REVIEW: Mark Mulcahy “Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You”/Elm City Pilsner

I like to focus the spotlight on local music and beers whenever possible. This week’s review is a record I love lately, from Mark Mulcahy, who was a prominent figure in the New Haven music scene in the 80s and 90s.

THE RECORD: Mark Mulcahy- Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You– Mezzotint 2013

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Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You is the songwriter’s first record in 8 years, with his last LP being 2005’s Love Is The Only Thing That Shuts Me Up. I was thrilled to hear that Mulcahy was making new music again. Although many of my older friends from the New Haven area knew him personally, my first memories of his music are from Polaris, as the soundtrack to the Nickelodeon show The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. It was one of those shows that was created for children, but had an appeal to young and old alike. I think that the same can be said for Mark Mulcahy’s music. While I know his music differently than people who are older than me, there is a similar feeling for it that we share.

The record’s first single, “She Makes The World Turn Backwards” has some gang vocals that make me think of what I’ll be doing when I see him live in a few weeks at the Spaceland Ballroom.

I love the ridiculous little things at the beginnings of songs too. “Let The Fireflies Fly Away” starts off with Mark complaining to a waiter about a frog in his soup. I like the beginning of “He’s A Magnet” as well, with the “Oh yeah!” which for some reason just sounds a little silly and fun.

“My Rose Colored Friend” is one of my favorite tracks on the CD. The harmonies on “all he wants is a straight story from somebody” are so warm and summery, that make it feel like you’re listening through a pair of rose-colored headphones. I love the lyric, “You’re my rose colored friend- I see everything through you”.

“Bailing Out On Everything Again” has some of my favorite lyrics as well, such as “I’ve fallen in love with things I hated”. Musically it features synth-keyboards on it, which with the reverb on the vocals, are almost reminiscent of being at a carnival. Although the record has a lot of simplicity in its guitar and drum prevalence, I like the other orchestration in it as well.

To me, this record harkens more to my favorite solo-Mulcahy LPs, 1997’s Fathering and 2001’s Smilesunset. Lead by jangly guitars and drums, I Love You is a wonderful pop record, just in time for listening to while sitting outside on the porch. Maybe a better description, for myself at least, would be that this is a grown-up answer to the musical adventures I had as a kid listening to Polaris and Music From The Adventures Of Pete And Pete.

THE BEER: New England Brewing Co.- Elm City Pilsner

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Pours a golden yellow color with a thick, frothy head. It’s definitely easy to pour this one a little too strong and have it overflow. Once it settles though, it’s a nice looking beer if you’re drinking out of a pilsner glass. It’s just as good out of a can though, which is a quality that New England Brewing Company does with most of their beers. It’s really nice to be able to take such delicious beers on the beach or in venues that don’t allow glass.

All the ingredients are German, so it has a lot of qualities of a traditional pilsner, such as pilsner malts and Hallertaur hops.

It’s a tasty, session beer at 5% ABV. Definitely a lawnmower beer, super refreshing after a day spent working outside.

THE PAIRING:

I wanted to choose a local beer for this pairing, which is not an easy task. As proud as I am of the huge growth of craft breweries in Connecticut lately, I must admit that I do not love all of the beers that I taste. However, I do know their is hope since new breweries are popping up all the time, as older ones are perfecting the craft. Anyway, I chose the Elm City Pilsner for this pairing. The beer’s name comes from the nickname of the city of New Haven, and I thought it would be a perfect pairing with a musician who is so well-loved in the Elm City.

The light beer goes well with this light-hearted pop record. Want to pair it for yourself? The Outer Space will be serving it up, along with over 70 other delicious craft beers, when Mark Mulcahy plays the Spaceland Ballroom on July 10th. I am really looking forward to this show, as it showcases a two other groups of musicians from New Haven as well, the Mountain Movers and the Backyard Committee. Jounce will also be playing, which features Danny Tamberelli, who starred on the show that made me and the rest of America love Polaris, The Adventures Of Pete And Pete. Click the flyer for ticket info!

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Brew(Piwo)Travels: Poland and Slovakia

I don’t often get to travel, and I have not been to another country aside from Canada until now. However, this past month I traveled to Poland to visit family. I made it a point to sample as many beers as possible while there and figure out which ones are best and what the beer scene is like there. Since it’s so close, I also visited Slovakia, in the old town section of Kosice where my father’s father’s family is from.

I have to admit, beer is not Poland’s strong suit. Obviously, vodka is the drink of choice there. I definitely consumed my share of vodka as well, and surprisingly did not hate it. My favorite was Zubrowka, the bison grass vodka. Not just because I liked the buffalo on the label. It was smooth and easy to drink, which I generally consumed in a shot or mixed with apple juice and a blade of grass.

Now for the beer. The two most-common beers seemed to be Tyskie and Zwyiec. I have had Zwyiec here in the states. After having it in its’ native land as well as America, I have come to the conclusion that in the States, it is way too expensive for a simple lager. However, that said, Zwyiec is not a bad beer when in Poland and it is found pretty much anywhere. Tyskie is common as well; I’m not sure which one I liked better.

For beers at a bar, I liked the Ksiazce Cimene best. It was a dark ale that tasted similar to a bock- malty, somewhat sweet, and easy to drink. I had this in the old town section of Krakow, which was my favorite place that we visited. The nightlife is bustling and there are plenty of places to eat and drink. I liked that there were so many places to go outside, so you could enjoy a drink while watching everything going on in the main square.

I did get a chance to try some Polish craft beer, though. I went to Browar Wojkowka, which is a brewpub not far from the city of Krosno. I was curious about craft brews from Poland, as I noticed their water tasted quite different from much of the water in America. However, there were not many noticeable differences, at least not negative ones. I sampled their 4 brews: a witbier, a pilsner, a milk stout, and a pale ale. I liked the milk stout best. I thought it was so good that I needed to bring a bottle or two home!

More often, I spent time drinking beer at a house rather than a bar, and I drank what I could find at the local store. I found a bottled craft beer from a brewery called Rebel, which was a honey ale and a really interesting beer. I have not had a honey beer with this much flavor. Not sure if I liked it or not because of such a strong honey flavor. I have had a hard time finding more information about the brewery. As far as my research has shown, they are a fairly new brewery and seem to be a subsidiary of Browar Cornelius. I found a review of one of their other beers, a bohemian pilsner, here. My favorite canned beer was called Lech, which had a surprising packaging to me. Although it was more of a lager than an ale, and definitely not a bock, there were rams on the label.

In Slovakia, I had to try a pilsner since it was so close to the birthplace of the classic Czech style pilsner. I had a Staropramen unfiltered that was especially delicious, paired with a dinner of sheep’s cheese gnocchi.

I also found my birthday cake this year:

It really was a great trip, and I would love to explore more about the beers, especially the smaller craft brewing companies. Although they haven’t erupted like they have here in the US, I think that in a few years or less there will be many more smaller breweries throughout eastern Europe.