Ah, summer music! For me, I like my summer music to not be the full-on beach party hedonism sound track of Red Hot Chili Peppers (back when they did drugs, anyway) or whatever new treatment-resistant strain of indie metal (ala Janes Addiction) is making the rounds this season, but those breezy, chimey melancholia-basted grillers that make me feel like I am motoring down that mythic California highway in that mythic convertible on the way to that mythic beach. This dream is gleefully deficient of California highway traffic, the wind blowing all your shit everywhere and beach a-holes, which I suspect to be the reality of the summer beach experience. For me, the prototype of a great summer record is the Smiths' The Queen is Dead, followed by favorites of recent years like Luna's Romanitca, Tindersticks' Can Our Love.../em>, Arab Strap's Monday at the Hug and Pint, every Yo La Tengo utterance and countless other loveable bummers. Maybe it's the oppressive soup that is the summer air here in the Dirty South that makes these slow-burners so delicious, I don't know, but I love them. We who don't live there must create The O.C. of the mind.
The contender for #1 clambake combo this year is The Zincs' Dimmer. Band-in-a-man Jim Zinc (James Elkington) combines drowsy baritone vocals, breezy guitar work, glorious synths and even perhaps a little violin, belying the usual obviousness of indie solo projects. Instead, this album sounds like a full band swaying under willow trees to their own sultry twilit sound. The album opens with the dirgey ballad to alienation "Breathe in Disease" speaking of Turkish dens and baking in the desert sand, giving into the soaring should-be-a-hit on the album "Beautiful Lawyers" walls of synth strings and fandango guitar, the joyous likes of which I haven't heard since "In Between Days" eons ago. "Passenger" paints a doleful picture of travelers from the driver seat while the organ-driven "Stay In Your Homes" may be the best song reminiscing about inhalants since the Ramones penned their entries in that sub-genre.
Zinc turns in a superb Dave Wareham-esque guitar solo on "Moment is Now!" providing that harder groove that catches you off guard as it pokes its head from beneath the calming ebb and flow of the rest of the record. 'Sunday Night" evokes the sundown of a summer day exactly that in its brushed drums and its hazy sleepy synth and guitar lines and great oblique turns of phrase like:
I have myself a rude tattoo
To show how different I am from you
An individual like everyone else
The album caps off with nylon guitar fingering and self-reflection on "The Meagre Prick." Zinc's understated half-spoken vocals give this poignant album its backbone. I say plop this on the iPod, stroll whatever constitutes a boardwalk in your vicinity and let Dimmer's lazy majestic lope soundtrack it all for you. I promise, its will make its own summer coming-of-age movie right before your eyes.p>
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com