Wine Pairing: Syrah and Bright Eyes

I drank an entire bottle of wine and listened to the new Bright Eyes album, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was. The inspiration for this eventual mess was the attempt to combine my two favorite things: music and wine. It may not seem like there is an intersection of music and wine, but they pair wonderfully. 

Here are the rules: I pair a local San Luis Obispo wine with a new album, and I have to drink the entire bottle of wine before the album is over. I will not have listened to the album beforehand, and so you’ll get my unfiltered response. 


I am drinking a 2017 Qupé Syrah. Their Syrah grapes are sourced from the Santa Maria Valley, and the wine is bottled in Arroyo Grande. The Santa Maria Valley is a cooler climate, which produces a more tannic wine with flavors of blackberry and pepper. Syrah is a very deep wine, one of the fullest reds you can find. I chose this wine for Down in the Weeds, because Syrahs are deep, complex, and dark. 


Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was is the first Bright Eyes release in 9 years since The People’s Key from 2011. Preliminary research tells me that this release is a return to form to older Bright Eyes releases: sad, personal, and vulnerable. That’s about as much as I could gather from my “research” as the album’s Pitchfork review had so many big words I gave up reading halfway through. 

1. Pageturners Rag

  • Footsteps? VR technology has come really far. This track is extremely disorienting. 
  • This wine is really good. Syrah is my favorite red, and this wine is really easy to drink. 
  • I think I read that these voice tracks are from Oberst’s mom and ex-wife. 

2. Dance and Sing

  • Ah, yes Bright Eyes.
  • I’m quickly realizing I have zero authority to comment on music. I’m losing confidence, and this ballad is not helping.

3. Just Once in the World

  • I thought they were going to rhyme “body” with “everybody,” but then Oberst said “everyone.” 
  • Is that a mandolin?
  • Oberst said something about the drums coming in and then the drums came in. 
  • Sad/10

4. Mariana Trench

  • Track 4 and I haven’t finished my first glass. 
  • Songs kinda bleed into each other. 
  • I wish this album was happier. Snare on this track sounds really cool. 
  • Saxophone??? IS that a wind instrument I hear? Oh shit I meant brass. Are brass and wind instruments the same thing. Any feedback/criticism is welcome. 

5. One and Done

  • I looked up the difference between a brass and wind instrument and the top article says the main difference is what they’re composed of. Are you kidding me? Fuck off.
  • I don’t know how I feel about the harmony on this track, didn’t we do that in the last one? Bass line is funky. 
  • Wine update: Very smoothe? Smooth. I feel like when people write breathe when they mean breath. I ❤ syrah. 
  • I like it when artists use the song title in the lyrics. It’s like ok now I’m paying attention. I’m back, what are we talking about? 
  • I like the orchestra. There’s much more composition in this Bright Eyes release than in Ghosts of Christmas past. Much more intention, and layers. 

6. Pan and Broom

  • I’m liking this x and y song title theme. 
  • I wish my roommate would use a pan and a broom once in a while you know what I mean. 
  • This like 8 bit drum track? Synth? A bit spooky. 
  • I can’t tell if I’m having fun or not. 

7. Stairwell Song

  • Oberst is a wiz at lyricism, he really knows how to write a poem. He also utilizes the slow burn way too much. I get it, start slow and end in a crescendo. 
  • There’s a giant cricket on my door. 

8. Persona Non Grata

  • I have no notes. 

9. Tilt- A- Whirl

  • Wine Update: I am about half-way through the bottle. I’m starting to taste the tannin, and more of the berry notes.Much more of the acid as well. It’s very mellow in the beginning and then the aftertaste, you really taste some acid. 
  • I like this song. 
  • Oh that was cool, he said “suddenly” and then the song ended. Word painting, baby!

10. Hot Car in the Sun

  • “Dreaming of my ex-wife’s face,” sorry buddy. Like I get it, I feel like I’m supposed to like it, but I’m let you in on a little secret. I’m bored. I’m a bit bored. 

11. Forced Convalescence

  • My biggest pet peeve in music is when the artist STARTS the song with the song title. That’s exactly what heppendd in this track. Uuuuhhhhh. 
  • Popcorn break. I’m eating kettle corn, which has notes of salty AND sweet. Listen, someone will tell you at some point in yoiiur life that 
  • What the fuck is Forced COnvelesnjsce what does that even mean.  

12. To Death’s Heart (In Three Parts)

  • I have 10 minutes to drink half a bottle of wine. 
  • Sometimes I hear a lyric, and I’m like oh that bummed me out. Ill be the first to say it, this is a bummer. 
  • This is a good song. I likke it. The snare sound on this album is so CRISP, i love it. 
  • Bummer music. 
  • This is probably my favorite track ont he album. 

13. Calais to Dover

  • What is applepetic vision? 
  • i’m logged on. Remember that whole thing “Death Grips is online” and then NOTHING happened? What was that? Why did that happen? 
  • I remember Cliffs of Dover from Guitar Hero 3. 
  • AV Club gave this album an A-. 
  • I never thought i would hear a Guitar solo in a bright eyes track

14. Comet Song

  • I don’t think this album needed to be 14 songs long. 
  • Not going to lie to you, I have to pee. I will not lie to you. 
  • I feel like I should have a more emotional response to this album, but I don’t. 
  • The title o0f this album is better than the album. BRASS INSTRUMENTS
  • That;s it, tha;s the album? At least i finishe my wine
  • This ending is extremely disorienting. 

Ok, final thoughts. A bottle of wine done. 

It was ok, The songs blended into each other and They were all sad. There wa no break, not palette cleanser to set apart the sad from the really sad. It was all kinda at the same level. 

The wine became super sour and acidic as I drank it. I do not like acidic wine at all. Makes my tummy hurt. Boo. But also, this QUPE is really good, I should not have drank it in one sitting by myself, kinda compromises the taste and the structure of the wine to just gulp it down. Anyway, here we aare Listen. I’m just a girl like everyone else. This was a really good wine, and a big uh oh to all the people listening at home. 

Ok album, great wine. Im natalie.

Natalie Becker is .WAV’s co-general manager, she wrote the article. Caroline Seilby is a .WAV staff member, she created the graphic.