I love the idea of pairing wine and music. Aside from the fact that there are plenty of songs where wine features prominently in the lyrics, the two have a lot in common, sensorially speaking. A quick scan through various blogs (and even mainstream publications) suggests that others feel this way too. And why not? Both wine and music have the ability to reach in and grab you by the soul. I think that’s pretty neat.
Stereolab was in town recently for a two-night stand at the Fillmore, and we caught the second night. Unfortunately Laetitia Sadier’s voice was slightly strained (her side project, Monade, was the opening act; not sure how I feel about lead singers opening for their own shows), but she still sounded lovely, and the band was as tight as ever.
But back to music and wine. About 10 or 15 minutes into the show I leaned over to a friend and said half-jokingly that people who like Stereolab would probably dig Morgon, a wine from the town of Villié-Morgon in the Beaujolais region. Gamay grown here typically yields a relatively powerful wine that feels frisky and alive despite all that structure. Sure, I’m biased here — Morgon is one of my favorite red wines from anywhere, and I think Stereolab is just great — but hang with me for a moment: Stereolab’s best songs skirt the frivolous edges of pop music yet remain firm and nuanced, built from multiple layers . Kind of like the tension between the higher-toned fruit notes, firm acidity and minerally structure of Marcel Lapierre’s fantastic Morgon Côte du Py (pictured at the top).
Take, for example, ‘Neon Beanbag’ from the group’s latest full-length, Chemical Chords:
Jangly melodies laid down in layers such that the whole is undeniably complex; on its own, that horn refrain isn’t much more than a poppy salute to a sunny day. But as part of the entire song it adds a sense of lightness that invokes a tension with the heavier elements here.
Perhaps that tension is better illustrated (heard?) in a song like ‘Cybele’s Reverie’ from 1996’s Emperor Tomato Ketchup. It’s a lovely track that feels light on the surface yet gets more complex with every listen:
My weekend challenge: drink Morgon and listen to Stereolab and let me know if this theory, such as it is, holds up. And if it doesn’t, well at least you’ll hear good music and drink a delightful wine.
In other music and blogland news, here’s an article from the NY Times that discusses the growing role of blogs in the discovery and promotion of independent bands. An interesting read.