REVIEW: Mastodon Once More ‘Round The Sun/Capt. Lawrence Sleepytime Saison

THE RECORD: Mastodon- Once More ‘Round The Sun– Reprise 2014

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The sixth studio album from Georgia’s Mastodon is out! The first track warns the listener to “Tread Lightly”, and it does start off with a quiet string section. But this is only a warning shot, to prepare the listener for the monsters that are about to come out for the next 54 minutes.

There are definitely a lot of progressive rock elements to this one. I know a lot of metal heads looking for something harder may get disappointed by this, but as someone whose favorite band is Rush, I totally dig it. It’s especially evident in songs such as “Chimes At Midnight” and “Aunt Lisa” with their dizzing, swirling guitar progressions. The latter actually harkens to the Ramones, with gang vocals (from the Coathangers and Gary Lindsey) shouting “Hey ho, let’s fucking go”. Some might consider these influences to be all over the place, but for me, it brings together all my favorite rock genres in an original way.

“Asleep In The Deep” brings in more guests. Valient Himself of Valient Thorr provides backup vocals, and synthesizers from Ikey Owens, who is known for his work with The Mars Volta and At The Drive-In.

“Halloween” isn’t a Misfits cover but a Mastodon-Original guitar-riff driven ride with death on a “moon-soaked night”. They had me at the line, “I couldn’t tame that beast with a handful of meat”.

“Diamond In The Witch House” ends the record on a 7 minute sludge fest. Fitting, considering it features guest vocals from Neurosis’ Scott Kelly.

The music video for the first single “High Road” is incredibly delightful. It can accurately be described as a LARP Karate Kid. There are fake swords, badass grandparents, and (spoiler alert) bullies getting their butts kicked. It makes me really happy to watch.

 

THE BEER: Sleepytime Saison- Captain Lawrence Brewery, Elmsford, NY

Don’t be fooled by the name; you definitely do not want to sleep on this beer. Brewed with chamomile, it has a touch of sweetness, but a lot of nice roasted malt flavor. Pours dark in color with a creamy head.

According to the website, it is a pilot batch. Not sure if this means it could be a one-off brew, or if they are still working on it. Regardless, it’s a tasty beer that I hope to see more often!

THE PAIRING: I just tried this beer at the brewery, and I loved it. Saisons are really growing on me because there are so many different ones, and like beer in general, I just had to try a lot of them until I found a few that I enjoyed. I guess you could say the same for myself and metal, as well. Sure, I grew up with the classics and bands that I just loved immediately, like Maiden, Motorhead, and Type O Negative. However, there was a good span of time where I was not digging metal as much as I am now. Mastodon helped to show me that there was awesomeness to be found, with the epic concept album of Leviathan really getting me following them.

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I think that Once More ‘Round The Sun can do for non-metal fans today what beers like Sleepytime did for me for saisons. The album is listenable, the beer is drinkable. The album works as both a singular work in itself as well as a collection of single-worthy songs. Similarly, this saison works as something dark and malty to relax at the end of a work day, or as a nearly-session beer for an evening at a metal show.

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REVIEW: The Insurance Salesmen/Dortmunder Gold

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It isn’t that hard to put out an album for people. Technology can allow for instant gratification of new music. It is a great thing, but I find that it can make finding new, awesome bands a little overwhelming. But it makes finding hidden gems that much more special.

This week’s case in point: The Insurance Salesmen’s latest, Death Of The Insurance Salesmen. If you don’t live in Cleveland proper, you may not have gotten an easy opportunity to stumble upon this band. Which is, to quote John Waters, a dirty shame. The band is made up of a group of fantastic, multi-dimensional musicians. Yes, it’s a guitar-driven record, but the splashes of horns, harmonica, and the great machine that is the Hammond organ add color and detail.

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There is a riff in the first song “Absolutely Fireproof” that reckons me to think of “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. I’m not sure why, but it is definitely not a bad thing. It certainly showcases the organ playing.

“Partying On” could be described as Andrew WK’s oeuvre in a song with lyrics like “when the sun goes down forever, we’ll be partying on”. Additionally, those lines pretty much sum up the record. It’s one that you could put on at a party going to the apocalypse; one that might cause the end of the world to be met with the best dance party ever.

“The Monorail Doors Opened Up” is kind of a freaky song, with a long buildup to each chorus, which makes it feel like the listener is getting abducted into an alien party. Organ-playing aliens, but still. Considering their last record has a pair of malicious chalices on it, it’s clear that the Salesmen fly their freak flag with pride, and frankly, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Death Of The Insurance Salesmen does have an overall 60s surf rock/AM gold vibe. However, unlike so many “indie” bands that seem forced and contrived to me, the Insurance Salesmen are pure and genuine in their efforts.

Does all of that sound good? Check out the record yourself, and also check out my trip to Cleveland that I took last summer, and see if it doesn’t make you want to check out the Rock and Roll Capital of the country yourself!

THE BREW: Dortmunder Gold- Great Lakes Brewing Company

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Brewing since 1988, the Conway brothers of Cleveland Ohio have been mastering their craft for over 25 years. Lagers are tough, but when made well, they are delicious. In my opinion, they really are the original session beers. Dortmunder Gold was one of the first beers that Great Lakes brewed, and it was quickly proven to be a well-made beer, winning its first gold medal at the 1990 Great American Beer Festival and several more at the World Beer Championships in more recent years. It’s fairly simple for ingredients- with two hop varietals, Cascade and Mt. Hood, and two malts (Harrington 2-Row and Caramel 60). So it tastes slightly sweet, and will have some familiar flavors, but it’s very drinkable.

THE PAIRING:

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I wanted to choose a beer that was local to the Cleveland area for this one. Great Lakes Brewing is only distributed in about 15 states across the country. So like the Salesmen, their beers can be a hidden gem if you don’t live in a state that widely distributes it. Where it is found, however, The Dortmunder Gold lager is accessible to the masses. When I went to Cleveland, I found it in many bars, not just ones that specifically stressed craft beer. Although the Salesmen definitely have a sound that would appeal to those of the indie rock/college radio persuasion, I feel like just about anyone could find some positivity in their tunes.

Single And A Pint: Brody Dalle/Otter Creek Fresh Slice IPA

Single And A Pint pairs a new song/video with a new beer that’s just come out.

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Brody is back! Actually, she never really went anywhere. The lead singer of the Distillers has had her hands in a variety of projects, both musically and in life. After having two children with her husband Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, Brody Dalle is bringing her solo material to light. Her full-length solo record, Diploid Love comes out later this month, and the first tracks off it kill.

The video for “Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy” is pretty crazy. The first half is an animated trip around the planet lead by a baby riding a glowing green dragon that brings pages of Japanese anime to life. The drum beats resonate like a furious bang on a galvanized trash can. The second half snaps back to a live-action show of Dalle and Shirley Manson on stage, in a JOYful chorus with an echo that repeats in the song and also in the listener’s brain. The two women’s voices are a perfect combo, and harken back to some of my favorite musical moments from the mid-90s.

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I picked Otter Creek’s Fresh Slice IPA to go with this song. It’s got the Belgian sweetness that draws you in, but the finish has plenty of bitterness from Cascade, Citra, and Apollo hops. Like this record. It has a lot of pop elements that seem to be far more polished from the snarling days of the Distillers. However, there is definitely the strong foundation of punk rock ethos behind every chord and lyric.

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Note: you can stream the whole record for free on The Guardian! Check it out!

REVIEW: The Coathangers “Suck My Shirt”/Brewdog Punk IPA

This week’s review is from a band after my own heart, an all-girl punk band from Atlanta called the Coathangers.

THE RECORD: The Coathangers Suck My Shirt Suicide Squeeze 2014

Back in my college days, I spent a lot of time in the studio at the radio station, as well as researching and writing my thesis about the role of women in the music industry. I was fascinated by the riot grrl movement of the 90s because I was a little too young to witness it while it was going on. I find The Coathangers to be reminiscent of Bikini Kill, but a bit more polished, from both a recording standpoint as well as their vocal harmonies and catchy songwriting.

Formerly a quartet, The Coathangers are now down a keyboard player and play as a trio. I’ve heard some of their previous material, but this new record is definitely not missing anything or overcompensating for one less instrument.

I love the basslines. They move effortlessly between having a surf rock vibe, like on “Shut Up”, or slow, sludgy rock on “Love Em And Leave Em”. The gravelly, husky lead vocals of Rusty Coathanger (real name Stephanie Luke) give these songs a rough, personal sensibility.

I don’t really hear a lot of bands that sound like this locally; maybe I am just looking in the wrong places. To be honest, I don’t know of that many all-female rock and roll bands in my area, which is a damn shame in my opinion. But regardless, the Coathangers rock. And if having a name that references a backdoor abortion technique isn’t enough to tell you that the band has a sense of humor, their latest video featuring Mastodon in drag should. The song, called “Follow Me” is the first track on the new record, and really kicks off the album in high gear. Check out the vidoe below.

THE BREW: Brewdog Punk IPA- Scotland

I am so glad to be seeing Brewdog offerings at more bars around me. It could be due to their show of the same name on the Esquire channel, but regardless, I’m happy to see their beers at bars and not have to pay a crazy amount for these imports.

It’s got one of my favorite malts, Maris Otter (I would name one of my kids Maris Otter, and I’m not kidding). It also has the funky New Zealand hop Nelson Sauvin, which I don’t see that often, but definitely explains the tropical, grapefruity notes that are similar to that of a Sauvignon Blanc. The best part is for all these flavors, it’s still only 5.6% ABV. It’s totally drinkable, with some traits similar to a citrus-forward west coast IPA, but a taste all it’s own. I love the color- it’s almost a peach-orange. Definitely not a beer to sit on, and best consumed when it’s super fresh (not always possible for an import). I haven’t had it on draft but I hope to see it around on tap soon!

THE PAIRING: It was bound to happen for me to pair a punk rock record with the Punk IPA, one of my favorite beers. It goes down easy, but there’s still substance and flavor to it. and it’s a well-made IPA. Kind of like the Coathangers- they definitely know how to party hard, but their latest record is much more than a punk rock basement recording. Similar to the way I want to see more of Brewdog’s beers in bars, I definitely want to see more female rock bands around the local rock scene!

Single And A Pint: Automatic Children “Now You Know”/Sixpoint Hi Res

Single And A Pint: pairing a new song with a new beer I’ve tried. This week we’re taking it to New York, with Automatic Children and Sixpoint Brewing.

THE SONG: Automatic Children “Now You Know”

Automatic Children take all the best qualities that made me fall in love with some of my favorite bands growing up (such as The Pixies, Sonic Youth, The Replacements) and creates catchy, guitar-friendly pop songs all their own. Plus I’ve known a few of them from my college radio days and they are an awesome group to share a pitcher of beer with.

“Now You Know” showcases the female-male vocal interplay between Crista Guiliani and Adam Lippman, with a beautiful effect. The video was shot in Brooklyn, fitting since most of the band resides in New York. It features shots in different decades and periods of time, which stemmed from the band shooting at Film Biz Recycling, which has lots of interesting props hanging around. The song itself is easy to relate to- about finding a connection with someone you’re just getting to know. and the warm guitar tones harken this track to something you’d listen to on a turntable with some good friends and good beers. It’s familiar without feeling trite. Basically, its a perfect soundtrack to what I do every weekend.

You can pick it up on a 7-inch pink vinyl, with another one of their tracks “Johnny”.

Expect to hear more soon from Automatic Children. The band plans to record more over the summer, and hopefully have an EP or full album out later in the year.

THE BEER: Sixpoint Brewery- Hi Res- Brooklyn, NY

As the slogan says, this beer goes up to 11. Kind of like the volume you’d expect at one of Automatic Children’s live shows. The name says it all- it’s a higher octane version of Sixpoint’s popular IPA Resin. Despite it’s 11% ABV and whopping 111 IBUs, it’s surprisingly drinkable. And like the rest of Sixpoint’s offerings, it comes in a concert-friendly can.

Brewtravels- Burlington, VT

Vermont is basically New England’s craft beer mecca. I traveled there last weekend to visit family and friends. Though I surprisingly didn’t make many plans of visiting breweries, I did get a chance to check out a few local places to drink and hang out and see music.

After getting stuck in traffic with tons of cars with skis and snowboard strapped to the roof, I made it to downtown Burlington. I met up with a friend working at Manhattan Pizza and Pub, which doesn’t sound very “Vermont” at all, but I didn’t let the name fool me. The Friday night special is $5 Heady Toppers and $5 foot long cheesesteak subs, which was exactly what I wanted after the 6 hour (stupid ski traffic) drive up. Of course, I took plenty advantage of this $5 Heady Topper special, but I did also enjoy the 20 taps of additional deliciousness. Their tap list included local VT offerings from Fiddlehead, Switchback, and Citizen Cider, which are unavailable to me in CT, as well as some of my favorites like Maine Brewing Co.’s MO, Founders Breakfast Stout, and Lagunitas Sucks.

It would sadly turn out that the only place I would be able to find that coveted Alchemist IPA would be at bars. I searched a few liquor stores throughout the weekend and was left empty handed (well not really, I picked up a few different beers, of course).

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Saturday night was the big Winter Is A Drag Ball at Higher Ground in South Burlington. The venue reminded me of The Outer Space in Hamden, as it had two multiple venues in one. The “Sailors and Mermaids” theme was a huge hit. I rocked a sweet pirate outfit, but it was pretty tame compared to some of the other ensembles, ranging in descriptives from sequined to scantily (or both!). A tribute band to Prince’s Purple Rain kicked off the show in the main room, with acts from local performers taking place onstage throughout the night. Dancing, drinking, and people-watching galore. Not a bad beer selection for a rock club, either. I went for Switchback’s unfiltered pale ale for most of the night, save for a pint of Magic Hat’s local seasonal Maple Chocolate Porter. Not much of a fan of the latter, but it was worth a try since I think it’s only available around their brewery. There’s only so many sweet flavors I can tolerate before my teeth hurt though.

The under-the-sea themed decorations were awesome too, especially the jellyfish chandeliers.

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I found more of them as I walked around Burlington outside!

A few hours (and beers) into the night, I also decided that I needed to get my face painted like David Bowie. So I did.

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For the post partying hangover cure, I got brunch on Sunday at Luenigs on Church Street, with some killer pumpkin french toast on brioche with mascarpone, candied bacon, and of course, plenty of maple syrup. Although their bloody mary selections looked tasty, I opted for the local cider on draft, from Citizen Cider in Essex Junction. I’m not that big a cider fan myself, but the light, subtly sweet bubbly cider was definitely a great breakfast libation.

After exploring downtown Burlington and picking up some wool socks, chocolate, and cheese (I love when my activities coincide with the name of a Ween record!), I stopped for a snack and a pint at Vermont Pub and Brewery. I enjoyed the Dogbite Bitter on cask, which is a really great ESB, that was excellent on cask. Perfect temperature with a slight malty sweetness. It’s brewed with East Kent Golding and Fuggle (possibly my favorite hop varietal, mostly because I like the name, don’t judge me…) The pub also collaborates with other breweries- their current collaborative offering is with Magic Hat Brewing and is a sour IPA brewed with passion fruit.

It was a short trip but I definitely plan on heading back, especially in the summer, because the thought of drinking craft beer on Lake Champlain sounds AWESOME right now with 6 inches of snow on the ground.

Now here are some dog pictures.

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REVIEW: Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues/Narragansett Autocrat Stout

THE RECORD: Against Me!- Transgender Dysphoria Blues- Total Treble 2014

Against Me! is a blast to listen to and see live. They’ve been in the news over the past year or so since lead singer Tom Gabel, now Laura Jane Grace, came out as transgender. The reactions I’ve seen have been really supportive which is awesome to see. I’m supportive too. However, I feel like I have read a lot of critical reviews from people that are expecting the sound of the record to be different. While the record’s called Transgender Dysphoria Blues, I’m not listening to it thinking “this is a transgender-fronted punk rock record”. I’m listening to it thinking, “this is a fucking punk rock record”. and the fact that Grace has come out with such brave honesty, she now has nothing to hide, which only makes her musical performances greater. So many of Grace’s song lyrics are so personal, but they are conveyed in a way that a lot of the audience can relate to and understand the struggle.

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It’s fist-in-the-air music, it’s getting anger off your chest music. I’m sure Laura Jane Grace has a lot to get off her chest, and it’s so great that she’s sharing it through her songwriting. I have read stories that she wanted to write a concept album about a transgender prostitute, and while I don’t know how accurate those stories are, I definitely think this is a concept record of sorts. For me, the songs all capture a certain aspect of being on the outside, or being separated from something, whether it’s a current relationship, in society in general, or being apart from an old friend. While Grace obviously wrote these songs about specific subjects, she writes in a way that everyone can take something personal from them.

“Unconditional Love” is one of my favorite tracks. “Even if your love was unconditional/it still wouldn’t be enough to save me” is a dark-sounding line but the way it’s shouted and repeated makes it a mantra that might give someone strength. What I take from that lyric is that you can’t rely on other people to save you- you have to save yourself.

“Osama Bin Lada As The Crucified Christ” really stands out to me, because it has a riff that breaks in and sounds pretty metal and intense. Sequence-wise, it’s the middle track on the record and I think it fits really well here, before the more clean-sounding “Fuckmylife666”. I don’t have it on vinyl yet so I don’t know what’s on side A and side B yet. But that’s what I would think.

Here’s a note. I started writing this review when I had only listened to the record once or twice. Now I can’t stop listening to it. Cheers to you, Laura Jane Grace, true trans soul rebel.

THE BEER: Autocrat Stout- Narragansett Brewing, Providence, RI

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Narragansett beer isn’t just a $3 can of beer at a concert. I mean, it is, but they actually have a few delicious brews up their sleeve. The Autocrat is like a dark cup of coffee with freshly roasted beans and a splash of cream in it. I did a little research on this one, and found out that Autocrat actually makes a coffee syrup, like chocolate or other flavored syrup. Apparently the official state drink of Rhode Island is “coffee milk”, according to Wikipedia and the Internet at least. This beer tastes exactly like that, creamy but bittersweet. It pours out of the can a deep espresso brown with a fluffy, cream colored head. Milk stout is one of my favorite beer styles, so I am a bit biased. A great thing about this beer is it’s only a little over 5% ABV, so it’s practically sessionable, which is something that isn’t always seen in stouts. Did I mention it’s in a can? Love it.

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THE PAIRING: I’m pairing it with Narragansett’s new stout because much like this record has the simplicity of a punk record, such as Narragansett beer is a simple beer in a 16 oz can. But there’s more to it, and there is something to be respected on both the record and the beer. Transgender Dysphoria Blues has a lot going on with it, and it is a record that isnt simply cut and dry. Like how Narragansett is known, at least where I live, for being a cheap can of beer, they can also make something dark and delicious with a lot of flavor to it.

REVIEW: Warpaint/Dogfish Piercing Pils

The first review of the year is from the lovely ladies of Warpaint.

THE RECORD: Warpaint- Warpaint- 2014 Rough Trade

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Warpaint has some serious industry street cred under their belt. A little name-dropping might be required for a minute. They are currently signed to Rough Trade Records, the London-based home of Arcade Fire, Alabama Shakes, the Decemberists, and more. John Frusciante mixed their first EP in 2008. This latest record was produced by Flood, whose resume includes everyone from The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, and U2. So the sound on this record is naturally pretty epic, but absolutely listenable, with plenty of single-worthy tracks.

I would describe this record as the perfect late night burner. It’s the kind of record that’s great for listening to when hanging out at a bar after hours. Or if you’re a bartender like myself, cleaning up the bar after hours. It’s awesome, chill music that doesn’t put you to sleep, but actually does the opposite. It keeps the energy flowing.

“Keep It Healthy” is my favorite track on the album. The guitar chord progressions are dark, and from the way it starts off and the amount of metal I listen to on a regular basis, I half expect it to go off into a doomy breakdown. But it doesn’t- it just kind of builds up and flows. The reverb on the vocals sound like they’re singing on the top of a cold mountain.

The track after that, “Love Is To Die” has a little industrial-ish synth in the background, which adds another dark element to the dreamy pop aspects. I also like that the notes on the chorus don’t necessarily end on a perfect fifth- they sound unresolved and abrupt, which has a very cool effect.

If I had to compare them to a modern band now, I think that they sound like Cults if Cults listened to more Siouxsie and the Banshees when they were in the studio. Both bands that I can only describe as “cool”, and I mean that in both hipness as well as that the songs have an icy feel to them. Another great thing about this record is that while its just a few minutes shy of an hour, the songs all flow together nicely without feeling like any are filler or just trying to continue on a theme.

THE BREW: Dogfish Head Piercing Pils

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My trip to Slovakia last spring definitely heightened my appreciation for the humble European-style pilsner. When it comes to light-bodied beers, I will choose a pilsner over a wheat beer any day of the week. One of Dogfish Head’s newest brews, the Piercing Pils is refreshing and delicious, even in these cold winter months. Dogfish is known for breaking traditional brewing rules and includes so many unique ingredients in their beers. Piercing Pils is brewed with pear juice and a white pear tea, so you get both the sweet flavor of the juice, as well as the clean spicy notes from the tea. It gets some additional spiciness from the Saaz hops, which is nice. This is a complex pilsner! I love it. I won’t deny that I’ve tried some boring pilsners in my life- this is definitely not one of them! It really takes hold of all your senses and makes you remember that spring isn’t that far away.

THE PAIRING:

I wanted to choose a beer that was clean, easy to drink, but had a lot of complexities to it. Much like this record. Warpaint is definitely a pop record, but it has so many different elements to it. While the vocals are very sweet-sounding, there are many dark aspects to it as well. Kind of like the mix of sweet pear and spicy Saaz in the Piercing Pils. A lot of fruit beers come off as kind of wimpy, and many people scoff at them. You know, kind of like how some people scoff at female musicians. Or sound engineers like myself. Okay, maybe that’s reaching a bit, but sometimes I have to throw a little hint of feminism in there. So just crack open a bottle of this badass, fruit-driven pilsner and put the needle down on this record from a group of badass women and enjoy the ride. “Love Is To Die” is below, but you can check out the whole record on NPR’s First Listen right now.

Best of 2013: The Records

Yup, it’s that time of year for making lists and checking them twice. To see what records were my favorite this year. I’ll also be doing a list of the best beers I drank this year too, but that’s coming soon.

10. Motorhead- Aftershock- UDR

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Health issues can’t stop Lemmy. Motorhead’s 21st album shows that the band has absolutely no plans to stop rocking and melting faces off of a whole new generation of new fans.

9. Tegan and Sara- Heartthrob– Vapor/Warner Bros.

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I forget sometimes that Tegan and Sara have been a band since 1995. 2013’s Heartthrob is a fun record, great for dancing, and a new facet to the sound of the insanely prolific duo.

8. Big Star- Nothing Can Hurt Me- Omnivore

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The soundtrack to the documentary of the same name is a chronological trip through Big Star’s initial career, comeback, and aftermath of the death of Alex Chilton. It’s pretty cool to listen to in that way, even though most of the songs are ones people familiar with the band know well. I’m just glad I get to put a Big Star album on my year end list!

7. Clutch- Earth Rocker– Weathermaker Music

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Lead by one of my favorite beards in rock, Neil Fallon, Clutch’s follow up to 2009’s “Strange Cousins From The West” is a beast of a record, and their live show supporting it even moreso.

6. Skeletonwitch- Serpents Unleashed– Prosthetic

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The fifth studio album since their first in 2004, Skeletonwitch is quickly becoming one of the hardest-working bands in metal, and their records are becoming better and better with each one that comes out.

5. Frank Turner- Tape Deck Heart– Xtra Mile/Interscope

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Although Frank Turner’s records seem to continuously move away from his hardcore days in Million Dead, the man writes some killer melodies and great lyrics.

4. Ghost- Infestissumam– Loma Vista

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Ghost continues to impress me with everything they come out with. Channeling 70s-psych with well-placed organs, Papa Emeritus and his band of Nameless Ghouls do a great job of making an interesting, at times strange, second album.

3. Kvelertak- Meir– Roadrunner

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My new favorite Norwegians melted my face off with their self-titled debut record, so as soon as I heard they were recording a sophomore album, I was psyched. Meir doesn’t break any boundaries, but I would definitely say it’s just as fun listen as their first record.

2. Mark Mulcahy- Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You– Mezzotint/Fire

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One of New Haven’s finest. Mulcahy’s first record since 2005 is a wonderful pop album. There really isn’t a bad song on it in my opinion.

1. Neko Case- The Worst Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight The More I Love You– Anti

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I keep returning to this record since it came out. Neko Case continues to wow me with her songwriting, and I was also lucky enough to catch her performing songs from this live at Radio City Music Hall earlier this fall. The songwriting style is personal, but can be interpreted in many different ways, which is something that really drew me to this record.

Honorable Mentions:

Suicidal Tendencies- 13- Suicidal

Black Sabbath- 13- Vertigo/Universal

Janelle Monae- The Electric Lady- Wondaland/Bad Boy

Blood Ceremony- The Eldritch Dark- Metal Blade

 

Beer-Bon

Here at Now Beer This, we usually pair our beer with records. Today, we’re trying something different and pairing them with… MORE BOOZE. I think whiskey is brilliant, especially bourbon and single-malt scotch. I recently tasted the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, which is essentially alcoholic (15% ABV!), liquid candy. In addition to getting me slightly sauced, it also inspired me to do a special post on beer and bourbon pairings. There are so many great whiskey-aged beers, but what if you want your beer and booze separate? Here are my favorite whiskey-aged beers, paired with my favorite whiskeys. Don’t mind the totally amateur whiskey reviews; it only means I need to drink more whiskey.

THE FAVORITE:

Caol Ila 12 Year Old

Loving scotch is a hobby I can generally not afford while I’m in my current tax bracket. But when I get one of those rare opportunities where I can drink like a rockstar, I turn to one of my favorites, Caol Ila 12 Year Old scotch whisky. It tastes grand. The nose reminds me of ancient incense, peppermint, and rich tobacco and evokes imagery of crushed velvet chairs in a library lit by Edison lightbulbs. When I want to take this rockstar status to the next level, I pair it with a nice cigar.

Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout)

KBS - Bottle

Founders Breakfast Stout actually gets better, believe it or not. The Kentucky Breakfast Stout, or KBS, represents the kind of of breakfast I want on the weekends- sweet, slowly consumed, and somewhat boozy. It tastes like the kind of beer that fills you up and nourishes you for the day, while the truth in whether it really does is debatable.

THE LOCALS:

Tuthilltown Spirits Hudson Baby Bourbon

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Tuthilltown Spirits was the first whiskey distillery in the state of New York after prohibition, and I was lucky enough to tour it a few years ago and taste some of their handcrafted, small-batch spirits. I’m putting it in the local category because Gardiner, NY is only about an hour away from where I live, and the spirits are awesome. The Baby Bourbon is my favorite; it has a lovely caramel taste that sits on your palate as you finish it.

New England Brewing Co. Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout Trooper

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Another amazing beer that is only made better when it is put inside a bourbon barrel for a little while. I am posting a picture of an older vintage, but only because I can’t find a good one of the 2013 label, which has a cartoon barrel wearing glasses with a fake nose and mustache.

THE SWEET ONE:

Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon

Knob Creek Smoked Maple

This is the perfect autumn/winter drink. It really cures what ails you. Be prepared for a lot of sweetness on the finish. However, if that’s what you need, this offering from Kentucky’s Knob Creek Distillery is perfect. Though the name says it’s smoked, the smoky flavor isn’t too overpowering. It’s more smoky like a sweet barbeque pit, making it perfect for sitting around a snowy winter fire.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Budweiser may have bought out Goose Island, but for as long as we can, we will still have the Bourbon County Stout. This beer packs a whallop. It’s 13% alcohol, and you can definitely taste it, but not in the offensive ways that some strong ales can seem. This stout is imperial in every sense of the word. If you want to go there, it DOES have a 100% rating on BeerAdvocate. Whether you agree with them in general on their brew ratings, this one gets its high score for a reason.

THE CHEAP ONE:

Jim Beam

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Do I need to describe this? It’s moderately cheap bourbon that doesn’t suck, in my opinion. I like to use it to make maple bourbon pecans. Toast them up, add a little oil, add a little bourbon, fry them up a bit and then toss them in maple syrup. It’s inexpensive if you’re cooking with it, and it doesn’t have a crazy intense flavor that takes away from whatever else you’re making with it. Outside of the kitchen, I find it best served as a shot with a 16 oz PBR. Just because I prefer delicious craft beer doesn’t mean I’m not also drinking on a budget sometimes.

Heavy Seas Below Decks Bourbon-Barrel Aged Barleywine

Okay. There isn’t really a “cheap one” for these beers. However, when I was looking for a beer to make my bourbon-barrel-aged beer crust pumpkin pie (yes, that’s a thing) last Thanksgiving that wouldn’t drain my wallet, Heavy Seas delivered. Since the whole bomber wasn’t going into my pie, the rest went into my stomach and it was a great beer for the money.

The verdict? They’re all delicious, and as much as it sometimes gets annoying to see yet another bourbon-aged beer on the shelves or on draft, I think it’s great that the barrels of some of our favorite spirits are getting a second life. It’s like drinkable karma or something.