Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer beer makes me feel fine...

Ah, another installment of the summer beer series. Here's some good selections. The rating scale remains the same...1 to 5, with 5 being the finest nectar from the streams of Mount Olympus. Which leaves the lower ratings to be piss water. You understand. Support indie beer, and support your local craft breweries. Fuck corporate beer monopolies and their greed.


This cloudy amber IPA pours with a thick white head and ornate lace on the glass. Masterful! The nose is spicy sweet, with lovely hops. Glorious hops. Taste is strong and bitter grapefruit, with a strong malt backbone to balance the bitter acidity. Goose Island has a standout here, with a superior IPA worth returning to. Let's hope Anheuser-Busch retains this rich and flavorful beer's character as they absorb Goose Island into their corporate portfolio

BELL'S OARSMAN ALE (Comstock, MI) -4.0

This cloudy yellow ale pours with a small head and no lace. Average presentation, but the nose says otherwise -- I get bread and orange peel. Promising. The taste is surprising -- fruity malts up front, with tart citrus notes dancing around the tongue. The slightly hoppy finish closes it out with gracefulness. A delightful light beer for the warm months, and one I'd return to again.


Truly a brown ale here, clean and brown in tone with decent foam and no lace. Nose is sweet and maple--like. Flavor is sweet and malty, with hints of fall leaves and maple. Not much complexity here, just an over-sweet malt bomb. Not a favorite.


This clear golden kolsch-style beer pours with a luxurious white head, and attractive webbed "bicycle-spoke" lace. Nice! Aroma says lager yeast, grains. Not too spectacular. The taste is malty, bordering on sweet, but with a nice (but subtle) hops infusion somewhere in between. A very mild, but drinkable summer brew.


"Robert Plant's Blue Note" DVD

This lengthy (155 minute) documentary exhaustively details the former Led Zeppelin frontman's history, from his initial inspirations of classic rock & roll and blues to his recent forays into Americana and bluegrass. The scope of this man's musical interests is deep and varied, indeed. His explorations of Arabic musics is examined in detail, and Plant is shown as much more than a rock singer. Rather, he's a renaissance man and an artist of the first order.

It's an unauthorized bio, but this one succeeds, tapping plenty of actual interviews with Plant himself alongside the usual array of writers, journalists, and critics. As well, we're treated to plenty of video of Plant in action and on-stage, from his rock-god days to his shaky solo work in the 80's to his newer, classier Americana and blues-tinged duets with Alison Krauss.

An excellent history lesson on a music legend. I learned a lot, and thus this one comes recommended. (Sexy Intellectual via MVD Visual)

Friday, August 19, 2011

"The Death Of Andy Kaufman" DVD (director: Christopher Maloney)

This fascinating documentary examines comedian/wrestler/prankster/weirdo Andy Kaufman's short career and the possibility of his own staged death and subsequent disappearance from public life.

Maloney builds this somewhat-thin film with archival footage of Kaufman's often-bizarre stage shows and TV appearances. Kaufman's character and genius are examined, before several important and curious details of his 1984 "passing" are dissected, often with the help of Kaufman's personal friends and family. This speculation has created a heap of controversy as to Kaufman's whereabouts, and if he's really "dead" at all. Maloney presents startling evidence, but after 27 years, the hope that we'll ever know the truth about the comedian's mysterious death may never be known.

Overall, a very curious work for conspiracy theorists as well as fans of Kaufman's offbeat characters and memorable comedy career. (Wild Eye via MVD Visual)

The Wedding Present - "Drive" DVD

A lively and entertaining tour documentary following David Gedge and The Wedding Present's 2005 reunion tour of North America. Featuring candid interviews with frontman Gedge and band as they traveled across the expanses, we are treated to images of America as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes visuals. And that's not to mention some fine live footage of these charming indie rock icons in action. A superb document and a must-see for fans. (MVD Visual)

Wedding Presentspace

Official site

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer beer reviews are here!

Ah, it's been far too long, and I have several months of beer reviews to share. Here's the newest. If there are no links, it's because those are beers owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev or MillerCoors, the corporates. I don't discriminate, as this is all based on taste and taste alone. Keep in mind that my reviews are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being craptastic and 5 being godlike. So a 3.0 score indicates an "average" beer, drinkable but not recommended. Keep it local, keep it independent (not corporate), and keep it real!

Reviewed this one back in June, and I liked it better then. Pours a clean yellow-amber, with a modest foam and delicate lace. Malty sweet on the nose, kinda corny, even. Not a great start. The taste is sweet, with a caramel-honey vibe. There's no complexity whatsoever here, and I found this one-dimensional, off-balance, and needing to be fine-tuned. No, thanks.

BODDINGTON'S PUB ALE (Luton, England) 1.0
This "draughtflow system" pint can pours with a huge head of quickly-dissipating bubbles and no lace. The nose is sweet and even a bit toast-like. Flavor is mild all the way, and even watery. I'll give it points for being "creamy" and "smooth", yes, but this beer has little character or body. Thin and uninteresting, this is one to avoid.

VICTORY SUMMER LOVE (Downintown, PA) - 4.5
This nice, clean, golden ale immediately invites with a rich head of fine white foam and spotty lace on the glass. The aroma? crisp and delightful, with plenty of fresh citrus hops and even a trace of fruit. I get more of the hoppiness in the taste, but this one isn't bitter or harsh at all. There seems to be hints of citrus and even apricot in there. A delicious and palate-pleasing summer brew with tons of nuance and flavor, all the while remaining light and drinkable. Winner!

This attractive pale ale pours a clean amber in my glass, with a thick head of bone-white foam. Decent spoke-style lacing. Olfactory-pleasing, with touches of pine and orange. The taste is mild, but distinctive and full of character. I get some citrus hops notes up front, with mostly orange peel, followed up with a malty backbone that smoothes out the hops and suppresses the bitterness. This one's a sturdy, well-balanced, and very enjoyable ale.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Johann Johannsson - "The Miners' Hymns" album

This Icelandic composer creates lush and beautiful modern classical soundtracks, and this latest work is subtle and ambient, in a similar minimalist vein as Philip Glass or Arvo Part. There's a lot of nuance here, with strings and brass assembling themselves tastefully alongside moody electronics, and plenty of space between the notes. If this is a requiem for the mining industry, it's quite a lovely one. (130701/FatCat Records)

Johann Johannsson site

Jakalope - "Things That Go Jump In The Night" album

What the hell happened here? Known best for his work with industrial-horror pioneers Skinny Puppy (and to a lesser degree, Nine Inch Nails), producer extraordinaire Dave "Rave" Ogilvie's new band is squeaky-clean radio pop, complete with teen-sheen singer whose vocals resemble Gwen Stefani, if you're into that kinda thing. Ehh, no. (604 Records)


Jakalope site

Iron & Wine - "Kiss Each Other Clean" album

Weird-beard folkie Sam Beam's new album opens up some new avenues, namely the addition of a wider palette of electronics lightly punctuating his accessible and homespun pop songs. There are also some touches of jazz and funk, showing Beam is shedding his folk roots further. Old fans may be upset at the more commercial sound here, but this is a perfect summer pop album for these sweltering afternoons. (Warner Bros)

Iron and Wine site

"Psychopaths - Sex With Hostages" DVD (director: Jason Impey)

This trashy, flaccid micro-indie out of England is pure exploitation, but it doesn't deliver the goods it promises. Following a pair of escaped felons (murderer-rapists) as they evade a pair of bumbling and hot-headed cops, "Psychopaths" features nary a single likable character, an annoying abundance of potty-mouthed "fookin' koonts", and far too many overweight Brits who perhaps shouldn't be acting in films ever again. Miserable!

The sex is rather tame, the violence flimsy, the fight scenes laughable, and the characters one-dimensional and uninteresting. I lost interest fast and could barely finish this load of bollocks! (World Wide Multimedia via MVD Visual)