Little Edie is off kitty Prozac and living her best life in Queens. The former teen-mom bodega cat turned Medium Mystic muse is joining us for coffee (she’s having a “coffee phase”) and tacos. It’s sporting of her; Edith really prefers bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel (never crossaintwich) and is very particular about her Fancy Feast, inspiring the song “Trashy Feast.”
“We were just coming back from the grocery store with like so much of it,” Brenna Ehrlich explains. “And we were like, ‘We gotta give her fancy feast, not like trashy feast.'”
“We” includes herself and Morgan Enos, the other half of Medium Mystic, the die-hard jangle pop half. Brenna has punkier leanings (she lists Bratmobile and X as favs, and I can def hear a bit the latter’s influence in their demo), but the pair meld their tastes together for a sound that’s bright and quick, but never shallow, and melodious enough to make you genuinely shimmy instead of doing that weird head-bob (you know the one).
They’re also very much boyfriend-girlfriend (I mean, they live together) and passionate music journalists who enjoy looking at the scene in the same satiric lens I do. So going into this piece I deeply fear the scrutiny that’ll fall on me, the Overly Earnest Trash Blogger, all my colloquial observations sandwiched between the usual self-centered rants.
But lol, whatever. We’re all gonna have a fancy feast today, guys. You, me, and Edie.
THE SCENE: We’re at Morgan and Brenna’s new place on the border of Ridgewood and Flushing (Me: “Like in The Nanny?” Brenna: “Like The Nanny“). It’s immaculate in its new-ness, filled with Beatles paraphernalia, and I cannot take my eyes off their massive bookcase. Allegedly the two voracious readers can’t fill it properly because Brenna has too many stray books from past jobs – weird things like the NoFX autobiography (Brenna: “It’s called Hepatitus Bathtub and I have two copies of it”) and hokier paperback grocery store finds (Morgan: “where there’s a big unicorn and a beautiful woman on it and it’s called like, Sapphire’s Promise.”)
The take-out tacos are from a nearby place and Morgan bills them as strict “peanut butter and fish” since I said those are the only two things I won’t entertain for breakfast. But it’s fine; I have chicken-and-vegetable-filled tortillas. Edie tries to get a bite as we start talking.
1:24 I’m trying to explain, in much more neurotic detail than this, the story of how this column came about. You can all recite it by now, but to recap, it was birthed from my Brooklyn Year One experiences of dealing with deception, misinformation, and ice cream truck guys.
“Moving to Brooklyn is so funny. Your first year is like…what do you call it?” Brenna asks Morgan. “Disney Land?”
“Yeah, your first year is like an alcoholic Disney Land,” he confirms. Morgan is wrapping up Brooklyn Year One (Queens Year One?) after moving from rural California to be with Brenna, and he recognizes certain benefits.
“Speaking of ice cream trucks, I love hearing the ice cream truck. It’s a slice of Americana that’s just gone somehow,” he says.
“In Wiliamsburg or just in general?” I ask.
“Just in general. Until I moved to New York I’d never really seen ice cream trucks around. But you think about what your parents tell you that there were ice cream trucks all the time –”
“– and running for the ice cream truck –” Brenna adds.
“Running for the ice cream truck. Now kids run down the street to play Pokemon Go or something. It’s a very tactile part of our culture, the ice cream truck.”
“I love when there’s two competing melodies. There’s one that’s playing [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][she intones the melody of “Do Your Ears Hang Low”]” and the other more carnival-y one.” (I think “Pop Goes the Weasel”?) Brenna’s on Brooklyn Year Nine so the ice cream trucks are “omnipresent.”
Together they’re both liking Flush-wick, and they seem settled on living here until they die (maybe). I comment on how there’s so many cemeteries in the area, which Brenna explains accordingly:
“I think it has the most cemeteries in the United States. I would check that fact.” (I Googled later, nothing solid). “I know it’s called the Cemetery Belt, which is very creepy and weird. But at least we’re not like, next to it.”
“It’s great as long as you’re not built on top of it and experiencing some weird poltergeist things, because that would explain why the apartment’s a steal,” is my very sane musing.
“Don’t think I didn’t wonder it,” she says. “But there’s been no hauntings.”
“So far,” I counter.
1:40 The secret to why the Medium Mystic hub is the cleanest apartment I’ve seen in the city yet: Morgan swears by Pledge All Purpose.
“The Pledge is almost gone though,” Brenna observes.
“Yeah, because I use it as perfume, I wear it as cologne, I spray it and I walk through it,” he says.
“You shower in it.”
“We’re seeing Jon Batiste [tonight] and he’s sponsored by Chase, and I’m hoping that we can be that for Pledge. You ever wonder if you say something with a phone around, whether it gives you the sponsored ad of what you want?”
“I think it does,” Brenna says.
“I think it does,” I echo. “Because I’ve seen things that I’ve talked about on the phone – and now I’m going to sound like I’m crazy –”
“So let’s try it,” Morgan leans over my iPhone. “BOY I COULD SURE GO FOR SOME PLEDGE ALL PURPOSE CLEANER. USEFUL FOR WOOD, GRANITE AND TILE.”
None of us ever get Pledge coupons, but the attempt is admirable.
1:56 Somehow, some intense talk of Randy Newman has led to the airing of the grievances re: the scene, and while this very quickly turns into an accidental roasting of everyone I’ve dated so far, we also tap-dance upon how creating a blur of sound is really big in music right now.
“I think it’s hard to make music that people remember,” Brenna muses, mentioning that it’s so easy to go to a show and hear a band where everything sounds good musically, “But it’s not like, ‘Oh, I want to hear that song again.'”
“Everything blends together,” I interject (again, accidentally roasting all my exes).
“Ok, on the record,” Morgan says. “You know how bands used to have the same hair and the same suits—the Monkees, the Beatles. But we don’t do that anymore, it’s like, ‘There’s Josh, he’s got the Slayer shirt on; there’s Kevin with the shorts on.’ I feel like bands should be a four-headed monster.”
“A Hydra?” I ask. “I’m remembering from Hercules.” Morgan and Brenna agree this is the right terminology (thanks, Disney).
“You know, when Mick Jagger met the Beatles, he said they were like a four-headed monster, and I think that’s what bands should be. They should have personality.” He brings up how Sonic Youth would have tension in it now that Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore are divorced. “And that’ll be us in six months,” he jokes.
“That better not be,” Brenna says. “I had a bad dream about that. And then my brain went to, ‘Who’s going to have to move out of the apartment? Who gets the couch?'”
“Who gets that cat?” I chime in (Brenna would). “But I mean, you guys seem to be in love and stuff, are you guys in love?”
I can feel the whiplash from their simultaneous, “Yeah!”
“I would hope so,” says Brenna.
“We’re just talking,” Morgan jokes. “We’re seeing each other.”
“We’re not putting any labels on it,” Brenna says, joining him in the parody.
“I was thinking we could not put a label on it, bro.”
“It’s okay, I won’t text you too much.”
“I’m just gonna wait like two weeks or two years to text you. We’re just in the same room. It’s a thing.”
“We’re not chill,” Brenna finally straightens up. “I think at a certain point it’s like… like, you moved here.”
“You did. So I guess it’s not like, super casual?” I confirm.
“No,” Brenna says.
Morgan feigns bewilderment. “What? I thought it was.”
2:01 As Guided by Voices plays in the background, Morgan and Brenna try to teach me how to place Chess. Here is what I’m learning:
- The knights are the horsies.
- It’s more complicated than checkers.
- Piece trading is important because sometimes pieces need to die, but you wouldn’t want to trade a knight for a rook.
- Check is when you can’t move something
- Actually, wait, I think Morgan just put me in checkmate.
- Goddammit, fuck.
- Well at least I got four of the little guys.
2:42 Around the 20 minute mark of idly talking about bodega arguments and the artistic merits of Hanson, Morgan asks if we could record a video performance.
It’s a really great question; I’ve never really tried. “There’s a thing that… this thing, do you think that’s record?”
So Naturally Edie, the star of the whole damn show, joins us for this special acoustic performance of “This is a Head.” In contrast to their demo, Brenna takes the lead on vocals, and the elasticity of her cadence adds a playful, sassier element to the track and— well, I literally recorded it, guys, so just join us in the living room and see for yourself.
After their living room set, I say my farewells to Medium Mystic (and Edie) and grab an Uber back home. It’s a reluctant parting, though.
As a band and a couple, I’m pleasantly mystified by their chemistry, by this simple idea that two wordsmiths can converge to create art and, who knows, maybe even a life together. They have this ability to be musically perceptive and musically critical while maintaining a sort of levity (and yes, quickness).
I’m also very charmed by the idea that anyone can have monogamous relationship, period. Might be a Queens thing. For now, I’ll just bask in the afterglow of our discussions, passing graveyards on the return to Greenpoint.