Songs, Stories, and Spirits jams unwanted opinions on good music, good stories, and good booze down your ears, eyes, and throats on a drunkenly basis. We hope you enjoy. And if you don’t, there is a comment section below that we more than welcome you to ignore! Cheers!
Song: “Howling at Nothing” by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Dave Pezza: Go buy Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’s 2015 eponymous debut album. It’s your whole summer in one album. I heard the band’s crazy popular single “S.O.B.” this winter like everyone else, but this is a rare case when the album’s single is just a tease, a tasting of what might be the most complete genre-defying rock album in a long time. Think Creedence Clearwater Revival, Buddy Holly, and The Band met in a dive bar in Nashville got drunk.
My personal favorite, and this week’s selection, is “Howling at Nothing.” Only the second track on the album, “Howling at Nothing” is the best of a handful of tracks that are perfect for the car stereo after you’ve rolled down the windows, put your aviators on, and filled your lungs with summer air. Nathaniel’s crooner vocals invigorate the spirit with that unmatchable summer invincibility.
The most astonishing aspect of this album is its adaptability. “Howling” works just as well, if not better, spinning on your turntable on a cool summer night. It, like its brothers “I’d Be Waiting” and “I’ve Been Failing,” will have you dancing around empty beer cans and wine bottles with your lady or gent. The project as a whole is a near perfect reminder of what is real, what is important, and what is not.
Story: “Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” by Wells Tower
Dave: “Everything…” is a personal favorite of mine, and I’m glad I can finally shine some praise on it. Tower is a relatively new/somewhat obscure name. With only one published collection, which shares a name with this story, Tower has bounced around the journalism circuit, appearing in The Paris Review, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, Vice, and Harper’s. He even earned a spot in 2014’s Best American Essays for his piece on attending Burning Man with his father titled, “The Old Man at Burning Man.”
“Everything…” follows the exploits of marauding Vikings through the eyes of Harald, a Scandinavian who approaches raping and pillaging like any other day job: mundanity, frustration, and an obvious lack of enthusiasm. Reluctant to leave his new wife Pila, Harald and the rest of his clan embark on a fruitless expedition to terrorize an island that they’ve tortured not so long ago. The story sets a tone not unlike Mike Judge’s “Office Space,” and is told in a stripped down style, like drinks with coworkers after a rough and pointless day at the office.
What is most notable is Tower’s skill in masking the story’s potent and heart-wrenching themes in a drab atmosphere, even when the events surrounding Harald scream for attention, outrage, and offense. “Everything…” is a fresh gust of air that realizes the world for what it is, what it pretends to be, and what we make of it.
“Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned” by Wells Tower
Just as we were all getting back into the mainland domestic groove, somebody started in with dragons and crop blights from across the North Sea. We all knew who it was. A turncoat Norwegian monk named Naddod had been big medicine on the dragon-and-blight circuit for the last decade or so, and was known to bring heavy ordnance for whoever could lay out some silver. Scuttlebutt had it that Naddod was operating out of a monastery on Lindisfarne, whose people we’d troubled on a pillage-and-consternation tour through Northumbria after Corn Harvesting Month last fall. Now bitter winds were screaming in from the west, searing the land and ripping the grass from the soil. Salmon were turning up spattered with sores, and grasshoppers clung to the wheat in rapacious buzzing bunches.
Read the rest by picking up Tower’s full collection.
Spirit: Thomas Hooker Blonde Ale
Daniel: Recent text I sent Sean Tuohy: “I have a fridge full of Hookers.”
His response: “Oh, I see you’re on the Jeffrey Dahmer diet.”
While the delicious Thomas Hooker Blonde Ale lends itself to a myriad of jokes, there is no denying its crisp summery taste, which is best enjoyed by water or a campfire. Okay, you can pretty much appreciate this beer’s golden goodness anywhere.
My older brother discovered the beer in Connecticut one summer, and we washed down a couple six-packs in short order during a night of video games and “Star Wars” nerdery. What did we do next? That’s right, we choked down a heavy, coma-inducing porter (that shall go nameless) as a nightcap, rendering our joyful pool of straw-colored beer but a memory. Needless to say, we’ve never made that mistake again. It’s Hookers or bust during the summer.
You may be thinking that a cheery beer touched by Midas might not be the best companion to Dave’s musical and literary selections, however, Hooker Blonde Ale does have a hint of mischief buried within its suds. It’s a reminder that the beer’s easy drinking could just as easily lead to ruin, but, man, what golden misery that would be!
Thomas Hooker Blonde Ale is the perfect companion to the summer weather that’s finally made its way back to New England. It has been notoriously hard to get the last couple of weeks, so stock up when you find it.