Drink’N’Music 2013 – Craig’s Top 10 Albums of 2013 Paired With Drinks

Drink’N’Music 2013

10 of Craig’s Favourite Records of 2013, Paired with 10 Favourite Tipples

Craig Pinhey

It is the end of the year, and time for my annual Drink’n’Music list, in which I pair my top 10 listens from 2013 with an appropriate beverage. I am not saying these are the best 10 records released this year, just my favourites from the ones I have played and purchased.

Go to www.frogspad.ca for previous years.

Here are my top 10 albums of 2013, with recommended drinks.


 1. Elvis Costello & The Roots –  Wise Up Ghost

Watch: Walk Us Uptown

This is not Elvis Costello playing funk, nor is it The Roots punking out. It is a musical partnership that has resulted in some of Costello’s best lyrics – political and otherwise – produced in a different way, with snappy beats and in some cases funky bass, keys, lead guitar and a horn section…all behind Costello’s unmistakable voice.  My favourite track, and my Song of the Year, is The Puppet Has Cut His Strings, a bonus song on the Deluxe version, a moving ballad Costello penned about his father’s recent passing from Alzheimer’s.  Just try to listen to it without breaking down.

You may like this LP if you like:  Musicians who are not afraid to take risks.

What to Drink: An American/UK hybrid, so how about a Manhattan, but made with Connemara Peated Single Malt from Ireland, $51.59, in honour of Declan Macmanus’s heritage.

2. Bettie Serveert – Oh Mayhem

Check out this amazing video!

This Dutch combo, fronted by a Canadian vocalist and song writer, is in my opinion one of the best rock and roll bands of the past two decades. The lyrics are excellent, as are her vocals, but Oh Mayhem – released in late 2012 but available here in 2013 – is really a guitar lover’s album. It rocks!

You may like this LP if you like: The Pretenders, Juliana Hatfield, Metric, Hendrix solos.

What to Drink: Grolsch, a crisp, refreshing Dutch lager in a swingtop bottle. $3.18/450 ml.

3. Tegan & Sara – Heartthrob

Yes, I know, Canada’s indie twin darlings sold out and made a highly produced synth pop dance record, but, you know what? The lyrics are good, the tunes are memorable and catchy, and this is more original and better than the dance music that tops the US charts.  I don’t want all their records to sound like this, but this has found its way into my car’s CD player an awful lot this year.

You may like this LP if you like: dance music with both brains and a heart

What to Drink:  Something fun and bubbly but not too sweet: Segura Viudas Brut Rosé, Spain $16.99

4. Madness – Oui Oui Si SI Ja Ja Da Da

Check out this album preview

Most would say that this British pop and ska band peaked in the late 70‘s and early 80‘s, but this new album was a breath of fresh air in 2013, and as good as any of their early work.  I’m not sure there was a better 2013 LP for hot summer days.

You may like this LP if you like:  old school ska music and happy British pop,  like if the Kinks meshed with Rancid.

What to Drink: a pint of UK-style bitter. My usual choice is Picaroons Best Bitter ($3.80/500 ml)

5. David Myles– In The Nighttime

New Brunswick’s Myles is now a Canadian star, and this latest record shows his maturity as a vocalist and songwriter. These songs have a lot of soul, and he sings them convincingly. The bonus mini-CD produced by Classified is particularly groovy. I love it!

You may like this LP if you like:  Marvin Gaye, nice tall guys.

What to Drink:  I’d love to recommend a wine from Nova Scotia’s Gaspereau Vineyards, as Myles’s brother’s wife is the winemaker, but we don’t have any at ANBL. Jost, owners of Gaspereau, does have a smooth red called Jost Trilogy, though, for $19.99.

6. Wesley Stace – S/T

Listen to Wesley sing When I Knew

Wesley Stace used to go by John Wesley Harding but has reverted to his own name for this self-titled record. His career as a literary novelist (read the brilliant By George if you haven’t already) has perhaps been more successful than his music career, but this new record is essentially a guidebook on the songwriting craft. The Bedroom You Grew Up In, When I Knew, and Wrong For The Part are just perfect little songs.

You may like this LP if you like:  imagine Bob Dylan with a beautiful singing voice and British accent

What to Drink:  Since Stace now makes New York his home, I picked something quintessentially American: Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey, $36.99, on ice or in an Old Fashioned

7.Prefab Sprout – Crimson/Red

The video for Best Jewel Thief in the World

Iconoclast Paddy McAloon has come back in 2013 with a wonderful album of gorgeous, thoughtful pop songs. It was too long a wait for this new record.

You may like this LP if you like:  Pet Sounds, Steely Dan, Thomas Dolby

What to Drink:  a glass of pretty, aromatic white, wine, with some zip, such as Willm Reserve Riesling from Alsace, France,  $18.99

8. Miles Kane – Don’t Forget Who You Are

Listen to this great track 

A great British rock and roll record with songs co-written with legends like Paul Weller (the Jam) and Andy Partridge (XTC).

You may like this LP if you like:  Supergrass, the more rocking Stones/Kinks/Who/Beatles songs, and the best of Oasis

What to Drink: what is more British than Gin & Tonic? But use local gin Thuya, $29.99.

9. Heavy Blinkers – Health

Like their FB site

A very diverse record, long in the making, but satisfying. Lots of guest vocals, but still unmistakably The Heavy Blinkers, with the lush orchestration we know and love.

You may like this LP if you like:  Pet Sounds, Halifax indie music, Jenn Grant

What to Drink:  This is summer music, and I’m quite partial to a cold lager beer in the summer. This is tasty: Gahan Beach Chair Lager, PEI<  473 ml can/$3.29

10. Lloyd Cole – Standards

Check out Lloyd’s site

This Lloyd album could have come from the early 80’s, and that’s a good thing, as he was one of the best, and most original, singer songwriters to emerge from that age of excess.

You may like this LP if you like:  Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, alt-folk.

What to Drink:  A complex red wine, like a Spanish Rioja. Try this good value:  Antano Crianza $14.99.

Honourable mentions:  Tarmac Adam – The History Effect,Robbie Fulks – Gone Away Backwards, OMD – English Electric , Billy Bragg – Tooth and Nail, TMBG – Nanobots, Paul Mccartney – NEW.

Cheers and have a Merry Musical Holiday!

Craig Pinhey is a certified Sommelier and writer who loves good drink and music. Visit him www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as frogspadca.

Drink’N’Music 2012 – Craig’s Top 10 Albums of 2012 Matched With Drinks

Drink’N’Music 2012
10 of Craig’s Favourite Records of 2012, Paired with 10 Favourite Tipples
Craig Pinhey

Do you ever think about what music to play when you are enjoying a favourite drink? I do. I’ve been told that some of my music preferences are strange, which I take as a compliment. If we all liked the same music, TV shows, and drinks, life would be really boring.

I love music even more that booze, believe it or not, and every year for as long as I can remember I’ve made a top 10 list. Starting in 2006 I decided to pair each of my picks with a drink – go to www.frogspad.ca for previous years.

Here are my top 10 albums of 2012, with recommended drinks.

1. Field Music – Plumb (England, Prog/Pop)

I was turned onto Field Music by other fans of UK pop gods XTC. They have some similarities to XTC but are more of a prog/pop band. The band is mainly the two brothers, David and Peter Brewis, who together make complex yet melodic pop songs, with fantastic musicianship. This record was a finalist for Britain’s Mercury Prize this year.

Track to taste online: (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing

What to Drink: Something complex, refreshing and British, so how about a Gin and Tonic, using Plymouth Original London Dry Gin $28.99.

2. John K Samson – Provincial (Canada, Rock/Pop)

Weakerthans frontman Samson released his solo record to great acclaim for good reason. If you are a fan of Winnipeg’s The Weakerthans, you will find this record easy to love, as it pretty much sounds like their next great album. It is smart, catchy, and eminently Canadian. His lyrics stand alone perfectly as poems.

Track to taste online: When I Write My Master’s Thesis

What to Drink: We don’t get any Manitoba products, so I’ve chosen an excellent western whisky. Dark Horse ($29.99) is the latest offering from Alberta Premium, who are well known for making Canadian whisky from 100% Rye, giving it a spicy, full flavour. This has more oak influence, giving Bourbon-like notes.

3. Aimee Mann – Charmer (USA, Rock/Pop)

Many know Aimee Mann for Voices Carry from her early band Til Tuesday, or for her fabulous soundtrack to Magnolia, but she has continued making very good records since then, and her latest is one of her best. Her unique voice and attractive lyrical phrasing work really well with her fresh pop melodies. No fluff here; just great songs.

Track to taste online: Charmer (it has a hilarious video)

What to Drink: Something smooth but also fresh, so how about the Gustav Lorenz Reserve Sylvaner ($16.79), one of my favourite white wines at the ANBL.

4. John Southworth – Easterween/West Coast Persona/Failed Jingles for Bank of America and Other US Corporations (Canada, Orchestral/Lounge/Pop)

Southworth was busy in 2012. He performed (& released) Easterween, his Brecht/Weill styled musical theatre production with Toronto’s Andrew Downing, then released West Coast Persona, an EP of some of his earlier, lounge-pop songs, then finally Failed Jingles…, a collection of very short, gorgeous pop tunes that were actually written as jingles, but were rejected by the intended corporations. Songs must constantly exude from his pores. Rumour has it he is playing a show at The Barrel’s Head in Rothesay on December 17. See you there!

Track to taste online: Best Foog John, from Failed Jingles…

What to Drink: Absinthe, with cold water added until it turns cloudy (approximately 5 parts water to 1 part Absinthe). Be sure to use New Brunswick’s own Courailleuse, made by Distillerie Fils du Roy ($62.99).

5. Mike O’Neil – Wild Lines (Canada, Rock/Pop)

Halifax’s O’Neil became famous as part of The Inbreds, but his new solo record is a much more mature and satisfying record, all the way through. It is part that Halifax rock sound that will appeal to fans of Sloan and the Superfriendz, but with even stronger Lennon/McCartney influences.

Track to taste online: Henry

What to Drink: Garrison Hop Yard ($12.98/6), a very refreshing hoppy session ale brewed in Halifax.

6. Adam Mowery – St . Joseph’s Mechanical Penthouse (Canada, Pop/Indie)

Though now in Halifax, Mowery is a key component of the Saint John music scene. Mowery’s unique voice and pop sensibility shows through in this short, satisfying record. Hook laden pop tunes with a noisy punk influence.

Track to taste online: Soft Features

What to Drink: Big Tide Seaworthy IPA, brewed in Saint John, available by the Growler or on tap at Big Tide.

7. Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur (Canada, Folk/Rock/Pop)

One of Canada’s best female singer songwriters, Edwards has changed gears and grown in scope with the help of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) as a co-producer/collaborator. Much more than country influenced folk, this is a wonderfully varied record, with great lyrics and production.

Track to taste online: Change The Sheets

What to Drink: This enigmatic singer songwriter was born in Ottawa, so I’m drinking one of my favourite enigmatic Ontario wines, Henry of Pelham Baco Noir, $16.99, an oaky, juicy and spicy red.

8. Graham Parker & The Rumour – Three Chords Good

One of my favourite British singer songwriters, now living in the Eastern US, Parker has reunited with his legendary pub rock band for their first LP in over 30 years. It sounds like it was made in the mid to late 70’s, which in this case is a good thing. Also look for Parker in the new Judd Apatow film “This is 40.”

Track to taste online: Long Emotional Ride

What to Drink: this good honest rock and roll deserves a good honest English ale, like Duchy’s Organic Old Ruby Ale $3.99.

9. Joe Jackson – Duke

Joe Jackson is a very diverse artist, excelling at everything from punky pop to jazz. This is his tribute to Duke Ellington, featuring all covers, with lots of guest musicians including Sharon Jones (The Dap Kings), Questlove (The Roots) Iggy Pop, and Steve Vai.

Track to taste online: It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) – duet with Iggy Pop

What to Drink: This is cocktail music, and one of my favourites is the Manhattan, which certainly was one of Jackson’s favourite places until the smoking ban. Make your Manhattan with Forty Creek Barrel Select Whisky from Ontario, $24.99, or their “amped-up” version, Copper Pot, $29.99.

10. Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind

Ben Folds reunited with his band to make another rocking pop record of piano-bass-drums. As always, the songs and lyrics are strong, but it is the skill of the musicians – especially how they play off of each other – that really makes this band special. It rewards frequent listening.

Track to taste online: Do It Anyway – the Fraggle Rock video is worth watching even if you don’t care for the band.

What to Drink: This energetic band needs a wine with zippy acidity Ben is American, so how about the refreshing Firesteed Riesling from Oregon, $19.99.

Cheers and have a Merry Musical Holiday!

Craig Pinhey is a certified Sommelier and writer who loves good drink and music. Visit him www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as frogspadca.

Drink’N’Music 2011

Drink’N’Music 2011

10 Favourite Records of 2011, Paired with 10 Favourite Tipples

Craig Pinhey

An annual exercise for this Sommelier is to match beverages, not just to a several course meal, but also to music. I started Drink’N’Music in 2006 (go to my website www.frogspad.ca for previous years), matching each of my favourite albums of the year to a wine, beer, spirit or cocktail.

Music taste is personal, just as one’s tastes in food and drink, so I don’t expect readers to always like what I like, but you might give some a try if they sound appealing. Try it yourself with your own favourites. I’m not interested in top selling Billboard pop acts like Rhianna, Coldplay, Katy Perry, and certainly not Maroon 5, but that shouldn’t stop you from finding something good to drink with them.

Here are my top 10 albums of 2011, with drinks!

1. Ron Sexsmith – Long Player, Late Bloomer (Canada, Pop/Folk)

This Ontario pop and folk singer songwriter has long had critical acclaim but financial success has eluded him for the most part, not an unfamiliar story for talented Canadian artists. For Long Player, Late Bloomer Sexsmith worked with hit-making producer Bob Rock, and the result is slicker, more pop than folk, tighter, with what some would call calculated arrangements and almost too perfect harmonies. This said, the songs are fantastic and the album has done very well, which Sexsmith deserves. Love Shines, which is also the title track of an excellent film documentary about Sexsmith, is a stand out track, but the whole album is hit-worthy.  His lyrics are as good as ever, and perhaps No Help At All tells his story best.

“I’ve been learning all my lessons the hard way
Nursing the exit wound
From a near fatal mistake
You could say it was time for a wake up call
But I never did get that call
There was no help at all”

What to Drink: I’d drink a similarly award worthy Canadian beer, something honest like Picaroons Best Bitter ($3.80/500 ml). Picaroons won Brewery of the Year at the 2011 Canadian Brewing Awards. Regular strength English ale with balanced bitterness.

2. Sloan – The Double Cross (Canada, Rock and Roll/Pop)

Another critic’s darling that has never really made it outside Canada, Sloan put out another solid LP in 2011 to celebrate 20 years of records.  With 4 singer songwriters sharing time, this album might be good or great, depending on which guy you prefer.  I think Jay Ferguson’s songs are the best on this record, including Beverley Terrace and Green Gardens, Cold Montreal. This is a high quality, diverse album that, in a fair world, would make them even richer, instead of just paying the bills.

What to Drink: Being a Nova Scotia band, I’m picking my favourite beer from Halifax that we can get in New Brunswick right now, the quite hoppy but still very drinkable Propeller IPA ($13.45/6 pack)

3. Tim Finn – The View Is Worth The Climb (New Zealand, Pop)

One of the original members of New Zealand’s best ever band, Split Enz, Tim Finn still makes great, thoughtful pop music, much quieter than the Enz, but still full of pop hooks.

What to Drink: A smooth New Zealand red wine perfect for mellow contemplation: Nobilo Regional Collection Merlot $19.99.

4. Penny Blacks – harbour (Canada, Rock/Folk)

One of the more exciting New Brunswick acts, led by singer songwriter Jason Ogden, who is joined by a collection of local musicians, this is an elegant collection of songs, with complex yet singable melodies and refreshing arrangements. Kick off track You’ll Never Know is a highlight, but my favourite is the string infused She’s Losing Herself, which evokes UK greats Squeeze and Billy Bragg.

What to Drink: A local wine from Mott’s Landing, which are not yet available at the ANBL but you can buy from the winery in Cambridge Narrows.  For New Years, try their Cranpagne, a tasty sparkling cranberry/grape wine.


5. They Might Be Giants – They Got Lost (USA, Rock/Pop)

After some successful kids albums, this is a true return to form, sounding a lot like their quirky 80’s efforts: edgy pop with lots of humour.

What to Drink: Try a fun, colourful tropical cocktail, Cruzan White Rum ($24.99/750 ml) and pineapple juice, with a splash of lemon or lime juice and a cherry and lime garnish.

6. The Cars – Move Like This (USA, New Wave)

Better than their last album, which was over 20 years ago! This has 4 or 5 really cool tracks (particularly Blue Tip and Sad Song), and the rest is pretty fine. It’s just great to hear this sharp synth/guitar band singing their tight harmonies again.

What to Drink: a clean, cutting white wine like Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, $12.99

7. Nick Lowe – The Old Magic (UK, Jazzy Country Ballads)

Some of the best crooning on record. Nick’s House For Sale gets my vote for song of the year.

What to Drink: A Vodka Collins, made with fresh squeezed lemons, out on the back patio on a hot summer day. I use Prince Igor Extreme Vodka ($25.99) from Ontario.

8. Will Currie and the Country French – Awake, You Sleepers (Canada, Pop)

An energetic new pop band along the lines of Ben Folds, Ben Kweller, and Sloan. Check them out!

What to Drink: Ontario Riesling, from Vineland Estates ($20.99), Cave Spring ($17.29) or others.

9. Tom Waits – Bad As Me (USA, Weird Jazzy Folk Rock Blues)

Waits is back with another record of eclectic sounds.  Hard to describe, but I love it.

What to Drink: Campari ($25.29/750 ml) and soda. This aperitif from Italy is bright red, complex, bitter, herbal and fruity.  Hard to describe, but I love it.

10. Pugwash – The Olympus Sound/ tied with Thomas Dolby – Map of the Floating City (UK, Pop)

Two great pop records, one a newish band, Ireland’s Pugwash, who bring back the Beatles and ELO sound, and the other a New Wave pioneer, Thomas Dolby, who returns triumphantly with a brilliant record, his first album since 1992.

What to Drink: St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout and St. Ambroise Pale Ale, two of Canada’s best beers ($14.53/6-pack). Mix them as a Black and Tan or drink separately.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Craig Pinhey is a certified Sommelier and writer who loves good drink and music. Visit him www.facebook.com/Craig.Pinhey.FrogsPad or follow him on Twitter as frogspadca.

Drink’n’Music 2009

[here] Beer, Booze & Bars

Drink’N’Music 2009

Craig’s 10 Favourite Records of 2009, Paired with10 Favourite Tipples

Once again I find myself shuffling through my CD’s and record (I only bought one piece of vinyl this year), and checking my Iphone (yes, I finally broke down and downloaded a few records this year, out of necessity) to argue with myself about which should make my top 10.

As I get older I buy more jazz, classical & country, while still collecting Beatlesque pop, new wave and punk influenced music with older roots, and singer/songwriter standards.

I listen to a lot of “indie” music, too, online on myspace, on college radio, free concerts at radio3.cbc.ca, and their excellent Grant Lawrence-hosted podcasts. I’ve argued for years that indie is not a type of music: it’s a statement of your career status. It’s as meaningless a word as “alternative” (alternative to what?) Much indie music has little in common with the others in the genre: some is pop, some is punkish, some electronic, some 60’s folk, and some a mix of all those. Yes, I’ve heard Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective, tops on many people’s lists, but if I’m going to pay for indie, it’s most likely to be local. Examples are Halifax’s Brent Randall or Saint John’s Clinton Charlton.

2009 was a very strong year for music, so I’ve added some honourable mentions at the bottom that could just as easily have made my top 10.

1. Pugwash – Giddy (Beatlesque Pop, Ireland)

This Irish pop group has done very well in the UK with their original songs that echo the later Beatles, ELO, The Beach Boys and XTC, but they are virtually unknown in North America. XTC’s Andy Partridge’s Apehouse label is trying to change this, releasing Giddy, a collection of songs from their 4 studio albums, remastered and now available here in North America as well as via the apehouse site (http://apehouse.prevuz.com/tag/pugwash/) Partridge is credited as co-writer on several tracks, and guitarist/arranger extraordinaire Dave Gregory (also of XTC) is involved too. Just one listen to It’s Nice To Be Nice and I was hooked. Find it on youtube for a sample.

What to Drink:

I’d choose English traditional method sparkling wine (a burgeoning industry) because fizz makes me Giddy, but we don’t get any here, so instead I’ll choose a good value sparkler: Freixenet Carta Nevada Cava from Spain ($14.49).

2. Brent Randall and those Magnificent Pinecones – We Were Strangers in Paddington Green (60’s Style Pop, Canada)

Every now and then I hear a new band and I think “Wow! A new track from one of my favourite bands!” That was the case with Halifax’s Brent Randall’s beautiful Strange Love (Don’t Be Lazy). I was sure it was John Southworth, or perhaps an old Kinks song. The album art even looks like an old 60’s British record. This is wonderfully dreamy music from another time, another place, and I can’t wait to see him live.

Drink With: Gin & Tonic, definitely, on the lawn while watching the kids play, a cricket match or actual crickets. I’m using Gin from the small Myriad Distillery in PEI at the moment as well as New Amsterdam Straight ($28.99).

3. David Sylvian – Manafon (Ambient Jazz, England)

It is difficult to classify Sylvian since he has been everything from a Velvet Underground aping rocker and Asian/synth pop star in the band Japan, to a crooning (think Bryan Ferry) acoustic solo artist, prog rock duelist with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp, and now ambient jazz experimentalist. With the changes, two things stay the same: his deep, vibrato-affected, perfect voice, and his poems, turned into lyrics. Though still a difficult first listen, Manafon, recorded with an array of international improvising session musicians, is more approachable than his last record, the angular, almost atonal Blemish (now THAT was a breakup record!) By the third listen you will be either addicted or simply bewildered. I like that kind of challenge sometimes. Try Small Metal Gods and go from there.

Drink With: One of my favourites for those odd times when I feel like something weird is Campari (a bitter Italian liqueur often mixed with soda) and Orange juice, making for, like Manafon, a bittersweet experience.

4. Elvis Costello – Secret, Profane and Sugarcane (Country/Bluegrass/Music Hall, England/America)

Ever the genre hopper, to some folks’ dismay and others’ delight, Costello’s latest, a Grammy nominated LP, is a mostly acoustic record with some of USA’s most respected musicians, including the “World’s Best Dobro player,” Jerry Douglas. The album is a bit of a mish-mash; some is straight ahead Bluegrass & Country, including collaborations with Loretta Lynn and Emmy Lou Harris and there are a couple of odd covers (extended version has Femme Fatale by the Velvets), but the highlights are complex pieces he wrote for an opera about Hans Christian Andersen. She Handed Me A Mirror and How Deep Is The Red are moving music hall pieces, among the best songs he’s ever written.

Drink With: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, an American beer, but influenced by good European beer. It has a hoppy personality ($2.36/ 355 ml bottle)

5. Robbie Fulks – 50-Vc. Doberman (mostly Country, USA)

Robbie Fulks embarked on an ambitious project in 2009; he successfully recorded 50 songs, mostly his own, for release in a “digital download only” format (you can buy tracks at itunes or amazon.com). Although known mainly as an acerbic, disgruntled country artist, this talented Chicago singer songwriter has many musical styles on this release: heavy metal, soul, gospel, Broadway tunes, straight ahead pop, Zappa-ish stuff, and old time country. Next year he hopes to release a full album of Michael Jackson covers. I’m sure it will top the charts. His cover of Beyonce’s Irreplaceable sounds like a surefire country soul hit, It Was Love That Ruined Me sounds like John Hiatt or Nick Lowe at their best, and Pretty Girls is a hilarious country tune that would be a hit for someone famous: “The world is full of pretty girls, and pretty girls are full of themselves too.”

Drink With: whatever straight whisky you prefer. Maybe it should be Bourbon, but I’m partial to Single Malt, but I’m cheap, so I usually buy Vatted Malt, a blend of Single Malts, like Famous Grouse 12 Year Old, a blend that includes Highland Park and The Macallan for $35.29.

6. John Southworth – Mama Tevatron (Electronic Pop, Canada)

Southworth is as indie as anyone, by my definition, as his 6 records and 1 EP r over his 14 year recording career have come out on a bunch of different small labels. This latest was only available as a Digital Download until recently when it was released on CD by Dead Daisy/Outside music from the USA. It can now be purchased at MapleMusic.com. His videos are always conversation pieces, and arguably works of art; First of May http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ik_069zpxA from this record is worth a look. Southworth is known as a whimsical guitar and piano playing singer-songwriter, so his decision to do this as pretty much a synth record came as a bit of a surprise, but the results are refreshing. The single Get It Now is receiving lots of internet play on CBC Radio 3, which should help him reach the right demographic. Also, his regular performances as part of Toronto’s Art of Time Ensemble’s live classical/pop hybrids have been memorable. You can link to these things at his http://sud-de-valeur.blogspot.com/ site, including his Christmas song called Space Age Santa.

Drink with: a floral, complex, idiosyncratic white wine that ages well, much like his music. My pick at the ANBL is Donnafugata Anthilia for $17.99 from Southern Italy.

7. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone (Country/pop/rock, USA)

Neko Case is a superstar, debuting high on the Billboard charts, and garnering a Grammy nomination this year (up against Costello, actually), but her records are nothing like typical modern American popular music. An honourary Canadian (she sings with the New Pornographers), Case can write and has written “real’ country, but most of the songs here straddle 60’s and 70’s pop, country, and rock genres; they’re very “Brill Building.” Middle Cyclone is a varied, high quality release with great lyrics and performances. Right from the stellar opening track This Tornado Loves You, her powerful, pure voice dominates the record.

Drink with: Neko Case’s music is retro in only good ways, and it make me want to match her with something out of fashion that deserves more attention: oaky Chardonnay. It’s not an everyday wine, but sometimes I want rich and creamy, flavour packed wine. My pick is Bonterra Chardonnay, from California, for $21.99. And, like Neko, it’s organic!

8. Regina Spektor – Far (Piano pop, USA)

Branded by some as another in a line of piano playing sirens/Kate Bush clones (Sara McLachlan, Tori Amos, Sara Slean, etc. ), which is by no means an insult, Spektor has now made three consecutive records of bright, sometimes beautiful pop tunes. I was worried when I saw that Jeff Lynne (ELO) had produced 4 tracks because, although I like a lot of ELO’s music, I don’t like the way he overtakes other artists (Dave Edmunds, George Harrison). My concerns were unwarranted; the Lynne produced songs sound nothing like ELO: Folding Chair is a chirpy, radio-friendly tune. I love the record, especially the quirkier tunes like Eet and Dance Anthem of the 80’s.

Drink with: high quality vodka and soda with a lime wedge, pure, fresh & clean. I use Kittling Ridge Prince Igor Extreme ($24.99), Citadelle ($31.29) or Iceberg ($24.79).

9. Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella (Pop, USA)

I love Ben Folds and I love Glee, and I believe Ben’s work on this record predates, or perhaps foretells Glee. Note also that he is a judge for the popular new “The Sing Off” TV show on NBC. Folds held auditions for university singing groups to perform a capella versions of songs from his catalogue, selected some and recorded them professionally, adding a couple of his own versions. The result is a joyful, gorgeous record that you might not want to listen to every day, but will surely pep you up on a down day. Folds is one of the best songwriters of the past 20 years and this record celebrates this. The Spartones’ version of Not The Same, about a friend who finds God, is transcendent, hymn-like in its anti-religiosity. Folds’ version of Effington is simply brilliant.

Drink with: Premium rum, a capella. For value, I love Havana Club 7 year old ($28.48).

10. John Doe & The Sadies (Country rock, USA/Canada)

Doe has had a mildly successful solo career since his seminal West Coast punk band X called it quits, but he’s never sounded better or more comfortable than he does on this set of standards and his own compositions, playing alongside Canadian country rock legends The Sadies. Always a fan of country (he made two country records with wife Exene Cervenka of X and other bandmates under the name The Knitters), this record shows how perfect his easy drawl is for classics like Husbands and Wives, and Help Me Make It Through The Night.

Drink with: a beer. Your choice. I’ll take Pump House SOB.

Honourable Mentions:

Joel Plaskett – Three (Folk/Rock/Pop, Canada), Sondre Lerche – Heartbeat Radio (Jazzy Pop, Norway), Brian Setzer – Lonely Avenue (Jazzy Rockabilly, USA), Ben Kweller – Changing Horses (Country, USA), Cheap Trick – The Latest (Power Pop, USA), Clinton Charlton – Parade (Folk/Country, Canada).

MISSED FROM 2008: Molly Johnson – Lucky (Traditional jazz, Canada)

STILL NEED TO TRY FROM 2009: Madness – The Liberty of Norton Folgate (Ska-pop, England)

Craig Pinhey thinks that everyone should make their own top ten list. Visit him at www.frogspad.ca.

Drink’n’Music 2008

Craig’s 10 Favourite Records of 2008, Paired with10 Favourite Tipples

It is Christmas, time for my list of ten favourite music releases from 2008, each matched with a suitable drink. It’s hard work, but, well, you know…

I get accused regularly of dwelling in the past when it comes to music; my response is that I am always listening to modern music, seeking new artists that turn my crank. I find them fairly regularly, and I glom onto them until, in most cases, I realize that they are just a pretender: the proverbial great hyped hope.  They can’t compete in my brain with artists I’ve loved for 20 or 30 years, who are still “bringing it.”

I’ll listen to anything that people recommend, and with myspace sites it is pretty easy to get a taste of someone else’s faves in a few minutes.  So please let me know when the next Elvis Costello, Andy Partridge or Tom Waits (or Mark Everett, Sondre Lerche, or John Southworth, for that matter) comes along, because I’m looking for them.

1. Joe Jackson – Rain
Always playing second fiddle to Costello in the “angry British New Waver turned eclectic musician” department must be frustrating for Joe, since he was a jazz musician first, but he keeps making new and interesting albums, like this excellent jazz influenced piano-bass-drums (no guitars, period) record.  It is less biting than some of his music but both the songs and musicianship are very strong. Rush Across The Road is a classic, unforgettable melody.

Matched with… Warsteiner ($2.56/500 ml can), a crisply bitter German pils. Joe has made his new home in Berlin (learn about it at www.youtube.com/joejacksonrain), because he is so bitter about the smoking ban in his former love, New York.

2. Elvis Costello  – Momofuku
This is by no means one of my favourite Costello albums, but even his dashed off albums (he reportedly made this in a couple weeks, including writing many of the songs, I suspect) are better than most of the dreck out there. Named after the Japanese inventor of instant noodles, Momofuku is an uneven, diverse album, with everything from alt-country to This Year’s Model style rants (“American Gangster Time,” “No Hiding Place”) and sentimental ballads (“My Three Sons”). The background singers, including Jenny Lewis, add a sense of newness to this record.

Matched with…Champagne! We need something that goes with everything. Well, how about a more affordable traditional method sparkler instead. I’m loving the Cordon Rosado from Freixenet ($16.49).

3. Sloan – Parallel Play
It was difficult to follow up Never Hear The End Of It, but they did a decent job of it. The record shows flashes of brilliance, especially Jay Ferguson’s “Witch’s Wand” and “Cheap Champagne” (when is he going to do a solo record?) and great rockers from Andrew Scott (the Dylanesque “Down In The Basement’).  This record sounds like 4 solo EP’s randomly mixed together.

Matched with…a Mojito, a cocktail with 4 distinct components: mint, sugar, soda and good quality white rum. You decide which part goes with which band member – it depends on which one you are sweet on and which one is muddled. Use the tasty new El Dorado 3-year wood aged white rum ($28.29)

4. Juliana Hatfield – How To Walk Away (Demos)
As I get older I find myself liking stripped down production rather than grandiose stuff (with exceptions, see pick #5), which is why I paid extra to get the “How To Walk Away ” demos along with the new Juliana disc.  There are 20 tracks, including bonus ones plus most of the demos of songs on the regular CD.  “Shining On” sounds like a MOR single on the regular record, but is a poignant indie pop song as a demo.

Matched with…A Sugar Plum Fairy. That’s what I think of when I hear Hatfield’s sexy Tinkerbelle voice.  This is, as I learned from the bartender at Onyx in Halifax last week, a martini made with Japanese Plum Wine, Champagne and Grand Marnier. If you can’t find the plum wine (you can get it in Halifax at Bishop’s Cellar), I’d substitute a small dose of semi-sweet rosé wine, such as Mateus, plus put in a dash of something sour, like cranberry or lemon juice, as plum wine has a sweet and sour taste.

5. Of Montreal – Skeletal Lamping
I’ve read of music described as frenetic, but I think Of Montreal (a Georgia band who actually have nothing to do with Montreal, as far as I can tell) should own the word. This album is all over the place, very complex, layered and insane. It’s also very singable, with a few exceptions, and danceable. It’s quite original, although I hear Prince, early British psychedelia, lots of Bowie, and electronica in there. There’s an element of classical music too; many of the songs are made up of various distinct movements. Some of the ridiculously pretentious song titles drive me crazy (“An Eluardian Instance” and “Beware Our Nubile Miscreants”) but I’m really enjoying trying to figure out this challenging album.

Matched with…Torrontes from Don David in Argentina ($16.49). The cliché choice would be something hallucinogenic, but I’ve chosen a fresh, distinct, and exotic white wine.

6. Pretenders – Break Up The Concrete
Finally, the great album that should have followed Pretenders II. This has the gritty rock and roll sound that largely disappeared from the band when two original members died within two years, from excesses of the job. Chrissie Hynde’s voice has never lost its unique appeal, but she has been spotty in terms of output over the last 20 years. This album rocks! Listen to “Boots of Chinese Plastic” on www.thepretenders.com for a taste.

Matched with… Maker’s Mark Bourbon ($44.70), straight but smooth American whisky, since Hynde is from Ohio.

7. Sarah Slean – Baroness
Canada’s siren returns with her strongest album yet, filled with haunting piano and her pure voice. The single “Get Home,” about infidelity, is incredibly moving and almost too personal.

Matched with… Mission Hill Five Vineyards ($18.79) Pinot Noir, a late night glass (one of the huge Burgundy ones that holds almost a bottle) of smooth, seductive BC Pinot.

8.  Skydiggers – City Of Sirens
Canada’s folk pop troubadours are still making great records, although quietly. Andy Maize’s gravelly voice has never sounded better. “City Of Sirens”, written from an excerpt of a Schubert song, and “Hello Beautiful Life” and “Laura Love”, similarly developed from Schumann compositions, are highlights.

Matched with… Pelee Island Merlot ($12.99), a simple comfort wine from Ontario, smooth and round, but with some elegance.

9. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
Former child actress Lewis has turned her success in indie band Rilo Kiley into an acclaimed solo career. Acid Tongue is more alt-country than anything, and she really shows her chops as a lyricist and vocalist. She’s great live too. You can watch her duet with Elvis Costello on “Carpetbaggers” from Letterman on youtube.

Matched with…Lingenfelder Fish Label Riesling from Mosel, Germany ($17.79). Acid tongue makes me think of Riesling, and this fresh and fruity mineral & citrus laden white is a perfect choice!

10. Chris Difford – The Last Temptation of Chris
This is the second recent solo effort from Squeeze’s “other” vocalist (remember “Cool for Cats”?), and it’s a winner. Difford is the one of the best lyricists in music, responsible for the wry satire in all those great Squeeze hits, and his songwriting is very good as well. Watch the disturbing and also clever “Fat As A Fiddle” video at www.myspace.com/cdifford

Matched with…Fuller’s London Pride ($3.99), a pint of fantastic hoppy English bitter.

Craig Pinhey feels guilty about leaving out 5 or 6 other albums he loved, but not about the 5 or 6 drinks. Visit him at www.frogspad.ca.

Craig’s Top Ten of 2006 – Matched with drinks

[here] Beer, Booze & Bars, Dec 28, 2006
Pet Sounds
Craig’s 10 Favourite Records of 2006, Paired with Suitable Drinks

Here I sit watching Canada’s best soccer player’s team on TV, thinking about my favourite records from 2006. Owen Hargreaves is a star for Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga, was England’s best player in this year’s World Cup, and he’s Canadian. Is he a traitor, an opportunist, or just managing his career? Actually, at the moment he is but a lame duck, sitting out with a web injury…

It makes me think about my “best album” choices for 2006. Am I disloyal for not picking any New Brunswick bands? Should my list be All Canadian?  I’ve been in several online arguments – well, discussions – over the past while regarding music. Specifically, is there anything wrong with your favourite music coming from away? Some think we owe it to our local music scene to support it above all others. There’s merit in this, but music is very personal, and anyone who is a serious fan of music, a collector, knows that, when you hear the right sound, you must buy it, regardless of origin. Some of us find those sounds easily, on commercial radio, as backing tracks to favourite TV shows, in a bar, or at a friend’s house. Others search far and wide, using the Internet as a valuable tool, to find that certain aural satisfaction that we just can’t adequately describe to nonbelievers.

However you find your muse, it can be rewarding to share with others.  Or not. When you list your favourite records, your Pet Sounds, you are to some extent laying your soul bare – giving others insight into your most personal and perhaps political thoughts. “If he likes that,” they think, “he must be ignorant/gay/uneducated/a communist/misogynistic/a psychotic loner/insert your own psychiatric assessment here.”

Well, I’m willing to take that chance, just in case one of you finds your own pet sound amongst my picks.

So, here they are, my top ten from 2006, with drinks to match.

1. Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It
30 tracks of diverse music from four singer songwriters with wide ranging influences, this was a welcome relief after their disappointing Action Pact. From Beatlesque pop to jangly, tuneful, retro rock, psychedelic angst, radio friendly ballads and hard rock/punk, Sloan does it all. It would be a great album to retire on – a “magnum popus” of sorts – but I sure hope they don’t.

A Favourite Line: “I’m unable to tell if I know who I am. A modest success, a shill or a sham.”

Sloan demands four drinks for four unique performers. For Chris: Black Sheep English Ale, for his introspective Lennonish-leanings. For Patrick:  Black & Tan, radically opposite, like his pop ballads and hardcore punk.  For Jay: something classic, a Manhattan. For Andrew, how about some mushroom tea of the wild variety?

2. Elvis Costello and Allen Touissant – The River In Reverse

Arguably one of the most important urban American releases of 2006, The River in Reverse was missed by many, perhaps because a cocky white Brit was involved. The fact that soul legend Allen Toussaint would work with Costello to create this poetic response to the flood may surprise some, but not anyone familiar with both artists. Some noticed. It is up for a Grammy, in a category with some of the worst culprits in mass-marketed American crap. To see the hot touring band, complete with New Orleans horns, check out “Hot as a Pistol, Keen as a Blade,” a concert DVD released in time for Christmas.

A Favourite Line: “Wake me up. Wake me up with a slap and a kiss. There must be something better than this. But I don’t think that it can get much worse. What do we have to do to send the river in reverse?”

Classic N’Awlins: coffee made with chicory, or a Hurricane: lots of rum and fruit juice, bought and drank on the street.

3.  Lloyd Cole – Antidepressant

This 45 year old Scotsman – living in New York — continues making fabulous records in the moping, manic depressive singer-songwriter style, along the lines of Bob Dylan consorting with John Lennon. Ever a critic’s darling, Lloyd sells few records. I find this depressing.

A Favourite Line: “I said I’m trying to write my novel. She said Neither am I.”

Drink? Vodka and Valium, hold the vodka.

4. Hawksley Workman – Treeful of Starling

Hawksley took a major turn from Lover/Fighter, which had some folks comparing him to Bono (not me), and released this gorgeous, intimate folk-pop record. It’s perfect music for lazy relaxation, on the grass under a tree in the summer.

A Favourite Line:  “And in ten thousand years time, when we’re found there, still entwined, in a near eternal kiss, that would impress the scientists.”

Drink? Homemade lemonade.

5. The Nines – Calling Distance Stations

I’m not sure why it took me so long to buy a Nines record. They’ve been touted as a fave of XTC’s Andy Partridge and Jellyfish’s Jason Faulkner (who both guest on the new album), they are Canadian, and lead singer Steve Eggers does a dead-on McCartney.

A Favourite Line: “All of the things I could have said, I kept it all inside my head instead. So long Mary-Jane.”

Drink? Great Ontario wine: Henry Of Pelham Non-oaked Chardonnay.

6. Nine Horses – Snow Borne Sorrow

Everything David Sylvian touches is golden. This new CD also features his brother and ex-Japan co-member Steve Jansen, and other guests including the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto. Enjoy ambient, haunting melodies, anchored by Sylvian’s deep, silky voice.

A Favourite Line: “God bless amnesia, and the things I’ve suppressed. I can reframe the image, I can discard the rest.”

Drink? Herbal tea of your choosing, or opium.

7. Andy Partridge/XTC – Fuzzy Warbles 7&8 + Box

Andy completes his epic cataloguing of rarities, assembled in his garden shed/recording studio. Fuzzy Warbles concludes with volumes 7 & 8, and a bonus CD, “Hinges”, included when ardent fans purchased the Collector’s Album, perhaps the most original and brilliant piece of CD packaging ever. It’s like a big, happy stamp album!

A Favourite Line: “I’m unbecome. I dissipate. You are the fresh bread upon my plate. Oh, what’s to be done? My heart was cloud light but now it weighs a ton.”

Drink? In Swindon, where Andy lives, typical ale on cask would be a Bitter from Archers, a local brewer. Stuck here, I’ll drink Picaroons or Pump House.

8. Elvis Costello Live with the Metropole Orchestra – My Flame Burns Blue

Although mainly Costello classics reworked for a jazz orchestra, some of these tunes sound completely new with the treatment. Reviews from fans have been mixed, but people seem to like it at our dinner parties. Hora Decubitus alone is worth the sticker price. This opening track is a Mingus tune with Costello penned lyrics, which he practically scats.

A Favourite Line: “The score is obscure, the melody fractured. It went by my window, refused to be captured.”

Drink: Martini. Dry. Gin. Two olives.

9. Danny Michel – Valhalla

One of the best live shows in New Brunswick was Ontario’s Danny Michel at Sessions Café in Rothesay. This CD captures the intense feel of his stripped down live act. If you haven’t seen him – do!

A Favourite Line: “When your heart is soaked in gas and someone fumbles for a match, you’ll be rescued by the wind.”

Drink: Straight whisky or whiskey, depending on your mood.

10. Roddy Frame – Western Skies

Aztec Camera frontman Frame makes easy listening music for intelligent adults, which sounds vaguely insulting, but these are remarkable songs, beautifully sung, and the guitar work is fantastic.

A Favourite Line: “I’ve wiped my phone and I’ve grown my hair, and I’ve thrown away the things we used to share.”

Drink: Gin & Tonic – relaxing and very British.

Note: I haven’t heard Tom Waits’ new 3 CD Box Set yet (“Orphans”), hence it’s absence here.

Craig Pinhey still listens to LP’s. Yes, he’s old. Visit him at www.frogspad.ca.

Craig’s Top 10 of 2007 – Matched with Drinks

[here] Beer, Booze & Bars, Dec 27, 2007
Craig’s 10 Favourite Records of 2007, Paired with10 Favourite Tipples

It is very difficult to pick 10 records and 10 drinks in a world where everyone and their cat (and the cat’s mice, and their fleas…) can release a CD, and the selection of wine, beer and spirits on the ANBL shelves is ever increasing to the point where I don’t know what to buy anymore. In the face of this veritable tidal wave (admittedly strewn with garbage)  of content, the natural reaction is to hole up with your all time personal favourites.  But with risk there is reward, and that’s why I almost always check out recommendations from friends, whether it’s a quick visit to myspace or youtube, a nip with friends at your favourite pub or wine bar, a loaned record or emailed “flac,” a wine and food dinner at a friend’s home, or even a full evening out to see a few local bands.

This year I decided to make it more difficult. I’ve picked 10 of my favourite locally available drink selections, and matched them to 10 favourite albums. It puts restrictions on my choices, but I’m up for the challenge.

1. Apples In Stereo – New Magnetic Wonder: bright & cheery ELO & Beatles influenced pop, with plenty of single-worthy tracks. Right from track 1 “Can You Feel It,” this LP has you smiling. It’s almost too happy to listen to the entire album in one sitting.

Matched with…2006 Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Rapel Valley, Chile, $13.99
Fresh, vibrant, fun & exciting – I’m talking about the Apples in Stereo AND this new Sauvignon from Chile, which has fast become one of the best sources for good value Sauvignon Blanc in the world.

2. Any Trouble – Life In Reverse: classic pub rock, clever lyrics, hum-able tunes, with neat little guitar solos and Clive Gregson’s perfectly clean voice.

Matched with…2006 Gaspereau Riesling, Nova Scotia (500 ml, $18.99), available at the Gaspereau winery – could be sold out by now but we are awaiting the 07. Like Any Trouble:  light, clean, and friendly, but with subtle complexity. My comments: “floral and citrus notes, and lots of minerality – wet stone – as well as a crisp, clean finish, with great acid.”

3. Graham Parker – Don’t Tell Columbus: a Brit who adopted the USA, and made it his own. Gruff and tough folk and roll with the usual acerbic lyrics. Hailed by critics and fans as a new classic Parker LP.

Matched with…Garrison IPA – coming soon to the ANBL if not already here. Here’s another  Brit(ish beer style) adopted by Americans. Canadian Beer of the Year, at the 2007 Canadian Brewing Awards. Bitter and bold, like Parker,  super hoppy, aromatic and strong, with a bittersweet finish. To quote a famed beer geek, it tastes “moreish.”  A new Canadian classic.

4. Joel Plaskett – Ashtray Rock: A hook and riff-ridden rock opera about Joel’s days in a Halifax high school, his band and “the girl.” This is fun, singable poprock. Fashionable People gets my nod for single and local video  of the year.

Matched with…Pump House SOB or Picaroons Best Bitter. These bitter yet balanced craft ales are, like Joel and his band, dependable local favourites.

5. Spoon – Ga Ga Ga: minimalist guitar-bass-drums-keys rock, with odd, interesting lyrics. This is new rock music that actually feels fresh. I don’t see how they do it, given the simplicity of their shtick, but they do.

Matched with…2005 French Tom Chardonnay, from Barton & Guestier, VdP D’Oc, France,  $15.99.
Like Spoon, this is straightforward but more than the sum of its parts. It’s a round, smooth, oaked French Chardonnay, but possessing class and elegance beyond it’s price tag.

6. Nick Lowe — At My Age: gentle country swing and jazz ballads by a man who’s aging wonderfully.

Matched with…Johnny Ziegler Senior, 10 Year Wood-Aged Apple Brandy – a fine spirit made locally, at Winegarden Estates. You can buy it there or order it from them, very fairly priced at $25. As with Lowe, age has brought smoothness.

7. Buck 65 – Situation: this wordy rapper’s partnership with Skratch Bastid proves a bit more old school than his last 2 records, and his rapping and wordplay is as sharp as ever.

Matched with…Champagne Henriot Blanc Souverain, $64.29 at ANBL.
It may seem cliché to match Champagne and rap, but this applies doubly since this one comes only from white grapes, Chardonnay specifically. Henriot bubbly is exhilarating and decadent, leaving you breathless, just like you’d be if you tried to rap along with Buck 65…

8. Prefab Sprout – Steve McQueen Reissue (8 new acoustic tracks): a reissue of one of the best albums of the 80’s, with now-hermit Paddy McAloon reprising 8 of his favourites on acoustic guitar and harmonica. Pristine, sensual and thoughtful pop.

Matched with…2005 Henry of Pelham Reserve Pinot Noir ($35.98 at ANBL):
Pinot Noir is a difficult grape, just like Paddy, who has spent the last few years in near obscurity with a rare illness. But, when given the chance to shine, Pinot makes excellent, elegant & sensual wines, like this award winner, displaying minerality, earthiness and ripe cherry fruit.

9. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True Reissue with New Live CD from 1978.
I’ve been burned by being forced to purchase yet another Costello reissue; meanwhile he’s in the media saying he doesn’t feel the need to record another record, suggesting we should come to his live shows to hear his new songs (!). Still, I can’t deny the excitement of the newly released live album included here. It’s the best live recording of the Attractions in existence, to my ears.

Matched with…Las Moras Reserve Tannat, Argentina, $12.49:
Like Elvis, Tannat is more comfortable, and even popular, across the pond than where he grew up. South America is a second home for Tannat, which originates from France. This is a power red for the price of plonk. It has big fruit and tannins, and goes well with red meat.  I don’t know if it will age as well as Elvis, who celebrated the 30th anniversary of My Aim Is True in 2007 with the re-release.

10. Robbie Fulks – Revenge (Live 2CD)
Fulks is bold, odd, hilarious, irreverent, and real: all the things I love in music.  This is strong throughout, but worth it for two tracks alone: His cheeky cover of the Cher hit “Believe,” and “I Like Being Left Alone,” an autobiographical song about fame’s pitfalls.

Matched with…2005 Chateau Ksara Reserve Couvent, Lebanon, $18.49:
This Fulksian (odd) Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon is full and tannic, with a portion of the grapes undergoing oak aging for 12 months.  Lebanon has a long history of winemaking from Rhône grapes. Like Robbie says in his song, “I like being left alone. I like chocolate pie,  a clear blue sky, and a glass of Côtes du Rhône.”

Craig Pinhey spends too much time listening to music while drinking. And not enough. Visit him at www.frogspad.ca.