07.24.2018
Deafheaven
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.

11.09.2015
Deafheaven
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.


(1)
10.04.2015
Deafheaven
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.


(1)
07.13.2013
Deafheaven
Sunbather

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.

05.20.2019 - by Steve
Wafa's ExpressBrooklyn
Falafel bowl

There's a recent New York Times review framed and hanging on the wall of Wafa's Express that closes with one of the most overwrought and hilariously food-criticesque sentences you'll ever read: And the scent: orange blossom and rose water, in the ashta, in the syrup and in the air, like a benediction. It's a counter-service falafel and shawarma place for cripes sake! And yet, shit, it's not wrong?

05.11.2019 - by Steve
PelicanaBrooklyn
Korean fried chicken

Korean fried chicken is very much a thing, and within the world of Korean fried chicken, Bonchon is generally the thing. I had Bonchon once, and honestly wasn't terribly impressed. Pelicana, meanwhile, seems to be a second fiddle of Korean fried chicken chains; the Qdoba to Bonchon's Chipotle. There's a couple of them around here, the first I saw in a (three level) food court in Koreatown, the other taking up a quaint corner bar space in Fort Greene. And I gotta say, based on just a single trip to each, I like Pelicana better than Bonchon. Juicier, spicier, just as crisp in very Korean chicken kind of way. It was extremely satisfying. Maybe a little overkill on the sauce, but that's a lousy complaint.

Addendum: While I was writing this, I did some quick research and discovered there's a Bonchon location in Minneapolis?? And it's been there since 2017?? Why didn't I know this!

04.29.2019 - by Steve
MomofukuManhattan
Spicy pork belly ramen, sausage buns

The gist: Extremely hot ramen, sweaty bros next to us couldn't handle it, incredible sausage buns, chicken wings that looked unbelievable but where only just pretty good. Momofuku is for real and surprisingly affordable and accessible. Just maybe think real hard about going spicy.

04.29.2019 - by Steve
Tony Luke's Brooklyn
Philly cheesesteak

My quest for the best cheesesteak—both in New York and in America at large—was made somewhat easier recently when Tony Luke's, a seemingly beloved Philadelphia chain, opened their first out-of-Philly location in downtown Brooklyn. It was essentially happenstance that led me there, on only the 2nd day of their opening, even. So it was a little crowded. But I wanted a cheesesteak that day anyway (thus the happenstance), so I persevered, stood in line, and holed up at the standing bar in a corner to eat it. I will say this: Tony Luke's makes a very good cheesesteak. Probably the best I've had in New York so far, though the one from Shorty's was damn close. Easily better than the one I had at Geno's (or was it Pat's?) in Philadelphia, which isn't exactly the gold standard, but maybe more of a baseline for all cheesesteak judging. And the greasy Philly ambiance of the place is just weird enough—homemade ads for hilariously bad looking B-movies which Tony Luke Jr. himself seemingly produced and starred in adorn the walls, as well as pictures from his notable work as an extra in fucking Invincible starring Mark Walberg of fucking course—and the theme to Rocky plays on a loop from a TV up in the corner. So, come to think of it, you better go eat at Tony Luke's as soon as you can before all of the staff quits en masse.

04.06.2019 - by Steve
John's DeliBrooklyn
Johnny roast beef

I've been slowly eating through a list of Brooklyn's greatest old-school sandwich joints. This is a sandwich town, they say, and I'd like to think I'm a sandwich guy. I haven't posted about all of them on here, because basically they've all brought me to the same conclusion: pretty good I guess, but not amazing.

I can't make any conclusions of why this is. Maybe it's that everyone gets the same ingredients from the same distributors. Maybe they don't just make'em like they used to. Maybe they were never great to begin with? But even though I've gotten to visit some weird deep Brooklyn neighborhoods, heard some sweaty Brooklyn accents, and seen some fantastic old-school hand painted signage and menu boards (hey Lioni's), this sandwich odyssey has left me where I was when I started: The greatest sandwich I've ever eaten is still the roast beef from Clancey's Meats, and the greatest Italian sandwich I've ever eaten is still from (world's largest sigh) Jersey Mike's.

Anyway, the Johnny roast beef from John's Deli is at least interesting enough to post here. Just look at that photo. We've got some fresh sliced roast beef (although not as fresh as the aforementioned Clancey's), some caramelized onions, and a liberal helping of their "famous" beef gravy. It's simple, but it's not something you can find at the thousands of other delis around town. And it's tasty! And rich! But man, if this is really one of the great New York Sandwiches, I don't know what to think of this place anymore.