Beer and Pavement

Kickstart Swearing at Motorists

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on January 27, 2014

I have never supported a Kickstarter project that didn’t achieve full funding and I’m not going to let that change. Swearing at Motorists recently announced that they would be releasing their first album in 6 or 7 years. To do this, they (read: “Dave Doughman”) opted to fund a new record on Kickstarter, which brings us to the purpose of this post: SUPPORT SWEARING AT MOTORISTS’ KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN!!!

To promote the campaign, I’m including a link to the Kickstarter,  video of one of the record’s tracks, some reposted content on the band, and a Spotify playlist. Do the right thing.

Swearing At Motorists – Groundhog Day (Damn The Piper) *OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO* from mike postalakis on Vimeo.

Swearing at Motorists – Postcards from a Drinking Town

And that drinking town is Dayton.

Swearing at Motorists rose from the ashes of Dayton, Ohio to produce a sound that was so Ohio, you’d instantly shit buckeyes[1] upon hearing one of their records or seeing the two piece live. I’ve written before about the band. I once told a story about the band while getting all the details wrong. Frontman[2] Dave Doughman set me straight. Sadly, I thought there would never be an opportunity to do so again as the band called it quits a couple of years back. That is, until they released a download-only collection this week of old singles and rarities called Postcards from a Drinking Town.

Before I get to Postcards…, let me tell you a little bit about Swearing at Motorists. The band was nicknamed “The Two Man Who” and that moniker fit, but it was only half the story. On record, the sound was particularly lo-fi, but like the other Who-like Dayton band Guided By Voices, SaM songs were bigger than bedroom recordings. Live, the band was like an uppercut to the jaw. Sparse instrumentation filled space between Doughman’s tales of breakups, boredom, and too much beer. Swearing at Motorists were so engaging that it was hard not to be drawn into Doughman’s never-ending sagas. If you missed Swearing at Motorists, you missed out on something pretty great[3].

That said, I was pleasantly surprised Tuesday afternoon when across my Facebook feed came the following post…

This had been on my radar, but I had forgotten all about it. I immediately followed the link and downloaded this fine collection of 7″ and compilation tracks not found on the band’s seven or so proper releases. These tracks are a fine artifact of life in western Ohio in the mid-nineties. I felt everything was lo-fi back in those days[4]. We made what we had work. We were DIY by necessity. A band like Swearing at Motorists could capture that time. Thrift store t-shirts, souvenir ashtrays, shitty tape recordings…Those were the days.

While I recognize that my bias toward anything SaM releases, I also think there’s something here to which you could relate, dear reader. You’ve been drunk once, right? You’ve been dumped and out of work. You’ve surely seen a bar band or two. Somehow, I think you could relate to Doughman’s everyman persona. And that’s all it takes to love a Swearing at Motorist release. This one, in particular, is more raw and authentic than most. These recordings define lo-fi, but the genius behind the songs is unmistakeable.

If you haven’t done so already, head over to Secretly Canadian and download your copy of  Postcards from a Drinking Town. And while you’re at it, go here and download the free two-song EP To Gem City with Love. Of course, that’s only the beginning as you’ll surely want to explore more of Swearing at Motorists’ catalog.

Update: It seems, judging by all the activity from Doughman online, that Swearing at Motorists did not call it quits after all. There are reports of new material out there as well as some hints of a tour. This is good news for sure.

Notes:
1Or horse chestnuts. Whatever you want to call them. Either way, they’re a poisonous nut.
2I use this term lightly as Dave Doughman is really all of Swearing at Motorists. It’s typically him and a guy on drums. I checked the Wikipedia page just to see how many dudes have played drums for Doughman. It looks as if three different guys have played drums. While on Wikipedia, I also found this nice little tidbit…

Doughman mixes trace amounts of his own blood into the ink used in the disc printing process, pioneering the concept of the GrisD. Rumors persist that there was confusion over the term “serious chops” in his contract with Ol’ Scratch, and after some antics over semantics, can now grow sideburns to equal any cartoon samurai at will. Doughman’s documented penchant for sleeping in a topknot may be the source of such speak.

3This is why it’s so great that these tracks were reissued. That and something was said on a Facebook thread about playing in Oregon. Could there be a tour in the works?
4Seriously, our soundtrack was one shitty tape after another. Everything seemed muffled by tape hiss.

Swearing at Motorists

I was recently on a long drive from a workshop when I found myself with no new music in the car of which to listen. After searching through piles of CD’s, I stumbled upon a mix of songs by Swearing at Motorists. There were 35 songs on just one CD to be exact, and they filled my need for intensely exposed yet personal indie rock that invites you to sing along while traveling down long stretches of I-70. (I don’t know if this is a genre yet, but it should be.)

I began to sort out in my mind just what made SaM so important to me. Was it that they originated in Dayton before moving to Philly before moving to Berlin? Was it the great name? Was it their beautifully erratic live act? Was it the sudden impact of guitar chords followed by pain and silence only to repeat? Was it that they had opened for U2 in Europe but could barely fill a dive in their hometown? Was it the “average Joe” lyrics of hard times and even harder relationships? As I thought about the reasons why I love this band, I rocked out all the way back to COMO.
Dave Doughman is the primary player in SaM. His lyrics hit hard and mean something to anyone who has ever grown up in Ohio, has probably had too much to drink, and hasn’t always had the best of luck with life in general. His sharp-witted lyrics, deep-throated delivery, and sparse instrumentation make up the SaM sound. Like the White Stripes (whom he’s literally challenged in rocking out), SaM sound primarily involves voice, guitar, and drums. However, unlike his more successful counterparts from up north, the songs often are filled with space, and each instrument takes its turn to make a point.
I remember seeing Doughman for the first time at tOSU’s Springfest. His set was the highlight of the day. A friend-of-a-friend talked me into staying around to check their set. He had the experience of a lifetime being a roady for the band at South By Southwest and convinced me that they were worth the wait. They were. (It should be noted that the headliner of that show was the White Stripes, way before they hit big.)

Doughman came out in a blue corduroy FFA jacket, Welcome Back Kotter mustache, and a bushy ‘fro. In addition to his non-hipster appearance, he spoke so fast and incoherently that you giggled at the sights and sounds before you. His speak consisted of the type of “here-ye, here-ye’s” you’d hear at the circus or from an old-timey traveling medicine man. He was manically selling his band, and then he played. What came out was this deep, suffering wail between aggressive guitar licks and a slow drum beat. The man sold his pain, and I was buying.

My brother told me a story of a Dayton show that only confirmed my feelings of pure delight and intrigue felt that day. Many of Doughman’s songs are about his continuous relationship problems. Apparently, one of those break-ups was rather public in the Dayton scene and eventually carried out at a SaM show.

The Dayton set began as a rival for a certain love interest of Doughman’s walked through the door. Doughman suddenly stopped in mid-song yelling for the guy to turn around and leave (in so many expletive-filled phrases). He then took off his guitar and leaped through the crowd to chase the guy down. After a few punches were thrown and mamas insulted, the guy was given his money back and left, and Doughman returned to the stage to continue his show.
The impulsiveness of Doughman’s actions in the Dayton story best illustrates his general demeanor on-stage and the feel one gets while listening to his songs. You sit back to relax and enjoy some heart-on-the-sleeve poetry with the occasional humorous quip when he abruptly throws you from your chair with a cry for help and intense strike to his guitar strings.
The music is a slower, more mature version of emo. It’s on the blue-collar side of lo-fi and the road-weary side of indie. Conversely, Doughman and co. are considerably more exposed and artistic than the most working-class of the bipster set.

I love this music for its realness. Doughman knows best how to capture the pain of relationships, failure, and the resulting depression. In addition, he can contextualize his message into something that resembles growing up in western Ohio. Oh, and he puts on a great live show.

Buy Swearing at Motorists now!

Photo of Doughman flying stolen from pandora 1251.

Craft Beer Craze Lesbian Bed Death

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on January 4, 2014

photo-2
Lesbian bed death is the idea that lesbian couples tend to lose their sexual dynamic over time and just end up doing a lot of cuddling. This is how I would describe the state of my love for craft beer. What was once a fiery, passionate affair bordering on the edge of obsession has slowly devolved into lukewarm feelings toward my lover, craft beer.

Craft beer is taking up less and less of my resources – monitory, three dimensional, mental capacity, etc. It’s been forever and a day since I’ve attended a monthly tasting with my beer enthusiast club. I can’t even remember the last tap takeover or special release I attended at one of the many watering holes around town.

Like my blogging, beer became a chore. How was I going to get my hands on another special release? Weeknight tastings took a toll on showing up for work the next day. One $20 bottle after another was being released, filling my beer closet faster than I could drink the beer already within. When I wanted a beer with dinner that wouldn’t knock me out due to either size of the bottle or advanced alcohol levels (or sometimes both), there was nothing. Every beer I owned or longed for was a barrel-aged, special release topping double digits in alcohol content percentages. It was exhausting, not to mention terrible for my health.

I actually ran a marathon last spring. The strides I made physically have basically been lost. Sure, some of that is because I haven’t run as much as I should, but high gravity beers haven’t helped.

So, I fell out of love with craft beer.

However, like lesbian bed death, my deteriorating love affair with craft beer is actually a myth. I haven’t given up supporting craft breweries. I haven’t gone cold turkey by any means. I still buy and sample fancy beers whenever I can. The craft beer craze for me has just settled a bit.

What’s funny is that I have avoided talking about craft beer fatigue for fear of being ridiculed. For example, some members of my beer club’s Facebook group go over the edge when they can’t get their hands on certain releases. I’ve suggested now and again that it’s just beer and there will be other beers. To my dismay, I virtually found my manhood challenged. If we had membership cards, I would have been forced to turn it in. It was and is unthinkable for some beer geeks that maybe the latest and greatest beer isn’t always necessary.

Some Ideas that Were Lost

Posted in Life, Uncategorized by Zac on August 16, 2012

I was rather absent from this blog a few weeks back. I hope to make amends for this egregious error in presence over the coming days and weeks. I did well last week to post five times. So far, this week has been more of the same.

The funny thing was that during my brief hiatus, I tried to write several times. However, I just couldn’t muster the ideas or time to finish my thinking. Below are snippets from a few of those lost posts…

Mail-Order Happiness

I actually didn’t write a thing for this post. I just remember sitting around, waiting for a shipment from LetsPour after receiving several packages from Insound. When one lives in a smallish city, two hours from any major (or mid-sized) city, mail and UPS often provide a respite from small-town drudgery. I may still write this post as I get at least one Insound shipment every-other week and am always contemplating another order from LetsPour.

[untitled]I thought for sure I published this, but a quick search of my archives suggests otherwise. Here’s what I had…

No, this isn’t about the nostalgia drummed up by Pitchfork TV’s documentary about Modest Mouse’s 1997 album The Lonesome Crowded West. Rather this is a bit o’ nostalgia over the West Coast IPA, the style of beer arguably most responsible for starting this whole American craft beer boom than any other. IPA’s alone are quickly taking the place of pale ales and lagers as craft brewery flagship beers, but the West Coast IPA set the standard. It took me a while to come back to these beers. Before “getting into craft beer”, I was drinking quite a few IPA’s. Then, I discovered the DIPA/Imperial IPA and I was blown away. Boundaries were pushed. If a beer wasn’t approaching double-digits in ABV and triple digits in IBU’s, it didn’t interest me. From there it was sours, imperial stouts, numerous Belgian styles, and so on. The more “extreme” the better. Somehow the unbalanced West Coast IPA was too ordinary, almost a session beer. Then, Missouri saw an influx of West Coast breweries enter the state. Lagunitas, Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes, Caldera, etc. all came to the Show-Me state with IPA’s in tow. So, our shelves and taps…

Summer Melts Pretentiousness Away

Something happens every summer where all the normal stresses are lifted. The world feels fresh and new again. Of course, having worked in education for 15 years means that summer is vacation time or at least a slower work time. Still, the summer seems to melt away all those things we are typically preoccupied with that don’t really matter.

Beer and rock ‘n roll are two of those things that lose a lot of pretentiousness when warmer weather rolls around. Beer somehow becomes lighter and colder, often consumed straight from the can or bottle. Rock music becomes less complex and…

Explaining I Have to Do

There are good reasons for my absence. - That’s where it ended.

Imperialist Pale Ale

The legend of the IPA has been told and retold and corrected and told again. So, I won’t go there. Instead, I’ll write a bit about a favorite beer and a nice meal prepared by a friend.

I mention imperialism in the title ’cause it’s on my mind. I posted this link making fun of British athletic prowess or, more specifically, their lack of athletic prowess. I directed the jab at some British friends who quickly came to the Queen’s jocks’ defense, but I countered by pointing out their imperialist history. Long story short, the thread fizzled from there.

I digress.

This evening, our friend Srirupa prepared a wonderful Indian feast for us. I chose to pair the meal with…well, what else? An India Pale Ale. - I honestly can’t remember which IPA I had that night.

Pucker Up

My beer club met Sunday afternoon to sample some lambics, sours, and a few fruit beers. I can only assume the inclusion of “fruit beers” was to give our tongues a break and to hopefully not scare away those who feel intimidated by sour beer.

I’ve Got Style, Miles and Miles

So much style that it’s wasted.

A nice discussion happened on Twitter and was picked up at A Good Beer Blog over style and whether or not it even matters. It seems the limitations of textbook style can be frustrating. Either we’re disregarding entire collections of beers that don’t match our own style preferences or we’re left with beers we don’t know what to do with because it doesn’t fit a particular style. Either way, style can be limiting.

Beer styles are like musical genres. They are both based on key characteristics that make it easy to categorize a beer or band, respectively. However, beer and music rarely stick to prescribed style and genre guidelines. You pigeonhole something so that you either limit its uses or never even give it a try in the first place.

There’s one thing we should all remember in the instance where style or genre stops all thinking: Constructs were built to be torn down.

That’s not to say that style doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s a neat compartment which one can place a beer. It’s shorthand for describing what you like (or dislike). Genre does the same for music…

So, what do you think? Are any of these worth revisiting?

I Just Can’t Quit You

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on August 8, 2012

During the last few weeks or maybe even months, I’ve contemplated giving this whole blog thing up. However, I’ve come to find that it’s such a big part of who I am that I just can’t give it up. Of course, I’ve now lost a good portion of my readership. They’ve surely given up on me at this point. Still, I want to carry on.

So, in an attempt to kick start this mother, I am going to write this blog post about how I’m going to write a lot of blog posts. I mean, if I put it in writing, in digital ink that means it will happen, right?

There will be few promises as to what I will post, but I want to post every day. That’s right. I’m going from like once or twice this summer to full-on daily blogging. The posts will vary in size and quality, but something will happen here every day. Every. Single. Day.

Well, today’s done. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about those records that keep arriving in the mail or that beer I had with dinner. Whatever happens, you can expect more Beer and PavementTM on the daily, yo.

So, don’t you give on me. I haven’t.

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on June 26, 2012

Sorry for the lack of posting. I’ve started to write several times, but it’s not coming as easily as usual. Inspiration and motivation are lacking at the moment.

I have other projects and career opportunities that are taking up my time and attention. I’ll pick this blog up again, but today’s not the day.

Stay tuned…

Indie-Craft Interview #9: Julie Hayes

Posted in Indie-Craft, Interview, Uncategorized by Zac on May 9, 2012

Julie Hayes bombed the shit out of this town.

What I mean is that she knit-bombed the shit out of this town. Once I learned of her shenanigans, I promptly made sure that my other blog featured her and her other crafty creations. Those creations (and finds) can be obtained for a reasonable fee at her Etsy shop – possibly world headquarters for indie-craft wares – where one can ascertain a pretty good feel for Julie’s aesthetic and a bit of her personality, making it clear why she’s so cool.

I feel lucky to know someone so cool. So I’m introducing her to the Coalition now… 

photo by Tony Irons

1. Describe your craft(s).
Well, I went to school for fine arts and ever since I graduated I have done nothing conceptual. I do what’s called “low” art in the art world. And I am an avid dabbler. I knit, sew, embroider, make jewelry, build things from reclaimed wood, you name it! I find that if it has a function, I’m drawn to making it. I think that was my biggest problem with “fine” art, it had no function to me.

2. What’s the importance or benefit of remaining indie? 
I have worked with lots of people on lots of projects, but I could never imagine working with someone who I did not know. Being independent allows you to keep control of what you’re making and how you’re making it. I couldn’t imagine someone from the public trying to tell me what to make.

3. How does your craft contribute to society?
In the most basic sense, it makes me a better person. For a long time after I graduated I wanted to make things to sell to people. I think that mind set is changing for me. I think I’m starting to savor making things for myself again; holding back a little what I’ve been giving all those years. It makes me happy to be able to produce a piece that I’m proud of and that makes me a better person. I have done public art pieces in Columbia and I’m happy with the response that I’ve gotten to them. I hope that they make people think and react to them, though I cannot say exactly what those reactions are. I’ve been interviewed for pieces I’ve done and the reaction seems positive.

4. What other indie-craft products inspire you?
EVERYTHING. Literally. It’s hard to not be inspired in todays world. So much is at our fingertips. I remember being in school and having to trudge to the library to look at books put out by artists who have been dead for 20, 30, 40, 100 years. Today, you can sit down, turn on your computer and be hit by inspiration. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not inspired by a color, or a project or a scene. It’s incredible.

5. What is your dream of success?
Happiness. Whatever that looks like to me is what I imagine success to be. Right now I am happy. I have a lot of time to myself to make things and to create and that makes me happy. In the future, that may change, but I don’t know. Being an artist is a very personal thing and to me, success has always been a very personal thing too. It’s never been about money or fame. It’s always been about my state of mind and how I feel about my work. My work has changed so much since I started making things so many years ago, and I can only guess that my idea of success will change as well.

You can learn more about Julie at her blog, Yonder. And don’t forget the rest of the Indie-Craft interviews.

Youthful Exuberance

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on April 11, 2012

Is it possible to experience youthful exuberance with beer or music not intended for children?

One of the things I love about Tune-Yards (AKA Merrill Garbus) is the fun, youthful naivete she captures in her music. This is perfectly exhibited in her new video for “My Country.” Children dance, lip-synch, and pretend to play instruments, but the energy in the music is even more child-like.

Unlike Kimya Dawson[1], Tune-Yards doesn’t write kid songs. However, her music still appeals to children. My daughter loves Whokill, particularly “Gangsta.” She sings the chorus like a pro even though its sense of danger “crawling out the wood” is decidedly non-childlike[2].

How is something so not meant for children also so filled with youthful exuberance? This can be answered in exploring the joy adults display when their song is played or they discover a beer that completely blows them away. Still, as a parent, I want to know how this all fits into a child’s experience.

My daughter is all I have in regards to a test subject. She dances and sings with the music I play for her. She enjoys songs I sing to her by the likes of Pavement or The Flaming Lips. I still remember the day as a not-quite-two-year-old when she refused to leave the car before school until the Arcade Fire song on the car stereo was finished.

I often ask my daughter if she wants a beer when I pour my own[3]. She, of course, turns me down, informing me that she can only have beer when she’s older. Additionally, she likes to tell me that she’ll help me brew beer once she’s older.

Music and beer that aren’t meant for her still have a place in her life. These interests sometimes make me as giddy as a child. So, there is a youthful experience in things that are not exactly G-rated.

What do you think of this? Is there music or beer that makes you feel young again? Don’t you miss that feeling sometimes? Or is this whole discussion really inappropriate?

Notes:
1 I saw Dawson play a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was a bit under the weather and had to skip out early. Before I left, she found half the audience enthusiastically greeting her and the other half back at the bar, talking over the music. Her solution was to lead the audience in a few of her kid songs, which was pretty fun. The sad part was that I knew those songs better than her other work.
2 I recognize that she has no idea what she’s singing, but the combination of words and rhythm can be addictive even when we don’t know the real meaning. She totally caught me off-guard when we got out of the car one day after the song had just been playing and she continued to sing.
3 Obviously, this is a joke, and she knows it. I have some liberal ideas on when kids should first try alcohol, specifically beer. I used to stick my finger in my beer and let her lick it while she was an infant, but I stopped that as she can be pretty demanding. I’m considering giving her a full sip around ten and building from there. I want to make her a beer snob so that she turns her nose up at the swill being served at high school keggers.

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Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on April 9, 2012

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Hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on March 27, 2012

I’m going on hiatus for a bit. It seems life has been passing me by and I need to be in the present a bit more. Of course, the last time I went on hiatus, I posted two day later. That was followed by a flurry of posts. However, this feels different. I’m sort of over writing about consumption. I’ve started many posts and have just not had it in me to write anymore about beer and music.

Check in periodically. I’m sure that something will make me want to write. Also, be sure to search the archives. There are some gems in there, you just have to search them out.

-Zac

Videos and Other Filler

Posted in Uncategorized by Zac on March 15, 2012

It was 85 degrees in Middle Missouri yesterday. That heat carried over the night and I couldn’t sleep. So, I figured I’d share a few videos with semi-witty commentary and other bits for your enjoyment. The first two videos are of the WTF variety.

This one stinks terribly of the old beer guard whining about newbie beer geeks. Yes, let’s squash their enthusiasm so that no one buys craft beer anymore. That’s the crabby/serious take. Otherwise, I find it odd, oddly amusing even. This is how many beer geeks get their start, but there’s usually a second part where they chill out with the beer extremes and blogging it all to find a comfortable spot for all of us. What do you think? Is it insulting or just silly? Or both?

Speaking of silly…

The Shins – My Own Worst Enemy

I have no idea what to make of this. Does James Mercer have too much time on his hands? I’m not sure how I feel about the new record (currently streaming on iTunes at the moment and on the way to my house via UPS). Seriously. WTF is this?

In better musical moments…

Sharon Van Etten and Shearwater cover “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”

I’m a big Sharon Van Etten fan at the moment. She feels like this year’s Wye Oak or Eleanor Friedberger. For this AV Undercover session – the first of the new season, Van Etten joins Shearwater for a pretty cool take on the classic Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”.

And finally, it’s good to see that Goose Island doesn’t take themselves too seriously…

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