Beer and Pavement

My Response to Drinkify

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Pavement, Rock vs. Beer by Zac on November 8, 2011

Carrie Wade thinks she’s really funny, so funny that she posted this atrocity on my Facebook wall. Really? We’re supposed to believe that Pavement pairs well with 1 PBR? What, because they’re like hipster slackers of something? Eff that.

I’m taking it upon myself to pair some bands with beers that make sense. Comment freely or suggest your own pairings. The wrong that has been created on Drinkify must be stopped. I mean, we’re trying to build coalitions up in this joint.

Pavement – Saison
I considered choosing one beer for Pavement but settled on a style instead. With a band like Pavement, it depends on the record. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain  might require the smooth quirkiness of a Boulevard Tank 7, but Wowee Zowee is a Boulevard Saison Brett all the way. The Saison is one of the more versatile styles out there. These beers can be loved or hated, depending on one’s mood, but they are generally appreciated. The range of flavors (earthy to citrusy to sour to bitter) is only equaled by the range of Pavement’s discography. Also of note is that Stephen Malkmus represents the entirety of the Stillwater lineup of artisanal Saisons.

Wilco – Schlafly American Pale Ale
What goes better with dad rock better than a slightly hoppier pale ale from the St. Louis area? Wilco, of course. This easy-drinking lesson in hoppiness is the perfect beer for the dad who wants to still show that he’s cool without drinking anything too bitter or high in alcohol. I mean, he does have to drive home. I also considered Three Floyds’ Alpha King, but figured it only paired with Wilco’s more obtuse work like A Ghost Is Born.

Fiery Furnaces – New Belgium La Folie
They’re both difficult to love sometimes, but if you put forth the effort to find what’s good, it’s totally worth it. Because of this, both have the most loyal of fans who must learn to ignore all the judgmental stares  from their peers for choosing to like something so difficult. I considered several more artsy, more difficult bands (Joan of Arc, Beat Happening) along with other Flanders red ales (Duchesse De Bourgogne, New Garus Wisconsin Belgian Red). The pairing just seems right.

Guided By Voices – Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale
I realize that Bob Pollard drinks Bud, not sissy craft beers, but the classic IPA is perfect for macro-arena rock from the midwest. I was torn on several bands and IPA’s, but I settled on two classics. The best part of the IPA are all the variations it’s birthed along with other possible pairings. Dinosaur Jr ruins your eardrums like a Stone Ruination IPA (which is really  an imperial IPA) ruins your tastebuds. Other Stone varieties also pair well with similar indie outfits such as Cali-Belgique (Yuck) or the 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA (Chavez). Of course, there’s always old standbys like a Modus Hoperandi (Superchunk) or Lagunitas Hop Stoopid (Archers of Loaf)…I could go on and on, but there are other beers and bands to pair.

Where was I?

Sonic Youth – Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
There is a ton going on in a Sonic Youth record. Layers of rebuilt guitars and alternate tunings upon alternate tunings create a cacophony that’s all their own. And over the years, SY has grown into almost a completely different band. While they sound nothing like themselves 30 years ago, only they could have evolved the way they have. This is much like Canadian Breakfast Stout, the much hyped and oft-cited imperial stout of the moment. At the moment, there’s a lot of noise in that beer. The suspicion is that it will undergo a Sonic Youth-like metamorphosis while in the bottle that sits in my cellar. I’ve had a taste, but I can’t wait to have another.

Sufjan Stevens – He-Brew Genesis 15:15
Speaking of having a lot going on, this musician and beer pack a whole lota flavor in relatively small packages. Sufjan Stevens brings one layered opus after another from his home in Brookly, much like the brewers at Schmaltz/He’Brew. The religious imagery and connotations are undeniable…This is a pairing made in heaven.

Wild Flag – Avery/Russian River Collaboration not Litigation
The members of Wild Flag were never in any danger of suing one another, but they have collaborated to create one the year’s best records. The Avery/Russian River collab is nearly as caustic and full of riot grrrl power as Wild Flag is. Plus, at nearly, 9% ABV, it makes you as woozy as one might feel after a Carrie Brownstein windmill combined with a Mary Timony classic rock non-riff. Confused? You should be.

I think I have more, but it will take some time to sort them out. In the meantime, what are your favorite beer/music pairings? Do you like any of the pairings I suggested above? Do you have a better pairing for the bands and beers I listed here? As usual, leave some comments.

Top 5 for October 16, 2011

Posted in Beer, Top 5 by Zac on October 17, 2011

Another week, another top-5….

1. “Senator” gets the MTV treatment. – Maybe the year’s best single finally has a proper video. Somehow, Malk secured the services of Jack Black to make what must be the song’s narrative incarnate. Office Space‘s Gary Cole even makes a cameo. I really wish the narrative was more fleshed out to represent some of the nuances suggested in the song, but it’s as entertaining a video as one could hope.

2. Black IPA’s vs. Cascadian Black Ale – Really? There’s still a debate over this? Whatever. It’s a great beer style – whatever you call it. Why all the fuss? What I like is how so many can be so different. I had my last Stone 15th Anniversary Ale this weekend as well as a Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet. Both were incredibly different from each other. The Stone beer is so clearly a West Coast DIPA with some dark, roasted malt. The Hoppy Feet has a ton of cola flavor and doesn’t feature the aroma of Simcoe and whatnot as prominently as the Stone. Still, both were good beers.

3. Sports Ball – I planned not to write about Ohio State at all with what was looking like the worst season in 10 years, but they somehow pulled out a win versus an undefeated and raked team on the road…with one completed pass ( a 17-yard touchdown pass in the second half). The Buckeyes’ opponent, Illinois, didn’t score until just over six minutes left in the game.

Even if Ohio State hadn’t won, it’s been fun to watch the St. Louis Cardinals come out of nowhere this season. They were left for dead a month ago before going on a tear that’s seen them catch the Braves for the Wild Card, beat the unbeatable Phillies, and beat the Brewers who happened to beat the Cards for the division race. It’s been a hell of a run and I hope it continues.

4. Homebrew Update – I cracked open a Black Francis and it’s packing hear along with a load of bourbon. On top of that, I can sense the cocoa nibs just under the bitter. I’m hoping the vanilla flavors will emerge as it ages, but I don’t know how long it will be around. There’s also the Simcoe-dependency IPA which I have yet to open. It’s been in the bottle for a week and a day, but I’ve found that waiting at least 10 days insures there will be carbonation. I’ll drink one this week in order to make sure it’s ready for a party we’re attending on Saturday.

5. Gordon-Moore Separation – While some fret over Ashton and Demi’s breakup, I’m more concerned about the separation of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. For completely selfish reasons, I don’t want to see Sonic Youth end over this. Here’s to hoping they figure out a way to still make Sonic Youth work despite their separation. I suspect it’s not that big of a deal as the reality of such relationships rarely matches the ideals many of us hold concerning marriage.

Bonus: I am the 99% and I fully support the #OccupyWallStreet protests. I have chosen not to write about it mostly because I have tried (and sometimes failed) to avoid politics. Still, it’s everything I rail against with regularity on Facebook and Twitter discussion threads. I just hope it doesn’t get co-opted, leaving it powerless.

The Six Degrees of Thurston Moore

Posted in Six Degrees of Thurston Moore by Zac on October 8, 2010

So, I got to thinking about the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and whether there was an indie rock version. I don’t know that anyone has created one, but I thought I’d like to try. Would I use David Bowie? What about Mike Watt? Nope. The man I believe I can connect to every indie rock artist (maybe even several non-indie rockers) is Thruston Moore.

Why Thurston Moore? Besides being the frontman of the seminal and legendary Sonic Youth, Thurston also has a long history of mentoring young bands. He buys every 7″. There is a connection between Thurston Moore and every band I’ve ever loved. I’m sure of it.

What defines a connection?

Well, with the Kevin Bacon game, people are connected via films and TV shows in which they’ve appeared. So, albums would be the logical place to go with music. However, that is only a part of the equation in defining how artists are connected in this industry. There are tours, video appearances, collaborations, shared producers, etc. So, I’ve attempted to rank the sort of connections one could have that would lead them to Thurston Moore in six steps or less.

  1. Recorded an album together as a band member, producer, recording engineer, etc. is the most direct connection.
  2. Collaborated on or curated a project together might include an ATP event or a special one-time performance as a tribute.
  3. Toured together, especially in a package deal is a bit difficult to pin down as often bands play gigs together without really have much to do with one another. Plus, it’s sometimes difficult to find these connections. However, if the musicians in question played a seminal show together, it should definitely count.
  4. Friends of friends is even a shakier place to find connections, but indie rock is more of a community than anything. Also at this level, I’d consider labelmates as some bands on labels practically live in incest while other hate each others’ guts.
  5. Even sketchier is if the musicians are simply lumped together in a scene or genre. I will avoid using these connections, but I reserve my right to use the weakest of connections to prove my theory.

Those are the connections. I feel I can trace any indie rock hero to Thurston Moore in six steps or less. I will first demonstrate below and then open a challenge to you in the comments. If my first tries seem too obvious, that was not done purposely as I really believe this will be easy with any indie rocker. Also, if you think you can connect them in less steps, that’s fine as well. The real goal is to connect Thurston Moore to anyone in indie or alt circles in six steps or less.

First up: Ani DeFranco – Part-time lesbian and independent label owner who beats the hell out of a guitar and growls all feministy at ya.

  1. Ani Difranco runs Righteous Babe Records whose lineup included Andrew Bird.
  2. Andrew Bird appeared on Thao with the Get Down Stay Down’s Know Better Learn Faster.
  3. Know Better Learn Faster was released by Kill Rock Stars.
  4. Kill Rock Stars’ lineup famously included Bikini Kill who was fronted by Katleen Hanna.
  5. Kathleen Hanna appeared in Sonic Youth’s “Bull in the Heather” video.

OK. That was easier than I thought. Let’s try another.

Up next: Deerhunter – The sonically lofi P4k darlings fronted by the remarkable Bradford Cox sounds like Sonic Youth, but are they too young to be connected to Thurston Moore? Let’s find out.

  1. Deerhunter’s latest LP was released on 4AD.
  2. 4AD was the former home of the Breeders, featuring Kim Deal.
  3. Kim Deal was not only Kim Gordon and Thruston Moore’s babysitter whenever they passed through Ohio, but she also appeared on Sonic Youth’s “Little Trouble Girl” off Washing Machine.

That was even easier. I realized it as soon as I moved to 4AD. Maybe I should move outside indie rock to see if my theory can hold up outside of Thurston Moore’s circle of influence.

Super Bonus Challenge: Justin Bieber – Yes, the “musician” with a lesbian haircut and hordes of adoring female fans couldn’t possibly connect to Thurston Moore in six steps. Or could he?

  1. Justin Bieber signed with Usher’s management group.
  2. Usher was part-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers whose marquee player before this summer was LeBron James.
  3. LeBron James is close friends with Jay-Z.
  4. Jay-Z’s video for “99 Problems” featured Vincent Gallo.
  5. Vincent Gallo played bass for Jim O’Rourke.
  6. Jim O’Rourke not only produced albums for Sonic Youth, but he was considered the fifth member for quite some time.

That last one was iffy, but it works. I could have probably connected Usher to someone different or used Rick Rubin, but I successfully connected Thurston Moore within six steps.

Now it’s your turn to come up with musicians that may or may not connect to Thurston Moore in six or less steps. The only rule is that the musician or band in question has to be famous enough that their name appears somewhere on Wikipedia. I can take it from there.

Young and Old

Posted in Manifesto by Zac on February 11, 2010

A comment in my last post struck me. Longtime reader and taint haiku-ist Carrie had this to say1:

This is why I feel I have to fight so hard to be credible, because most of the people my age–quite frankly–listen to music with no reference points (also note: I had a moment of swelling pride today when a 40-something guy on one of the online forums I frequent told me my musical depth gives him hope)

Two things: 1) The fact that as a youngster, Carrie has to fight for credibility due to her generation’s inability to move beyond P4k and iTunes. 2) Carrie is not like her peers in that she has impressive “musical depth.”

First of all, Carrie doesn’t have to prove anything. A quick glance of her blog, Colossal Youth, and you’ll quickly realize that she has plenty of credibility. This is also proven by my second thing above. I’m glad that is out of the way.

What I wanted to get at is the fact that it’s way easier to have musical reference points when you’ve been at it as long as I have2. Of course I know Pavement, Brainiac3, Guided By Voices, and Archers of Loaf3. I lived those years. There was no work involved. I went to the club once or twice a week and saw some shows. The local record emporium kept me updated. There was very little work to it.

I don’t blame the young for not always knowing music’s history. It takes work4. I don’t know that I always put in the work to know newer bands these days. It’s OK.

On the other hand, I did do a lot of the work necessary to gain that point of reference. I loaded up on quintessential albums in the used section at Used Kids5. I’ve read the books and magazine articles. I put in my time to learn about the trajectory of music. It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

There’s no excuse with Google and Wikipedia and whatever not to know about music’s past. It’s easier than it used to be. Someone name-drops Lydia Lunch. You run over to Wikipedia and search it out to find that she was a pioneer of No Wave and has deep connections with Sonic Youth. It’s really not that hard.

Of course, we older folk can’t expect younger generations to know about our music if we don’t teach them. Take this evening. I had a conversation with a friend about the indie scene in Ohio back in the nineties6. It got some wheels in my head spinning. I put on some Guided By Voices while I fed and bathed my daughter. I sang and danced to the music and taught her a new word: Ohio. Her indie rock education began a long time ago, but this was the beginning of another conversation over Ohio’s contribution to music.

This does not leave out the young people. They have to hold old cranks like myself by the hand and tell us about new bands so that we don’t fall behind7. Of course, an exchange between young and old is always necessary to advance thought, even in music.

Anyways, Carrie’s comment made me think and think some more is what I’ll do.

There are more angles to look at this topic. Take beer, for instance. Kids know how to get shit-faced and have a good time no matter how terrible the beer tastes. Older beer drinkers know what tastes good and how to get the same effect out of three beers as opposed to twelve.

I have always felt that I’ve had a lot to learn from those younger than I, but they can learn from me as well. So, that’s where this blog fits in. I don’t have many readers at the moment, but I know someone will glean something worthwhile from my words at some point.

What do you think? What can we learn from each other? What have you learned from folks younger/older than yourself?

1In her comment footnotes no less!
2I was one of those kids affected by Nirvana. I smelled of the teen spirit. I grew up in grunge and the early days when hardcore transformed into lo-fi which later became the all-encompassing indie.
3If these boys are too obscure for you, look ‘em up. Buy something today. I’ll wait.
4Although I always prided myself at understanding from where a band came or their influences, I can’t say I always put in the necessary work to truly get a band.
5If you’ve never been, it’s really worth the trip to Columbus, OH.
6Yes, we had a scene. Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Afghan Whigs, Brainiac, Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, etc.
7Or we could just read some blogs.

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