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 DCBeer.com soon.

Image result for crispocurrency beer


Also, we podcasted about the year that was.

Elsewhere:

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.

3 comments:

  1. Off to check out your music recommendations. Here are my favorite 20 indie rock songs from 2019. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLV2KmSXm8OeuqGcraQuVD49nrmX5ZWB-e

    ReplyDelete
  2. How does the various products mentioned on the list compare, and which one can be said to be the best? Best Tremolo Pedal

    ReplyDelete