Listed: The Zincs + Scott Rosenberg
The Zincs’ Jim Elkington moved to Chicago after having spent much of the 1990s playing in popular UK mellow pop groups Sophia and Elevate. After moving to Chicago, Elkington wrote and recorded his first album as The Zincs, Moth and Marriage (Ohio Gold, 2001) which found him toying with tunes made from his guitar, random keyboards, a homemade children’s drumkit, and a bicycle. His recent EP, 40 Winks With The Zincs features Elkington experimenting with a greater order of backgrounds (Spanish guitar, drum loops, etc.). It is highlighted by an appropriately sedate cover of This Heat’s “Sleep”. His disarmingly charismatic voice and tonally somber mood helps makes 40 Winks one of the most pleasant and charming EPs of the year. The Zincs have recently played shows with The Sea and Cake, Plush, Janet Bean and more. Elkington is currently putting the finishing touches on a new record called Dimmer, which at press-time, is due to be self-released early next year (barring label intervention...).
Here’s a short list of things:
1. Robert Wyatt - Cuckooland – When I first listened to this I was amazed at the scope and length of this record, that is until I remembered that he hasn’t had a record out for 7 years which means that he’s averaging out at about 10 minutes of music a year. Now, it’s probably within most people’s capability to come up with 10 minutes of music a year, but Wyatt’s 10 minutes a year is nearly always more inventive, witty and beguiling than anyone else’s. He’s also just released a retro-oddities CD called Solar Flares Burn For You which I really have to get back from the person I lent it to.
2. The Go-Betweens - Before Hollywood – Since I passed the age of 30, I’ve found it necessary to attain and re-listen to all the records I loved when I was 14. Or maybe 15. Anyway, after I’d been doing that for a while I started buying records that came out around that time to see if I’d been missing out on anything so that I can advise my 14 year old self should we ever meet. We all need a hobby, I suppose. The Go-Betweens were a band who, at the time, seemed so floppy and moping that they made Morrissey look like Ted Nugent, so I didn’t go anywhere near them. Now I think they might have been one of the best pop bands of the era and this might be their best album.
3. King Crimson - The Waking of Poseidon – When I moved to the U.S., I was appalled to find that ‘Alright Now’ by Free has been in more or less constant radio rotation since it came out. If I ever hear ‘Paint it Black’ again on the radio I will be forced to hurt myself and others. However, the way in which people seem to cling to 60’s and 70’s rock in this country has exposed me to some music that has for some time, in England, been considered ‘stupid’. I could go on about this for a while but the short story is that no-one ever told me how much better King Crimson were than, say, Gentle Giant. I’m listening to this record right now but then I’ve been listening to it at least twice a month for about 3 years. The combination of jazz, rock, early 20th century classical, old English folk music and bad acid is so potent on this record that not even the inclusion of Greg Lake in the band could fuck it up. It really is ‘progressive’.
4. U.S. Maple - Purple on Time (Drag City) – I think this is one instance when I can include a record that I haven’t heard yet. I haven’t had a chance to buy it yet but every one of their previous 4 records has made my top 5 list in previous years and I don’t expect this one to be any different. The second time I saw them, the person I was with had to leave because the music was giving her car-sickness. I bring this up only because I thought that rock bands were incapable of making people feel ill anymore with the use of two clean-sounding guitars, drums and vocals. U.S. Maple is one of the only bands out there making conventional rock and roll without any of the conventions and I’m going to stop writing now because I sound like a journalist.
5. David Bowie - Lodger – I spent most of last year listening to David Bowie for reasons I can’t quite explain, but this is one that I keep coming back to because its the only one of his that sounds like he went into the studio without a single fucking clue about what he was going to do. The result is Bowie’s version of what Talking Heads would sound like if he was in charge...amongst other things. Adrian Belew plays my favorite guitar solo of all time on ‘Boy’s Keep Swinging’, the song in which all the members of the band were forced to play someone else’s instrument, which is why the rhythm sounds more like The Shaggs than it does on the rest of the album. And it’s short.
6. Deceit - This Heat (These) – Sadly, this is another English band that I didn’t get introduced to until I’d moved to another continent. It’s hard to believe that this music is nearly 25 years old - it sounds completely unlike anything before or since. Actually, many bands have tried to sound like this since.
7. Broadcast - Ha Ha Sound (Warp) – Two friends of mine went to see them recently and towards the end of an extended noise section one turned to the other and said “Wow, its the Jefferson Airplane”. Now, I can understand how that might come across live, but firstly I think their records sound beautiful, and secondly it’s not necessarily bad to sound like the Airplane. The Starship however...
8. Richard and Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights (Ryko) – I was on a plane a couple of months ago and in my haste to get out before anyone else I left a carrying case of 10 CDs on the seat next to me. That’ll teach me. Anyway, this was one of only two that I bothered to buy again.
9. Charles Mingus - Blues and Roots – This was the other one.
10. Prefuse 73 - One Word Extinguisher (Warp) – One of the few records I’ve heard this year that doesn’t sound like a pastiche of something else. Not that I’m not partial to pastiche you understand, I just thought this sounded kind of refreshing.
Multi-reedist and composer Scott Rosenberg studied music at Wesleyan University and Mills College. He has recorded with improvisers and composers from all over the U.S., including Anthony Braxton, Kyle Bruckmann, Michael Zerang, Gino Robair and John Shiurba. His most recent releases include Creative Orchestra Music, Chicago 2001 (New World) and the Skronktet West’s EL (Spool). Rosenberg also runs the Barely Auditable label. He currently resides in New York City.
It’s not so much a top-ten music list, as a few of my favorite things, or things that never fail to make me feel better about the world, and inspired to be in it, which in turn directly affect my musical life.
1. Matthew Sperry – bass virtuoso, dearly loved and loving human being. His passing this summer is still so incomprehensible on so many levels. His creativity, his sense of humor, his kindness and warmth, his love for food. Check out his solo bass record on Limited Sedition.
2. Siam Noodle and Rice (Chicago) – The best Thai restaurant in America, as far as I can tell . More than just a strong incentive to move back to that city, a reason to live. The same goes for House of Nan King in SF. And the tacos at Matamoros in Williamsburg (they are not the best in America, but they gain value by being the only show in town).
3. Sam Coomes – of Quasi, Donner Party and various Northwest affiliations. Why this guy, who is possibly the most talented songwriter of our time, is not absurdly famous is beyond me.
4. Daniel Clowes – is a threat to anyone who has tried to either write fiction or draw pictures. I wish I could do something 1/2 as perfect as any single frame of his work.
5. Talking on the phone with Anthony Braxton about the insanely fucked up state of the world.
6. The Dirtbombs, Oneida, Ancient Greeks, Cream Abdul Babar, Hella, Lightning Bolt. – May they each rewrite the history of rock in their own foul-mouthed language.
7. Haruki Murakami – Pretty much anything, but especially the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. It’s his best book, so you can choose to work up to it, or start right away at the top.
8. Bernard Prouteau – the proprietor of Carre Bleu in Poitiers, France. Perhaps the single most supportive, generous person I’ve come across in the music world.
9. Ellington, Mingus and Sun Ra. – The big-band trinity (father, son and holy ghost, respectively).
10. Jesse Gilbert (composer/reed player), Nina Frenkel (visual artist, animator), Morgan Guberman (composer/bassist), Alissa Shipp (photographer), John Shiurba (deviant/recombinant corrosive), Dana Shutz (painter), Suzanne Snider (writer/dancer), Nathaniel Braddock (composer/theorist/guitarist), Heather Abel (writer), to name a small handful. Having close friends who are making art (of any kind), and who can talk about the process and support each other through the struggle is the most important ingredient of the whole thing.
By Dusted Magazine