I was chatting with my dear friend Pete (a funny, talented writer and human being, and his website is HERE!) yesterday about Sturgill Simpson. If you haven’t yet, please check out his SNL Performances right HERE. I had watched these earlier in the day and was so blown away, I downloaded the newest Sturgill Simpson album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, on Apple Music, and listened to it twice through before the end of the day. It’s country, folk, funk, Joe Cocker, and David Bowie, all combined. I played it for Holly Kay, and she was shocked. She’d been a DJ at the Country Music station out on Long Island when we were living there (see her previous post HERE), and she was completely surprised by the genre-bending this multi talented musician pulls off with ease.
Listening to that album got me so excited, and I realize that, not too often anymore do I get excited about new music. (Everybody’s also been doing this “Post 10 albums that shaped you as a Teenager” thing on Facebook, and that inspired me as well)
So this week, I decided to go through and pick out some new music that I DID get excited about this past year, and place each album with a different beer that I think pairs perfectly. Maybe you’ll be inspired, and post some of your favorite beer and music pairing in the comments below! Let me know what you all think!
Alright, let’s start!
Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (April 15, 2016)
I’m sad that it took me this long to discover this album. It’s an ethereal (reminded me of a lot of David Bowie), beautiful, heartfelt alt-country-funk-classic rock album that clocks in at only 9 songs, and 39 minutes (which reads more like a punk rock album than a country album). Pete told me that he themed the album as a letter to his son, (see Keep it Between The Lines), and he even fits a song in for his wife (Oh Sarah). I’m loving it more with each listen, especially his mellowed-out cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom.
Oh right, this is a blog about beer…
Ok, my pairing!
I decided to pair this bad boy with another genre-bending (read: booze-bending) beer from Queens finest brewery Singlecut Beersmiths, their Rum-Barrel Aged Heavy Boots of Lead, aged for one year in oak barrels, and infused with whiskey-marinated maple syrup.
A heavy hitter, clocking in at around 12% ABV, this stout hits hard, but sneaks up on you, and is mellowed out with notes of sweet cocoa, coffee, and vanilla. While Simpson blends funk with country and ages it in Bowie barrels, this combination of rum barrels and whiskey marinated maple syrup (Simpson is from Kentucky, so I had to pick something that had some kind of whisky involved, right?) is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but for some reason, it all comes together in boozy perfection, and when one finishes the album (or the beer), one wants to go back for more, y’all.
Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love (December 2nd, 2016)
I’ve only heard a few random songs from Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino, but my friend AJ (subscribe to Jorel Blu on YouTube for Movie Reviews, Music, and much more!) was playing Redbone (if you click that link, you WILL see Donald Glover shirtless), from his newest R&B-throwback-yet-still-fresh-sounding Awaken, My Love, and I was immediately hooked. AJ (JOREL BLU) encouraged me to listen to the album from start to finish, and while it hearkens back to Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding, it fits in quite well as an album released in 2016. Glover is multi-talented, as an actor, rapper, and singer, but his guttural screams on Me And Your Mama (“You know that I love you / So let me in to your heart”) with a full gospel choir singing behind him hooked me immediately. I thought about Hendrix, but also the song Hard Times/Our Times by Portugal, The Man. Glover seems, just like Sturgill Simpson, to blend genres together to create something new, yet, so familiar.
Which led me to pick my beer…
And how could I write an article without mentioning Matt and Lauri from Moustache Brewing Co.? I can’t. So I picked their undeniably un-milkshake IPA, Awkward Conversations.
I picked this beer because, they’ve created something brand new, like Glover, that hearkens back to the pre-milkshake IPA days. Now, if you read this blog, you know I LOVE unfiltered, orange juice looking, milkshake lookin’, pulpy-ass IPAs! But this beer. This beer is crystal clear, amber in color, super well balanced, sweet melon paired with bitter citrus. It’s perfect. This beer blew my mind (not surprisingly) and sits up there with my favorite New England style IPAs, as Childish Gambino sits at the top of my new music list. Also, if someone walks in on you listening to Childish Gambino’s California, you might end up having an awkward conversation.
Here’s me, drinking an Awkward Conversations, and my brother Chris, drinking an Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose, having what is more than likely an awkward conversation. Smash that M’F’in like button on his Instagram page, @suckball. Hello.
A Tribe Called Quest – We Got it From Here, Thank You 4 Your Service (November 11th, 2016)
I got into A Tribe Called Quest in college, starting with Midnight Marauders, and they were my first real foray into hip-hop (thanks to college friends Mike and Evan). Their newest album, which showcases Q-Tip, Jarobi white, and the late Phife Dawg, with features from Busta Rhymes, André 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli, Elton John, Jack White, and a TON more, this whole album is a giant middle finger to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, (see We The People, and the final album track The Donald). Q-Tip has spoken about how he had to take breaks while mastering the record, hearing Phife Dawg, and his emotion comes through in both his verses and his production of this album. It’s a beautiful statement, but doesn’t take itself too seriously.
I paired this album with an old classic. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
With a lack of craft selection, one can always find Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Case in point, a hotel in Palm Coast, FL, June 20th, 2014.
Simply put, Sierra Nevada was one of my first introductions to craft beer. Many of the world’s greatest brewers have attributed Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as an inspiration to start their own breweries, just as Tribe has influenced so many in hip hop. (Sierra Nevada began in 1979, Tribe in 1985) Sierra Nevada is still looked up to as one of the world’s best breweries, even after 37 years. Each time I take a sip of Pale Ale, I taste a super balanced sweetness from the malt, and juicy orange, and orange peel bitterness (insert DJT orange joke here.).
The Dear Hunter – Act V: Hymns With The Devil In Confessional (September 16th, 2016)
I’ve been listening to Casey Crescenzo’s insane, progressive rock, orchestral wonderland since 2006, when Act I: The Lake South, The River North was released. Casey is a self-taught musical mastermind, and I finally had the chance to see The Dear Hunter live with Holly Kay back in October, and it was everything I could have hoped for. This album, and Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise, were both recorded at the same time with the Awesöme Orchestra in San Francisco. There’s a story arc throughout the Acts, and will culminate in some form or another with Act VI (Casey has said that Act V is the last “Rock Album” and Act VI will take on a different form altogether), but to have followed this story for 11 years, I’m anticipating whatever concept he comes up with. Stand out tracks from this album include Gloria and The Revival. It’s a lot darker than the rest of the Acts, but has moments of peace, beauty, followed by chaos.
Final beer pairing…
Peak Organic – The Juice
The first time I tried this beer was right after the album was released (can’t you see my nice pumpkin?)
Why pick such a lightly colored, low ABV, hoppy, pale ale, to pair with such a dark album? Well, The Juice snuck up on me. You take a sip, and it’s clean, bright, refreshing, and then, WHAM! You’re smacked in the face with dank, citrus, and pine. Can this really only be 5% ABV? You keep sipping, and keep getting surprised with the flavor. WHAP! BAM! BLAM! POW! With every musical surprise on Act V, you get another wave of flavor from The Juice. In fact, I just finished a can of this while writing this article, it was canned on October 24th, nearly 3 months ago, and it’s got every ounce of hop bitterness, citrus, and pine as the first time I drank it. And I’m listening to Act V as I write this, and it’s just as intense as when I first heard it in September. The beer, like the album, is something I can return to when I can’t think of anything else to drink/listen to. Unbelievably crafted, super thought out, and nearly perfect. This combo makes more sense each time I think about it. In fact, it makes me giggle.
That’s all I’ve got! Again, write in the comments below if you’ve got any beer/music pairings for me, and I’ll check them out and maybe even feature them in another blog post!
Until next time,