ALBUM GENRE: INDIE ROCK
BEER STYLE: GOLDEN ALE
Apologies to my usual source of beer, The Crafty Half, as this week’s bottle comes from a short-dated items shelf at my local Co-Op. This week’s post looks at discounts and freebies, as the relations become even more tenuous. Entering the Co-Op, looking for a bottle of squash, an inquisitive man in his sixties or so stopped in my path to pick up a bottle of beer from the reduced items shelf. Luckily, however, once I’d returned, squash in hand, he had left the beer, alongside another. Two bottles of Oakham’s Scarlet Macaw, knocked down to £1.34 each with only a week’s worth of good days left in them.
Now, my logo states that I am “An idiot with no real idea what he’s on about”, and unfortunately this isn’t an ironic slogan, it’s a means of avoiding confrontation. I don’t really read reviews of any kind and I don’t have much experience writing reviews. But I like beer and I like music, so what more can you ask for?
I cracked the lid from the first bottle of Macaw, poured it into my glass, and sipped. It’s a rather pleasing deep gold colour, a thin white head with a soft flow of bubbles rising to its surface. My mind drifts, thinking what record I could possibly pair this ale with. It’s certainly drinkable, a refreshing, light, fruity taste hits the pallet initially, chased by a very low hint of bitterness, accentuated by the beer’s fruity, citrus flavours, namely grapefruit. Something light then? Depending on how you define it, I’ve got countless “light” records, so that doesn’t narrow it down.
Scarlet Macaw is a good beer. It goes down easily. It’s a first pint of the night sort of drink. At 4.8%, it’s not going to floor you but you’re unlikely to forget that you’ve drunk it. At this point, I’ve resorted to the Discogs app, searching “Macaw” and “Scarlet” followed by various other shades of red. Nothing. I’ve hit a premature rock bottom, resorting to the “Random collection item” button, watching album cover after album cover flicker before my eyes, desperately searching for some sort of connection to an ale from Peterborough.
Enter: Mac DeMarco – 2.
In a vague sense, the album is somewhat similar to the beer. It’s light yet packs the kick to plunge indie kids into a dance trance. In 2013, when I first discovered Mac DeMarco, it was refreshing. Falling upon my fifteen-year old ears as I exited an exclusively fifties rock ‘n’ roll stage, Mac DeMarco was one of the artists that began to drag me away from the regrettable phrase – “I was born in the wrong generation.”
Kicking off with “Cooking Up Something Good”, a track seemingly about a drug business being run out of a family basement, Mac sets the tone for the majority of the album: chilled, slow, danceable tunes complete with his once unique style and sense of humour.
I soon found that every track on this album was as good as the last. I even liked “Still Together”, a track that has another connection to the Macaw- in that the beer is described on Oakham’s website as “an intensely refreshing bitterness that’s as sharp as a Macaw’s screech,” a quote that could almost be attached to the chorus on that track.
But it isn’t the flavour or drinkability of the beer that drew me to Mac DeMarco, but rather the discount that I received on the beer. I was reminded of an evening I spent on the guest list at a Mac Demarco Concert. (Not nearly as much of a brag as it sounds.) Through my local record shop, Fives Records, I was given a pair of tickets for a Mac DeMarco gig that a representative of a major record label was unable to attend. I spent much of the evening’s build up revving myself up to adopt a name, completely unknown to me before this evening, as my own. However, upon arrival at The Coronet theatre, I was deeply disappointed to discover that my preparation had been mostly in vain. We arrived expecting some sort of VIP service but were made to queue up like some sort of non-guest list type. I reached the box office and stated my alias and was met with the response that I had the freedom to choose where I stood or sat for the gig. But that was it. I went expecting as much grandeur as would be possible at a Mac DeMarco gig and was met with little more than a free pair of tickets to a gig I’d wanted to go to since I was in my teens. And it was brilliant.
In a final round up sort of sense, I suppose the take away is that, no matter what your surface level expectations may be – be it poor ones because your beer was discounted, or good ones because your free concert tickets suggested you’d be fraternising with Mac DeMarco, never take things at face value. Or something like that.