Unsolicited Endorsements: III

Because sometimes you just want friends to tell you about cool things… the Brew House team offers up its (new) weekly mix of author-supported goodness.

Album: “Hello Sadness”, by Los Campesinos!

In this post-Postal Service era of guitar-free indie pop music, Los Campesinos! dares to be different. The seven-piece band from Cardiff, Wales, is making some of the biggest, most dramatic and best indie of the past few years, and doing it without the use of pulsating synth bass lines or precious computer-generated percussion. 

“Hello Sadness”,* released November 15, is the band’s fourth full-length, meaning they aren’t exactly new news. But this album is Los Campesinos!’ most complete, polished and mature work to date. The band takes its ever-present pop melodies and stretches them out over songs that slowly unfold, rather than hitting the listener with a danceable, sing-along hook right off the bat. The band’s lead vocalist has a lilting, desperate, distinctively British sound that contrasts perfectly with the smooth female backing vocals that pop up here and there.

The lyrical content is sharp, clever and overwhelmingly sincere, lending the album a resonant, confessional feel. Even if you’re too hip to appreciate emotive music, who doesn’t love metaphors that involve fate – that “cruel mistress” – vomiting down the protagonist’s rental tux?

Here’s a look at the video for “By Your Hand,” probably the catchiest Los Campesinos! tune to date:

— Asher Fusco

Tech: Futuristic drinking machine

When you’re younger, you try to make the suicide drinks at the soda fountain. This involves, roughly, the addition of Coke, Dr Pepper, Diet Coke (just a dab of that stuff), the Hi-C and some kind of wild card, like Surge. Now that I’m an immature 24-year-old I have discovered something else to provide suicide-esque soft drink nirvana: the electronic soda fountain.

Have you seen one yet? Here in Dallas, we have one at Pei Wei. It’s Coca-Cola built and has 1,000 flavor combinations. You can have Orange Coke, mix it with vanilla and then add a little cherry, vanilla Dr Pepper if you want. And it’s not just the flavors that stand out. It’s the concept.

Us milennials grew up reading pages in science books devoted to the possibility of moon colonies. We all watched Back to The Future II on TV and saw the hover boards. That was the future – hover boards on the freaking moon. At least, that was my future. That’s how I envisioned it.

Turns out, the future is not like that at all. It’s 2011, and the craziest thing to me about the world I live in is the success of Ke$ha. And that awesome soda fountain. Thank you Coca-Cola for providing me with a breathtaking portrayal of the future I dreamed of as a fifth grader.  — Mark Dent


Snack: Harvest’s Best Granola 

I’ve always thought granola got a bad rap. Somewhere along the line, granola became associated with hippies and environmentalists… and hippie environmentalists. Now, to be fair, these are things that, in and of themselves, are actually not that bad. But the idea of hippies and granola, the bloated perception of it all, is so cartoonish these days that we’re really talking about caricatures of caricatures.

This is a long way of saying this: Granola deserves better. And Harvest’s Best All Natural Granola is the best freaking mix of oats and nuts (cashews and almonds) and dried fruit I’ve ever had in my life. I know: It seems counterintuitive to suggest that granola can be gourmet. Granola is low-maintenance. It’s hiking trips. It’s instant and simple. But this stuff, which is made by the Harlan Bakery company, is just SOOO good. If you’re in the KC area, you can get it at the neighborhood Wal-Marts. If you’re somewhere else, good luck… — Rustin Dodd

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