Meinklang Foam Red and The Julie Ruin's Hit Reset
This is not a great time - in fact it’s the worst time - to fuck with women. Most are saying that Time’s Up altogether. It’s hard to do anything but condemn and rebel against a deranged tyrant leading the country and seemingly daily reports of male sexual abuse surfacing - especially by those in a position of power or celebrity. So how does a girl cope in this current hellscape of garbage people while also just tryna have a good time and party? Dance around while listening to The Julie Ruin and drinking a delicious, natural sparkling red wine. That’s how.
I was in the mood for something different, weird, wild and fun, so I chose Meinklang Foam Red, made on a family farm in Austria. The Meinklang team seem like a pretty rad group of renegades I’d like to hang out with. Their multipurpose farm is home to their vineyards that share reign with wildflowers and free-roaming wildlife, as well as their whole family who live on the farm. In lieu of going off to become lawyers or bankers, the sons stayed on the family farm to make their home and livelihoods their own way.
Their rows of vines are a beautiful mess with sunflowers and cow shit spread throughout. All their wines are made naturally and are certified by Demeter, an association that identifies biodynamic growers and farmers. Meinklang keeps it very real, without any manipulation or interference in the winemaking process. For whatever reason, there’s still somewhat of a stigma surrounding natural wine in certain circles, but the folks at Meinklang let their land, their grapes and their hearts tell them what to do - not other people.
So what record pairing for a wine with such conviction and personality? “Hit Reset” by The Julie Ruin, the brainchild of the original Riot Grrl herself, Kathleen Hanna. Most know Hanna as the tiny fireball with a rebel yell that could knock you flat who started feminist punk band Bikini Kill back in the 90s and went on to form Le Tigre. After taking a hiatus caused by a brutal battle with Lyme Disease, she returned with The Julie Ruin, the best comeback I could ask for.
"Hit Reset" brilliantly asserts itself with raw, biting, honest lyrics that hold their subjects accountable, including an abusive father, fake friends, toxic social media culture, men making unwanted advances and music critics. The scornful commentary is disguised in pretty packaging that is the poppy melodies, bright keyboards, energetic drums and head-bopping electric guitar - the whole thing a blast to listen to and impossible not to dance to.
The Meinklang Foam Red, made from 8o% Gamaret and 2o% Blaufränkisch which are both indigenous Austrian grapes, also has a charming dichotomy. Its color is a brooding dark purple with small, fizzy bubbles. Ripe, dark blackberry and cassis fruit dominate the nose and palate contrasted with a refreshing wet stone minerality and pretty, subtle florals. It’s rich yet juicy and downright invigorating. I’d venture to say every sip is exciting.
The opening track of “Hit Reset” lays a foundation for the rest of the album - a girl living in fear of a drunk, abusive father who comes out of it an outspoken force intolerant of male oppression. The next track “I Decide” takes control of the situation, a song about forging your own path and calling the shots in your own life. It seems more relevant than ever right now when apparently consent isn’t a factor for many people (people=douchebags).
This is one of those albums for me like “Jagged Little Pill” or “The Blue Album” where there are so many stand-out tracks. Among those are “Planet You” that calls out the narcissism of social media behavior, with lyrics like “Suck your cheeks in like a model/The world’s a selﬁe you're so on it” and one of my favorite lines on the record, “Start a Kickstarter for yr heart.”
“Mr. So & So” continues the poser narrative and proves further what a deft and hilarious hater Hanna can be. With spoken-word style vocals, she breaks down image-obsessed fans and followers who care more about getting the Instagram post than truly understanding and supporting the movement they appear to advocate:
“I jump out of my plane in a parachute that says ‘girls rule’ with a Sleater-Kinney tee shirt on and when I land you know I'm just gonna have to demand a booklist just you just write it out by hand and make sure it tells me why feminism needs to exist take a picture with me.”
Although there are many dance party playlist contenders, “Hello Trust No One” is for sure the banger of the album. Featuring a B52’s surf rock guitar sound and Hanna’s signature yodelly punk wailing, the song seems to convey a rift in a friendship because one friend is acting too cool for the other. Once again, not the sunniest lyrics are overshadowed by exuberant rhythm, melody and percussion.
To quote a somewhat recent episode of the Sound Opinions podcast: “the best political records are the ones you can dance to” and “Hit Reset” definitely falls into that category. Even if the subject matter is “too real” for certain tastes, it’s still just as fun to listen to as the Meinklang Foam Red is to drink.
The last song “Calverton” has pretty piano that conflicts with the discordant, purposefully child-like vocals. Here, Hanna speaks to her mother, assuring her that despite the damage her father caused her, “you made me think that I could fly.” And fly she did. And fly I did through this bottle of wine because it’s so delicious.