp Candy


I've taken it upon myself to now and again write little reviews of various awesome items in the OJ distro that might get lost in the immensity of it all. My first entry can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/acP1sM

In a just world, there would be no fame and every piece of art would be appreciated purely on its inherent merits. But, even in this unjust world that we live in, it seems particularly egregious that brother-sister duo Double Deuce have not reached even the moderate fame of other sibling musicians like The Fiery Furnaces or ... I don't know... The Osmonds.

Double Deuce is a supergroup consisting of the mind-bogglingly prolific Toby Goodshank and his sister Angela Carlucci (aka Little Cobweb). They have put out only two CDs, one home-recorded and one in the studio. The latter, Camp Candy, ranks as one of the best albums I have ever heard. Focused largely around Goodshank's guitar and the pair's vocals, although augmented occasionally by a full band (including cello parts by Carlucci's bandmate in The Babyskins, Crystal Madrilejos), Camp Candy is full of memorable songs that catch in your brain even if it's hard to decode their literal meaning.

The lyrics are reminiscent of a lot of Goodshank's solo work, in that they're are evocative and richly imagistic, such as this snippet from "Window": "16, 16, 16... on the broken vinyl/ 16, 16, 16... on the broken bottle/ 16, 16, 16 ... on the broken--/ 16, 16, 16 ... on the--/ 16, 16, 16... I'm 16/ And I wanna make love to you." It makes its own kind of sense, but I'd be damned if I could clarify what it means.

Similarly, the point-of-view of the songs is a little hard to pin down. When the pair sings in unison on "Teasecake," "I had so many lovers/ So many men," it's hard to tell who of the two is confessing -- or if we are to assume that this isn't just an imagined character that both of them are inhabiting at once. The duo sings almost all of the album together. They mostly sing the same melodies in their own octaves, with Goodshank occasionally reaching for high harmony and Carlucci now and again dipping uncannily low to be in the same register as her brother. There a few satisfying moments of back-and-forth, such as the cover of Weston's "New Shirt/Heather Lewis" (which completely overshadows the original), where Goodshank sings, "I know I don't compare to sororities," to which Carlucci humorously replies (complete with angelic reverb), "No, you don't."

The centerpiece of the album is the mini-suite consisting of "Taboo" and "You Tour My Heart Out, Tucker Smooth," which opaquely deals with love and relationships. In the first half, Goodshank asks about the male significant other of many friends -- "Angela, where's your boyfriend? ... Cockroach, where's your boyfriend?" -- to which both siblings coyly reply, "Oh no, that's taboo." Then, in the second part, things get significantly less sweetly silly as the topic turns to breaking up; the pair sings, "Please forgive me, for what I'm about to do to you," as the cello wails in the background. The piece as a whole is incredibly affecting, as the typically elliptical lyrics provide a picture of emotional events without spelling everything out.

It would be hard to overstate how much better the world would be if Double Deuce made a follow-up to Camp Candy. It's the kind of exquisitely wrought piece of work that mixes sadness with silliness and cuteness with real beauty, so it would be nice to have more stuff like it available. Until then, we'll just have to live with the masterpiece we've got.