Receiving the Evcharist is our weekly feature where we pair choice albums with our favorite libations. Drink from the cup of heresy. This week’s offering: Pelican’s Nighttime Stories and Coronado Brewing Company’s Mermaid’s Red Ale.
The Metal: Pelican’s Nighttime Stories
Long before I caught the post-metal bug, there was Pelican. Gifted to me by a friend in high school, I championed this band early because of our shared geography (Chi-town, babey), and it was only when I got more metal in my vocabulary that I truly started appreciating the band more and more. Finally getting an opportunity to see them twice last year, once at Migration Fest and secondly at the Los Angeles Caleb Scofield benefit show, was the exact run-up I needed to get excited for Nighttime Stories, Pelican’s first new music since 2015’s The Cliff EP. The core of Pelican’s musical identity is still here; Nighttime Stories is replete with sludgy riffing and thick atmosphere, chugging and droning its way through its compositions. Yet it’s the moments where these harder tendencies are augmented with more rock-oriented elements that makes Nighttime Stories a standout release. “Abyssal Plain” moves from blastbeats to blues licks, “It Stared at Me” features moody slide guitar, and album closer “Full Moon, Black Water” leads the listener out with a gentle, uplifting melody. Of course the defining feature of Pelican’s music has always been what isn’t on their albums rather than what is: vocals. Pelican write mood music, and on Nighttime Stories the compositions work in the best way instrumental music can; the ‘stories’ present on this album are entirely for the listener to construct on their own, with the eclectic compositions providing the emotional link one needs to dive into their own experiences. We might be a long way from Australasia here, but I think I can confidently say this is my favorite release the band has ever done.
The Booze: Coronado Brewing Company’s Mermaid’s Red Ale
Today we’ve got a little something from down under, by which I mean about two hours south of where I live. Coronado Brewing Company, named after the island off the coast of San Diego, has a lot of good brews that are readily available here, but their Mermaid’s Red Ale is easily my favorite. Almost more of a brown ale than red, this drink hits right off the bat with deep malts and a pronounced sweetness. Yet in true West Coast tradition, this beer gets hit with a hefty dose of dry hopping, which adds bitter, piney depth and a hit of citrus to balance out the caramel sweetness of the malts. Red ales aren’t what you traditionally think of when you think of California, yet Coronado does a good job of taking the formula and putting that distinctive spin on it, and it’s as complex and maybe more interesting than many West Coast IPA’s you’d find.
Cheers, and be good to each other,