Thursday, December 28, 2023

Beer and Music, Music and Beer, 2023

Well, I guess we're still blogging once a year, so here goes. 

I thought 2023 was a very good year for noises. Lots of cool, interesting sounds. In a past life we were arsonists, it's the 2023 list!

1) feeble little horse - Girl with Fish: Saddle Creek Records is known for aggressively twee music, but my favorite album of the year is tweely aggressive. The scuzziest, horniest record the label has ever put out, there's not one clean guitar note on the album, indebted to both 4AD/Creation and Sarah/K albums. Or, if Wet Leg sniffed a lot more glue. 

2) Popular Music - Minor Works of Popular Music: Achingly gorgeous goth-tinged, synthy chamber pop.

3) The Armed - Perfect Saviors: From maximalist hardcore on their last album to maximalist rock, and pop, on this one. 

4) Smote - Genog: It's drone, it's folk, it's psych. I fell into its spell. 

That's the top 4. Want to quibble with the rest of the list? Fine by me. Really, quibble all you want, it's just opinions. 

5) bar italia - Tracey Denim: "Aggressively British" post-punk in the vein of the xx and Young Marble Giants. They have three singers, and none of them are any good, but that's part of the charm. They have a second album, The Twits, that's pretty good, too. 

6) MSPAINT - Post-American: The "is it hardcore" debate is boring, so here's an identifiably hardcore album with no guitars. Instead you get multiple synths, fuzzed out bass, and drums. Get in the pit! 

7) Home Front - Games of Power: Ever wondered what it would be like to get curb-stomped by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark? Wonder no more! A new wave band that sounds like When in Rome, but they tour with hardcore bands (produced by the drummer from Fucked Up), lyrically are closer to Gang of Four, and are ready to beat your ass. 

8) boygenius - the record: By law this must appear on every 2023 best of list.

9) Altin Guen - Ask: Turkish psych from the '70s, today!

10) Inevitable - Summer Haze '99: None of this makes any sense, not the name, not the stylistic departures from heterodox black metal to... Spanish-language pop, with scat!, but I kept listening to it, so here we are. 

11) Mandy, Indiana - i've seen a way: Industrial, beat-driven noise rock in which the aura of capitalist violence permeates everything. There's blood on the dancefloor!

12) Black Country, New Road - Live at Bush Hall: When the lead singer and lyricist left the band the rest of them chose to sing, and wrote all new material to perform live. It's still very good. 

13) Oxn - CYRM: It's folk, it's doom, it's psych, I fell into its spell.   

14) Gisli Gunnarsson - Momentos: The only post-whatever Icelandic album you need this year.

15) Joel Ortiz - Signature: It's kinda funny to hear Andre 3000 talk about rap as a young person's genre when you could just rap about how hip hop got you a house in the 'burbs and reflect on how you came up. 

16) Czarface - Czartificial Intelligence: It's kinda funny to hear Andre 3000 talk about rap as a young person's genre when you could just rap about having fun with the comic books of our youth over boom bap beats with the occasional keyboard flourish. 

17) Ragana - Desolation's Flower: A gorgeous mix of doom and black metal. 

18) Protomartyr - Formal Growth in the Desert: Still post-punk, but with more doom, plus they made a beer with my friends. 

19) Algiers - Shook: The vocalist and drummer cede a lot of space to guests on this album, which is a radical move for a radical band. A glorious, overstuffed mess of a record that parties at the end of the world. 

20) Wednesday - Rat Saw God: '90s style indie/alt rock, some shoegazey noise, and a great alt-country song, all in one package. 

Also, because why not: To Be Gentle - What Keeps Me Here; Katie Gately - Fawn/Brute; Nation of Language - Strange Disciple. I've got 5-10 others I could mention here, but I'd like to get this list out, so here we are. 

Cheers to: Slowdive, for aging gracefully, a shoegaze Yo La Tengo; Lankum, for kicking off the micro-genre of folk/drone/doom from the Isles; and both Danny Brown and Joel Ortiz had themselves a good year in what I think was a down year for rap. Two remastered reissues that sound great: Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense and REM's 25th anniversary of Up. Two albums I missed in 2022 that could have been on last year's list: Ashenspire and Liminal Shroud. 


We only appear to have lost two breweries inside the Beltway this year (Astro Lab became Third Hill and I'm not counting them for our purposes), and one of them, The Public Option, could return in 2024. Given what a shit year it was for restaurants, it could have been a lot worse and I hope that it doesn't get worse in 2024. The rough rules of the game are that the beer should be new or new to market in 2023. We'll do the DMV in alphabetical order, then the others. 

Atlas - Yawn, Barrel Aged Quad: I don't like quads, but both the base beer and the barreling really shine here, plus I put them in contact with one of the distilleries, so I might be biased. Just a very well done job, with layers of dark fruit complemented by boozy, oaky tannins from four different barrels. 

City-State - Air and Space, West Coast IPA: I'd put this up against any other beer in the style made in the DMV.

DC Brau/Pink Boots Society - Pink Phase IPA: A blast of fruit punch and tropical fruit notes from the hops, and a bit of stone fruit esters from the yeast as well. Very well done. 

Denizens - Turkey Fest, barrel-fermented Marzen: Too many Oktoberfest beers are too sweet, so here's a clever solution: ferment the beer in a barrel and let the oak dry it out a bit. 

Right Proper - Raised by Giant Wolves, Pale Ale: Raised By Wolves is something like 60% of this brewery's production, but I don't love the hopping on it. I do love the hopping on its bigger sibling, named for the Giant grocery chain. I hope to see it again in 2024.

Liquid Intrusion - South of DC Cream Ale: This and Right Proper Senate were probably the two beers I drank the most of this year. Beer flavored beer. 

Lost Generation - Back to Oblivion IPA; Dying Moons and Shadows Czech Dark Lager; Tiger Spirit Witbier (with Bluejacket and 50 Hertz Tingly Foods): This is the brewery I drank at the most this year. Just over a year in and it's already the best in the city.

Ocelot - Formal Growth in the Desert, Lager: Ocelot's lager game has never been better, and I thought this was the best one. The brewery's logo is a guitar pick and they're named after a Phish song, so a partnership with Merge Records shouldn't be too surprising. 

Port City - Colossal II, imperial smoked porter: A re-brew of their second anniversary ale

Troddenvale - Dickie Brothers Orchard, Cider: Virginia Winesap and Black Twig apples from an orchard that's been active for nearly 300 years, with no commercial yeast added. Dry, but not too dry. Funky, but not too funky. Tart, but not too tart. Cider perfection. 

Wheatland Spring - Return Estate Piedmont Pilsner and Goslar, Gose. 

The out of towners: 

Lindeman's - Cuvee Francesca, Geuze: This came out in 2022 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the namesakes' marriage, but it was new to me in the first half of 2023 and whenever I saw it I bought it. 

Troegs and Warwick Farm Brewing - Foraging for Clouds, Hazy DIPA - The unlikely featuring of Azacca as a lead hop, along with BRU-1, Citra, and Simcoe makes for one of my favorite IPAs of the year. Pillow soft, with unexpected notes of vanilla to go along with the obvious citrus and tropical fruits. 

Sacred Profane - Dark, Tmave: I have no idea how there is enough of this to go around that DC got kegs and Virginia got cans and kegs, but I'm not complaining. A 4% crushable dark lager. 

Schilling and Human Robot - Tmave 10: The day after Snallygaster the best thing you can do is head to Other Half and drink three pints of this and hang out with friends old and new. 

Tilquin - Cuvee Marie-Catherine, Gueze: Perhaps the best beer I had at Snallygaster; so good that I bought a bottle the next week. 

Xul - PB&J Mixtape, fruited hard seltzer: I can't write this and then not include the "beer." 

Next year is an election year, it's going to be bad. Here's hoping it's as least bad as possible. Cheers and thanks for reading. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Beer and Music, Music and Beer, 2022

On Wednesday, September 23rd I saw New Order and The Pet Shop Boys; on Friday the 25th it was Earth and Iceage. Sunday the 27th was The Veldt. That was a good week. Here are my favorites of 2022. 


1) Spiritualized - Everything Was Beautiful: The Brian Wilson of space rock, Jason Pierce's late-career renaissance continues with seven gorgeous songs whose obvious influences start in the '60s (The Beach Boys, Brill Building pop, The Beatles on drugs,...) and continue into pysch, Krautrock, drone, and more, yet the whole album sounds grounded, a man at peace with himself. Long may he run. 

2) Sadness - Tortuga: About 30 seconds into the first track it begins to sound like Swervedriver kidnapped The Polyphonic Spree and forced them to sing at knifepoint in a swimming pool, if you're into that kind of thing. Sure, there's some atmospheric/depressive black metal going on here, but mostly there's something else, maybe post-hardcore, maybe post-rock, maybe slowcore, and whatever it is I want more of it. 

3) The Smile - A Light For Attracting Attention: The best Radiohead album in a decade. 

4) Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There: A weird slow burn of jazzy, folkie indie that absolutely explodes in the second half of the album... and then the lead singer up and left the band right after the album came out. Nice way to leave, I suppose.  

5) Ellende - Ellenbogengesellshaft: There's nobody doing atmospheric black metal better right now. It's their world, we just live in it. 

6) Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately: Gibbs has been on my radar for a while now, and I'm not sure why this one, and not his work with singular producers like The Alchemist or Madlib, resonated with me. Gibbs is equally at home on trap beats and soul samples, and is enough of a formalist that he put celebrity voicemails on this album even though doing that was wack in 2001. It's good. 

7) Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems: An exhilarating, bone-crushing, genre-hopping indictment of punk and hardcore, and of race in America and beyond. "Everybody in the pit" means everybody. 

8) Drug Church - Hygiene: A crunchy slice of '90s-style post-hardcore that rips through 10 songs in 26 minutes, as it should be. 

9) Wet Leg - Wet Leg: Look, we knew this was going to be on this list since hearing "Wet Dream" and "Chaise Lounge" last year. 

10) Defcee and BoatHouse - For All Debts Public and Private: I'm into Armand Hammer, euclid and billy woods, but I'm more into their Chicago associates Defcee and BoatHouse, who effortlessly mix boom bap and arthouse. 

11) Conway the Machine - God Don't Make Mistakes: The first album from the Griselda crew that all came together for me is Conway's first for Shady Records, in which the rapper mixes word play with the traumas of his past so deftly that it feels like both an exorcism and a celebration. 

12) Danger Mouse and Black Thought, Cheat Codes: Dense and knotty, with no room to breathe, and yes, that's a Massive Attack sample. 

I also enjoyed: Vargatand - s/t; Panda Bear and Sonic Boom - Reset; Half String - A Fascination With Heights; MWWB - The Harvest; Rich Aucoin - Synthetic: Season One; The Reds, The Pinks, and the Purples - They Only Wanted Your Soul. 

Singles: Alvvays, Pharmacist; Big Thief, Simulation Swarm; Knifeplay, Promise; Pusha T, Diet Coke. 

Beer: Losing 3 Stars and Rocket Frog sucked, especially the former. Small consolation that so many breweries, including the locals, have really upped their lager games. As usual, I'll do the out of towners, then the DMV, and the rough rules of the game are that the beer should be new to market in 2022. 

Allagash, Seconds to Summer, Lager - This is basically a 10 Plato Czech-style Pils, except there's Belgian yeast. Crushable. 

The Bruery, Portified Black Tuesday, Imperial Stout - This beer-wine hybrid falls just barely on the beer side of things. Bottled still, it's marvelous, as is their Petit Mardi, a worthy replacement that was released later on in 2022. Both are well-balanced post-dinner sippers. 

Burial, Deliver Us to Evil, Imperial Stout - Every so often you have a beer and all conversation just stops as people sip. That happened at a bottle share thanks to this beer. Barrel, adjuncts, and base all in perfect harmony. 

Fair Isle Brewing, Alicel, Saison - This Seattle-based all-farmhouse outfit started shipping to DC in January and hoo boy is this one of the better saisons you'll have this year or any year. 

Fifth Hammer, Jib and Jigger, foeder-aged Vienna Lager - The Andy's Pizza beer game is sneaky good and this was one of the most memorable beers I had there. 

Fast Fashion, Hidden Gems IPA - You can read the award-winning article about these folks at DC Beer

Fox Farm, Annata 2021 Foeder-Aged Mixed Fermentation Ale w/ Wine Grapes - The very first beer I had at this year's Snallygaster, the Cohesion lagers lived up to the hype, too. 

Lawson's, Black IPA - Perhaps fashionably behind the times to wait until 2022 to release this style, but it was worth the wait, remarkably well balanced between West Coast hops and dark malts. 

Locally your rookies of the year are Landmade and Lost Generation. The former's lager game has been impressive right off the bat, with a keen understanding of how foeders can add a little "tang" or "snap" to lagers--Czech out both Maggie (Pils) and Lewis (Helles)--while the latter struck gold immediately with Grave Shift dark lager and Feather Kitty, one of the area's better hazies. 

3 Stars, Chillum Lite, Lite Lager - Grim irony that just as this brewery ran out of time their lager game was never better. A plurality of the beer I drank from March to July was probably this. RIP. 

Denizens, Barrel-aged Low County Common - Bringing a 4.1% alcohol by volume six-year old beer (!!!) to an event focused on barrels, which usually means big stouts, is a risk, but it paid off here. With nothing else under 11% brewers and guests alike returned to this table to drink this remarkably well-balanced rye barrel-aged Kentucky Common, featuring notes of chocolate, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and coffee. They should bottle it, and in 2023 I think they will. 

Elder Pine, Summon the Moon Lord, Barrel-aged Barleywine - A 24-hour boil to really cook those malts, and then a year and a half in bourbon barrels. Dangerously easy to drink a tallboy. 

Ocelot, Jacks and Jokers, Hazy IPA - One of my favorite hop combinations is Amarillo and Simcoe, producing almost bubble gum flavors. The addition of Citra to this year's batch really kicked it up a notch for me. 

Other Half and Schilling, 8th Anniversary Lager - Other Half came here billed as an “IPA factory,” but I’m really digging their lagers instead. They ended the year with the Halfway Crooks collaboration Monotonous Miles, a Belgian-style pils that's also very good. The best IPA I had from them was All Riwaka Everything

Red Bear, 3rd Anniversary IPA, Hazy IPA - Strata remains one of my favorite hops for hazy IPAs. This was a blast of strawberries. Lovely stuff. 

Wheatland Spring, Estate Barleywine, Barrel-aged Barleywine - Barley from their fields, whiskey barrels from the closest distillery, Catoctin Creek, and Georges Mill even made a goat cheese washed in it. 

Here's to 2023, may it treat us better. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Beer and Music, Music and Beer 2021

There's still no commute, but at least the kids are back in physical school (knock on wood), which affords me more time to listen, headphones or not. I've got Buffalo 66 on DVD, hit the lights, it's the 2021 music and beer list!  

1) The Armed - Ultrapop: This album sounds like everything, all at once, which makes sense because their might be 19 people credited on this album. Think a post-hardcore XTRMNATOR and you're getting closer.

2) Iceage - Seek Shelter: It's kind of scary how good this group has gotten and their principal lyricist is just 30. Post-punk, and somehow getting a bit "Brittier."

3) The War on Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore: It's not as good as the last one, but it's still pretty fucking good. What Granduciel has done over the past 3-4 albums, updating the corporate rock sounds of the 1980s in the service of his own nostalgia and memories, is so impressive, both musically and as a meta-narrative. 

4) Ethereal Shroud - Trisagion: When an album gestates for 15 years, and takes 12 months across home studios on two continents--during a pandemic--to record, it better be worth the wait. Well, it's epic as fuck and you should listen to it

5) Idles - Crawler: A most welcome return to form for this band. I wrote this about 2018's Brutalism and it applies here: "A sneering, searing piece of post-punk that's alternately witty and too clever by half, propelled by near-industrial drumming."

6) Sadness - Rain Chamber: What is it? Like that song at the end of True Romance, turned inside out, mutated into orchestral dream pop, blackgaze, ambient, a Polyphonic Spree song, and more. Fucking magnificent. They dropped like 3 other albums this year that are worth a listen, too. 

7) Chubby and the Gang: The Mutt's Nutts: Yes, it does feel dumb to type out these band and album names, but listen to tracks like "Life on the Bayou" and you'll see that this group is dead serious. A winning mix of early '80s-influenced punk and hardcore. Get in the pit! Or, yanno, don't. 

8) Lucy Dacus - Home Video: "Thumbs" is an absolutely gutting song. One of the best lyricists in the business. 

9) Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods: I'd like a new Furries album as much as anyone, but if Rhys is going to put out solo stuff this good then everyone can take their time. A bit more rock action on this release compared to others, which is nice. 

10) Wednesday - Twin Plagues: My favorite shoegaze album of the year marries guitar squalls with some Roger Moutenot-esque wistful indie and alt-country.

I also enjoyed:

Ellende - Triebe: They, uh, got bored during the pandemic and revisited an album from 2014. These reworked versions are better. Much better. Loud-quiet-loud dynamics where post-rock meets atmospheric black metal.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G-d's Pee AT STATE'S END!: They almost sound happy towards the end of this one, which is odd. Look around, what's to be happy about???

Koldovstvo - Ни царя, ни бога: I think they're Russian, and of all the atmospheric, doomy metal I listened to this year, this album is the most atmospheric, thanks to chanting I don't understand. It's pay what you want, so get lost in it. 

Uncommon Weather - The Reds, Pinks, and Purples: Your sad-bastard-bedroom-pop album of the year. 

Violet Cold - Empire of Love: Progressive both politically and musically, this is nominally a black metal album, but has a banjo lead on "Working Class" and chopped and screwed Houston-style rapping on another track. Dementedly joyous fun

Singles: Chvrches and Robert Smith, How Not to Drown; Tyler the Creator, Lumberjack; Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, Like I Used To; Kanye West featuring Jay Electronica and Jadakiss, Jesus Lord pt 2; Parquet Courts, Walking at a Downtown Pace; Ducks Ltd, 18 Cigarettes. 

Cheers to: 

Your Old Droog, whose Space Bar is probably my favorite rap album of the year, plus... he's Jewish! The Alchemist had a pretty good year on the production side of things, too. 

Quicksand, for being my first indoor concert since early 2020, and for "Phase 90," easily the best post-hardcore song about trying to get into a book. 

Wet Leg, for dropping two clever singles, with a The-Breeders-meet-The-Violent-Femmes vibe.

Des Demonas, for their 17-minute Cure for Love EP. All killer, no filler.

What a great year it was for rauchbier, that smoky, slightly sweet collection of styles where malted barley is dried via wood fires, thus picking up some of the smoke flavor. Both Dovetail's (IL) and Suarez's (NY) excellent versions were available because those breweries ship to DC, and Port City's seasonal Rauch Marzen was excellent, as usual. At one point in my fridge I had those, plus Von Trapp's Torsten (VT), Wolf's Ridge Buchenrauch (OH), Halfway Crooks Smoked Helles (GA), Fox Farm's The Cabin Smoked Helles, Notch Rauchbier (MA), Montclair and Mack's collaboration Fume (NJ), and Commonwealth's Grodziskie-style Puff (VA). What a time to be alive.

If you're looking for an introduction, maybe Wheatland Spring will make another batch of Reunion, their "smoke-kissed" lager that is a training wheels version of a rauchbier. 

Beers, the locals:

Pic via Dynasty

I'm not going to choose between Dynasty's 838 Irish-style Dry Stout, perfectly to style, and Other Half/Rothaus Zipfeltännle Pilsner for my favorite beers of the year. Guinness is kinda sorta local now, but the former is your replacement. I wish it were year-round. As for the latter, if you told me this was the best lager ever made in the District I wouldn't argue and I hope Other Half's Ivy City location makes it again. I've been lobbying a few of the brewers already. Elsewhere, in alphabetical order...

3 Stars Munich-style Dunkel - There's nothing flashy about it, just a beer you can drink three of from one of the newer lager programs in the area. 

Dogfish Head Barrel-Aged 120 Minute IPA - I can't hang with the original, but this IPA/barleywine/old ale gets mellowed by blending a Sam Adams Utopia barrel-aged version and a Sagamore Spirit rye barrel version. A great beer for a bottle share.

Elder Pine 10 Plato Pivo - Elder Pine's yearly entry into the best beers in the area; hopefully in 2022 I can have it on a side pour in their brewery. 

Other Half Jumbo Slice Double IPA - I was let down by a lot of the hazies coming out of this IPA factory for the first few months. This one, canned on 12/30/2020, tasted the most like those coming out of their original NYC location. 

Silver Branch/Right Proper Edge of Time Rice Lager - Two of my favorites making an adjunct lager together? I'm all in! 

Streetcar 82 Don't Throw Away That Xmas Tree! - A late contender, this IPA is brewed with 1.5 pounds of spruce tips per barrel (!!!), creating a piney, herbal, dank IPA. 

Triple Crossing Precursor Hallertau Blanc - A German lager base and then egregiously hopped with Hallertau Blanc for a nice kick of white wine and herbal notes, all while retaining that crispness you know and love. 

Wheatland Spring East Crib Lager - Is this the best Crib? Maybe!

Further afield: 

Keeping Together - We Are Not the Counterculture: Pretty cool of Anxo to bring these in. I'm partial to this 6% ABV mixed fermentation saison brewed with wildflower honey, but like Pokemon you should catch 'em all. Anxo is also selling Garden Path's The Spontaneous Ferment, a blend of saisons aged up to 3 years, continuing the ex-Jester King theme. 

Rothaus Marzen - The best of the 'fests this year. Glad it made an appearance locally. 

Tripping Animals One Tom Triple IPA - I don't usually put hazies on this list, let alone a triple one, but this beer stopped a few of us in our tracks at a beer share. Orange juice (from Citra), lime (that's Motueka), a little dankness,... really well put together. 

Troeg's When in Doubt Helles Lager - I bought a six-pack, drank a can, then bought a case.

Wild East Little Patience - I bought two cans, drank one, then came back for a six-pack of this 10 Plato Czech-style Pils. 

Here's hoping I'm able to get on a train, with headphones, and work in person at some point in the new year. As of now I don't see any signs of having a commute in early 2022, which means more time for  beer, to start. We'll see. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Resilience in all its Forms: Libraries in the Anthropocene

Resilience has multiple meanings and multiple uses across disciplines, and the portability of this term can cause confusion. This is certainly the case for Rory Litwin, who organized a colloquium, Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene, the weekend of May 13 and 14, 2017. Litwin and other conference organizers, whom I thank for their hard work in putting together a necessary and fascinating weekend of discussion, accepted a panel from Scarlet Galvan, Eamon Tewell, and myself, in which we explore connections between uses of "resilience." We are not the first group of scholars to attempt this. Indeed, the American Library Association's Center for the Future of Libraries notes connections between resilience as a preparation for coming climate, economic, and societal disruptions as well as something that may be asked of individuals. 

This crude schematic may shed some light on my thinking. 

The Center's webpage for Resilience approvingly cites a National Academies paper on the topic (PDF), quoting "Resilient communities would plan and build in ways that would reduce disaster losses, rather than waiting for a disaster to occur and paying for it afterward," and a Rockerfeller Foundation initiative that defines resilience as "the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience." 

I do not view it as a stretch to note that in that first quote the onus is on communities to become resilient and any inability to do so would ultimately be the fault of the community. "Why were you not resilient enough," one might ask following an exogenous shock. The second quote is explicit that people, as individuals, are expected to be resilient in the face of sudden changes. For many workers, capitalism itself is the exogenous shock, an imposition from above that is to be, at best, negotiated and mitigated on unequal terms. 

“Libraries may find themselves competing for funding with resilient programs or initiatives, especially in an increasingly limited pool of government spending,” notes the Center. The competition over scarce resources will, as it always has been, be balanced on the back of workers. The rich can escape to New Zealand and ride out a climate apocalypse, while the poor of today are labeled “looters” for surviving hurricanes, or freeze to death or die of carbon monoxide poisoning in “once in a century” weather events that now happen once a decade. 

“If organized in advance, and with training in advance, the library can be a center for improving community resilience,” notes The U.S. National Commission on Library and Information Sciences. What is not mentioned is the staffing and funding necessary to prepare. Library workers will be asked to do more with less, as they were during Hurricane Katrina (PDF) in 2005, and to, as Robin James puts it, perform resilience

Though Litwin and conference organizers accepted our panel, Litwin’s since-deleted twitter account singled out my portion of the presentation in particular, noting resentment over using the “conference as an opportunity to present an unrelated paper that critiqued a central idea in environmentalism by a kind of insinuation of a conceptual connection without spelling one out.” These tweets from the Litwin Books account have been deleted as well. Litwin’s critique of our presentation came to a head during a question and answer period, viewable at about the 1:31:00 mark.


Evidently this answer to Litwin’s question-cum-comment was unsatisfactory, given that three-and-a-half years later it became a topic of debate on social media. None of us owes Litwin a more in-depth response; we produced this scholarship and stand by it.

The anthropocene is marked by humans changing a planet, terraforming it with concrete roads, dams, buildings, embattlements, and other structures, as well as altering the planet’s atmosphere through deforestation and greenhouse gas production, among other means. Rising sea levels, changing climates, and increased resource scarcity are some of the products of this epoch. I do not think it is possible to separate what is being asked of communities, to be resilient, from what capital asks of workers. For both, we are to take what is coming, to take reactive measures that are sold to us as proactive ones. The resiliency that communities must show in the face of climate change and other disruptions cannot be separated from the capitalism that has caused these changes and brought about the anthropocene.

Elsewhere on this topic: Academic Libraries and the False Promises of Resiliency and Scarlet’s A short revisiting of resilience

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Beer and Music, Music and Beer, 2020 Edition

I miss my commute. Well no, not really. What I miss is that "me time," surrounded by people, yet alone. I miss living with an album, inhabiting it. A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory and Midnight Mauraders, Nas' Illmatic, and Quicksand's Manic Compression on the 1/9 train in high school. My commute junior year abroad in Japan, bumping Radiohead's OK Computer and REM's Up, perfect albums about displacement and the surreality of it all as I walked blocks that were at once instantly recognizable and quite literally foreign to me. For two months in 2000 I worked at Bell and Howell, on the outskirts of Ann Arbor, MI. The bus ride out of the small city and into the post-industrial, hollowed-out Midwest, which included walking across two exit ramps of Interstate 94, can't be separated from Godspeed You! Black Emperor's F♯ A♯ ∞.

I learned to love these albums through repeated plays on mass transit, or a 2-kilometer walk through Osaka, or a ferry from the north to the south island in New Zealand, in which a patch of fog in the Cook Straight suddenly had to be soundtracked by Mogwai. 

On Friday, March 13th, 2020 all that ended. That was the last day I had a commute. You always go to the show, yes? Well, on March 12th a friend and I bailed on a concert (Algiers and Hammered Hulls at the Black Cat) because of the pandemic. We still ask each other if we should have gone, now knowing it would have been a last hurrah. We made the correct choice.  

So much has been taken from us over the past nine months. People's health, people's livelihoods, people's lives. Hugging, dapping, hand-shakes. Great and small, people and customs, bars and restaurants and shops... they're gone. 

I mourn my commute not because of physically going from home to work, but because that was my time to discover and live with an album and make it mine, tying it to a place, whether that place is physical or mental. Now my commute is to go down a flight of stairs, becoming both a library worker and a hall monitor for the virtual schooling of two children. No more music, no more audiobooks, no more podcasts; it just doesn't work that way for me in 2020. 

The physical time I've gained back is not for nothing. More home-cooked meals, more time with immediate family and pets, and more time to--see below--drink beer. But damn, being able to turn up the volume and get into an album on the train,... I really miss that.

Would I fall in love with Helena Deland's debut album Someone New over the course of two weeks on the Yellow Line, my headphones accentuating the musical flourishes, the huskiness in her voice? Which part of the album would play as the train exited the tunnel after L'Enfant Station, transitioning to a bridge across the Potomac River? I don't know, and well, that sucks. I like it well enough on my laptop, often played while onions cook on the stove and two children discuss Legos, The Mandalorian, Fortnite, Overwatch, and Minecraft in the background. But it's not the same. None of this is. 

And so none of these albums are really mine. I've heard them and I enjoyed them. But they're shoes I bought, tried on, and wore a few times. They haven't yet adapted to my contours, nor mine to theirs. I really hope in 2021 we get to change that. 

Here goes. 

1) Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death: More mature lyrically, slower, darker, and more muscular than their excellent debut. The switch from punk-based rave ups to something closer to post-punk has treated them well.  

2) Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher: Baroque chamber pop, singer-songwriter fodder, and occasional alt-country and psych about... Dodgers fans beating up and killing Giants fans, and how Eric Clapton sucks. Anyway, it's really good.  

3) New War - Trouble in the Air: Melbourne commissioned this hometown band to perform and record on the largest pipe organ in the city. The result is minimalist and claustrophobic, appropriate soundtracking for a year of teleworking and doing without. 

4) Feminazgul - No Dawn For Men: Here are the tags for this album on Bandcamp: appalachian, metal, antifascist, atmospheric black metal, feminist. Interested? Bonus points: one of the band members works at a brewery. 

5) Dogleg - Melee: Post-hardcore/screamo that's maybe learned a thing or two from bands like Japandroids in that it's cathartic and fun to sing/scream along to. 

6) Osees - Protean Threat: John Dwyer released a lot of music this year. These 38 minutes of psych-punk are my favorite of the bunch. 

7) Nothing - The Great Dismal: Shoegaze with loud-quiet-loud dynamics, and the loud gets really loud. 

8) Stay Inside - Viewing: "What if Interpol, but post-hardcore?" It's kind of something like that. Taut, wiry, and insular, this is not the stuff is sing-alongs or fist pumps, but of quiet headbanging on a commute. Maybe one day.  

9) Gum Country - Somewhere: If Electropura-era Yo La Tengo got on the C-86 cassette it would sound something like this. 

10) Kvelertak - Splid: Touching on the past 40ish years of metal from the late '70s British new wave to '80s arenas to '90s metalcore to the present, singing in two languages, and just a joy to listen to. 

The best of the rest, or eight more albums I liked: 

Bartees Strange - Live Forever: Impressive genre-bending from across the indie-rock spectrum to RnB and rap. 

Brigid Dawson and the Mothers Network - Ballet of Apes: Slow psych, both breezy and languid, from this sometimes Osees collaborator. 

Fleet Foxes - Shore: Same as it ever was for this band. 

Kiwi Jr. - Football Money: Hits that same jangly, breezy spot as the most recent, woke, Parquet Courts album. 

No Joy - Motherhood: Things I heard in the first three songs of this album include dream pop, black metal, EDM, and slap bass. Somehow, all these in juxtaposition work. 

Porridge Radio - Every Bad.

Run the Jewels - RTJ4: Same as it ever was for this band. 

Touche Amore - Lament: I've long been aware of this band, but hadn't paid them much attention. I'm listening now. 

Best album ruined by a lead singer: Oranssi Pazuzu's Mestarin Kynsi, which sounds something like Acid Mothers Temple doing post-metal.

Singles, songs, whatever: Silverback - Klub Silberrucken; Bartees Strange - Mustang; The Weeknd - Blinding Lights; Algiers - We Can't Be Found; Protomartyr - Processed By the Boys.

In 2019 I kind of gave up on IPAs. I don't really know why, it just shook out that way. Well, they're back, including two stellar double IPAs, normally the bane of my existence. Go figure. Which style declined at IPAs' expense? Saison. I saw significantly fewer cans of that style around, which is a bummer. From March 13th to the end of the year I had three draft beers. Three! On the plus side, everyone put everything in cans, because they had to. Here's what stood out. 

Port City Brewing Company

In 2020 it was Port City's world, and we all just lived in it. My favorite beer? Pretty much any Port City lager in a can, but also in a bottle like their Helles and Weizenbock. Let's rank them: 

Rauch Marzen - Just a perfect, flawless beer. 

German Pils - Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal winner for a reason. 

Mexican-style Dark Lager

Helles (bottle)

Tmave Pivo - I saw a lot of this style around, which is great, and this one was the most "tmave" in terms of having a Saaz hop bite. 

Dopplebock - I've only had one of these, but it was very very good. I should get an Andechs' and go side-by-side. 


Weizenbock (bottle) - This was to be 2020's Colossal release, but in a very 2020 move, it just didn't didn't meet the brewery's standards, so they brewed it again later in the year. It's very good. 

Note: I didn't have the Export. Not sure how I missed that one. 

Elsewhere in locals (plus, uh, Delaware, because why not): 

Ardent Ales Schwartzbier

Black Narrows Brewing Company Salts - A gose with oysters makes a lot of sense, hence the name of the beer. Maybe "a creamy, briny, minerality with notes of lemon" isn't for you, but it really works here. 

Dewey Beer Co Surf Wax Double IPA

Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, Utopia barrels edition - That this was ready to drink upon an August release was most impressive. 

Elder Pine Pilsner (little bit of oats and a lot of Loral hops) and Bien Veillen hoppy saison, which scratched all the right itches.

Ocelot Ebenezer IPA.

Right Proper Le Flaneur - Sherry barrel-aged "barleywine" that was our consensus pick for Boundary Stone's Battle of the Barrels.

Right Proper/Pizzeria Paradiso Friend Blend Sour Ale - Just a great balance between stone fruits and their acidity, Right Proper's house character, and foeder conditioning. 

Wheatland Spring Corn Crib American Lager - So good it spawned a hashtag. Also, I'm going to take a bow for writing this on February 3rd, "On the other hand, a lot of people are about to find out how good Wheatland Spring, Dynasty, Elder Pine, and Manor Hill can be, and we’re looking forward to chatting with a lot of familiar and friendly faces." 

Outside the DMV:

EOC Coolship Black Lager

Halfway Crooks Smoked Helles Lager

Other Half Small Riwaka Everything IPA

Rogue Coast Haste Wet-Hopped Double IPA

Schilling Alexandr (10) and Palmovka (12) Pilsners - And I hear a 13 plato amber beer is coming soon. 

2021, please treat us better. Thanks for reading, and be safe. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Beer and Music, Music and Beer, 2019 Edition

I wasn't too thrilled with doing a top ten list this year come September, but then something like "Oscar season, but for music!" happened and I feel pretty pretty good about what follows. I go back and forth on my top three, but here's the order as it stands now.

1. Somos - Prison on a Hill: Gorgeous antifa new wave.
2. Elbow - Giants of All Sizes: Aggressive, off-kilter guitars; synth gurgles; strings, 7/4 time signatures; and lyrics to match. “Empires crumble all the time / Pay it no mind / You just happened to witness mine.” Elbow shows no interest in playing it safe and their weirdest, yet most direct, album to date is also their best.
3. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel: “Dublin in the rain is mine/A pregnant city with a Catholic mind.” The "go go Rimbaud" aesthetic suits these Irish punk rockers, coming through like Mark E. Smith at his most focused.

4. Danny Brown - uknowhatimsaying: Q-Tip isn't the obvious choice to produce this album, but this pairing really does work.
5. Ty Segall - : No guitars, no problem. Segall uses Japanese, Greek, and other stringed instruments to create his tightest psych-rock album yet.

6. Alcest - Spiritual Instinct: The band at their most dark and brooding. Someone needs to add "goth" to the blackgaze sub-genre.
7. DIIV - Deceiver: Heavier than previous efforts, and more economical at 10 songs and 45 minutes.
8. Beth Gibbons, Henryk Górecki, Krzysztof Penderecki - Symphony of Sorrowful Songs: Gibbons is the voice, Górecki the composer, and Penderecki conducts the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. I can't recall ever placing a purely classical work on a year-end list (shout out to Kronos Quartet!), but this is excellent.
9. Bon Iver - i,i: Justin Vernon's actual voice is quite nice, and here it's not hidden behind auto-tune, processors, and other effects. More, please.
10. Low Life - Downer Edn: It's post-punk, it's coldwave, it's goooooooood!

The best of the rest:

Courtney Barnett - MTV Unplugged Live in Melbourne: Did you know these were still a thing? Well they are, and Barnett's excellent rearrangements are worth a listen.
Kaatayra - No Ruidar da Mata que Mirra: Heterodox melodic black metal from Brazil, with asides into traditional and Portuguese-inflected instrumentation and arrangements. Very good.
Wand - Laughing Matter: There's a lot going on on this album and while I don't like all of it, I like most of it (and I admire all of it).
Thom Yorke - Anima: That I enjoyed this is perhaps the most pleasant musical surprise of 2019.

Cheers to: Sturgill Simpson (Sound & Fury), for keeping country weird; and Lankum (The Livinglong Day), for doing the same with Irish music; Hammered Hulls, for bringing back that harDCore sound.

Best album that I'll never listen to because it hurts too much: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Ghosteen.

Best use of pedal-free tremolo to recreate 1990-era My Bloody Valentine sound: Fleeting Joys - Speeding Away to Someday.

Singles: L'Eppee - Springfield 61; Vampire Weekend - Harmony Hall; Wand - Scarecrow; Schammasch - A Paradigm Of Beauty; Brutus - War; Danny Brown - Dirty Laundry; Weyes Blood - Movies; A.A. Williams - Control; Stormzy - Vossi Bop; Hammered Hulls - Written Words.

Now on to the beers. When I started doing these lists there were 1,500 breweries to choose from. Now there are about 8,000. I know I'm missing some stuff. It's going to keep happening. One thing that makes it easier: I've pretty much given up on double IPAs as a style. Hazy, East Coast, West Coast, it doesn't matter. The combinations of over-hopping and high-gravity just don't do it for me anymore. So it goes. The locals, in no particular order:

Guinness Milk Stout - A 5.something percent milk stout from the people who know a thing or two about stout. Here's a pastryboi you can session?
DC Brau Joint Resolution - The savviest brewery in DC pivoted from a Belgian-style golden ale to a year-round hazy IPA (and later added hard seltzer). Here's one you can drink two of.
Aslin Baby Shark - Here's another hazy IPA you can drink two of.
Black Narrows Wild About It - A lager brewed with corn, and then bretted for an extra dry finish. More please.
Commonwealth and Allagash Toji - These two collaborated on a foeder-aged saison, brewed with dates and yuzu. It was an excellent pre-Thanksgiving meal beer.
Port City German Pils and Tmave - One of these took a Great American Beer Festival Gold Medal. I'll add that 2019's Rauch Marzen was their best version yet.
Silver Branch Glass/Killer Castles - One of the really nice things about 2019 is how many new breweries hit the ground running. Right from the start Silver Branch was making very good beer. Killer is the unfiltered pils, Glass is the easier to find one. You can't go wrong.
Silver Branch Umlaut Love - Or you could drink the Kolsch-style ale.
Precarious Leicht - This also took gold at GABF and I just happened to be maybe 5 miles away from the brewery when the win was announced. I had never heard of them (Williamsburg, VA) before. This 3.9% lager is excellent.
Triple Crossing Pathway Pils - I tried to kill the keg of this at Brookland Pint.
Red Bear/DCBeer Ruby Lager - We did a few collaborations this year, and this one was my favorite. Really well balanced with a pillowy soft water profile.
Right Proper Scenicruiser - It's billed as a biere de garde, but there's grapes, and exotic hops, and it's fermented in a foeder. There's a lot going on here and all of it is good.
Union Schmoke - The second best beer name of the year (thanks, Crispocurrency!) and my favorite smoked beer. More on that over at soon.

Image result for crispocurrency beer

Also, we podcasted about the year that was.


OEC Coolship Lager - Ordinem Ecentrici Coctores isn't known for stuff like this, but maybe they should be. Proof that they can stand on their own two without the B. United imports.
Anderson Valley Black Rice Ale - I'm not going to find Asahi Kuronama around, and if I do it won't be fresh. This beer takes me back to what I remember drinking so often in Japan (yes, one is an ale, the other a lager).
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest, with Bitburger - These are reliably very good.
Casa Agria Stone Fruit in Harmony - It's a saison, it's a fruited sour. Excellent blending going on here.
Fernson Plains Beer - Late into SAVOR I visited this table and hung out drinking light lager for the rest of the night.
Switchback, Flynn on Fire series - This Vermont brewery brought three smoked beers to SAVOR, each helpfully labeled with a "smoke-o-meter." The saison was my favorite, but what a cool thing.

Cheers to 2020, may it be better.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The BeerBrarian's Guide to... ALA Annual in DC!

Since I live in DC, I thought an insider's perspective might be useful for the upcoming American Library Association Annual Conference, which meets at the Walter Washington Convention Center from Thursday, June 20th to Tuesday, June 25th.

A brief word about the guide:

With a few exceptions these are places I frequent, or at least have been in.

7th and 9th are the main commercial streets near the Convention Center, 5th and 6th are more residential (8th Street gets cut off by the Convention Center).

Blagden Alley, off of 9th, is pretty cool, and there will be a pop up market on Saturday the 23rd.

Coffee is important. I'd go with La Colombe and Buttercream, both on 9th Street. There's a Compass Coffee inside the Convention Center. That convenience wins out.
So is beer. I vote for Lost and Found, also on 9th.

If you don't mind walking, the Shaw and Penn Quarter neighborhoods, along with what's left of Chinatown, offer a bit more. The same is true of private developments like City Center DC and City Vista.

Go forth, enjoy, and say hi.