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.

2021-03-04
Maxi's NoodleQueens
Lo mein with beef stew and dumplings

Hong Kong style noodles are the noodles for me. I've decided. The Hong Kong version of lo mein, in particular, I'm realizing is right to the heart of what I want out of this sort of thing—thinner, almost vermicelli style noodles, sitting and basting in stock (but not swimming as a soup), salty and not too sloppy, and topped with a couple hunks of meat.

Maxi's in Flushing does Hong Kong style noodles (probably one of about two dozen places in Flushing that does Hong Kong noodles really), and with the beef stew on top for an extra dollar—don't get too excited about the spicy pork—they're probably as good as you'll find anywhere.

2021-03-04
Sushi FellaQueens
Sushi

There's a Polish guy in my neighborhood operating an underground sushi takeout business out of his apartment while the restaurant he apprentices for—under the leadership of one of the Jiro Dreams of Sushi masters—is closed for the pandemic. You text him, he asks you how many people will be eating and when you can pick it up, you go to the corner outside his apartment building and he brings it down for you, you ask how to pay and he says "You can Venmo me tomorrow, or later this week, it doesn't matter. Please just enjoy your sushi." You can tell this man truly loves sushi. And emojis. Especially sushi emojis.

It might be the best sushi I've ever had.

2021-02-27
Belleayre Mountain Ski CenterCatskills
Chili dog

We went skiing last weekend, which was a first for me. I fell down a lot and it hurt. Still had fun though.

But this is a food blog and I'm here to tell you about the hot dog I ate from the truck outside the ski lodge. My friends, maybe it was because I was cold and tired, maybe it was because I was primed for new adventures and thrills, or maybe it was because my body was desperate for nourishment to replenish all the energy reserves it was burning in order to heal all the bodily damage the ski slope had inflicted on me that morning, but I tell you it was one of the best chili dogs I've ever eaten.

2021-02-22
Untitled al pastor taco cartQueens
Al pastor tacos

I can now finally be a guy who says the best al pastor he's ever had is from an anonymous taco cart under the 7 train.

2021-02-15
MincaManhattan
Ramen, gyoza

Minca is pretty old as far as American ramen shops are concerned—it was apparently one of the first to open in New York City during the initial ramen boom of the early 2000s, and it's still going strong 20 years later. Impressively strong, actually, considering it's still just a tiny little kitchen with a bar and a couple tables in the Lower East Side. Considering time and its reputation, you'd imagine someone would've convinced them to expand or otherwise upgrade over the years, yet they've seemingly decided just to keep it simple and make good ramen. Even the menus look like they were designed in Microsoft Word and printed on someone's inkjet in the basement.

As for the ramen: excellent. The pork was maybe the best pork I've ever had in a ramen bowl—it was fatty and melty like you'll often find, but it also had a perfect caramelized char on the outside, a little smokey even, which led to some perfect bites on the edges. The pork alone made the trip worth it. The rest of the ramen was delish, no complaints at all, but was outshined by the pork.

Meanwhile, the gyoza: unbelievably almost as good as the pork. And also maybe the best gyoza I've ever had. Just about perfect.

Also worth mentioning we ate in an outdoor Covid cabana on a 25 degree day, right next to a space heater. Which I think might actually be the perfect way to eat ramen.

2021-02-15
Little Cabin Sandwich ShopCrompond, NY
Brisket rueben

I've learned through the years that sandwich shops run by old Deadheads are the best sandwich shops. If you walk into any small town sandwich joint and "Box of Rain" is playing over the speakers and there's a guy with a white beard behind the counter, you're in good hands.

2021-02-15
FuskahouseQueens
Fuchka

Oh you've never heard of fuschka? The popular Bengali street snack? Oh, well, that's funny because I live a few blocks away from the first and second fuschka carts in America, so I don't know I mean it's not even that exciting for me anymore. Yeah it's fucking delicious and exploding with flavor and somehow light as a cloud, but when you live so close to the best fuschka in the western hemisphere, I guess you kinda just forget it's even there. Anyway, you probably don't have any in your town anyway, so don't worry about it y'know? I guess I'll take you to Fuskahouse (lol, no it's not "Fuchkahouse", everyone knows that) or Tong (it was the first one but actually all the locals eat at the other cart anyway) next time you're in the big city to visit.