05.22.2018
Beach House
7

This new Beach House album has really great cover art. It's printed on a shiny, metallic, somewhat opalescent paper that cuts through the black and white pop art, and is very psychedelic and cool and was probably very expensive for Sub Pop to manufacture. This is also the review of the Beach House album. 7/10.

12.11.2015
Beach House
Thank Your Lucky Stars

So Beach House is all, "Hey, maybe we should put out another album even though we just put out a perfectly good one a month ago." And nobody was like, "Yo, Beach House, maybe just hold up for a second. Give it some time. Let it marinate a bit." Although if you were to take "The Traveller" and "Elegy to the Void" and throw them on Depression Cherry in place of that record's two worst songs, you'd have one hell of an album. One hell of an album.

08.31.2015
Beach House
Depression Cherry

My relationship with Beach House is complicated. I like them. But I want them to do better. I know they can do better. Even though what they do is good. Depression Cherry is maybe building up to be my favorite of their records—I think? It's hard to draw a line between them sometimes. Their whole catalogue is basically one big gradient, from orange to salmon to pink; they're clearly in a different place now than they were 7 years ago, but I couldn't tell you how or when they got here. But it's all equally pretty and lovely and lovely and pretty. They really understand progressions and arrangement, and are slowly getting a handle on using vocal harmonies for movement rather than simply atmosphere. But what bugs me about this album in particular is Victoria Legrand's unwillingness to truly unleash her voice. It's a powerful instrument she has when she belts in her lower register, like Nico (or someone better than Nico). But she's constantly keeping it in check here, choosing instead to use a quieter, breathier head voice that just doesn't have the same weight. A shame, yeah, but they've still made a(nother) totally listenable album with melodies that hook you out of nowhere, and just enough surprises to keep from lulling you to sleep.


(1)
12.09.2012
Beach House
Bloom

I gave this Beach House record another spin the other night, just to give it a chance to win finally win me over. It may have been partially contextual--late night, a chill in the air, all that--but I will fully admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Make no bones about it, Beach House still infuriates me with their endlessly repetitious eighth notes and mid temp 4/4 dullery. But I've decided that accepting them for what they are, listening to their album specifically as a Beach House album (in the same way that one should always judge a Woody Allen movie as a Woody Allen movie), swallowing my pride and just zenning out, this is a pretty enjoyable album. I mean, that's a ton of qualifiers, but there. I also think that it speaks volumes about the melodic sensibility and voice of their singer. As in: just imagine how good they could be if they'd stop worrying about being Beach House.

05.16.2012
Beach House
Bloom

Since the music press is already dubbing Bloom "The greatest album ever bestowed unto us by our loving and gracious God," and "a work of art that makes Revolver sound like the gaseous wheeze of a desiccating beached whale" (not even paraphrasing!), and since I would've really liked Teen Dream if it wasn't for all the monotony ("Zebra" was great though), I'm diving right into Bloom. But I accidentally had my iTunes set to shuffle and didn't realize it until it was playing the 16 mintues of silence at the end of the last track. Experience ruined! Either way, still too many goddamn quarter notes. Syncopation, Beach House! Syncopation!


(1)
04.13.2010
Beach House
Teen Dream

I hate to say it, but this is growing on me. Just a little. I mean, it's still pretty hard to listen to the entire album without wanting to punch a wall, but two or three songs worth is actually a pretty nice listen.

01.29.2010
Beach House
Teen Dream

Do you like quarter notes? Do you like vague, dispassionate background vocal harmonies? Do you like Mazzy Star or Low, but always wish they'd add about 4bpm to their songs? Then buy this album! It will completely wear out its welcome by the opening notes (quarter notes) of the third track, but Pitchfork gave it a 9.0, so it's great!

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Captain James CrabhouseBaltimore
Steamed crabs

Ate a bunch of crabs. Had to tear their guts out and stuff. It was a primal experience and the crab tasted good. Got a little tired of it though.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Boog's BarbecueBaltimore
Barbecue pit beef

Camden Yards is a very important ballpark, in that it changed the way that every ballpark since has been designed and built (for better or worse, but I'll go ahead and say better). It's still a great place to watch a baseball game, and a charming piece of architecture, even if it's been copied and and bettered in many ways in ensuing years. I like Camden Yards.

Boog's Barbecue, found out in right field in the alley by the iconic warehouse, is in its own way a very important food stand. It's become tediously normal now, a stadium showcasing unique local foods and restaurants rather than simply offering hot dogs and nachos, but in the early 90s Boog's was one of the first. Every time a TV announcer talked about how beautiful Camden was, they'd always mention Boog's. Or laugh with each other about how "Boy I can't wait to get some B-B-Q before this game is done!" It became a thing.

Beyond that, I don't have a whole lot to say about Boog's, but it was actually pretty good. I was prepared to be fully underwhelmed, because that's usually how things work, but no, it was very satisfying. So go to Camden Yards, it's still great. And get some Boog's.

07.07.2019 - by Steve
Luigi's DeliBaltimore
Meatball sub

We went to Baltimore. While in Baltimore we stayed in the former-working class, former-gay, now-still-kinda-gay-but-mostly-low-key-gentrified neighborhood of Hampden, which is very much defined at this point by its connection to John Waters. There's a lot of flamingos around. You'll see them.

Anyway, even though there were a handful of 'cool' and 'good' restaurants and eateries within close walking distance of our place, I found myself craving a meatball sub. This is silly, because I live in Brooklyn (did you know that?), where I'm constantly surrounded by meatball subs at all times of the day, but rarely get them. Thankfully one of the cool and good restaurants here in Hampden was an Italian deli called Luigi's, with a meatball sub right up on their menu.

Again, I will note, I currently live in Brooklyn. There is no shortage of Italian delis here, or at least regular delis purporting to be Italian delis. The fact that I used up one of my meals in Baltimore on an Italian deli is fully ridiculous. But wouldn't you know, I'll be damned, this was a very good deli—operated entirely by some very tatt'd up Baltimore weirdo punks—and a very very good meatball sub. Although "sub" is actually a misnomer; Luigi's makes a meatball chub. The meatballs were sauce were delicious and homemade and of course the stars of the show, but instead of the standard method of cutting the bread down the middle, hoagie style, the chub involves taking an entire loaf of bread, cutting it in half, and then digging out the inside of the loaf, bread-bowl style. They then stuff the hole with meatballs and sauce, and cork it closed with some of the leftover bread pieces. This sounds like a silly novelty, but I have to say, it made it way easier to eat than your standard meatball sub! No mess, no sloppy deteriorating bread. It was great! Brooklyn delis should take note.

06.22.2019 - by Steve
Roll N RoasterBrooklyn
Roast beef sandwich

If you follow me on any given social media platform, or perhaps on occasion even speak to me casually or professionally or otherwise, or maybe if you've sat in the same subway car or lingered within 100 feet of my open apartment windows in the last 3 weeks, you've probably heard me claim at least once that Roll N Roaster is the best restaurant in New York. Look, I know it's actually not. That's just hyperbole, ok? But what it is is a beautifully odd, oddly perfect, perfectly out-of-touch fast food institution in the equally out-of-touch deep Brooklyn neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay. It's one of those rare places that genuinely feels like it's from another era—untouched, unchanged, balancing on a terrifying equilibrium since 1970 of being successful enough that they didn't have to reinvent the wheel, but not so successful that monied interests tried to harness its name. Yellow formica booths, golden bubble glass features, sign-painted menu boards—Don Draper could've eaten at this place. He would've hated it but his kids would've loved it, so he'd just let them eat while staring at the window and thinking about the ocean. I'd bet money that multiple movies and shows have filmed here. I'd tell you which ones, but I can't seem to find any info. But Anthony Bourdain filmed here, and probably swore.

Why Roll? Because they bake their own rolls. Why Roaster? Because they serve roast beef sandwiches (on the rolls). It's also somewhat kinda almost close to Coney Island, which has a roller coaster, so I think that must've been part of their thinking. But even closer by, just a mile north on the same road, is the ancient Brooklyn restaurant institution Brennan & Carr, which I wrote about a few months ago. I have to think that R'N'R's decision to go into roast beef was inspired by Brennan & Carr's famous roast beef, but they do a much better job. My sandwich was damn good, much more tender and fresh than B&C's, and even better than some of the sandwiches I've had at Minneapolis' own roast beef institutions of Wally's and Maverick's. I got it with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy, which were actually (I think) homemade, and just as delicious. And root beer!

Roll N Roaster is not the best restaurant in New York City. But it's a true and rare gem, and I'm almost sad I discovered it because now for the rest of my life I'm going to have to worry about whether or not it's still around. 5 years from now, I'll see a rollercoaster on TV, and suddenly my mind will snap to "Oh shit, I hope Roll N Roaster is still around!". But some day it won't be, so you better go there next time you're here. Maybe just, like, go to Momofuku first.

06.18.2019 - by Steve
Hand Pull Noodles and Dumpling HouseBrooklyn
Pork rib noodle soup

These hand pull noodles and dumplings aren't up to the standards of Xi'an Famous Foods, which for me and a million other people in this city is the standard, but hey, it was good. And cheap. And nearby.

Addendum: Everyone knows Chinatown in lower Manhattan, and a lot of people know about the even-China-er-own of Flushing, Queens. But there's a couple burgeoning little Chinese/Asian neighborhoods in deep Brooklyn that offer a whole lot of decent looking food options (and a lot of hot pot) that are far enough away from the young and beautiful people of New York that they fly a little under the radar. All the dying and angry old Italians might not be too happy about it, but as long as you can get a solid bowl of soup and dumplings for five bucks on a random corner in Bensonhurst, it's hard to see a downside.

05.31.2019 - by Steve
Tacos El BroncoBrooklyn
Tacos

There's a running thread in my New York food adventures, which I may or may not have written about already, and you may or may not have read about already, and it's this: Mexican food isn't that great here. I can't say that's true across the board, as I'm sure there's some exceptional Mexican spots to be found somewhere, but it seems to suffer from the same problem as this town's pizza, bagels, and deli sandwiches. It's as if every place, whether it's a counter service taqueria, a sit down joint, or a truck, gets all the same ingredients from all the same distributors. But unlike pizza and bagels, where the redundant offerings are at least of generally high quality, the average New York taco is just mostly fine I guess.

This does bring us to the Tacos El Bronco truck, which you think might be a "but here's the exception!" moment, but naaah. It's just as okay as every other one. But then it becomes even more disappointing because just a few hours before stumbling upon the truck in Sunset Park, I'd just read El Bronco mentioned on a short list of Best Tacos In Brooklyn. So I had my hopes up, and it didn't happen for me.