Best Drinkin’ Music of 2012

Everyone loves celebrating a new year by talking about the old one, so here’s my best drinking music of 2012. It’s a little late, I know, but considering 2011’s list didn’t drop till October of 2012 (I was still redesigning the site), this is a huge improvement. If I were a corporation, I’d be able to say I “leveraged a metric” or something else that sounds like a good thing without actually explaining anything.

Old Time Machine | Self-Titled

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First, the somber choice: Old Time Machine makes music for wakes. Not Irish ones, mind you; this is country music as it should have been, rolling in from the dark forests of America’s past. It makes me think of death — and also, somehow, of parties — because it’s half raucous drinking songs and half disarmingly intimate moments. Peep this line from the song Mountain Shack: “I lean on the fender, watch the people go by, notice the girl that I love, she don’t show me her eyes.” That was one of those rare moments in music when a song actually gave me chills. Throw in some unconventional rhythms and instrument choices, and you have an album that keeps getting better and better as it goes along.

Given Old Time Machine’s roots, only a classic, rugged, sadly nostalgic American beer would do the job right (the job being getting drunk while listening to it). But I had no idea what beer could embody all that, so I just went with the wake thing and grabbed Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale. They go together just fine, the beer’s rich maltiness matching the tunes’ earthy tones note for note. It also helps that Dead Guy is exceptionally easy to drink, which means the album’s relative brevity won’t leave you with a glass half full.

Runner Up: Alamaailman Vasarat – Valta

Caravan Palace | Panic

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I think Panic, despite its name, is the most fun I’ve heard all year. It’s fantastic for parties, especially if you want to throw a classy ’20s-themed soiree, because Caravan Palace combines bouncy swing music with glitchy electro. It’s so energetic and wild that it almost seems improvised. Hearing any of these songs will invariably leave me humming it for days.

A beer paired with Panic needs to be fun yet slightly dark and exotic. (The band is French, after all.) I’m recommending a fruit beer, particularly a kriek like Kasteel Rouge. The sweet cherries and tart bite should perfectly complement Caravan Palace’s unbridled moxy.

Runner Up: Max Richter – Recomposed

Kaizers Orchestra | Violeta Violeta Volume III

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Volume III is the final act in a musical trilogy by Kaizers Orchestra — and the only entry to come out last year — which tells the story of a woman with strange powers and a mild case of the crazies trying to find her kidnapped daughter. It’s an epic showcase of pop music excess done right, encompassing so many styles and instruments it’s remarkable they all work together so damn well. These aren’t easy albums to explain … in fact, they’re nearly impossible for me to explain, because all the lyrics are in Norwegian, and I don’t speak Norwegian. But good music transcends language barriers, so I suggest you listen to the entire trilogy, from beginning to end.

To meet Kaizers Orchestra’s magnum opus in glorious beerttle, I needed a weapon of equal extravagance: Collage, a collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog that costs more than 10 bucks per 12 oz bottle. I know the price seems a bit steep, but  this Belgian-style beer is simply stupendous, blending the sweet and sour flavors of the best Belgian ales with a drinkability that is simply mindblowing. If you have the cash, buy three … one for each entry in this epic.

Runner Up: White Lung – Sorry

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