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Friday, January 27, 2012

Drink It In: Wow and Flutter's Double Deuce EP and Imperial Ale

Posted by Ryan J. Prado on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 11:15 AM

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Wow and Flutter are no dummies. With a storied career in the rearview and an exceedingly noisier one ahead, they understand that to engage listenership beyond the time-tested annals of pressing records, lasering compact discs, leaking downloads, touring, playing shows, they needed to somehow confront their audience’s most likely focal point and manipulate the market.

I’m here to report that never have I felt my desires so controlled as I do right now, sipping this 7.2 percent Double Deuce Imperial Ale, listening to the raw, calculated rock of Portland’s Wow and Flutter. And you know what? I don’t mind. In a stroke of music marketing genius, Wow and Flutter didn’t hesitate to go right for the jugular to get the word out about their new recordings: alcohol addiction! Buy their specially brewed concoction in specially labeled 22 ounce bottle—thanks to the efforts of Alameda Brewing—get a download of the tracks, and poof! Beer EP! And it’s probably the best extracurricular libation project foisted upon the public since Maynard James Keenan’s vino, or more recently, Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s organic Kona coffee. At least I can get my hands on the brew.

To get right down to it, the beer is too good to attempt analysis-while-listening to compare/contrast the ardently crafted bouquet of the beer with the manic rock ‘n’ roll explosion of, say, opening track “Big Guns” in any fair capacity. Meaning the beer will be long gone before the EP is over, and that kind of overlap would be counterintuitive to the smoothness of the ale, and the jagged edges of the music. Suffice it to say, Double Deuce—the beer—is a crisp, somewhat medium-bodied Imperial, with just enough hoppy zest to induce multiple tip-backs in relatively quick succession. Its light presence on the palette allows for a fully experienced aftertaste at the back of the tongue—it’s essentially a lighter version of a more full-bodied Northwest IPA, and one that isn’t bogged down with heavy bitterness like some 7+ percent beers. Kudos to Alameda Brewing, Jealous Butcher Records, and Wow and Flutter for a tasty (and loud) way to get bagged on a Thursday in your basement!

Double Deuce opens with the aforementioned “Big Guns,” a furiously paced nod to rock’s big, bold past with huge riffs hoisted above Cord Amato’s expressive meditations into walls of spacey feedback. It’s an interesting choice for an introduction to the EP, considering the expanses found in the more intricate arrangements the band has excelled at in recent years, and which they explore even in the album’s next track “Tired of Waiting.” In both instances, though, Wow and Flutter display a honed agenda, if even on accident, of coalescing the traditions of experimental post-rock noise and dime-a-dozen ‘70s rock.

The garage-pop of “Little Red Scooter” comes steeped in organs and punk rock bass-and-drums verses, cooing whispers of salvation from a “plastic world where everyone drives a Beamer, and everything’s watered down.” Similarly, the peppy slacker track “Nothing Lasts Forever” turns up the fun with a restrained backbeat providing foundation for an easy-does-it sonic thrashing thanks to some well-timed fret-finagling by Amato. The middle of this track, in fact, might best encompass the dualities found within the entire EP, with a psychedelic swirl of effects butting heads with hooky rock. But in the EP’s closer, “Black River,” the darkness descends with slow-mo, crunchy guitars, sparse instrumentation and repetitive, dirge-like verse. At seven minutes long, the song unfolds leisurely, building momentum until shifting to second gear with a Bowie-esque refrain of “If you think everything will be okay/ I hope that it’ll be okay/ as the river rises to our knees.” That optimism sounds just as hopeless as the waters rise to the chest, then the neck until the song’s intended subjects are swept away. It’s a great gloomy kind of ending, and wraps up nicely a worthy piece to the Wow and Flutter portfolio.

Don’t miss the band’s official release of the Double Deuce EP and beer Saturday, January 28 at Kelly’s Olympian. And keep an eye out in February when the beer/EP will be available in grocery stores (Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, New Season, etc.) throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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