We’re back with another one of our patented music-wine pairings. Our two selections today ended up being some variation of the punk genre, though they’re departed enough that I would simply classify them as rock. These were especially a lot of fun, and I’m pretty happy with the pairings that resulted. What do you guys think? Give them a listen and toss up your own pairing. I know we have some music geeks in the audience!
Letter Kills – Carry You
The first band to come up was Letter Kills. I’ve been hyping these guys up a lot on Twitter, and with good reason. They engage in a brilliant combination of modern-day punk rock and 80s metal, producing a style that lifts them up out of the cesspool of scene kid bands clogging the airwaves. Because they stood out from the pack, of course, they never developed a following, and their first album was their last. And no, I’m not just being bitter.
The drummer jumps in and out of syncopation with incredible ease, and he absolutely loves moving around the drumkit in 16th-note fills. He’s also a huge fan of big snare hits and playing the bell of his crash cymbals, an homage to 80s metal. The vocalist has his own manic style, complete with raw, whooping calls to energy (What I say? HA-HA! Aww-Right!), but he’s got the pipes to pay homage to his flamboyant hair-metal influence. The lead guitar moves between punk and metal picking during the verses, usually sticking with standard quarter-note punk chords for the bridge and chorus and embracing full on metal guitar solos when necessary. The rhythm guitar and bass are relatively simple, though they provide the dirty, churning backdrops appropriate for either style.
To pair with this band, I’m looking for a blend. What kind of blend? I’m thinking a red blend, not a big red, probably something medium-bodied. These guys are punk-metal-lite, after all. You won’t catch them breaking bottles over their heads mid-show, and I think I even saw a little bit of make-up on the lead singer once. Because they combine an old metal style with contemporary punk, I’m thinking an old-vine, young-vine blend, something that brings the strength of a bigger, more tannic grape representative of more entrenched wine culture but combines those qualities with a younger, more common upstart. Maybe a Mourvedre or Carignan, two localized, rich and complex varietals, blended with Grenache, a wide-spread, softer grape that needs a little help to stand out. Hell, why not toss them both in there? This is my blog, and I want a three-grape blend to match my broken-up punk-metal-pop-scene band, and that’s what I’ll have.
Vampire Weekend – A-Punk
I’m glad Vampire Weekend came up, because I’ve been looking for an excuse to post a Frizzante. Vampire Weekend embraces the indie trend of slightly off-the-wall takes on popular music style. The best way for me to describe them would be something cobbled together from a few successful bands: The Clash, with their world-beat-inspired guitar-work, intricate but subdued drumming, and a vocalist who manages to sound both whimsical and passionate; The Decemberists, with their out-there lyricism, head-tossing rhythms, and anachronistic conceits; and Pavement, a band that managed to not crumble under its popularity, instead maintaining some sort of stubborn obliviousness to the outside world as they continued to produce music that defied the close scrutiny warranted by Pitchfork-styled music critics.
Sweet, condensed, effervescent, I would compare Vampire Weekend to a Moscato d’Asti. They’re subdued enough to not strike me as resembling a full-on Spumante, and they sound so innocent even as they address societal concerns. They’re simple, basic, but just a little bit outlandish. If you were trying to introduce someone to Italian wine, especially a sparkler, and you knew they had no palate for wine, a Moscato d’Asti would be a good place to start. If you wanted to introduce someone to indie rock, and you knew they weren’t ready for the absurdity of Xiu Xiu or The Unicorns, the lo-fi meanderings of No Age or The Moldy Peaches, or the overwhelming vastness of Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene, someone like Vampire Weekend is a good bet.
Also, I really, really wanted to post that video. Those guys are so fun.