The first review of the year is from the lovely ladies of Warpaint.
THE RECORD: Warpaint- Warpaint- 2014 Rough Trade
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
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.
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.