Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Beer-mas 2009!

Ah, we are at the end of the year, and that can only mean one thing - it's Beer-mas! Here are some selections of some brews I've sampled, and hereby report to you my findings. Remember that the "score", being from 1 to 5, gives higher marks to beers I find to be complex and deliciously unique. A "1"-rated beer would be sewage swill, a "3" would be a drinkable, if unremarkable beer, and a "5" would be a godly nectar worthy of praise and worship. And a-here we go!

This brown ale gives the appearance of being almost a stout, with it's
rich and deep, almost black appearance. The initial taste heralds a
malty chocolate note, with a pleasant sweetness that's not overbearing nor artifical-tasting. Tasty and enjoyable stuff.

This dark, opaque amber ale hits the palate with a zingy citrus punch
at first, followed by a hoppy bitterness and burnt nuttiness. Quite a
unique and flavorful taste experience, this winter warmer is 7% but
the alcohol presence is fairly obscured by what I call a profound
"flavor roll", whereas different taste elements evolve on the tongue.
An invigorating and impressive beer.

MENDOCINO - IMPERIAL IPA (Saratoga Springs, NY) 3.5
An intensely floral hoppiness emanates from the bottle at once,
certainly a good opening scent. This one's a nicely amber-red in
appearance. It's "only" 7.5% ABV, but this hop-monster packs a bitter
wallop -- certainly not for beginners. Actually this is a pretty
traditional IPA, and not too fanciful or unique. Solid, but not

AMSTEL LIGHT (Amsterdam, Holland) 2.5
Pouring a clear pale gold (with little lacing), this unassuming and
simple lager is crisp, light, and malty. It's well-balanced and not in
the least bit challenging. A perfect example of a light lager, this
one's more on the watery side. Likeable for what it is, though not one
I'd seek out or stock at the house.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pocket - "5 Single EPs"

As part of a continuing series of EPs available digitally, this is only a smattering of what's in store this and next year from Pocket (aka producer/remixer Richard Jankovich, who's remixed Radiohead, Beck, Antony & The Johnsons, and Cat Power, among many others). This original work by Pocket sees a stellar set of vocalists providing words/voices for Jankovich's electro-synthpop stylings.

"Surround Him With Love" features the inimitable Robyn Hitchcock, and proves to be a catchy and slightly off-kilter pop song with an undeniable dance beat pulsing underneath the layers of guitars and vocals. "Sampo", featuring Yuki Chikudate of Asobi Seksu, is another sweet, lightweight pop gem with Yuki's ethereal vocals. Steve Kilbey of the Church fronts the glorious "Hear In Noiseville", which brings a mystical, introspectiveness as only he can. Former Dag Nasty pop-punker Dave Smalley brings a slightly heavier vibe to "Beautiful Grey", while Craig Wedren (of Shudder To Think) shows his world-class pipes on the bright and sunny "Someone To Run Away From".

Most of the added remixes don't fare as well, though the Justus Kohncke Remix of "Hear In Noiseville" adds a gauzy, drifty synthpop vibe, appropriately. And Spoolwork's remix of "Someone.." maintains the original song structure and succeeds, as well. The others? Perhaps these would go down better in a retro club atmosphere, but here they just add filler to what would be a really solid EP. Get the main songs, not the remixes, and you'll be quite pleased with these sparkly electro-pop confections. (24 Hour Service Station)

24 Hour Servicespace

Pocket website