Infinite Granite

At first, this album bummed me out because Deafheaven no longer really sounds like Deafheaven. Shit, they sound more like Failure than Deafheaven. Which should be exciting for me, but mostly just leaves me confused.

But then after running through the album once or twice, I found myself continually coming back to it. Trying to crack its code, trying to connect the dots of how the end of almost every track kinda ruled, but it took work to get there each time.

Well the ends kinda ruled because they sound like Deafheaven. Fucking big and fucking huge and fucking metal and fucking somehow simultaneously something altogether outside metal. Like Deafheaven. It's all the stuff leading up to it which just sounds weirdly like somewhat psych-y alt rock with kinda weak vocals and way too much tinkly delay guitar that turns me off. So ultimately, I just don't think this thing is going to sit with me for the long run.

Ordinary Corrupt Human Love

I'm still not sure what to make of Deafheaven. When they do metal they're great, doing shit that no other black or death or whatever metal band has the guts to do. Major chords, earworm melodies, true subgenre agnosticism, flipping between blastbeat noise and cool thrash riffs, and the occasional bit of glam rock boogie. Unlike so much of the metal world, they follow their muse. But then, more often than not, the muse takes them right into post-rock. When Deafheaven does post-rock, it's rote, tedious, Explosions In The Sky knocking bullshit. It's boring. That's part of why their first album Sunbather didn't excite me as much as it did for everyone else in the world. But then New Bermuda cut out a lot of that and focused more on riffs and momentum, and they felt like a whole new band. So it bums me out that so much of this new one is filled with this meandering post-rock filler, because when they turn up the volume and get down to business, it's as incredible as advertised.

New Bermuda

Sorry I just posted about New Bermuda, but I just wanted to chime in again, because I listened to it a couple times last week while boppin' around on a chilly dark night, and something about it was just perfect. If you're in the mood for what Deafheaven has to offer, it's a powerful, powerful record. It might just sneak up near the top of my end-of-year favorites.

New Bermuda

I don't buy in to any of the critique/dialogue/commentary/consensus surrounding Deafheaven. To me it boils down to, yeah, Deafheaven does some different stuff for a "black metal" band, but calm down everybody. Metal fans and writers get so concerned about this shit. Sunbather had so much damn baggage that came with it, but I found the record itself to be pretty dull. By-the-numbers post rock doing battle with by-the-numbers black metal, recorded well and performed well enough. But otherwise it bored me. New Bermuda on the other hand. This is exciting! It's not perfect, and it's not going to compete with my all time favorite works of metal, but it's good. Italic good! Because in between the flashes of black metal blastbeats and that nonsense (which I honestly quite dislike), they actually perform here as a thoughtful-yet-tight metal band. And yeah, there's some post rock in there. There's some indie rock in there. There's some goddamn Yo La Tengo in there! But as a whole it's simply powerful, moving, organically-inclined heavy metal. If they go ahead and shred any worries about "black" in their next release, they'll truly be onto something.


My ears like this record. My gut likes this record. Every music critic in the world likes this record. But when I put my brain to work on scrutinizing and trying to make sense of it, all I get back is "Generic post rock band with black metal drumming and screaming." It seems like such an obvious combination, and they're doing it well, but I feel like it's a bit of a cop out! Nothing against post rock (really?), but it's kinda not that hard to do. It doesn't take a whole lot of talent. If you take away the blast beat drumming and soul-melting screams, you've got yourself a fine-but-whatever Explosions In The Sky meets Godspeed You Black Emperor set of minor chords and layered guitar. Where are the riffs? Where are the melodies? Oh, that's right, it's black metal, so there are none. I'd ask where the lead guitar is, but on track 5 you actually hear it, and the emperor (black?) is exposed for the world to see. It's the saddest bit of unimprovised metal guitar solo you'll ever hear. Not that a good metal band is all about it's chops, but they should have chops. What these guys have is a couple Mogwai albums and a decent set of lungs. All of this is damning criticism, of course, until you reverse back to the first sentence: My ears like this album. It sounds great. It's fun to listen to. I just think we should hold off on crowning these guys until they make something more of their influences.

Spaghetti TavernManhattan
Spaghetti in a bag

This music and food blog exists to dive deep, to examine how we nourish ourselves—spiritually and gastronomically—the choices we make in our navigation and consumption of art and culture, and to challenge the means by which we reach for our individualistic carnal edification.

The Spaghetti Tavern is an Old West themed bar that serves spaghetti in a bag. It comes with either garlic bread or crinkle cut french fries and they give you a ceramic crock of parmesan cheese so you can spoon on as much as you'd like. There's a moose head on the wall.

Bolivian Llama PartyQueens
Pork chola sandwich

This is embarrassing and off-brand for me, but I like that Bolivian Llama Party is cool. So much stuff in my neighborhood is relentlessly authentic, hyper regional restaurants opened by first-generation immigrants mostly making food for their fellow expatriates and the occasional curious neighbor, with little-to-no effort put into the kind of brand-building bullshit that circles around our friends over in, for instance, the entire north half of Brooklyn. This what we always say we want, of course, these mom-n-pop-hole-in-wall beacons of authenticity. And they're great and I love them all! Don't confuse those hyphens for snark!

Bolivian Llama Party, well I mean it's called Bolivian Llama Party. Their logo is a llama in a birthday hat. There are dozens (maybe 100?) South American restaurants in this part of Queens, almost all of which conform to some level of the hole-in-wall authenticity, occasionally adopting a sleeker club vibe, all for the most part orbiting around similar collections of menu items, relative to their respective countries of origin. (And, again, that's great!). But Bolivian Llama Party is over here with fun fusiony sandwiches, loaded poutine-adjacent french fries, fun experimental ice creams, jackfruit meat replacements! Fried chicken sandwiches, dammit!

To all of which you'd usually say "okay, whatever, sounds like some shit you could find at any food hall between Greenpoint and the Lower East Side." Heck I think Bolivian Llama Party had a kiosk in a Manhattan food hall which has since closed. But I'm realizing that there's so little of that stuff around here that getting just a little bit of it is actually fun and exciting.

Furthermore, it's delicious! It's really good! I don't have a single complaint about any of it! And for being cool, it's not that cool.

Zhongzhong NoodlesRoosevelt Island
Beef noodles

Roosevelt Island has like 3 restaurants and this is probably the best one. Which is actually a compliment, because Grannie Annie's has a decent fish and chips.

La EspigaQueens
Barbacoa tacos

Corona Queens is full of authentic Mexican restaurants and taquerias, but something about La Espiga feels extra authentic. During the week, it's one of a countless number of basic holes in the wall, pretty standard menu as far as I can tell, they make their own tortillas, totally decent. But on weekends—and only on weekends—they sell their homemade barbacoa, and they become Superman.

And you can tell it's homemade, because they cook the stuff up in a big ol' pot right there in the front window, slop it onto a cutting board and chop it to sell by the pound and in tacos and on platters to seemingly everyone who frequents the place on weekends. I went with the tacos, and while it wasn't to the "omg I might cry" level that Birria Landia first got me to (although between birria and barbacoa, even though we're talking slow cooked red meat, we're still talking two different flavor profiles), it still fully impressed me. Rich and tender and luscious and simple, on a perfect homemade tortilla.

Meanwhile they've also got some of the best horchata around. This place is really a dream.

Korean fried chicken

I'll get this out of the way: This restaurant is called CHEO GOD.ZIP. That is the name of the restaurant. It's named after a .zip file. I've searched around, and can find no reason to explain why they named it that, or what it means, or anything. It's just one of those cases (I guess?) of an Asian-to-English language/culture translation getting borked in the process, and everyone just accepting the outcome and moving on.

I only stumbled upon CHEO GOD.ZIP when I was biking out in the super Korean part of Flushing last week. I was thinking about going back to this other place called The Coop to have Korean fried chicken and watch the Monday Night Football game, when I looked up and saw that completely maniac incongruous title up above the restaurant. At first all I wanted to do was immediately take a picture and post it on social media to receive the requisite lols, but I quickly noticed that they made fried chicken. "Hmm," I thought. Then I noticed a TV above the bar, playing the football game. "Double hmm," I thought. At this point there was basically no reason not to eat at CHEO GOD.ZIP.

The restaurant itself isn't really as batshit as I'd hoped, all things considered. But aside from the occasionally boffo choices in menu organization (and pizza toppings), this is basically your standard Korean fried chicken bar. This leads me to a larger thought: much like New York pizza, I'm starting to believe that there's little to no variation in quality between Korean fried chicken places. It's seemingly quite good wherever you get it, and it never strays too far from the norm, flavor-wise. Again: they're all great! Delicious every time. But I have a hard time trying to place CHEO GOD.ZIP above or below Bonchon or Pelicana or Unidentified Flying Chickens or or or. It's all just kinda equally good.

What really makes CHEO GOD.ZIP stand out though, is their potato wedges. Honestly, probably the best potato wedges I've ever had. Crispy and precisely fried on the outside, creamy on the inside, not too fat and not too thin. If I have any complaint it's that maybe that could've used a litttttttttle more seasoning. But whatever. They were heavenly.

All paired with yr standard pickled radish cubes and a totally unnecessary cabbage salad, and CHEO GOD.ZIP is a perfectly capable little joint.

I'm going to hit Submit on this post now, just a little bit nervous that the title is going to cause a catastrophic failure on my site. Or set off Google's anti-virus warnings and leave it unreadable. This could be the end, my friends. If it is, it's been an honor serving as your music and food blogger.