If the Louisiana beaches didn't suck so bad, it's exactly the kind of song I'd put on my "head to the beach" mixtape.
Summer means something a little larger to Southerners than
is does the rest of America.
summer comes on not like a promise but an inevitability, a six-month houseguest
that will travel with you everywhere- to
work, to the bathroom, to bed- summer will be here. I lived in a converted
attic room of an old house for a while, and when I would get home from work, I'd
have to start running up the stairs, because the little antechamber at the
landing would usually swell to 120 degrees with a humidity level comparable to
the consistency of stick butter. I'd plough through it, shear off my work
clothes into shorts and a t-shirt, already drenched, flip on my battered window
unit AC and get the fuck out, hoping it would knock my room down to a comfy 85
by the time I dragged by drunk ass to bed.
It was miserable but glorious in its bohemian splendors. Anyway, the
reason for this intro is to say it has become important to me to have some
summer music lined up, and just like this time last year, James Elkington and
his Zincs have started the season right.
Black Pompadour has a lot of the same qualities that lat
summer's Dimmer exhibited: Elkington's sleepy baritone, a slight lounge combo
swing to it, and some exquisite complementary twinkling guitar work. This year,
the band has added some more texture to their mix, like a horn section through the
particularly jazzy (but not jazz - much of the time I defer to Yo La Tengo's
take on fake jazz over the real thing) "Hamstrung
and Juvenile." The opener "Head east Kaspar" is like Stereolab done lothario-style,
the bass and drum lines popping up and dropping off like telephone poles on a
breezy back highway drive. If the Louisiana
beaches didn't suck so bad, it's exactly the kind of song I'd put on my "head to
the beach" mixtape. Having a mixtape like that with no beach is just cruel, and
I just don't seek out that kind of self-flagellation any more. I prefer the
lighter more delicate flavor of melancholy.
this whole things, real melancholy, life affirming happy-sadness that makes you
simultaneously feel smart for surviving it all and yet in touch with your
fragile humanity. "Coward's Corral" provides a moment of crime jazz boogie
amidst a sea of melancholy, namely the twilit majesty of "Lost Solid Colors"
and "Rich Libertines." Elkington's ennui almost swallows him whole on these
songs, but bolstered by the effortless laid back genius of "The Mogul's Wives"
all balance it out. It has the kind of
insouciance about it that Serge Gainsbourg's duet with Bridget Bardot, "Bonnie
and Clyde" (a song I am tempted to label as
perfect in design and goal) has. It's a song I could see playing on a yacht,
gazing across stretches of bay as I reach absently for my margarita. Not a
moment of extreme decadence, but the resolute knowledge that one is in a good
place right this second. And judging
from the sweat after having to finally break out the weedeater, the fingertips
of summer's hand grazing my shoulders before it circles my throat, I know I'm
in a good spot with this pouring from my speakers.