07.16.2017
Girlpool
Powerplant

Girlpool's first album was a surprise favorite of mine in 2105. It had this rough, tossed off vibe, sounding like two girls who decided to record an album together at the same time that they're just learning to play guitar, yet totally unafraid to just go for it, arranging their perfectly written songs to fit within the constraints of their limited chops, belting every melody in catchy 2-part harmonies, and not giving a damn that they don't know any drummers.

This new one, then, disappointed me at first. It sounds like a band. A band that knows what they're doing. With a quality set of distortion pedals and a drummer who probably teaches lessons on weekends. "And this is a bad thing?" Well, considering the charm of the first Girlpool album, yeah. The rough edges are generally gone, and their vocals have gone from joyous bellows to more generic breathy indie whispers. And yet. And yet it grew on me very quick. The songs and melodies are still fantastic, and their trademark 2-part harmonies are still everywhere. And the drummer kicks ass and it basically rocks. It was a quick turnaround from "Ugh, Girlpool just ruined their sound" to "Top ten of the year" in my book.


(1)
12.21.2015
Girlpool
Before the World was Big

There was a time in my life when I probably would've loved Girlpool, intensely listening to the CD in between spins of Minus Story and Beekeeper. And then there was a time when I would've hated Girlpool, maybe, like, in the couple years before and after those spins of Minus Story and Beekeper. Right now, I'm simply appreciating this odd thing that they do—writing honest lyrics, singing their honest guts out, and doing it one note at a time, without playing a single chord or backing it with even the simplest drum beat—without getting myself too hung up about how fucking twee the whole thing is.


(1)
07.19.2017 - by Steve
Pat's King of SteaksPhiladelphia
Cheesesteak

Yes. Yes, yes, of course. Yes, I got a fucking cheesesteak in Philadelphia. And yes, yes, it was at Pat's. Did you think I wouldn't? Did you think I might actually have some amount of self respect and taste? That maybe I'd try to find the "real" best cheesesteak in Philadelphia, or maybe find some scrapple, rather than be a sucker tourist who just goes and finds that corner that's been featured on every single food TV show ever produced, with Pat's on one side and Geno's on the other, hollering at their customers and putting cheese whiz on their sandwiches? Did you really think I might be better than that?

Look. I thought I was too. I did some research. I found a couple places that supposedly have the best cheesesteaks in town. But I only had a short amount of time to spend in Philly, and those other places were nowhere near any train stops. Plus, double look, I've never been to Philadelphia. I'm sorry, but I have to do this. If I didn't eat at Pat's or Geno's, I'd think about it my whole life. It's just one of those things. Every city has their local favorites, their perennial beloved food haunts that help define them. But I think Pat's and Geno's are more inextricably tied to Philadelphia than any other restaurants are to their respective cities. So to hop off the Septa and walk 10 minutes to Pat's (which I only picked because it was about 100 feet closer) is to truly see Philadelphia. I saw Independence Hall, I saw the Liberty Bell (through a window), and I ate a fucking Pat's cheesesteak.

I've had better.


(1)
07.18.2017 - by Steve
WawaPhiladelphia
Hoagie

Here's a random dumb funny one! As a listener of Tom Scharpling's The Best Show on WFMU, I have been hearing for years about this mystical east coast convenience store chain called Wawa. Not simply a convenience store and occasionally a gas station, Wawa is well known for its hoagies, which are made fresh to order in store. It's like if every Super America had a full Jersey Mike's in the back. But beyond the minor novelty of it, these hoagies are by many accounts perhaps the best hoagies in the region. Which is crazy, because this is hoagie country!

So the Saturday of my trip left me with an entirely empty day, and I decided to hop a train to Philadelphia. And this meant one thing:I'm entering Wawa country. My day in Jersey was too far northeast for Wawas, apparently, so this was really my best chance. Luckily, there was one location in downtown Philadelphia within walking distance from Independence Hall (where I was hiding under trees to stay out of the rain). To my surprise, the ordering system was fully digital; you plugged your order into a touch screen, while someone behind the counter made the sandwiches in back. The process was painless enough, although I wish they offered more pre-curated sandwiches rather than make you pick each individual ingredient. Anyhow. I got basically an Italian, albeit with spinach and no pepperoni. It came out fairly quick, looked good enough. And it tasted... good. It was good. Not the best sandwich in the world, but certainly better than Subway. Maybe better than Jimmy Johns. Close to (my recent favorite) Jersey Mikes. Considering it was from the back of a convenience store, yeah, it was great! Was it worth the trip to Philadelphia? Hmm.