2021-11-01
Deerhoof
Actually You Can

Deerhoof is still doing it.

2020-10-21
Deerhoof
Love-Lore

Deerhoof released a new album in which they cover and melodize songs (and poems and drones and excerpts and process experiments) by Ornette Coleman, J.D. Robb, Voivod, Earl Kim, Knight Rider, Raymond Scott, Mauricio Kagel, Eddie Grant, Gary Numan, Stockhausen, The Beach Boys, Gerald Fried, Pauline Oliveros, Kermit the Frog, James Tenney, Silver Apples, The Police, Kraftwerk, John Williams, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra, Parliament, Asha Puthli, Ennio Morricone, Milton Babbitt, The B52s, Sofia Gubaidulina, Vinicius De Moraes & Baden Powell, Dionne Warwick, David Graeber, Derek Bailey, William Hanna & Hoyt Curtin, Anthony Braxton, Gyorgy Kurtag, Eric Siday, Igor Stravinsky, Caetano Veloso, Luigi Nono, Krzysztof Penderecki, John Cage, George Brecht, The Velvet Underground, and Laurie Anderson, and it shockingly—although not really shockingly because this is Deerhoof we're talking about—works. Honestly I'd already put it in the top 5 of their catalog.

2020-02-12
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.

2013-11-27
Deerhoof
Reveille

Dootdoo-doot-dooooo!


(1)
2012-09-08
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)
2011-01-25
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.

2009-09-30
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.

2021-12-03
Leo's LatticiniQueens
Italian hoagie

If I posted about Leo's Latticini before, I was wrong. Last time around, whatever sandwich I had struck me as very average. This time I was totally wowed. Truly one of the best sandwiches around.

2021-12-03
Two Wheels Manhattan
Pho, chicken wings

Totally decent pho. Some of the best wings I've had in New York.

2021-11-15
Joe JuniorManhattan
Cheeseburger

Joe Junior, aside from having one of the charmingest signs in all of Manhattan, is a constant presence on "Best burger in New York" lists. The place itself is very much just a diner—a somewhat charming one yes, but not quite up to that sign outside. And on my visit, it was swarming with unmasked NYU students out for brunch who were annoyed at not getting served quickly enough. I know that's not the restaurant's fault, but yikes. Although Joe Junior's, shall we say, hands off approach to service definitely didn't help the situation. These guys have clearly been living the diner life for way too long and were did not g a f about it keeping the customer happy. I dunno, good for them really.

The burger: good! Not amazing, certainly not the best in New York. But it was very edible. Which I mean as a compliment. It reminded me of the Jackson Hole Diner burger (another VIP on your average Best Burger list), where it was almost meatloaf in its consistency—soft and even light in a way, almost like it was baked rather than grilled. I'd actually put Joe Junior's ahead of Jackson Hole's, simply because it was a much more reasonable size to actually eat, compared to Jackson's basketball-sized offering.

The other odd thing: Never before has iceberg lettuce worked so perfectly on a burger. Usually the lettuce gets immediately sloppy and wilted, and doesn't make a bit of difference to any burger. But the big ol pile of iceberg on this thing actually kinda bumped it from "good" to "pretty darn good". With that extra fragile texture to the burger, having a nice crunchy cool counterpart on top made the whole thing work.

2021-11-15
Hinomaru RamenQueens
Ramen

If this website wasn't hopelessly broken, I'd use its search function to see if I've written about Hinomaru before. I think I have. But good luck.

I just wanted to check in one more time on this place, because we stopped in last week and I had their tonkotsu ramen with spare ribs. Spare ribs! I don't think I've ever had ribs within Japanese milieu. But dang, it was good. Sweet and balanced and tender as shit.

Hinomaru is pretty great, it's got a Michelin Bib Gourmand and everything. Seems to be probably the best ramen in Astoria. Maybe in Queens as a whole? Mu was pretty great, but RIP RIP as of the pandemic. Either way, if there's a better spot, I'd certainly like to know.

2021-11-12
Ramirez!Brooklyn
Tacos

I did something last night that I almost never do. In fact I usually do my best to avoid it. What I did is I saw a swarm of Cool Brooklyn Children hovering around what appeared to be a cool new restaurant in a cool part of town, and instead of turning heel and going literally anywhere else, last night I decided to stick my nose into the scrum and—really—stand in line with everyone else.

The place is called Ramirez! (exclamation point included), and is a slick little minimalist box with a cool Bushwicky neon sign (even though it's in Greenpoint), which serves tacos and Coke and Topo Chico (yes New York City is in the midst of a Topo Chico revolution), and nothing else. Part of the reason for the mass of bodies was that, oddly, Ramirez! doesn't do take out. Every order comes on a cut colorful little plastic plate. You're free to take the plate wherever you want—inside, outside, across the street, down to the river, into your car if it's cold I suppose—as long as you bring it back. Thus the crush of people 10 years younger than me hanging out eating tacos on the sidewalk.

It's too exhausting to talk about how annoyed this all made me—because honestly it didn't. It's fine. Despite the popularity of the place, there was nothing outwardly obnoxious happening, and really I was there taking up just as much space as everyone else. And I'm maybe just over being over cool places. Fucking whatever man, let's just enjoy it all. Because ultimately: these were good fucking tacos. Absolutely nothing to complain about. And by "absolutely," I mean "I guess they were a little on the wet side and the tortillas got a bit soggy." But that's it. I had 3, al pastor, suadero, and longaniza, which is a sort of chorizo, the differences between which I won't explain to you because I can't. That one was my fave of the bunch, but they were really all superb. Too small (get 4), but superb.

So. Great tacos. Honestly some of the best I've had in this city. Don't even think about going there on the weekend.

2021-11-06
Broadway Chinese SeafoodQueens
Char siu on rice

For all the Chinese places to be found in this part of Queens (i.e. in Flushing and Elmhurst), there's surprisingly few—for lack of knowing what this sort of establishment is actually called—places with ducks hanging in the window.

If you go down to Manhattan's Chinatown, or farther down into Sunset Park in Brooklyn, you'll see a decent amount of ducks in windows. What this means is they make their own barbecue duck and char siu, i.e. barbecue pork. You can just pop on in and get duck or pork on rice. They take it right off the hook, chop it up with a giant knife on a giant wood block, toss it on some rice with some cabbage, pour some drippings over the top of everything. It's almost always dirt cheap and it's even more always delicious. Especially the char siu.

Problem is in Elmhurst and Flushing, you can hardly find any of it. But I finally found one in Elmhurst, this big weird place called Broadway Chinese Seafood. It was great, of course, but it was very strong, almost too intense. The thing about char siu is that it's made to essentially be an ingredient. Of course you can plop it on rice and eat it, but a lot of people will just buy it in bulk and use it in leftover fried rice, or in soups, or as a small side to go with a larger dish. So in that sense it makes sense to lean a little stronger into the seasonings. And that's certainly what was going on here.

The other thing that stood out with this char siu was that it was topped with this sauce, which was more or less a garlic salsa. I've never had anything like it before! Super tasty, but considering the already-intense pitch of the pork, it was a lil much.

But I'm being too critical! In reality I ate the shit out of this whole tray of pork and rice and felt like junk for the rest of the night. And I'll absolutely do it again.

2021-11-01
3 Aunties Thai MarketQueens
Pork nuggets

This place is tiny but disproportionally wonderful. A little Thai grocery store that really is run by three aunties, where you can barely pass anyone in the aisle, but barely know what anything on the shelves are anyway. They've got a little kitchen in the back that makes grab-and-go bites, and I want to try one of everything. So far I've just had these little grilled pork nuggs, which were total yummz.

I may as well make this a double post, because I need to mention that I made a special trip to 3 Aunties to buy this particular brand of hot sauce called SD Sauce. It's almost like the homemade stuff you might get at a good Thai place, little chopped up bits of chilis and garlic and onion soaking in vinegar and sugar and fish sauce and lemon juice. It's powerfully delicious, and it made the pork nuggs even better. It will probably make literally anything even better.