October 2011

Trackpacking: Coldplay

by Keith Savage · 2 comments


It all started with “Yellow” back in 2000, a song far from my favorite and one I don’t really understand. But that’s fine, Coldplay’s been misunderstood for as long as they’ve been making music. When their debut album, Parachutes, dropped in July of 2000, music critics compared their sound to another British rock band: Radiohead. High praise indeed, but to my amateur eyes the comparison seemed tenuous (both bands have English frontmen who play the piano and guitar and sing in falsetto, but…). Playing in the shadow of Radiohead haunted Coldplay’s early career, but these days you’re more likely to hear them compared to U2.
All this is to say that Coldplay is a dynamic band with musical moods to soundtrack any trip. Read more...


The bones of the world, extruded and shaped into the minor wonders of mankind, depart as dust on the winds of passing ages. For centuries the Lords of the Isles ruled here from Eilean Mór, a small island in Loch Finlaggan on the isle of Islay. Their stewardship was a tangle of successions, wars, and coups among the Scottish, Norse, and Irish; now those centuries of heated machinations are little more than salt in the earth beneath a hollow sky. I follow a soft, loamy path to a well-kept wooden bridge as light rain spits in fits. More than any museum I’ve visited, the Scottish isles and highlands echo and vibrate with the spirits of the bygone.

The ruins of a great hall and chapel stretch from the ground like the teeth of some monstrous, mythical creature.


Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay, Scotland

The Scotch whisky industry is firmly built upon tradition. A visit to any distillery in Scotland will be rife with establishment dates and distillery workers’ lineages and recipes handed down from generation to generation. But what happens when a distillery is mothballed, left to sit quietly for years until an enterprising individual comes to perform a resurrection? Are the distillery’s previous life and recipes remembered and rebooted or is it an opportunity for a second, different life? Many in the industry believe there is a right, almost dogmatic, way to make whisky, that the past should dictate the future.

Try telling that to Jim McEwan, the master blender and distillery manager at Bruichladdich Distillery. Read more...


The Traveling Savage Standing on Casks at Bruichladdich Distillery

As the first frosts come to Wisconsin, I’m reminded that in five days it will have been one year since I left my corporate job. That’s a major milestone and cause for a reality check. But first, a celebration of all the traveling I’ve done in the last year!

I kicked off Traveling Savage by spending five weeks in Argentina in November and December of 2010. It was my first time traveling solo, my first trip to South America, and a million other firsts that resulted in greater cultural and self awareness. I split time between Buenos Aires and Salta all while sharing meriendas and asados with ex-pats and locals. Argentina was revelatory, difficult, exuberant, and transformative.


Hurtling to the sky across the Sound of Jura, peeking above the firmament with cyclopean wonder, and calibrating man’s place amidst the heather and hill: the Paps of Jura. Slow sunbeams pull off the wisps of cloud garments obstructing their staggering profiles. Excited gusts swirl and bark over the water and among the base of the Paps like canine air elementals. I am out on the heath incapable of uttering intelligible sounds, or moving, mere miles from Bunnahabhain Distillery. There is a barely perceptible rhythm, a feeling in the lineage of ley lines and fairy rings, some figment of a past now bulldozed and cemented over. Read more...