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. 

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