Grapes & Vinyl: July Talk vs. Painted Rock

True beauty almost always comes from tension; a prickly balance between two extremes masterfully maintained and weighted. Both July Talk’s “Paper Girl” and Painted Rock’s Syrah display gut-wrenching passion executed with an engineered precision. Each savage tendency is tamed by poise and grace. The wire holding these two clashing forces is ready to snap.
Perched high above Skaha Lake just south of Penticton, BC, Painted Rock is a breathtaking sight. Vineyards fall steeply away towards the water while cloud swept peaks tower monolithically behind. Made exclusively from grapes grown in their miniscule vineyard, Syrah has intensity and elegance seldom achieved in tandem. 
In the glass the wine is a sappy purple on the verge of opacity. Aromas of blueberry, blackberry, black pepper and cumin bolt from the glass unapologetically. As you dive deeper you realize another dimension to the wine. The initial attack is full of swaggering masculinity but this second wave washes over you with feminine sophistication. Notes of candied violets, sweet tobacco, and baking spices tame the wine. 
The palate is equally paradoxical. Plummy fruit and delicate spices are met by lightning acid and tannin, which provide the wine’s backbone. The nuance and intrigue continue well into the finish, lingering and mutating constantly. 
Although this project is the byproduct of half drunken Torontonian bar banter, Peter and Leah’s July Talk will captivate you. For simplicity’s sake we can pretend they are some sort of lunatic Tom Waits/Wolf Parade/Feist hybrid, but it really doesn’t capture their essence. Combining prohibition era class with Punk-Rock tenacity, they lead you from one end of the spectrum to the next. 
Space in wine and music is essential. Not only does silence create contrast, making the explosive climaxes seem even fierier, it also prevents your senses from getting overwhelmed. By providing the listener with a roller-coaster ride of dynamics, the band has managed to keep you guessing and hoping for more. The same can be said about the wine. Although it is heady, it isn’t an opaque wall of flavor tiring your palate. It swells and ebbs, waves of varying intensity make every sip worthy of exploration. 
Balance is equally important and abundantly present in both. Peter’s voice is gruff; chainsaws often sing with more delicacy. But, it is balanced by Leah’s crystal bell-like crooning. Not only are the vocals polarized, the instrumentation further reinforces this stylistic disparity. Crunching distortion and delicate keyboards don’t always play nicely together but in this case it only enhances their unique style. 
Both wine and music are incredibly subjective. Some may feel a song is trying to emote one thing, while others believe the exact opposite. In wine, certain flavors may come crashing down on you and their certainty is practically tangible, yet others aren’t as convinced. These indiscretions are what make each worthy of exploration. Please help support these artists so they can continue producing things of true beauty.

– Erik Mercier

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