03.05.2017
Grandaddy
Last Place

This is probably Grandaddy's least great album. But I've still listened to it about 6 times since Friday.

04.16.2012
Grandaddy
Excerpts from the Diary of Todd Zilla

I had "Fuck the Valley Fudge" stuck in my head all weekend. Funny, odd, great Grandaddy song. I'm realizing years after they "broke up", Pumpkins style, that Grandaddy was way better than most people gave them credit for–even people who liked them. Funny that a band who played catchy pop rock songs about suburban technological dystopia–and that's all!–could be so good at it, and create such a respectable body of work from it. They wrote Grandaddy songs. Period. And they wrote them really, really well. How many bands can you think of that have released 4-5 quality albums with such a laser-focused raison d'être? The Smiths come to mind. More recently The Walkmen, maybe. I don't know. I also claim Grandaddy started the whole beard thing back in 2000. But that's a separate post.


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03.30.2010
Grandaddy
Just Like The Fambly Cat

I think I remember liking this when it came out, but that might be a little cognitive dissonance on my part. All I know is that in the years since its release, I've mostly sated my Grandaddy urges with The Sophtware Slump and Sumday, which I still think is their best. But even though I've been passing off Fambly Cat as insignificant, listening to it right now, very loudly, on a good speaker system, might be changing my mind. More so than Sophtware Slump (their "art" album) and Sumday (their "pop" album), Fambly Cat is clearly Grandaddy's "rock" album, even if every song isn't a barnburner. I'd still place it at number three behind those other two, but I think I've been wrong to ignore it all these years. If anything, it gave us "Geez Louise" (seriously, play that song at max volume. Holy shit!), and "Where I'm Anymore," two legitimate Grandaddy masterpieces. And now that I'm thinking about it, the EP they put out before this album had a couple legitimately good songs on it too. In hindsight, they could've thrown a couple of those ("Fuck The Valley Fudge," specifically) onto Fambly Cat, and it could've been a much stronger album as a whole.

06.11.2017 - by Steve
JL BeersNortheast Minneapolis
Cheeseburger

I'd been mostly avoiding this JL Beers place that popped up in Northeast a couple years ago, because it had the desperate stink of a chain trying hard not to look like a chain in order to appease all of us city folk. Which is exactly what it is. But when I found myself in need of a very particular kind of thin, oniony, 'burger stand' style bar burger one night, I discovered that is the exact kind of burger JL Beers makes. Which is refreshing for a chain like that. Furthermore, with a little snooping I learned that JL originated in Fargo, and really only has a few locations in the North and South Dakota, and now a few in the Twin Cities. So as far as chains go, it's almost downright charming. Okay, so I'll go to JL Beers. The place is set up just like some "real" dive bar. Long, open grill and fryers behind the bar, not a ton of tables. The biggest red flag is on those grills, where they have automatically timed presses (I guess you'd call them?) that flatten and speed-cook the burgers on the grill. Which feels a little sad, but maybe fun that you could say your burger is cooked by robot? Or maybe every restaurant has these, but just never out in the open? Anyway, I got a cheeseburger, and it looked perfect, like something from Matt's or the Cedar Grill or any 'real' place that JL Beers is trying to mimic. Except: the burger tasted gross. It reminded me of the burgers I'd get as a kid from a Chinese restaurant when I was too picky to eat Chinese food. This very specific, oily, tinny essence that just tastes wrong. And the fries had a similar wrongness. So. They almost did it, JL Beers. Almost.

04.21.2017 - by Steve
ByteDowntown Minneapolis
Black vinegar pork bowl

Byte (get it!?) is a new counter-service eatery and bar downtown who's tagline promises some sort of nerdy, techy something or other. "Eat Drink Geek," it says. Well I did notice the table numbers had drawings of superheroes on them (we got Green Lantern), but beyond that I'm stumped. More importantly though, is the food, a which reminds me quite a bit of World Street Kitchen in its worldly-yet-ethnically-agnostic mix of bowls and burritos and salads. I got the black vinegar pork bowl, which I think was Korean, or at least Korean-inspired, but hey it was really good! It had some nice pickled veggies in there, and some cashews on there, and bok choy (so maybe it was Chinese?) and the rice was good, and it was actually more than I could finish in a single sitting! Thanks Byte! So hey, I like this place! It's bright and chill and tasty, and I guess there's a bar in back, so maybe there's some arcade games back there or something? Or maybe some tech startup offices? We'll never know.

04.09.2017 - by Steve
PinKuNortheast Minneapolis
Fried shrimp, tuna on crispy rice, gyoza

Everything I ate at PinKu tasted great. The pork filling in the gyoza was a little mushy, and the radish 'noodles' under the crispy shrimp was a little bit plain, but otherwise it was all mostly flawless. And hey, I even like that the design of the space isn't too annoying, and that it's a modestly low-key, order-at-the-counter spot that doesn't seem to be trying too hard. Good! But my problem with PinKu is this: I spent $24 there, ate every scrap on my plate, and was still hungry enough when I left that I damn-near went into Savoy next door to get a meatball sub. It's a gripe as old as time. "Oh I paid a fortune at this fancy rest-o-raunt for just a tiny plate of food and a piece of lettuce!" It's annoying. I get that good food takes time and talent and costs money. But this was a little overboard, especially for a place that claims to offer "Japanese Street Food," which to me means it should be hearty and a little bit crass, but filling and satisfying. Granted, I've never been to Japan, but I don't think anything at this place can be qualified as "street food"—it's more or less a sushi joint. (I'd rant further about the new trend of restaurants claiming to serve "street food," but you can scroll down to my Spitz post to get your fill of that). Basically, look... I like PinKu. I enjoyed their food. I liked being in their space. But I just wish it was either $5–6 cheaper, or they would've given me two more pieces of shrimp and one more tuna crispy rice cube. And maybe some miso soup. Or a coupon for a free meatball sub next door.