Saturday, December 23, 2017
Laverge - Handle This
Let's get down to business:
Spain has good stuff happening.
I can't stand using the term "foodie". It's so silly-sounding. It just makes me feel like I'm a little kid that can't say my "big boy words" yet. I prefer the term: "Lover of fine cuisine". I really like to see what the other parts of the world are eating.
The Spanish are known for many fine things.The Paella, for instance. This caught my attention, as a young teen, back in the '90s when it was mentioned (numerous times) on the TV show Northern Exposure. A couple of characters literally lamented over it as being something they "needed" in episodes, or simply wishing they had their Paella dish. So, I've eaten Paella. Looking back at those times I had eaten it, I often wonder if I'd actually gotten the real deal, or I got the Americanized "we'll use what we've got on hand" version.
I learned that some believe the Paella may or may not have originated in Valencia, Spain, while others believe that it was first created in a village outside of Valencia. So I looked up recipe after recipe to find the right one. There are several varieties to choose from, with some being more authentic than others, or more regional than others. Let's go through the proper make-up of a Paella:
Firstly, it has to have class. It needs to scream out: "I'm awesome simply because I exist!" in front of several people, but have the humble decency to know where it came from.
It needs an air of mystery. Threads from a high quality imbuement favor what makes up the bulk of the dish, complimented by a simple blend of flavors, yet complex enough for the palate to start doing subtraction and addition.
It needs girth and heft. Something that carries the weight of the flavors, yet adds their own distinct touch. It's got to leave you feeling full, and with a feeling that you experienced something, rather than just filling the hungry void.
It needs an identity, a personality. Paella is made all over the world. If we are going to borrow the recipes, we need to put a spin on it that separates it from the original. The truth is, no matter how "traditionally" we try to create such a thing, nobody except the originators will make it the same way. Perhaps even the original Paella has no idea what it was, anyway.
It needs complexity. Most Paella dishes I've seen have more than one kind of main ingredient. Many different things make up the entirety of a normal Paella. These come from the sea, the air, and the land. This adds the wonderful quality of having a different texture with each bite. Such complexity allows the meal to be enjoyed even more, and confounds the mind enough make a person think about it long after experiencing it.
I took all of these principles into consideration, threw them into my special, patented SHRIMPP (™) Processor (SHRIMPP = Stoner, Heavy Rock, Indie, Metal, Psych/Prog). It calculated and assessed. It made a few "boopity-boop, beep-beep" noises, and then spat this out:
Laverge. From Valencia, Spain. It appears that they have appealed to the Paella principles, as stated before. These guys have class. They come in strong with a new album called Handle This. Listening once will be the grand realization of their classiness. It's a little spicy, in a good way. Heats up the palate. They have a definite set of influences that you can pick out immediately.
They have mystery. The songs are well-done, but the surrounding additions to the whole of the dish are fresh and crisp. You wonder how they mixed the flavors so well.
They have heft. The weight of the songwriting carries the album, and the musicianship borders with a light touch of sweetness over the initial spiciness.
They've got personality. They borrow from a few different recipes, each touch combining into a surprisingly unique dish that stands on its own. An interpretation of several elements, thrown into a special blend and coming together in a tasty array, suitable for gourmands of all palates everywhere.
They have complexity. This combination of different textures and flavors makes it a satisfying engagement.
Overall, the band nods toward an accessible alternative rock sound.
In essence, they takes cues from recipes by Queens Of The Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, etc. You can scoop up the influences like creamy turrón. However, there is an underlying deviousness in there that shows the complexity of the grand feast. You get this whimsical aftertaste that sneaks in like a bright paprika. A "what was that I just had?" sort of feeling that comes over you after you have an unusual flavor. You truly feel like something sneaked into your cupboards and replaced your normal herb sachet with something a little more vivid.
Perhaps it would be best to ask the band what their favorite recipe for Paella is before I go completely off the deep end with gourmet comparisons. The obvious truth is that I know nothing of REAL Valencian cuisine. After having a taste of the music that comes from that (extremely old) city in recent years, it's no doubt that the fine traditions kept alive in their food are also kept alive in their music. Laverge have a recipe they have crafted into a fine thing, worthy of the finicky palates that all share the same revolving globe. It's tasty.