Friday, April 3, 2015

Background Locals: A six-pack of Austin's most underrated beers

[Note: This post was originally published by The Austin Chronicle on April 2, 2015]


Craft breweries can be a whole lot like pop singers. Many of them – the stars at least – have a formula for producing smash hits, and therefore the marketing confidence to rankle the public in a way that will guarantee the proliferation of hype and consistent face time with their product. Almost always it guarantees a hefty financial backing from its consumers regarding any and all future releases. That's super.
Like popular music, there is a beer-y spectrum of exposure, and often it's up to our own personal discovery to mine the gold from the tap wall in such a way that the most dispassionate A&R suit doing a 10-day stint at South by Southwest would be proud. In the list below, you will recognize the burnout, surfy garage-rock beers that are squandering their stylistic novelty to the up-and-comers from their genre. Perhaps you will also recognize a once-triumphant beer that has debilitated under its own marketing failures, an uncalibrated gradient that mismatched the power of the finished product with the assigned promoter. Sad, actually.
And yes, there are the talented juvenescent, simply cloaked by the vastness of options; new beers entering a crowded landscape amongst a cavalry of brothers, but also aggressors like the infamous Big Three (Bud, Miller, and Coors), who not only demand their remaining 8% market share, but deploy chicanery through their own "craft" brands, insistence on prime shelf-estate, and promotion through the lyrical styling of Pit Bull. The struggle is, in fact, real.
Sure, the city of Austin does have its critically acclaimed icons: Austin Beerworks' Pearl Snap, Live Oak Hefeweizen, and (512) Pecan Porter, to name just a handful of worthy, sparkly candidates. But perhaps more interesting than that are the beers we have casually let toddle away under our gaze because we cannot get past the broadcast of those knockout brews.
These beers are Austin's undiscovered talent:

Real Ale Brewing | 4² (Four Squared) Pale Ale

Why it's underrated: Real Ale brews one of Austin's iconic ales, Firemans 4, which steals a ton of this beer's credibility in that many believe Four Squared to be a "heavier" version of the original. While slightly inspired by Firemans, it's not just an amped-up version. 
Why you should pay attention: Pale ales are hard to mess up. Yet, using that rationale, it's also a beer that is difficult to make outstanding. A perfect pale ale is one that can satisfy the hop heads, but remains sensible enough for the casual weekday drinker. Originally introduced as Real Ale's 16th Anniver­sary beer, Four Squared is an incredibly controlled beer; weighty but sessionable, cleverly balanced between the allied coalition of hops and malts, but ultimately memorable because of the dry-hopped addition of aromatic hops during the fermentation cycle. The finished product is somewhere between a Midwest IPA and a Northwest pale ale – chewy, bready, ripe-melony, wholesome drinking. It has so much character, it could have been written by Cormac McCarthy.

Circle Brewing | Blur Texas Hefeweizen

Why it's underrated: The marketplace is absolutely dominated by One Hefe to Rule Them All: Live Oak Hefeweizen, which also happens to be ranked in the World's Top 250 Beers according toBeerAdvocate.com. This fact, along with poor market visibility for Circle Brewing, leads to a woefully unappreciated beer.
Why you should pay attention: Suggesting a hefe other than one made by Live Oak often leads to a stampy-foot tantrum by the beer collective, but Circle makes a damn drinkable secondary option, particularly because this is one that can be enjoyed in your own home in the form of a handy 12-ounce bottle. I'm actually really impressed with Circle's commitment to mess up the promotion of this beer so badly, because, stylistically, it is really a non-competitor to Live Oak's version. Circle should remain calm, remember their survival techniques, and remind everyone constantly that Blur is a creamier, sweeter, and more sessionable (lower ABV) hefeweizen than Live Oak's.

(512) Brewing | India Pale Ale

Why it's underrated: The American IPA is a completely oversaturated style adorning tap walls and store shelves throughout the country. In Texas, the spike in space dedicated to the style is especially crowded with the influx of IPA giants into the state, like Ballast Point, Stone, and Odell, along with prodigies Magnolia's Lone Pint Brewing with their Yellow Rose IPA. Simply put, (512) IPA's tap handle or hop-reputation doesn't stand out on a wall with options.
Why you should pay attention: "Beer is a simple game. You boil the beer, you ferment the beer, you bottle the beer. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Think about that for a while." I think I heard something like that in a movie a long time ago. The point is, (512) IPA is the best IPA in the city, and you will have ignored it because of its innocuous self-promotion and usage of hops that sound like a tedious Avett Brothers set list (Glacier, Simcoe, & Columbus). It's a simple, straightforward iteration of the style without a bunch of petulant hops-of-the-moment, which makes (512) IPA a go-to when the pressure of a 100-option tap list is staring you down like a hop groupie.

Adelbert's Brewing | Black Rhino Belgian Dark Ale

Why it's underrated: Adelbert's branding is pretty monotone, and their label is one that would have a hard time standing out amongst 837 other options on the shelf. Also, yeasty, Belgian-style beers are not exactly a refreshing commitment for a city dying from heat-related thirst. Shame, because they have very talented brewers.

Why you should pay attention: Black Rhino is a spectacularly unique beer that nobody else in town is producing at this time, and very likely never will. What seems like an experimental recipe, Black Rhino falls somewhere between a Belgian-style porter and a dubbel. It is roasty and discreetly smoky, but retains all the delightfully benchmark ester characteristics of a traditional Belgian ale. Black Rhino is reminiscent of chocolate-covered dark fruit, like raisins, or maybe if you're of Whole Foods nobility, açaí berries. The price point for this beer is especially enticing, coming in at about $8 for a 750ml bottle.

Jester King | Le Petit Prince Farmhouse Saison
Why it's underrated: The primary reason that this beer is overlooked is because Jester King is known for its rare fruited sours, and Le Petit Prince is neither fruited, sour, nor altogether rare in the beer-nerdy sense of the term. Le Petit Prince also weighs in at an extremely patient 2.8% ABV, which lends to its avoidance when inebriation is a primary objective. But let's just be real; that is almost always the secondary and tertiary objective, too.
Why you should pay attention: Meanwhile, back on the farm, Jester King would like everyone to know that they make some regular-rotation, legacy beers as well. And while this full-flavor farmhouse ale isn't named as an homage to a waifish icon from Minneapolis, Le Petit Prince does pack a comparable wallop of character for such a dainty package. Yes, the semi-regular Jester King rarity releases are joyful events, even if they necessitate the lardy Jesterheads to reschedule their weekend LARP events, Second Life meet-ups, and Quidditch fantasy drafts, Le Petit Prince's delicately stitched wild yeast and masterfully hopped profile is one that should create a similar stir.

Hops & Grain Brewing | Volumes of Funk series

Why it's underrated: While Hops & Grain boasts a slick knowledge of media and marketing for their brewery, the 3-year-old outfit is oftentimes coy with their very best ideas – either as a sign of artistic modesty or by design as encouragement for taproom visitations since it is only released on-premise. Very likely, it's both of those things. Hops & Grain's "Volumes of Funk" is their little-publicized sours program.
Why you should pay attention: Everything Hops & Grain brews is done with total class and complete confidence – and then sometimes, they age it in oak barrels inoculated with wild yeast and bacteria to make their beer even more extraordinary. Beers that have been soured by the hands of this series include their flagships: Pale Dog, ALT-eration, and Porter Culture, as well as a few one-off batches, like a barleywine and a cherry Berliner weisse. This is what you see when you dream about the future.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Killer Whales: Is the hunt for rare beers hurting the communal spirit?

[Note: This post was originally published by The Austin Chronicle on February 26, 2015]
I am typing this thought onto the screen of my phone while sitting in my parked car in front of a mega beer outlet on Black Friday. I am waiting for beer.
Actually, beer is waiting for me – and a platoon of similarly minded beer hunters who are willingly waking up from poultry hypnosis to queue in a chilly line for the 10am opening.
When the booze armory finally opens for business, a greeter leads an anticipatory line through the shelves of discounted wine and cocktail setups like the Rat-Catcher of Hamelin, who then hands the group off one by one to a designated store clerk doling out individual four-packs of Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout to each customer, and to those keen enough to inquire of its existence in Austin, a solitary 22-ounce bomber of Goose Island's Vanilla Rye variant of Bourbon County Brand Stout. Both of these highly desired liquid commodities hold a perfect 100 rating on the craft beer fansite BeerAdvocate.com, which aggregates crowd-sourced reviews from thousands of worldwide contributors.
Amongst a very devoted community of craft beer admirers is an even more ardent society of collectors who seek out the rarest and most extraordinary beers in a brewery's portfolio. Often, these limited-release libations – colloquially referred to in this subculture of fanatical beer enthusiasts as "whales" – create a feverish hunt that begins on social media and ends when the long-pursued vessel is wrested from the clutches of the open swell – or in the case of BCBS, a beer store in North Austin.
But does this fervent pursuit for exceptionally inaccessible beer fit into the narrative of the craft beer movement as a whole, where the latest challenge is to accept the spate of converted light lager drinkers into its welcoming embrace? Is such a phenomenon so thrilling that it elevates the casual dabbler into full-blown craft beer zealotry?
Eric Kurkowski is a rare-beer collector from Houston who searches for his cache within Texas and while traveling out-of-state. From his experience, he says that "most distribution channels allow for a case or two of rare beers that only reach a small number of stores. Owners usually have a list of regulars who get a single bottle of each release, [and so] beer usually sells out before it even hits the shelf."
Kurkowski adds, "Most casual drinkers are not willing to jump through hoops just to get a taste of the newest rare release. They do not prioritize beer above [other plans]. They do not plan around work schedules, vacation weekends, or consider beer to be a centerpiece of many of their decisions."
CBS Release.jpg
Photo Credit: Ken Mello
Shawn Rocke, another avid collector who hunts for rarities in the San Francisco area, intonates that these limited-release events "are good for craft beer culture in the same way rare wines and rare whiskies are good for those cultures; by keeping a buzz with its most avid fans, but also maintaining a 'local' vibe that suddenly attracts a lot of attention." Rocke goes on to speculate that "[limited-release beers] reaffirm a commitment to a brewery, which continues to pay the bills by inadvertently marketing their more accessible flagship [year-round] beers." Rocke says he has witnessed this trend with hotly pursued California breweries Alpine, Russian River, and Ballast Point.
Such brand devotion has recently created waves of eagerness for rarities from Texas breweries, like Saint Arnold in Houston, who recently released the 15th iteration of their highly anticipated Divine Reserve series, which even prompted a Twitter hashtag, #DR15, so that all of the Captain Ahabs in various Texas cities could limit their frantic lunch hour hunt to only a few specific places.
In February, the Austin area was apportioned with one of the rarest treats of the craft beer world when Founders Brewing Co. from Grand Rapids, Mich., sent four quarter-barrel kegs of their extremely finite Canadian Breakfast Stout, a beer brewed with a blend of coffees and imported chocolates, then aged in spent bourbon barrels that had most recently been aging pure Michigan maple syrup. Like the Goose Island beer, CBS also carries a 100 rating on BeerAdvocate, and before this year's batch, was last brewed in 2011.
I met Myk O'Connor, Founders' brewery rep for much of Central and South Texas, at the Brass Tap in Round Rock for one of these limited tappings of CBS – only the second official tasting to ever be held in the state. He makes the case that rare-beer releases, "while not keeping the lights on for the brewery in terms of profit margins, do reward the effort of their customers who stay familiar with the brewery's endeavors, and [help the] bars who loyally market their brand."  
But a similar CBS event held in January at Dallas' Common Table pub, drew both feverish bewilderment from fans of CBS as well as harsh resentment from those who were excluded from the event due to limited space and product. An owner took to the pub's Facebook page, as one does in the face of criticism, stating, "[W]e absolutely & obviously love beer & the beer business. But we get really worn out by the vocal minority [of] people who complain when a bar they visit 2-3 times/year (only for whales, brah) doesn't set up a system to ensure the non-loyal whale hunters get the rarest of beers (at the expense of the sweet, sincere folks who support our business 52 weeks/year and who we know by name)." Frankly, who doesn't love a good mania in their city?
CBS moneyshot.jpg
Photo Credit: Landon Ortiz
The Round Rock event was remarkably tame by Dallas standards, and though it did bring what one can only assume was an unusually jovial crowd for a weekday in the suburbs, there was plenty of this whale to go around to those who sought it out. Still, to those inside, there was an air of uncertainty that at any moment, the bubble of CBS secrecy might burst, and with it, a swarm of whale-hunting, stout-thirsty locusts descending on the fruitage with their beards and Instagram photos and cries of "Oh CBS, how your powers are untold!"  
But even after a brisk hour of draining Founders' complex liquid into 10-ounce tulips toward its demise, I suspect that even a few credulous regulars got an unexpected tryst with one of the most coveted beers in the world as an addendum to their Monday evening chicken wrap. In this instance, rare beer had been made entirely approachable.
And while one's expectation of another fortuitous flirt with this particular whale again would be like dialing the French Laundry during dinner service to ask if there is a long wait, it can be determined that, based on the experience, everyone in the bar on that evening will later become a small part of the craft beer PR machine. Even if the craft beer they are championing is tragically common.
"Many beer drinkers never get to try some of the more complex, experimental beers that breweries are starting to make, which leads to feelings of entitlement, anger, or frustration," Kurkowski contemplates, "[but] these types of releases elevate beer into the stratosphere previously held by wine clubs and small-batch whiskies. This kind of exposure is great for any brewery, and the publicity and hype that comes with producing a rare beer can be a major boost. Still, the consumer is the ultimate gatekeeper, and the market has yet to change the minds of the brewers from making them because people keep hunting them."

Friday, January 9, 2015

Odd Future: Is Oddwood Ales Austin's next great beer?

[Note: This post was originally published by The Austin Chronicle on January 8, 2015]
Perhaps in a beer-keen city like Austin, one has already become accustomed to the bright, nerve-fiber electricity generated by wild ales – often colloquially referred to as "sour beer." To wit, there is Jester King Brewery, thriving out in the hills of far West Austin, now known the world over for their quality brand of fruited sour ales. Then there is the embryonic Blue Owl Brewery in East Austin, still placing the finishing touches on their new operation, but promising a full sour-mashed lineup.
Oddwood2.jpgBut if Austin is to grow from its current brewing toddlerhood into a fighty adolescence, more breweries doing experimental niche styles are necessary in order to wade past Austin's watery bock beginnings. Austin's newest wild ale brewery, Oddwood Ales, is helping to forge that gap.
Oddwood Ales head brewer and owner Taylor Ziebarth started out as a homebrewer, and traveled extensively as a post-graduate before eventually settling in Austin to begin a tech career. After several visits to Adelbert's – his neighborhood brewery – he took a wild leap. Ziebarth quit his Apple job to take on all of the contemptible duties of starting at the bottom of a successful brewery, that is, mopping floors and cleaning tanks. After successfully completing coursework at a brewing school in Vermont, Ziebarth took over production at the Adelbert's facility as their head brewer.
What started out as an unlikely vision "one or two years ago," Ziebarth recalls, eventually became his own brewing project, named for the rustic nature of his beer.   
"I wanted to make beer that was natural and alive," Ziebarth notes, "a beer that was full of wild character." So he began accumulating spent wine oak barrels from his employer, Adelbert's, and filled 18 of them with Adelbert's base beer, Belgian yeast, and brettanomyces (a type of bacteria that acts as a souring agent in wild ales). Over time, it would collectively impart all of the wild characteristics Ziebarth was envisioning. From that initial brewing session came his first beer: Saison.
There is an inarguably slim margin for error when it comes to small-batch beer making. The argument for a sampling beer only persuades people to give a brewery a chance, but not a promise to love it. What Oddwood's Saison accomplishes is a dry, woodsy, sweetly tart, and surprisingly confident beer. It articulates in precise ways: saccharine without cloying; tart but not biting; a clean and stylish finish that only encourages another sip.
oddwood4.jpgElite versions of this style, like Oddwood's, remind the drinker exactly how saisons should taste – especially in a market muddled by interpretations from breweries with production philosophies like, "Look, we know it isn't great, but there's lots of it," and "We were too tired to brew, here's an IPA."
Though Oddwood is following the traditional route of drip-feeding releases into the world to gauge reaction and build anticipation, Ziebarth hints that more beer styles from his brewery are in the works. He reveals that a Bière de Garde is in concept form, and that he would really like to brew a sour beer utilizing bourbon barrels, which he playfully refers to as a "country ale."
Still, one gets the sense that Ziebarth is not playing his full hand. Although he does not seem like the secretive sort, he does perhaps seem a little protective of what the beer world might do to someone who has his sights set so high.
"I like face-melting acidic beers," Ziebarth insists. "I have all the tools to do it, it's just a matter of time."

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART IV of IV | The Top 25

Part I (101 - 76)
Part II (75 - 51)
Part III (50 - 26)





… So this brings us to the Top 25, which is all anyone who's a list-hound like I am cares about.  Maybe you clicked a few of the artists with familiar names just to see if something escaped your radar, but otherwise, this is the cream of the cream.  Everything below is clickable and none of it contains the word/s 'Broken' or 'Bells'.

But a bit of advertising before I let you drown in the narrative of 2014's melody:

Expect more brewery profiles on [AA] -- not an Iliad of work, mind you -- but some stuff to rouse the overgrown toddler that is the Austin beer scene.  Things are in the works for profiles on Jester King, The ABGB, and Oddwood Ales, along with our disclosure of the "Official Beer of Austin".  If you don't see something you like on [AA], do not be discouraged, as the piece may have been elevated to The Austin Chronicle, which we've begun contributing to infrequently. 

Yes, [AA] is still our pet project -- the secondary fermenter if you must.  But if you're really interested in smelling the boil, listen to Draught Punk, and follow [AA] on Twitter.


PART IV of IV | The Top 25 of 2014




25 - Slow Club | Tears of Joy from Complete Surrender: No Slow Club after 9PM iffin you want to stay a person without triplets. Its that sexy.

24 - Hamilton Leithauser | I Don't Need Anyone from Black Hours: Thats right Hamilton, you don't need anyone to help you make an unofficial Walkmen album. Indefinite hiatus, sure, but definitely awesome.


23 - Damon Albarn | The Selfish Giant from Everyday Robots: Hard to imagine that critics were harsh on Damon Albarn's solo effort, but I thought he aced it.  The imagery with the song title, piano, voice, and lyrics is truly heroic.


22 - BØRNS | Electric Love from Candy: LA-based Electro-rock by way of Michigan, this shockingly solo (because of the density) act came from so far outside our sonic scanner, we were forced to recalibrate our music mediums.


21 - Timber Timbre | Hot Dreams from s/t: Huge tip-o-the-hat to our friend Matthew at Song, By Toad for presenting this song on one of his Toadcasts this year.  If you are looking to subscribe to something awesome, witty, and musically vanguard, you should adhere to his podcast on iTunes.


20 - Father John Misty | Bored In The USA from s/t: Man, we thought this song was a huge joke at first, but when we had the time to properly dissect it, we realized its misunderstood genius, because, frankly we can relate.  The Billy Joel homage is subtle and classy.


19 - Twin Shadow | To The Top from s/t: Uplifting, gospel-y music, which to us, means its a good song to drink a beer in the shower to.


18 - Phantogram | Black Out Days from Voices: Absolutely floored us during this year's SXSW on a meager two-song set.  Black Out Days at 9am is like a double Monster Energy injection.


17 - Lykke Li | Never Gonna Love Again from I Never Learn: Lykke Li continues to expose our weakness as sensitive pussies who absolutely adore beautiful arias about love.


16 - Morrissey | Staircase At The University from World Peace is None Of Your Business: The thing about Morrissey is that he is so hatable like Jamies Winston, and yet so fucking excellent like Jamies Winston.  We just don't even …  yet, we continue to pledge our unencumbered devotion to Him.


15 - Damon Albarn | Heavy Seas Of Love from Everyday Robots: One of our favorite pseudo-subgenres of music is something called Northern Soul, which is essentially just underground 1960s Detroit Soul that was embraced by Englanders.  This song, though not true to Northern Soul form, is a cool bluesy tribute.


14 - Interpol | All The Rage Back Home from El Pintor: El Pintor didn't absolutely jump out at us as a stellar record, but this leaked single sure as fuck did.  Wowow.


13 - Real Estate | Talking Backwards from Atlas: This song is so simply arranged and so smartly self-aware, that it is 2014s 'most perfect' song.  Its the same formula that makes something equally simple, yet perfect -- like a pale ale -- top Best Of lists by simply holding form.


12 - Warpaint | Disco//very from Warpaint: Our stripper song, if we were ever to be in desperate financial need for lawyerin' school.  Dibs.


11 - The Rural Alberta Advantage | On the Rocks from Mended with Gold: Canadians, man -- when they're neglected, they can write a tune like a burr in the loins.


10 - Wild Cub | Shapeless from Youth: When [AA] are the executive producers of a John Hughes reboot, like Ferriss Bueller or Sixteen Candles, this will be our lede. 


09 - Phantogram | Celebrating Nothing from Voices: This will make your sex mix that is one song long.


08 - Sun Kil Moon | Ben's My Friend from Benji: The most limp-dicked, whitest song ever created, which makes it a fantastic narrative that is entirely lovable because we love blue crab cakes and The Postal Service too.


07 - Run The Jewels | Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck) ft. Zack De La Rocha from Run the Jewels 2: Good thing for RtJ they released their amazing album when they did because they almost didn't make this prestigious list.  Forever h/t to John @partyends for championing them since the beginning.


06 - Spoon | Rent I Pay from They Want My Soul: Album of the year?  Yeah, probably. But the tease of this song in the run-up to They Want My Soul was the best 10 seconds of audio this year.  Damn, that was seriously infectious.


05 - Tokyo Police Club | Argentina (Parts I, II, III) from Forcefield: An eight-and-a-half minute TPC song sounds like the worst gag ever, but man, if you can take it seriously, it really becomes a clever song.  We were VERY serious about it at the [AA] offices in 2014.


04 - FKA twigs | Two Weeks from LP1: Without question, the one song on the entire list that will make you feel cooler having heard it.  Lyrically and musically, the gem of 2014.


03 - The Orwells | Who Needs You from Disgraceland: Despite the depressing act of business waged on fans of this song, its has massive cultural cognizance that is truly genius when one considers it was written by 17-19 year olds.  Its an amazing record on an amazing album.  Lets just hope Apple doesn't abuse it.


02 - Future Islands | Seasons (Waiting On You) from Singles: There was just no truly discerning diagnostic measurement between track #2 and track #1 in 2014.  This was on heavy and frequent rotation all throughout our year, and nary was there a moment when once started, it didn't have the opportunity to finish.


Which brings us to [AA]'s #1 song of the year, an enormous honor shared with the following tracks since 2005: 

2013: Daft Punk | Doin' it Right 
2012: Beach House | Myth
2011: Wu Lyf | We Bros
2010: LCD Soundsystem | Dance Yrself Clean
2009: Fanfarlo | The Walls are Coming Down
2008: MGMT | Time to Pretend
2007: Radiohead | Videotape
2006: Phoenix | Consolation Prizes
2005: Sigur Ros | Hoppipolla

… which is ...

01 - Taylor Swift | Shake It Off from 1989: Holy shit, right?  We totes know!  Nothing is gonna make you mooove like this chorus, and above everything else at the music branch of [AA], we value musical kinetics. Truly, Taylor Swift adheres to the indie-approved style craved by the scene kids and the guilty-pleasure awkwardness of beer dads alike; Swift has earned herself the distinction of a true crossover artist.  Haters gon' hate, hate, hate.



Happy new year, happy listening in 2015.  Drink everything.

Fin.


Monday, December 29, 2014

[AA]'s 10th Annual: Best 101 Tracks of 2014 | PART III of IV | #50 - #26

Part I (101 - 76)
Part II (75 - 51)


Three posts in four days seems like a flurry of activity and it is for a guy on vacation … but this is really important shit and I wanted to make sure this year-end best-of list got to you in time to salvage your entire year.  You're welcome!

First bit of business in this episode is a spoiler alert.  No where on this list will you find anything by Jack White because Jack White is fucking incessant.  In fact, Jack White hasn't made a worthwhile piece of music since people were still doing internet searches on Alta Vista.  In short, fuck Jack White.  You can't be on my list.  


But on a more relevant tip, you know what other artist also sucks, but whom also seems to be on a shitload of worthy year-end lists?  Sylvan Esso.  I literally can't think of a single situation where I would prefer to listen to Hey Mami over any other piece of music, and that includes Jack White.  I would actually prefer to listen to Jack White over Sylvan Esso, thats how bad it is.


And if you haven't heard either of these albums this year, feel free to take my word on both of em.  It's like when your mothers warned you not to stare at the sun or drink poison.  Sometimes at the behest of curiosity, its better to just take them at their word.


At least there wasn't an Avett Brothers release this year.  There wasn't was there?


Anyway, now onto the meaty part of [AA]'s Top 101 of 2014



PART III of IV | #50 - #26




50 - Broods | Mother & Father from Evergreen: Kiwi pop that very fortunately wasn't buried by American satellite radio.

49 - Little Boots | Taste It from Business Pleasure EP: Female electroclash is our weakness.

48 - The New Pornographers | Champions Of Red Wine from Brill Bruisers: Great effort by the Canadian indie legends, in large part because most of this album sounds like it was recorded drunk, which is how the greatest artists should always do it.

47 - Future Islands | Back in the Tall Grass from Singles: Underrated band, underrated dance moves.

46 - Tennis | I'm Callin' from Ritual in Repeat: Saccharine sweet female indie pop is our weakness.  An [AA] gig favorite from 2014.

45 - Strand of Oaks | Goshen '97 from HEAL: Our pal BeertownAustin would smash his computer into bits  if we didn't give him credit for introducing us to Strands of Oak. Fine, dude, they're really good, mkay?  Go brood about something else now.

44 - Fat White Family | Is It Raining in Your Mouth? from Champagne Holocaust: One of the white hot artists of SXSW 2014.  These dudes appear to be certifiably nuts.  Makes us miss Wu Lyf.

43 - We Were Promised Jetpacks | Bright Minds 
from Unravelling: The second selection from WWPJP on our list. In our top 3 favorite acts at SXSW 2014. These Scots do music very well.

42 - Kevin Drew | And That's All I Know from Darlings: Yep, this list is strewn with Canadians. Beautiful Canadians.

41 - St. Vincent | Birth In Reverse from St. Vincent: We could be the only folks in the indieverse who are not an unapologetic St. Vincent extremist, she's just okay -- however, this song is a totes jam and should be played liberally.

40 - The New Pornographers | War on the East Coast from Brill Bruisers: We didn't say this was gonna be a diverse list, but The Pornos just made a solid album and its our duty to let you know it.

39 - Chromeo | Old 45's from White Women: No srsly tho.  We haven't seen this many Cunucks on a list since You Can't Do That On Television was sweeping the Kids Choice Awards in 1983.  Chromeo's album was our hidden gem this year.

38 - PHOX | Slow Motion from PHOX:  Well, no.  Maybe this one was.  This whole album deserved so much more attention.

37 - The War On Drugs | Red Eyes 
from Lost in the Dream: On a lot of lists for album of the year.  We won't take it that far, but this was definitely a noteworthy song.  They lose a bunch of cred points though, for being Mark Kozeleks bottom bitches in '14.

36 - Kishi Bashi | Manchester 
from 151a: A touring member of the band, of Montreal, his music has a ton of depth and lyrical embedding.  Good stuff. 

35 - Owl John | Stupid Boy 
from Owl John: Owl John is the side project of Frightened Rabbit's guitarist/vocalist Scott Hutchison, and its aces.  The Scots typically win indie music, and when these are just the side projects, its easy to see why.

34 - Lo-Fang | When We're Fire 
from Blue Film: We felt like we were some of the first people out there in the blogosphere to blow up Lo-Fang in 2013 (he even made our top 101 last year). His debut album in 2014 was good, but didn't have as much lasting power as we first thought.

33 - The Antlers | Intruders 
from Familiars: Another candidate for Top 3 gigs in 2014, a list that spans 20 acts.  Familiars is genuinely in our Top 3 albums of 2014, though.

32 - Young Ejecta | Welcome to Love 
from The Planet: Wowzers, we fell immediately in love with Leanne Macomber, one half of Young Ejecta, which is a side project of hers when not recording with Neon Indian.

31 - TV On The Radio | Careful You 
from Seeds: Our most anticipated album of 2014, which held expectations for us that couldn't be possibly lived up to.  Nonetheless, the album is pocked with nifty little songs like this one.

30 - Tennis | Never Work for Free 
from Ritual in Repeat: Sweet, delicious, upper crust, female-lead, indie pop.

29 - Pixies | Greens and Blues 
from Indie Cindy: Shite album, which again, could never meet our anticipatory demands, but this is an amazing song reminiscent of the Bossanova era.

28 - Delta Spirit | Language Of The Dead 
from Into the Wide: Our drunkest show of 2014, we don't even remember if they played this song before we hailed an Uber, but we wanna say we did and it was killer.

27 - The Antlers | Parade from Familiars: Gospel music for the Church of Chillwave.

26 - Spoon | Inside Out 
from They Want My Soul: Second selection from Spoon on our list. They own our soul.


… to be continued.