Frank Turner “Last Minutes And Lost Evenings”/Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown

THE RECORD:

Frank Turner- Last Minutes And Lost Evenings– Epitaph 2012

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This week I am writing about one of my favorite songwriters, Frank Turner. A few years ago, I was working at my college’s radio station and a fellow DJ and I got the chance to have him in the studio. We basically just got to talk to him and have our own little private concert. I don’t think I need to say how much that ruled.

Last Minutes And Lost Evenings is a compilation of fan favorites and some rarities. I wouldn’t normally be so keen to review a compilation like this, but I really think more people should listen to Frank. Last Minutes And Lost Evenings is less of a “greatest hits” and more of an introduction to his music for people who haven’t heard him before.

My favorite songs? “Try This At Home” for sure, because it has one of my favorite lyrics:

Because there’s no such thing as rockstars, there’s just people who play music

and some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks

I really love Frank’s songwriting, as it can speak to so many different people. A lot of his lyrics read like quotable mantras for living life to the fullest, while still coming off realistic.

“The Road”, off Frank’s third record, Poetry Of The Deed, is another song I love, especially for its musical arrangement. It’s a song that really gets the show going when he plays it live.

Yes, if you’re already a fan, it’s repetitive because you probably own most of these songs in some capacity. I think Frank Turner is excellent drinking music. In many of his songs, he expresses the importance of gathering together with friends and having a round of beer. That is absolutely a message that I can get behind. This record is definitely one that I would use as house music in one of the bars I work at to try and turn some patrons on to his music.

The only thing missing from this record is a wonderful cover I have heard Frank do a few times. It’s Loudon Wainwright III’s “Motel Blues” and it’s great every time he does it, so I’m posting it below.

THE BEER:

Sam Smith’s Nut Brown

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As the oldest brewery in Yorkshire, Samuel Smith writes the book on making some of the best examples of the beer styles that they brew. The nut brown is fantastic.

It pours a nice reddish, mahogany brown with a fluffy, cream-colored head. Almond and hazelnut are prominent flavors, but not overpowering. This beer is not overly sweet, either, as some nut browns tend to be. Very drinkable, tastes exactly how you would want a brown ale to taste. Comparable to Newcastle, which is another beer I enjoy, but has more things going on with the flavor profile. In bars, it does tend to be expensive for a brown ale, but it’s really worth the extra couple bucks for what is essentially a perfect example of its beer style.

THE PAIRING

Frank Turner is one of my go-to musicians. I always try and go see him when he’s playing near me, and look forward to any new material he released. Like Frank, the humble brown ale is my go-to style of beer. I chose Sam Smith’s Nut Brown to pair with this record, because I’ve pretty much only written about American beers up to now. Also, as an artist hailing from England, I thought this English brown was a fitting tribute.

To drink, it’s a great beer to sit and have a few pints of while listening to records or seeing a band live. The great thing about folk artists is that they often play at smaller, more intimate venues, where you’re more likely to find tastier brews. So it’s very possible to see Frank play live and be able to drink a pint of Sam Smith’s nut brown.

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Review: The Expendables “Gone Soft”/Kona Koko Brown

THE RECORD:

The Expendables Gone Soft 2012

The Expendables have a lot of complexity in their music. A song can start off with a chill, reggae vibe, and then instantly take off with a metal-influenced breakdown. However, on the record I’m talking about today, their latest release, you won’t find much of the latter. Gone Soft is an all-acoustic record consisting of mostly previously-released material. It’s cool to hear familiar songs taken down a notch and still sounding great.

“One More Night” normally plays like a punk song, but on this record it really has a lot more details that stand out on it. Vocal harmonies are much more prominent, and the guitar work has a lot more going on than the  riffs found in the original recording.

On “War Cry” the guitar takes on more of a nylon-string, Spanish style. The guitar sound is probably what provides the biggest contrast to the band’s other records. It’s not just electric songs played the same way on an acoustic. These acoustic versions are totally different songs in their own right.

This album brings a much more intimate vibe. In general, the Expendables’ music is pretty relaxing for the most part. Gone Soft takes that to a higher level, but not in a way that puts you to sleep.

If you’re into them, they’re on tour with Iration this fall. I’ll be catching them in New York on October 6.

THE BEER:

Koko Brown- Kona Brewing Company- Kona, HI

You put the beer in the coconut and drink them  both up. Literally. It sounds weird, but this beer is surprisingly delicious. It pours a beautiful reddish brown like a late summer sunset, with a thick, creamy head. The initial taste is quite nutty. Koko Brown uses a blend of Munich, Victory, Carapilis, and Chocolate malts, which provide just the right amount of sweetness. The flavor of the toasted coconut really shines on the finish.

This beer is more easily found during the spring, which is a shame because I think it’s a great alternative to the light, citrusy ales of summer.

THE PAIRING:

Coconut can seem an odd flavor added to beer. I was definitely skeptical at first, much like I was with this record. One of the things I love most about the Expendables are the way they tie in the heavier riffs to their songs. So going into this record knowing I wouldn’t be able to hear that was weird for me. But like the coconut in the Koko Brown, the acoustic guitars and soft percussion on this record brings out a great flavor.

I also picked this beer because of the brewing company’s location.  Making beer on the beach year round has got to affect the brewing process. Although the band is from California, not Hawaii where Kona is, the sunny west coast vibes are really prevalent. That’s definitely something I’d love to experiment with in my beer making!