10 of Craig’s Favourite Records of 2012, Paired with 10 Favourite Tipples
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.