Beer and Pavement

Wild Flag vs. Escondidian Imperial Black IPA

Posted in Beer, Records, Rock vs. Beer by SM on September 14, 2011


Sometimes it is hard to find everything in a band or beer that you want. Sometimes a little imbalance accentuates positives, but it also reveals a downfall in design. Balance is nice, but it’s even better when it features superiority in all parts. Supergroups and anniversary ales usually come through with elite components that fill our every need and want.

The supergroup is a unique collection of great musicians from other great bands. Each member of a supergroup was a key piece in other bands. The supergroup is often left to fantasy, but once in a while, they come to fruition.

Wild Flag is a super group for the grrrl set. There are two members of Sleater-Kinney (Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss) which provides the band instant credibility. There’s also Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Cole of the Minders[1]. Together, these four womyn make a pretty powerful quartet. Fire and brimstone happens when the collective power of this supergroup comes down upon you. Just watch what they’re capable of and you’ll understand…

The beer equivalent of that nastiness above is Stone’s 15th Anniversary Escondidian Imperial Black IPA. It’s dainty Sublimely Self-Righteous’ badass older sister who wears black eyeliner, a mohawk, and a “Show Me Your Riffs” t-shirt. She just kicked your ass and you liked it – not in a creepy way; you were just happy to be a pawn in her riot grrrl plan to rule the neighborhood. Anyway, the beer is loaded with all the components you want from a beer: big hop flavor and aroma, super-roasty malt character, booze, and just the right amount of sweetness not to let the rest get out of hand. It’s a near-perfect beer. And despite the high ABV, it should be consumed yesterday. I feel lucky I bought two[2], but the second won’t last much longer.

And there’s music…

Wild Flag is raucous from the first bombast of “Romance,” a track that makes even romance sound a bit punk. “Something Came Over Me” features the cool tones of Timony, recalling the best guitar rock-era Helium material she used to shell out circa the Beavis and Butt-head 90’s indie[3]. Carrie returns to the mic to bring home the steady “Boom” that features some nice guitar play and the added benefit of Cole on organ.

“Glass Tambourine” again features Timony fronting the band’s version of something Weiss might have played as a Jick with its flourishes of prog rock excellence. “Endless Talk” continues the Brownstein-Timony-Brownstein pattern to the album’s vocal leaders. Brownstein’s turns are a definite nods to her and Weiss’ Sleater-Kinney days, but these songs are more new wave than punk (in a totally cool way).

“Short Version” showcases some of the band’s guitar chops. “Electric Band” is loaded with late-Helium imagery of dragons and rock bands or whatever Timony used to go on about[4]. Still, this band’s superiority to her final Helium efforts is rather apparent on this track. “Future Crimes” drives and actually features a nice bit of urgency for a group of rockers hanging around their 40’s.

The next track, “Racehorse,” is maybe the band’s most conventional rock sound. I imagine the video for this song would feature the band playing their instruments seductively[5] while dressed in horse costumes for a salivating Bob Nastanovich[6]. At the song’s climax, Bob foams at the mouth and has to be carted away by paramedics. The album comes to a close with the Timony-voiced “Black Tiles” with her most mid-90’s Helium-esque delivery yet. This final track ends abruptly, but it does what the last song of an album or show should do: make you want more.

This record and beer demonstrate how overwhelming strength in all areas can make for a pretty fantastic experience when done right. The Escondidian doesn’t back down in flavor components. Each part overwhelms the senses with smile-inducing quality. Wild Flag’s debut does much the same thing with some pretty solid parts of its own. Brownstein and Timony play back and forth perfectly, much like the hops and roasted malt of the Escondidian. They are backed well by Cole on organ and backing vocals. Also bringing it on the backing vocals is maybe the best drummer alive: Janet Weiss. For me, she’s the booze that comes full-force without overtaking the delicious malt and hop characters. Or something like that[7].

I’m for supergroups and superbeers that bring a ton of character but still find a way to balance its best attributes. Both Stone’s 15th Anniversary brew and Wild Flag’s self-titled debut bring this concept home. Now, all I have to do is find a moment when I can sip on one and drop the needle on the other without interruption.

1The Minders are associated with the Animal Elephant Six Collective. So, there’s that.
2How could I not buy two at just under $6 a pop? There is no better deal in craft beer.
3I really have no idea what this sentence means. Maybe I was just trying to string some words together in an incoherent rant – a feeble attempt to read like a 90’s ‘zine.
4I wonder if Timony ever had a thing with Jack Black when he was writing all that silly Tenacious D material.
5This is redundant and not because they’re ladies playing guitars. No. It’s redundant because they’re rock stars, rocking balls/ovaries to the wall and all that. That’s sexy no matter what you are. Don’t believe me? Go watch Jon Spencer or Annie Clark or Daniel Johnston…well, maybe not that last one.
6I just read for the second or third time today that one of the leading reasons for the Pavement tour last year was Bob’s horse betting debts. So, this seemed apropos.
7That was maybe stretching it too far.

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11 Responses

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  1. G-LO said, on September 14, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Rumor has it that the Stone 15 will be released this week in Philly and South Jersey. It’s become the Holy Grail beer of the month! Thanks for sharing your notes. Sounds delicious!

  2. Bill Farr said, on September 14, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Sublimely Self-Righteous is _dainty_??? Lordamercy…

  3. Lyrics, Libations, and Life said, on September 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I’m on a waiting list for Stone 15, so I hope I hear back about it this week. We’ll see! I actually just listened to Wild Flag today for the first time. Ironically it was right before your post. Pretty good, although I think I may need to listen a few more times to fully appreciate.

  4. jeffmenter said, on September 15, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Isn’t it Elephant Six Collective?

  5. […] they limit our access to prized beers. This has occurred recently with the hype surrounding Stone’s Anniversary Escondidian Black IPA, but there are lots of other examples. Special releases like Stone’s anniversary ales and […]

  6. […] is loaded with talent and a big sound that’s unmatched. They indeed translate live the way their debut album would suggest. Plus, you have some pretty great musicians from some pretty great bands. Few bands have one strong […]

  7. […] Wild Flag. I have expressed my admiration for Wild Flag on many occasions – both live and recorded. On record and video performances leaked on the daily leading up to their s/t release, Wild Flag […]

  8. Reviewing 2014: Music | Beer and Pavement said, on December 28, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    […] indie rock anonymity when she joined Wild Flag, a one-off, super group who released one of the best records of 2011 and put on ridiculously great live shows. This record comes at you from the word go and it never […]

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