Fourpure – Juicebox Citrus IPA

Look, it’s great, but to be perfectly honest, I was expecting something juicier. More tropical. More off the wall. I’ve been digging fruity, citrus-packed IPAs lately, and Fourpure Brewing Co.’s lush-looking Juicebox was a long time coming – a mate instagrammed a photo of one last year and since then I’ve been on the hunt. Finally, I found it, a season later, at Utobeer in Borough Market. Needless to say, anticipation was high.

Unlike other tropical IPAs the fruitiness is understated – a massive surprise when you take in the juiciness of the can art. The subtle suggestion of tropical fruit seems to be limited to lingering whispers of grapefruit, which is quite a letdown, really. Still, like I say, it’s a good beer. Fourpure is a great brewery. I was just looking for something special. Magical. I’ll still buy it again, though – unless it’s sat next to a Tropigamma or a Not Guilty OJ IPA.

Chris Cornell – Euphoria Mourning RIP Dude

I didn’t get around to posting this in time but I still think it’s worth an “edit” rather than a “trash.” Maybe…

I’ve never been the biggest Soundgarden fan, really. And I always found Audioslave’s combination of styles too weird to get into; Rage Against the Machine’s stripped down rap-rock meets Chris Cornell’s larger-than-life, wailing-crooner crescendos. But I do love Cornell’s first solo album, Euphoria Morning. I listened to it non-stop for months when it came out. My wife (then girlfriend) loves it too. It means something special to us.

I saw Chris Cornell live once, in South Africa, and I saw Soundgarden at Hyde Park. And man, the dude could sing! I still can’t believe the news. Such a bright, iconic, world-conquering light snuffed out in such a sad, lonely, quiet seeming blink of an eye. The “voice of a generation” indeed.

PS, this Rock am Ring 2017 Prophets of Rage Chris Cornell tribute, featuring Serj Tankian on vocals, is pretty special as well. Nothing but love. Nothing but respect.

Rancid – Telegraph Avenue (New Album Trouble Maker Out June 9)

It’s Friday and East Bay punk rock legends Rancid have just dropped another second single, “Telegraph Avenue,” from their June-to-be-released new album Trouble Maker.

Again, it’s a glorified lyric video, really, featuring Rancid jamming in the same garage they rocked for previous single “Ghost of A Chance” – there must have been a two-for-one deal.

And again, frontman Tim Armstrong’s unkempt Castaway beard and black nail polish vibe creates such a strange visual contrast with guitarist Lars Frederiksen’s current smart-dressed American oi! look.

The song sounds great, though. Just like a Friday should. Trouble Maker is out June 9, and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good one. Another comeback. Perhaps, of Indestructible proportions.

Cloudwater Brew Co. – DIPA v13 Special Edition

Cloudwater Brew Co. is one of my favourite recent beer discoveries. And DIPA v13 Special Edition is the best of the best. Everything about the Manchester-based, “modern, seasonal beer” company reeks of innovation and style. From its slick, classy designs and packaging to its experimental, boundary pushing brews and here-today-gone-tomorrow, limited edition feel.

So far, I’ve enjoyed every Cloudwater beer I’ve tried. Especially the New England IPA collaboration with craft beer mega giants Brewdog. But this one’s the best I’ve tasted. In fact, it’s currently one of my top five beers of all time.

The DIPA v13 Special Edition pours thick, golden-orange and cloudy, with a fruity, lip-smacking aroma – I’m drooling just thinking about it now. And it looks delicious, too. Like rich, velvety, magic fruit juice in a can. As usual, Cloudwater do an amazing job balancing out the beer’s heavy 9% ABV, this time by combining Citra BBC pellets and a 50/50 mix of WLP4000 and 4786th generation JW Lees yeast.

It’s fruity, tropical, juicy and delicious. It’s soft and surprisingly easy to drink. Smooth, with a nice bitter finish and, of course, a strong 9% ABV boozy backbone. With v13, Cloudwater has achieved total oneness. Inner and outer peace. But sadly, v13 is the last in Cloudwater’s ongoing v series – which is a tragedy, as it taste like pure gold. I wonder if it freezes well…

The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness (New Album Sleep Well Beast Out September 8)

And then, late one night, it finally happened… I read the news on Instagram first. Dark, broody, articulate groove merchants, The National, are gearing up for total world domination. And it’s a slick operation; cream for North America, yellow for the U.K. and Europe, and an interchangeable barn/house/recording studio logo to match the NEW ALBUM cover. Oh yeah.

The extensive touring, of course, is to promote The National’s new album Sleep Well Beast, which is due out this September 8 on 4AD. And, like any well planned album marketing campaign worth its sponsored post salt, the website’s been overhauled – along with Facebook and Twitter – and there’s already a new single, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness,” up on Spotify, YouTube, Deezer and everywhere else.

There’s a lot going on with the song itself. From the smooth female vocals that kick things off, to the rib-buttering piano builds and the schizophrenic guitar lick that resurfaces all the way through. And then, finally, the mesmeric drums of Mr. Bryan Devendorf.

I’m not sure exactly what to make of the song – and the guitar solo. I’ve listened to it about ten times, but it’s still sinking in. Like any album by The National, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” needs a context. A flow. A dark surrounding sea of contrasting emotions to tether it to. And I can’t wait to hear how it fits into the rest of the Sleep Well Beast puzzle. Exciting times indeed…

Die Antwoord – Love Drug (From Dangerous to Dawson’s Creek, With Emojis)

What the fuck happened to Die Antwoord? Those guys used to sound so special, like they were riding the cusp of something dangerous, beautiful and bat-shit crazy, all at the same time. Last week, the South African rap-rave duo announced their fifth and “final” album The Book of Zef, and based on boring-as-fuck first single “Love Drug,” it’s clearly time for Ninja and Yolandi to call it a night and move on.

The song starts with a pretty interestingly sung and catchy Ninja whine, but quickly degenerates into a mess of forgettable, lame raps and wannabe Aphex Twin beats that sound more like someone bouncing a flat basketball than anything bucephalus. And the techno wave finale the song rides out on just sounds like something Die Antwoord had lying around on the cutting room floor, leftover from their disappointing third album, 2016’s Mount Ninji and da Nice Time Kid.

I can’t see any mention that Die Antwoord collaborated with Aphex Twin on the track – it would be funny if it is actually him – but like I say, it doesn’t sound like the real deal. I just hope the rest of the album’s better than this weak, Dawson’s Creek, Emoji take on Die Antwoord.

Tailgate Beer – Peanut Butter Milk Stout

Peanut butter beer? Sounds like a gimmick, right? A con. Like something out of Harry Potter. Or the kind of far-fetched, over-indulgent, Willy Wonka fantasy talk craft beer skeptics laugh at over pints of Bud Light at the local Wetherspoon. But Nashville, Tennessee-based brewery Tailgate Beer ain’t laughing. In fact, the small batch specialists’ Peanut Butter Milk Stout does EXACTLY what it says on the tin.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest stout fan in the world. But sometimes. When the moon is right. A thick, decadent, dark and boozy stout beer can make a night. Usually, for me, it works best as a dessert beer. But this time, I was waiting for my takeaway order at Yard Sale Pizza, Finsbury Park and I simply couldn’t resist what I read on the board.

First impression; it’s thinner and more watery than I was expecting. Milkier, lighter and more hazelnutty. Like someone melted a Toblerone and a Snickers in a boozy, 5.8% milk stout. It’s a bit like a beery milkshake, really. Sweet yet not saccharine, tasty yet light and refreshing, with a enough of kick to keep you honest. It’s not quite an everyday beer, but it is memorable, something out of the ordinary that I would order again. Probably around closing time.

Rancid’s Ghost Breath Tastes Like Fire – New Album Trouble Maker Out June 9

East Bay punk legends Rancid have just announced that their new album, Trouble Maker, is due out this June 9. And there’s a new single to boot.

The song’s called “Ghost of A chance,” and to be honest, it sounds like a breath of fresh air after the previous two Rancid albums. Unlike 2014’s …Honor Is All We Know, it sounds less like two-dimensional, studded-jacket, raise-your-fist punk, and more like the wistful, heart-on-sleeve poetry frontman Tim Armstrong and his gang of aging tattooed brothers carve up so well.

Even the title’s cooler. More original. More special. And the music, itself, is a forceful throwback to classic, garage-jam Rancid, with the kind of enlightened, bearded wisdom that only comes with age. “You never grow too old to dream.”

Interestingly, it looks like they’re releasing Trouble Maker themselves, under “exclusive license to Epitaph Records.” Only complaint: the album cover…

Can’t Handcuff the Wind – Mindhorn and Julian Barratt, Comin’ At Ya This Friday

One thing the world definitely needs more of is Julian Barratt. And luckily for us, the former pioneering Mighty Boosh jazz maverick’s back, in hilarious-looking new big-screen comedy caper Mindhorn.

Barratt plays washed up actor Richard Thorncroft, who ruled the ’80s as ass-kicking, moustachioed TV detective Bruce Mindhorn. But fast forward 25 years and Thorncroft’s balding, overweight and all but forgotten. That is, until a deranged serial killer refuses to speak to anyone but Mindhorn, who he believes is totally real.

On top of that, Barratt has gone full Howard Moon and dropped a magically cheesy ’80s power ballad as Richard Thorncroft, titled “You Can’t Handcuff the Wind.” Oh yeah. Mindhorn is out this Friday, May 5. Just check out the trailer…

Frenzal Rhomb – Cunt Act (New Album Out May 26)

Too-tough-to-die Aussie punks Frenzal Rhomb have ridden out their latest scare – drummer Gordy Forman snapping his arm in two teaching a fan how to stage dive correctly – and recorded a new album. Finally.

As usual, Frenzal turned to mighty Fort Collins, Colorado studio The Blasting Room, and legendary Descendents drummer Bill Stevenson. And as usual, the production’s beefier than a vegan after a slow-cooked bean curry and a tray of dairy free bran muffins.

Hi-Vis High Tea is due out May 26 on Fat Wreck, and “Cunt Act” is a typically cartoon-crude, smart-punks-playing-dumb taste of what’s to come. Can’t wait…