Beer and Pavement

Indonesian Pirates, Hand-Cranked CD Players, and Magical Beer Chillers

Posted in Beer, Challenge, Intersections by SM on September 9, 2011

Somehow, Carrie the Destroyer was cropped out of her cast picture.

 

After my lame attempt at filling digital space on Wednesday, I figured that I would go with the suggestion that provided the best chance to write the most epic[1] Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement post ever. Then, I read the suggestions and decided to go with Carrie’s second suggestion anyway:

 You are on a cruise ship that gets ambushed by Indonesian pirates. You gave them a watch so they will let you live, but they are going to deposit you on an island with a machete, a hand cranked cd-player and a magic eternally chilly beer cooler that automatically refills when you run out–the only catch is that this magical beer chiller can only replenish the supply of 3 beers. They tell you that you may take only three albums with you. There is a good chance you might be stuck on this island for the rest of eternity. What 3 beers and what 3 albums would you choose to be on the hot, possibly enchanted, uninhabited island with?

I will get to most of the other suggestions eventually, but this is where I’ll begin. That said, expect another top-5 on Monday. Now, on with the exercise…

There are several factors to consider when choosing may three albums. First of all, I’m changing the rules so that it’s not a hand-cranked CD player and is instead a hand-cranked phonograph player. Just because I’m stuck alone on a deserted island doesn’t mean I won’t want to hear the warm crackle of some vinyl. That said, these three records better be so good that I won’t mind hand-cranking for my tunes, severely limiting my dance time.

Another factor to consider is the versatility of the music. My three favorite records might not be good for all occasions. What if I invite over a few head hunters for dinner and want some nice mood music? What if the party gets wild and I need music that we can thrash and dance to while cutting off the heads of our meal? What if we all enter a cannibal-induced  coma requiring us to relax a bit? What if I get lucky[2]? I need a soundtrack that meets many needs.

All that is true, but it has to be music with which I’ll never grow tired. We’re talking potentially an eternity. I have to be prepared. So, I picked mainly music from my favorite time period and favorite non-genre: 90’s indie rock.

  1. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain by Pavement – I go back and forth whether this is my favorite Pavement album. It does fit the criteria I’ve laid out in that I love this record, it has a song for every situation, and I will never grow tired of it.
  2. Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair – I, like most men my age, love the idea of Liz Phair on Guyville. We like that she’s adventurous and just looking for a sensitive guy[3] and we think we can save her. Luckily, the reality of Liz Phair isn’t so appealing. Still, this is a great record that is fixed into my eternal top five or ten albums.
  3. Perfect from Now On by Built to Spill – I will need mood music that will also feed my anger and blood lust[4]. This record can do both and is really good.

Again, this might not be my top-3 albums of all-time[5], but they fit the criteria best. I’m also not trying to over-think this or – as I like to say – out-think the room. The goal was to pick three albums to take with me on a deserted island. Done. Easy. The beer portion of this post won’t be as easy.

The limitations are an unlimited supply of three different beers[6]. I figure one of those beers could be a beer one could drink all day long, a “sessionable” beer, if you will. There should also be a beer that will get me schnockered with just a few sips. I will need more bang for my buck. And when drinking the same thing all day or getting wasted is not my thing, I will need something I will really enjoy drinking.

Then, there’s the issue of style. I tend to prefer American craft styles over all others. So, that eliminates the imports. It’s a tough sacrifice, but I think that I’ll manage. Styles I like are Saisons, imperial stouts, sours, and IPA/DIPA’s. There are other styles I like, but these are the ones I generally reach for. The challenge will be to find three beers that fulfill my four (or five preferred styles).

I think I know what to do…

  1. Surly Furious – This IPA fulfills many needs. For one, it’s a hefty IPA that makes the DIPA unnecessary. Bitterness and citrus comes in a can, a very useful container on an island.
  2. Bell’s Expedition Stout – This is a case of me filling a need with a favorite. It’s boozy and sweet and ages well if need be. There was a temptation not to include an imperial stout since deserted islands tend to be tropical[7], but I decided to make sure that this flavor profile was covered.
  3. New Glarus Belgian Red – I was so going to go with a Saison or some extreme Russian River sour, but I thought about what this sort of beer can do. I decided that I needed a beer that fulfilled the sour/tart flavor profile while possibly providing an alternative that doesn’t taste so much like beer. Plus, this is a relatively hard-to-get beer[8]. Why not insure that I have an endless supply of a rare beer only sold in Wisconsin?
So, there it is, my altered desert island list of beers and records. What did I miss? What would you have put in place of my selections? Am I not taking head hunters serious enough? As usual, leave comments below.

Notes:
1Can I now tell you how much I despise the over/misuse of the word “epic?” I fucking loath the way this word is used in everyday conversation and especially online. Now, I no longer can use the term “epic” to describe a Built to Spill jam or a magnificently huge DIPA. The word has lost all meaning thanks to the improper overuse of the word. Thanks.
2Is it me or did this post just get kinda creepy?
3To fuck. I just went creepy again.
4For wild boar. Nothing creepy. A man has to eat. This all brings new meaning to “I would hurt a fly.”
5However, I suspect all three are in my top-10, if not top-5.
6Can limitations be unlimited?
7Particularly those frequented by Indonesian pirates and their kidnapped victims.
8Although, one is sitting in my cellar at this very moment. It’s a good thing I know people who head to Wisconsin on a fairly regular basis.

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Too Old for Music

Posted in Life by SM on January 12, 2011

I’m 35, married, and a parent, but I somehow do alright when it comes to keeping up with music. I receive about a record a week. My pace of seeing bands live over the years has hardly slowed despite my move to a sleepy college town. My RSS reader is loaded with music sites and blogs. I keep up.

Still, I somehow feel music is passing me by. Many of the bands I follow are either from the nineties or sound like they’re from the nineties[1]. There are a load of shows set to fill the coming months, but I’m just not that enthused about any of them. Is this where I slow down with my music obsession? Is this where I grow out of it?

Granted, slowing down doesn’t equate giving up music forever. No one’s actually too old for music. However, it certainly becomes less important as one grows older. Plus, a downward trend has to start somewhere. Is this where I lose interest?

I was recently shopping in my favorite record store[2], Insound.com, for pre-orders coming out in early 2011. To my chagrin, few excited me. The records were either by bands I’ve purchased in the past who underwhelmed or bands I have never heard of. The first issue is an effect of buying so many records over the course of my fanaticism[3]. That, I can live with, but it does limit my options. The second issue is mostly a case of me no longer reading half the music blog posts that hit my Google Reader everyday. Sure, I’m paying way more attention to beer these days than I used to, but I’m just not that interested in buying new music.

Even the bands I did order, aren’t really that exciting. I ordered records by Danielson[4], Iron & Wine[5], Destroyer[6], and Bright Eyes[7]. All these bands have been around for a while. Danielson and Destroyer are difficult listens. Sure, they both can be brilliant at times, but I have to be in the right place to really connect with their music. Iron & Wine and Bright Eyes have been around forever and haven’t released anything that interesting for a long time. We’ll see, but I’m not expecting much.

Then, there’s the lineup of bands coming to town to play, not to mention bands stopping in nearby St Louis and Kansas City. Liz Phair[8], Tokyo Police Club, Cold War Kids, Tapes ‘n Tapes, Menomena, etc. are all playing town in the coming weeks and months. Meh. Most of these bands haven’t recorded anything worth listening to in years and the others are just plain uninspiring. Although I’m sure something worthwhile will come through town, I’ll at least save some money this winter.

So, what do I do? How do I regain some of that passion or at least my interest in music?

Well, the first step in this recovery is to return to what got me here: underground, often local, music. Someone was telling me about this motley group of musicians who get together and write songs in 48 hours just to turn around and have a shotgun battle of the bands. That sounded great, exhilarating. I had forgotten how many creative types and musicians just hang around college towns. Right after that, the same guy Facebook-invited me to a free show of locals at a club I frequent. Then, another friend invited me to a gig featuring his band. So, there are things to see and hear.

The hope is that I’ll regain my indie rock legs by going out to watch bands with a little more urgency and something new to say. That’s how I got into independent music. I went to crappy clubs and watched a lot of shitty local bands. Some of those bands were good or would have one good song. Still, the passion they put into playing for a sixer of PBR and a hangover the next morning was incredibly good for my soul.

Hopefully, I’ll have something to report in the coming weeks as I make myself go to clubs and watch some local bands for a change. It still kills me how out of touch I am with this scene. It’s time for that to change and for me to remember that I’m actually not too old for music[9].

Notes:
1Even when they’re from the past decade, I’ve been listening for 8-10 years. That’s hardly new music.
2OK. So, a website doesn’t really constitute as a record store. However, when you live in a town without a good, physical facsimile of a record store, you do what you can. I’ve found that I can get any record I want from one website. I’m cool with that as I know there is a small group of kids trying to make this thing work. I can support that. I want Insound to be around for a while, maybe long enough to build real stores across the country…
3I am way more efficient a music buyer than I used to be. Now, I can get a sample of pretty much any band I want via the internet. That and the numerous blogs and music sites keep me pretty informed. It was never this easy in the nineties when you had to read zines and go to shows or watch MTV. (MTV used to show videos with music.)
4Hipster Christian you’re the only one.
5The beard is back with songs that sound more like the Eagles with every passing release.
6Always weird and easily the best New Pornographer, but this video and song aren’t doing it for me yet.
7Don’t give me a hard time over this one. I have a history with this band and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
8This one has already been postponed. I predict it won’t happen. I’m convinced I was never intended to see Liz Phair as every opportunity has passed me by in one manner or another. Nowadays, I’m not sure I would even want to see her live just to hear her crappy new material.
9But maybe Liz Phair is. JK, Lizzie! BFF’s 4eva! ❤ U!