Thursday, January 3, 2019

Beer and Music, Music and Beer, 2018 Edition

Well, that was a year. 2018, with the never-ending news cycles, sapped much of my ability to concentrate. Pretty sure I'm not alone in that. To "celebrate," my top ten of 2018 is unranked, in alphabetical order.

Smash that play button and let's go.

Beach House - 7: Their biggest, most extroverted album.
Charles Bradley - Black Velvet: You come for the searing cover of Nirvana's "Stay Away," but you stay for his voice and the Daptones on his final record. Rest in peace.
Holy Fawn - Death Spells: Shoegaze with touches of black and doom metal. The sequel to Sigur Ros' Kveikur you didn't know you needed.
Kraus - Path: The shoegaze album of the year marries emo-style lyrics to breathtakingly loud guitar and pedal work.
Panopticon - The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness Parts I and II: A double album that's black metal and bluegrass, doom and Americana, with an ecological bent. And yet it works. Loud or quiet, it's beautiful.
Parquet Courts - Wide Awake: I didn't know they had it in them to make a political record, but it's here and it works.
Pusha T - Daytona: At 21 minutes I've got hardcore albums that are longer, but here are 7 bangers with no filler. Maybe burn it onto a CD-R with his highly entertaining diss track-slash-investigative journalism of Drake.
Ty Segall - Freedom's Goblin: The Use Your Illusion of psych-garage-punk maybe could have benefited from being edited into a single album, but it's surprisingly funky and well-done.
Shopping - The Official Body: Gang of Four-style post-punk. Most impressive.
Spiritualized - And Nothing Hurt: Jason Pierce aging gracefully, making Brill Building-, Beatles-, and Brian Wilson-style pop and R&B. Some songs are warm, some are abrasive, all are exceptionally well-crafted.

The best of the rest:

Amen Dunes - Freedom: Damon McMahon sounds like early Mick Jagger on a few of these slow-burners. Most impressive.
Belle and Sebastian - How to Solve Our Human Problems: Nice to have them back, making perfect pop songs.
Cardi B - Invasion of Privacy: I've come to terms that the boom bap sound of my youth isn't coming back, and maybe, finally, that's a good thing. I wish that JID album hadn't come out so late in the year.
Des Demonas - s/t: The album came out in late 2017, but I didn't discover it until early 2018. US Girls seems to get the critical love as far as bands from DC go, but this political and polemical garage, surf, and punk band is well worth a listen.
Iceage - Beyondless: They've become one of the more interesting bands out there, and they're not even 30 yet. This album's more post- than punk and it works. The Jam for our times?
Jesus Piece - Only Self: The year's artiest hardcore album.
Lucy Dacus - Historian: This, plus the boygenuis EP.
Mitski - Be the Cowboy: I didn't get the hype before this one. Now I do. What a lyricist.
Nicholas Paschburg - Oceanic: My favorite ambient record of 2018.
Sleep - The Sciences: They're back, so pass the bong.
Thee Oh Sees - Smote Reverser: They sound more like Sleep now, so pass the bong.
Anna Von Hausswolf - Dead Magic: Something like a goth Kate Bush making doomy, funereal pop.

Singles: Tracey Thorn - Sister; Cardi B - Get Up 10; Shopping - The Hype; Snail Mail - Pristine; 1975 - Love It Cause We Made It.

Jeers: I wasn't into albums from a few bands I'm normally into. Sorry Courtney Barnett, Churches, and Deafheaven.


I thought DC Brau had comfortably entered their middle age, making beer that's "good enough." They killed it in 2018, releasing an excellent British-style barleywine in Sleep Standing Up; then made a hoppy rice lager, Tuk Tuk, that's very good, and that was just last winter. They followed it up with the Jameson-barrel aged Pet Your Cow milk stout this fall and then finally put their keller pils in tallboys. They had a really good year.

Some thoughts:
1) Our post-whalez scene continues, with Bourbon County and Canadian Breakfast Stout sitting on shelves, which is how it should be. Overall I saw a lot fewer lines in 2018, too.
2) There's more attention being paid to how breweries conduct their business, from dealing with intellectual property and trademarks, to racism and sexism, and wages. Keep shining a light and calling it out.
3) I don't know if this is good or not, but the DMV burbs are where it's at right now, maybe at the expense of some of the city's breweries. Sure, the quality in the city is there; see the DC Brau rave above. And Right Proper and Bluejacket are particularly locked in, but Port City's lager series continues to impress, as do Crooked Run's IPAs, and pretty much everything I had from Ocelot and Dynasty. And that's just Virginia.
3a) Then again, I saw a local brewery charge $65 for a bottle of stout at a pop-up event in the city. Not for a case of stout, but for one 500ml bottle. Do what you want with your money, but that's foolish.
3b) And I continue to be unimpressed with the most of the breweries in Montgomery and Frederick counties, especially those along MD-355 and I270/70.

The locals, in no particular order:

Port City Schwartzbier and Baltic Porter.
DC Brau Sleep Standing Up barrel-aged barleywine, Tuk Tuk rice lager, Jameson barrel-aged Pet Your Cow, and Keller pils.
3 Stars and Finback Low Riderz IPA: 3 Stars did a whole series of these and this was the most floral, and also the lowest ABV.
Ocelot Home IPA: a new hazy version.
Ardent Pils.
Rocket Frog Wallops Brown Ale, and, uh, Snark-Infested Waters Schwartzbier was pretty good, too.
Penn Druid Table Beer.
Dynasty and Lost Lagers 1858 Mild Ale and Dynasty Festbier, the most Teutonic of the locals. The hazy pale is also very good.
Right Proper White Bicycles aged in peach mead barrels from Charm City.
Black Narrows How Bout It American Lager.
Devils Backbone and Chuckanaut Dunkle.
Anxo Cidre Blanc in cans: Goldrush is bae.
Bluejacket For The Company in cans.
Mad Fox's Brut IPA was my favorite of the ones I've had. I know it's a divisive style, but I'd pay to drink this one.

The out-of-towners:

Suarez Palatine Pils and Round the Bend porter. I'm not sure if these were 2018 releases, but they showed up in DC this year, and I'd like to see more of them.
Fat Orange Cat White Stout.
Deschutes and Bells Schwartzbier collaboration, if you're noticing a trend.
Allagash Brett Pils and Brett IPA: So pretty much anything they do with Brettomyances is good.
The Bruery's Yount, a blend of Black Tuesday imperial stout and cabernet that somehow works. The perfect beer for Savor.

Want DCBeer's take on the year that was? Here ya go.

Here's hoping 2019 treats us better than 2018 did. Cheers.

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