It’s been quite a while between posts and that is down to a combination of…
- Losing a couple of nearly completed posts courtesy of a corrupted hard drive (a cautionary tale…don’t be an idiot like me and make sure you back up your work and whatnot);
- Taking some recovery time after the exertions of Rad Beer Week and Umbrella Winter City Sounds;
- The emotional roller-coaster of the SANFL footy finals in September culminating in a monumental grand final victory for my beloved Double Blues;
- Work at my admittedly well-paid day job ramping up; and
- Pure indolence and bone-idleness on my part.
But now I’m back (cue groans of anguish, gnashing of teeth, wails of discontent, etc) and I will kick off with a quick summary from one of my lost posts about some now not quite so new but still awesome albums and equally awesome beers.
‘Reflections of a Floating World’ (Armageddon/Stickman Records) is the fourth studio album from Boston’s Elder. Much like its predecessor ‘Lore’, it sees the trio continue to expand their musical horizons, while losing none of the sheer weight, intensity and great hooks that have characterised their sound. Elder take the listener on lengthy but stunning sonic journeys where influences from the worlds of classic heavy rock, ‘seventies progressive rock and heavy-psych meet and interweave to stunning effect. The slow-burning Blind is a great example; the judicious use of piano and keyboards adding a sense of other-worldliness to the monolithic riffs and bursts of searing lead guitar.
Such an epic album requires an epic beer and I reckon you can’t go past Pirate Life’s Mosaic IPA. This is a deep, interesting and flavour-packed beer is a great example of brewers continuing to push the envelope but without losing the essence of who they are and what helped make them a great (and increasingly successful) brewery in the first place. Using just the eponymous Mosaic hop along and going easy on the malt bill, the boys have created a weighty (7% ABV) multi-hued beauty with layers of tropical fruit flavour and a nice bitter resinous finish.
German power trio Colour Haze have just released ‘In Her Garden’ (Elektrohasch Records), another superb collection of joyous heavy psych. Compared to previous album ‘To The Highest Gods We Know’, this is on the whole a rather heavier and more up-tempo collection of songs. In some respects it harks back to mid-period albums like ‘Los Sounds de Krauts’ and ‘Tempel’. As ever the music ebbs and flows from mellow introspection to fuzzed out, full throttle stoner grooves, overlaid with Stefan Koglek’s fluid, Hendrix-inspired leads. On Labyrinthe and Lotus the band dial things back somewhat, using brass and strings to create a moodier, trippier atmosphere. The sound quality of ‘In Her Garden’ is warm and pure, with the vinyl being cut straight from the mix-tapes without any additional mastering. Lastly, kudos for the gorgeous cover art.
The distinctive citrus aromas and flavours of the Yeast Coast IPA collaboration between Modus Operandi, Fixation Brewing and our own Wheaty Brewing Corps make for a suitably horticultural and haze-y accompaniment. Pale in colour and super cloudy (much like a bottom of the keg Coopers Sparkling Ale) the taste is all fruit; orange, grapefruit and maybe a hint of apricot. At a fairly restrained 45 IBUs, it has a clean if slightly sharp, tart finish. A really refreshing and easy to drink beer that belies its 6.6% ABV. The Yeast Coast IPA might now be a little difficult to find, but Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin IPA (7% ABV) is a fine substitute and readily available at the moment.
Beginning life as a retro-inspired doom rock band, Avatarium’s music has quickly evolved into something altogether more contemporary over the course of a four-year career that has already yielded two EPs and three full albums, the latest of which is ‘Hurricanes and Halos’ (Nuclear Blast). While early ‘seventies heavy rock influences abound (the cranking Hammond-heavy Into the Fire…into the Storm is a prime example, recalling vintage Uriah Heep and Deep Purple) but there are also heavy psych and progressive workouts such as Medusa’s Child in which guitarist Marcus Jidell really comes to the fore. Another great feature of Avatarium’s music is the soulful, powerful and emotive voice of singer Jennie-Ann Smith, who seems to effortlessly adapt to the musical twists and turns.
Woolshed Brewery’s Firehouse Coffee Stout (5.6% ABV) is a beer whose virtues I have shamelessly extolled before but with very good reason. It is a perfect match for a darkly progressive album like ‘Hurricanes and Halos’, combining the classic stout style with freshly and locally roasted coffee beans to create an intense and layered drinking experience.The coffee aroma and flavour comes through but is not overpowering and balanced with dark chocolate bitterness. Don’t just take my word for it though. Firehouse Coffee Stout won the Champion Trophy in the Hybrid Beer category at the recent Royal Adelaide Beer Awards.
Hard to believe that the inimitable Lemmy Kilmister left us almost two years ago. On first blush you could be forgiven for thinking that ‘Under Cover’ (WEA/Silver Lining Music) is another cash-in on Motorhead’s legacy, but instead what we have is a collection of cover versions recorded over the years and compiled by surviving members Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee. (That line-up incidently were together for twenty-three of Motorhead’s forty-year career) As Campbell explains in the liner notes, these songs are basically all about remembering fun times and a great fun listen ‘Under Cover’ is. Songs like Breaking the Law (Judas Priest), Rockaway Beach (Ramones) and Sympathy for the Devil (Rolling Stones) get the full raucous Motorhead treatment. But if you want one single reason to buy this album, it is the spine tingling version of the late and also great David Bowie’s Heroes. Brooding, atmospheric and topped off beautifully by Lemmy’s gruff baritone.
And to drink? Well, whatever the hell takes your fancy! But I can’t go past Big Shed Brewing Concern’s excellent F-Yeah American Pale Ale 5.5% (ABV). It is a fine interpretation of the style, full of hop flavour and bitterness and well balanced with a solid malt profile. But what more can you say… Motorhead plus great beer equals ‘F-Yeah!’