Editors Note: We started this series long before October / Pitchfork ripped it from us. Check the archives.
Why it is no one else who writes for this site ever offered to pick up the fantastic Album + Beer series is beyond me. I mean, getting to drink whilst listening to a great record is how I choose to spend every evening anyway, only now I have an excuse to write about it!
My first choice of pairing? Propeller and a sweetly strong weizenbock.
Guided By Voices to the non-cult fan are perhaps too daunting to get into from their seemingly endless discography and Bob Pollard’s (frontman and mastermind) solo output. To them I say, fear not. Because once you listen to one GBV record you either become a cult fan instantly or you are immediately turned off. So give these Dayton, OH gents a shot with my personal favorite album, 1992’s Propeller.
So why did I choose a German wheat beer if these blokes are from Ohio? Several reasons. Ayinger first brewed their rendition of the old-fashioned and charmed Weizenbock beer in 1995. Making both the album and beer children of the 1990’s. Both, too, had a lot to prove. To celebrate Ayinger’s Managing Director’s 60th birthday they had to think a bit differently and do something spectacular. Thus the brew masters of the company decided upon crafting the Bavarian styled weizenbock. It has since then won a plethora of awards and beer lovers all over the world can attest to its greatness.
Propeller was a last-ditch effort for Guided By Voices. Formed in the early 80’s and already having made a handful of records, the band was only known to local vocal clubs and friends. All band members had day jobs and were only making music as a hobby but after a decade of struggling to amount to anything the Dayton rockers were letting it all hang out with Propeller. Limited to only 500 copies and each cover art differing from the next, this album became as mythical as the music found within it. (Seriously, one vinyl copy is being sold on Disccogs for $3,000…) Recorded on 4-track cassette and utilizing lo-fi techniques at their best, Propeller propelled GBV to stardom.
Now let’s play the album, shall we?
“GBV! GBV! GBV! Everybody ready to rock?”
Opening track “Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox” smashes itself into estranged form, allowing the myriad of flavor notes in the Weizenbock to settle on your taste buds. What pairs with the shaky, obscure sounds of indie rock? A sunny colored, wheat beast fused with sweet notes of banana, vanilla and pear, lingering with clove spice and floral hops.
“We conjure ghosts and then we feed them…” Pollard sings mockingly in “Weedking.” This lyric haunts me every time I begin giving power to a piece of regret in my past.
By the third song the Weizenbock and album have melded into a marriage. The beer flavoring only getting better as the liquid gets lower in the glass.
“OH YEAH I’M GOING TO DRIVE MY CAR!
OH YEAH I’M GOING TO GO REAL FAR!”
Employing an ABV of 7.1% and a thick head, Ayinger’s Weizenbock is beginning to kick in after 1 pint and 9 oz. Probably should have waited to finish record before drinking this much but this is GBV we are talking about, notorious drunkards!
No truer lyrics have been spoken than the following belted out by Pollard on “Lethargy” (proving himself correct by having zero melody yet still manages to be one hell of a punchy rock tune): “I wish I could give a shit, just a little bit!”
Time for another bottle.
By the time “Exit Flagger” rolls around, it becomes clear to me why I love this band so damn much.
Bob Pollard has an innate and unmatched ability to capture when recording all the great yet flawed elements of being human within the music. He records a track and lets it be, as is. Most artists choose to edit the crap out of their music. While I do love perfection, doing so edits out a lot of the human elements of the music and the passionate, raw energy.
“And then one day
We’ll justify the joke
Make it our day
And blow the total savings
To satisfy our cravings
Look over our blunders
Our two-fisted wonders”
Closing track “On the Tundra” finishes Propeller bitter-sweetly. I feel a hole grow inside me. GBV always leaves me wanting more! More of the eccentricity, more of the intemperate. As does this Weizenbock…
Perhaps in the end comparing a band from Dayton, OH to a Bavarian wheat beer makes little sense, but hey, what about GBV makes any sense at all?
Avid reader. Mushroom hunter. Gamer. Vinyl spinner. BA in Religious Studies.