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

https://i2.wp.com/warpaintwarpaint.com/images/packshot.jpg

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

https://i0.wp.com/www.dogfish.com/files/imagecache/blog_content_image/PiercingPils_Mockup.jpg

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.

Advertisements

REVIEW: Dum Dum Girls “End Of Daze” EP/Magic Hat Heart Of Darkness

THE RECORD:

Dum Dum Girls- End Of Daze [EP]- Sub Pop Records 2012

https://i1.wp.com/blog.kexp.org/files/2012/09/Dum-Dum-Girls.jpeg

I fell in love with the Dum Dum Girls a few years ago at a CMJ showcase I went to during college. I watched their set and the whole time I kept thinking how much I wanted this band to do great things. and indeed they have, at least as far as the college radio community is concerned. With records holding the number 1 spot on the Radio 200 chart for weeks on end and plenty of great reviews, it’s clear that the Dum Dum Girls are just getting started. The main songwriter and lead singer Dee Dee pens genuine pop songs that only get better with each record that they put out.

“Mine Tonight” is slow with a heavy guitar to start things off. I love the vocal effects that are used for this band- the reverb sounds a little different on each record, and live as well, but it’s a similarity that gives the Dum Dum Girls their own unique sound. There are plenty of dreamy synthesizers to be heard, and the guitars are given generous room in the mix, giving the record a really huge sound.

“I Got Nothing” is lead by a really snappy-sounding snare beat and bass. It’s actually sort of simple in its orchestration, but this allows for Dee Dee’s vocals to shine and sound especially strong.

“Trees And Flowers” is a cover of a 1983 single by the Scottish pop punk girls Strawberry Switchblade. I checked out the original because I was only familiar with this band by their name. The Dum Dum Girls not only do it justice, but put a totally awesome, atmospheric spin on it. They don’t play tons of covers, but the ones that they do, the Dum Dum Girls really nail. “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths from the He Gets Me High EP and their rendition of the Misfits’ “Last Caress” are my two favorites.

I appreciate how hard-working this band is. They’ve got 2 full length records under their belt since forming in 2008, but they’ve also put out a few EPs and singles to keep things interesting in between. End Of Daze is more than a taste of the good things to come, it feels more like a short burst of energy that stands out in its own right.

THE BREW:

Heart Of Darkness- Magic Hat Brewing Company- Burlington, VT

https://i0.wp.com/beerstreetjournal.com/images/Magic-Hat-Heart-Of-Darkness-Stout.jpeg

I like Magic Hat because they create some very accessible craft beers. Their seasonals are generally solid, tasty brews. I drank their winter offering, a take on one of my favorite styles, the oatmeal stout, with this EP yesterday evening. I enjoyed this brew straight out of the bottle, so I can’t really comment on the pour. The taste was surprising to me. I expected it to be sweeter than it was, and I got some smoky notes on the finish. Almost a little fruity as well. Lots of bittersweet dark chocolate. In addition to this record, it also happens to pair well with dark chocolate cheesecake. I love when I unexpectedly get cake with my beer. Definitely a very good offering from Magic Hat, and I imagine that it should be fairly easy to find on draft at your local bar, so get out there and try it!

THE PAIRING:

While the Dum Dum Girls create a lot of wonderful pop songs, there are a lot of different elements at play in each of their records. Yes, a light ale or IPA would fare well with the pop records here. But firstly, the weather is getting cold, and the time for stouts is upon us. This particular stout has a lot going on with it, as does this EP. Since it’s a short record, I wouldn’t want to drink a really massive beer with it, but Heart Of Darkness is just right. You need something with body, but something that will be okay to finish in 5 songs.

As I mentioned earlier, the Dum Dum Girls are starting to get pretty big. I think Magic Hat is a good brewing company to pair with them, because they are one company that has helped craft beers gain more of a presence and importance. I will always associate craft beer and independent music, so what better pairing than a record from an incredibly influential indie label like Sub Pop with a massively growing craft brewing company?