Song Shot: Matt + Kate “Cinder & Smoke” with Alaskan’s Perseverance Ale

Covers Album Art

Today parts of the greater Seattle area are experiencing snow and (luckily?) I am stranded at home with a few inches of that fluffy white  stuff building up outside, which is indeed a smart idea if you’ve ever seen Seattle drivers in the snow. On days like this where I cannot venture outside or I run into things to look at on Facebook I seem to randomly stumble onto new music or at least new-to-me music. Snow Days are perfect for this.

I came across Matt + Kate via randomly searching Bandcamp and fell in love with their Covers album. The sketch-like drawing of the brother sister duo is what honestly caught my eye and made me click. The cover of Covers had the undeniable indie look and feel to it while being beyond simplistic in nature; espresso brown background with the black sketches of Matt and Kate paired with the simple fonts. Upon listening more to them I learned that they are brother and sister, Matt lives in the Seattle area and Kate lives in Los Angeles. The duo pulled a Postal Service and each recorded their own part of each song and then Matt mixed it all together and released it on Christmas Day 2011. While Covers is the only album they have released on Bandcamp let’s hope the duo records more for a full-length in 2012.

“Cinder & Smoke” is a fantastic song that Iron & Wine released in 2004 off of his Our Endless Numbered Days album. Matt + Kate’s version has Kate as the lead singer which brings a new level and dimension to the song. The song starts out with the usual guitar strumming and Kate’s soulful vocals start in and Matt joins in at the chorus line. The duo stayed quite true to the original (minus the whole female lead vocal thing) and produced a solid cover, which is a hard thing to do. I picked “Cinder & Smoke” for today mainly due to the faint raspy vocals of Kate’s and how it makes me feel like I’m all alone in a concrete room with her voice bouncing off every wall and surface. This is how being stranded at home on a Snow Day makes me feel. I’m alone  and walking outside makes time stand still a bit. All you can hear is the rustling of squirrels in trees or the falling of snow from one branch to another below. The sudden sharp pain of inhaling and the slow exhale you immediately do and all you can see is a cloud of your own breath in front of you paired with huge snowflakes. Snow makes humans swarm indoors and build fires full of cinders and smoke. People like staying warm and fires makes us feel warmth on our skin, while alcohol can also warm us from the inside.

Alaskan Perseverance

Brewery: Alaskan Brewing

Beer: Perseverance Ale

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

ABV: 9%

Alaskan Brewing celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011 by brewing their Perseverance Ale. They describe it on the bottle as a “Stout brewed with Birch syrup and Fireweed honey” and you can definitely taste the sweetness after the first sip. The beer pours thick and dark with a light head similar to the crema on an espresso. At a hefty 9% ABV this is the type of beer you want on a cold winter day. Imperial stouts are sipping beers there is no sense in chugging this beer, nor would I want to.

Perseverance has a slight smoky hint to it, which is fitting since Alaskan is really known for their Smoked Porter, but every time I sip one lyric comes to mind; “with ash in your mouth.” Now while that might not bring up beautiful images in your mind, bear with me. The lyric stands out to me because of how Perseverance stays and lingers on your taste buds. Many lighter beers (hefeweizens, pilsners, etc) tend to have flavor when I sip then the moment I swallow all the flavor disappears until the next sip. But not the Perseverance, oh no. You get your money’s worth on this one. Your tongue gets hit with a wave of sweetness on the initial taste then as you swallow it changes into a smoky and woody aftertaste. This is a perfect beer for a Snow Day.

While you can’t finish a glass of Perseverance in the 4:52 of “Cinder & Smoke” (and if you do, you probably have not made it to the end of this post) you can definitely continue listening to the rest of their album and enjoy the softness of their guitar plucking alongside Matt + Kate’s vocals.

If you enjoyed this post please share it with your friends and family! If you have any beer or music suggestions feel free to send them to me at VolumeByAlcohol@gmail.com with the subject line “Beer/Music Suggestion”.

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