02.12.2020
Deerhoof
Balter / Saunier

By my estimation, it was about 8 years ago that I abandoned Deerhoof. Breakup Song had just come out, and it was their 2nd or 3rd album in a row that didn't excite me as much as their previous work, and I just felt like the band had explored everything they were going to explore, and it would be diminishing returns from there. No fault to them, they'd put out at least 10 years worth of incredible music, but I just felt like I'd had my fill. So I just kinda stopped paying attention.

Earlier this month, I heard a guitar chord, and an electric circuit reconnected in my brain. I don't know what song it was, what year it was from, but it was a Deerhoof guitar chord. And a Deerhof guitar chord doesn't sound like any other guitar chord. It got into my brain, and for the next couple days I kept humming Deerhoof tunes like a psychopath. Then I cued up Reveille. Then Milk Man. Then Offend Maggie. All of it. For about three days straight I mainlined Deerhoof. I even went back to the later stuff that made me abandon ship, Deerhoof Vs. Evil and Breakup Song. Mainlined it. Loved every bit of it. Best part of all has been discovering music they made in the 8 years I've been away, albums I heard about in passing, but just assumed would be more of the same. They're all fucking great.

Most interesting of all is this collaboration with Ensemble Dal Niente, Balter / Saunier. It sounds like a novel idea, Deerhoof teaming up with a contemporary composer and 22 piece chamber jazz ensemble, one that could come off as "Deerhoof with strings." But the result on record is captivating—it's a genuinely collaborative effort, which lands somewhere in between contemporary classical, jazz, and yes, Deerhoof. It fully works. It's quiet, patient, sublime, with occasional shots of weirdo maximalism.

I used to like Deerhoof. I've always thought they were great. But on this second round of listening, I've turned a corner; I love Deerhoof, and not only are they great, I'm now deeply convinced they're they're one of the greatest American bands of not just my generation, but of the entire rock era. But beyond that one level still, I'm realizing they're not even a rock band. The music they've played for 30 years now owes just as much to ideas of jazz and improvisation and contemporary composition and the avant-garde as it does to, like, Led Zeppelin or Nirvana. They do it all, and they've been doing it all for a long time now. They're some of the best we've got.

11.27.2013
Deerhoof
Reveille

Dootdoo-doot-dooooo!


(1)
09.08.2012
Deerhoof
Breakup Songs

Interesting new Deerhoof album. Not one of their best, but maybe one of their most consistent. Everything sounds a little broken, overdriven, discombobulated, and programmed back as a more danceable Deerhoof. Like Deerhoof made a remix of the real version of the album, but accidentally left off the good stuff.


(1)
01.25.2011
Deerhoof
Deerhoof Vs Evil

On a superficial level, this is the kind Deerhoof album I've been waiting for. Mellow, layered, unique, but still undeniably Deerhoofian. Yet here I sit, only two songs to go, unmoved. Oh well. I'm not too concerned, considering Deerhoof and I have an every-other-album kind of relationship, and Offend Maggie was possibly their best work. Next time, then.

09.30.2009
Deerhoof
Offend Maggie

I know this album came out last year, but I just had one of those "Holy cow" listening experiences with it yesterday. I mean, Deerhoof is Deerhoof, and you get pretty much exactly what you expect. But it really blew me away this time just how out there they are. Yes, this is rock music, and it's nothing more than drums, bass, guitar, and voice, but these guys are really coming from a different place. They're playing chords that are seemingly being invented on the spot, and melodies that are so devoid of comparisons and references that you'd think they're coming from a group of culturally innocent outsider savants who only discovered music the day before. Beyond that, the engineering and recording on Offend Maggie is some of the crispest and purest I've ever heard. You may as well be standing in the middle of their practice space. And that distorted guitar tone, wow! The whole album is really a thing of amazement, and I'm a little bummed I hadn't really given it the respect it deserves, since from afar it appears to be "just another Deerhoof album." Sure, you could try to create a comparison mixing Shudder To Think and Japanese pop and who knows what else, but you'd be better off to admit that, for better or worse, Deerhoof is simply operating on a different plane as everyone else.

03.28.2020 - by Steve
Katz's DeliManhattan
Pastrami on rye

Way, way, way back in the early days of this music and food blog, I posted about Katz's. I recommend that you don't go back and read it, but the gist was: Katz's is pretty good, but wowie is it expensive, and I bet you can do better!

Well now I'm older (much), wiser (a little), and richer (just barely), plus I actually live in this goddamn city, so I feel much more comfortable saying this: 10 years ago Steve was wrong as shit. Katz's is everything that is right and good in this world, and I don't give a damn that their sandwiches cost $20. Because guess what, there are other Jewish delis around town, and they're all just as expensive, and not nearly as good. Plus it's open all night!

Come to New York. Eat at Katz's. Get the pastrami. Skip the corned beef. Probably wait until like 10pm so you can actually get a table. Hopefully they make it through this junk.

03.17.2020 - by Steve
Los Tacos No. 1Manhattan
Tacos

I'm drastically behind on food posts. Sorry everybody. But what better time than a devastating worldwide pandemic (is that redundant?) to sit inside and tell you about tacos?

This is Los Tacos No. 1, and I had a whole other specific introduction I wanted to give here, but a national law just passed that every sentence we speak and write must contain one reference to viruses, social distancing, quarantines, or at least use the phrase, "Crazy, huh?". But the short take on Los Tacos is that it started as a kiosk in Chelsea Market, became massively popular, then opened new locations in some of the shittiest spots in Manhattan. There's one in Times Square, one in the Financial District, and a new one opening (if humanity survives long enough) at Grand Central Station. Even just reading that list is annoying to me, and makes me want nothing to do with Los Tacos No. 1.

Except honestly these are some of the best tacos in the city. Like, practically perfect tacos. And even though the taco "authenticity" debate mostly makes me want to crawl in a hole (or lick a subway pole), these little guys at least seem as authentic as you could ask for. The place even has a fun (if contrived) throwback quality to it—minimalist hand-painted signage, a bare bones menu, employees wearing little short order chef hats and white aprons—it's all set up to feel like you're in an urban Mexico City taqueria that hasn't been updated since the 60s. It's a little corny, but it actually works. But more importantly, the tortillas are fresh, the fillings are outstanding, the service is extremely efficient, and you could find a much worse place to be quarantined inside of.

02.16.2020 - by Steve
Great NY NoodletownManhattan
Roast duck on noodles

It's roast duck on noodles. Look at it up there. Don't you want to eat it? Isn't it calling your name?

02.12.2020 - by Steve
PongalManhattan
Paneer rava

I think the food at this Curry Hill dosa place was real good. I think. And I also think we had a good time enjoying an evening with friends and sharing some delicious fried appetizers. Pretty sure we did. But it is all just a blur to me, because the waitstaff was so intent on getting us out of there so they could close, I'm not exactly sure what happened between sitting down and paying the bill. This isn't a snotty Yelp review or anything, I'm not really complaining, since it was partially our fault for getting a table 20 minutes before their closing time (although on the internet it said they closed an hour later, so...). And they were at least nice about it, constantly saying it wasn't a big deal and that we should enjoy our meal. But holy cow, the speed at which they moved, and the daggers with which they watched the state of our plates as we were finishing.

Delicious though. Can't complain about that.

02.11.2020 - by Steve
AlmaNortheast Minneapolis
Turkey burger

You might've seen the Alma turkey burger on my big Best Food of 2019 list, and then started scrolling and scrolling scrolling to find my writeup about it, and subsequently torched your laptop in protest of its absence. You might've done that. Sorry, I hadn't actually written about the dang thing yet.

The gist is that Alma is obviously an extremely good restaurant. And in recent years they opened a new cafe that is connected to the restaurant and hotel!? Wow, a hotel. Anyway when I was back in the Cities over Christmas, we wanted to hit up Al's Breakfist (RIP RIP RIP RIP RIP fuck everything there is no longer anything good in this shit world of ours RIP RIP), but the line was too long. So while searching for a backup, Erin noticed that Alma's cafe does a brunch and lunch menu every day—shocking to me because I had no idea they even served food, I just thought it was a coffee shop. So we went there instead, noticed plenty of open tables on a weekday morning,

I shouldn't be surprised that Alma makes an amazing turkey burger, but holy cow Alma makes an amazing turkey burger. It's perfect. Moist, flavorful, topped with just enough—and the perfect balance of—toppings. Absolutely loved it. And absolutely bummed that I could've been eating there the whole time I lived in Northeast.