04.03.2018
Mount Eerie
Now Only

The last Mount Eerie album was a towering masterpiece of grief and honesty and poetry, born out real life death and mourning, completely uncritiqueable and undeniably perfect. Now Only feels like a lesser, lighter follow up to that one, even though it is also all of those things. But it couldn't really be anything else, and that's okay. RIYL: crying.

04.07.2017
Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked at Me

A Crow Looked at Me is such a personal record that I hesitate to even call it a 'record.' I hesitate even more to attempt to write a review of it—or at least I would if I wrote reviews professionally for some critical venue or another. It's probably the best Phil Elverum record since The Glow Pt. 2, and I wouldn't be surprised if I hear people say it's his best work ever, but even that praise feels imprudent. The situation is that is the man's wife died, and he wrote these songs to try to bear it. Some of them are journalistic records of post-loss minutiae, some are memories of the days and months previous, and some are urgent pleas to the universe to make sense of it all. It's all deeply moving and deeply personal, but written beautifully and honestly, prose poetry just barely formed into songs—and it's all written specifically to her, rather than to the listener or some omniscient third party. I'm not using hyperbole when I say that it's somewhat uncomfortable to listen to, as if these are private recordings not meant to be heard by anyone else. But Elverum released it because he wants to share, so I'm okay with it (although, in honesty, I haven't even turned the record to Side B yet. It's just too painful to engage with all in one sitting). Musically it's very pretty, free of nearly all of the instrumental obfuscation that he's practiced over the last decade, generally acoustic guitar and some assorted droning keys and basses. But lyrically, I think there's no question that it's the best work of his career, although again, even raising the question or placing these words in the same canon as his previous work feels entirely beside the point. The whole collection is wonderful, really, and while I'm sure Phil might appreciate hearing that, he almost certainly doesn't care. This isn't a record of music, it's a record of a man who is trying to cope by doing the one thing he knows best how to do: making a record.

03.27.2015
Mount Eerie
Sauna

I think I've said this about every Mount Eerie album, and then immediately regretted it, but I'm sure about it this time: This is the best Microphones album since The Glow Pt. 2.

11.13.2012
Mount Eerie
Ocean Roar

As I'm becoming a bit of a Mount Eerie completist, plus the fact that he's on a bit of a hot streak and I wasn't about to miss this one, I picked up Ocean Roar, the third in a bit of a trilogy of ruminations on the natural world (imagine that!). And I kinda don't like it as much as Wind's Poem and Clear Moon. There are a couple cool high points, but a lot of it is turning into a formless, droning, damn-near-black-metal wall of sound. But whatever.

05.30.2012
Mount Eerie
Clear Moon

Clear Moon is Phil Elverum's best album since The Glow, Pt. 2 back in 2001. It's beautiful front to back. Similar-ish to Wind's Poem, but almost a complete inverse of that record, and totally upends Sigur Ros' new one in the category of "lush atmospheric mood records released by pantheon bands who peaked a decade ago." So, it's great. But what really knocks me out about it is the downright handsome packaging. Stately. Sublime. There's nothing too shocking or novel about it, it's just perfect. Lavendar tinted foil stamp of "CLEAR MOON" over a hazy, hazy picture of the moon over a mountain, in a font that's been out of style for the last 30 years, but it totally works. Skinny little lyric book with more mountain photography and no-nonsense typesetting. Clear vinyl record. Black watercolor illustration on the label. The whole production, just like the record itself, is pure class and no bullshit.

01.22.2010
Mount Eerie
Wind's Poem

While it's otherwise disposable, a mere shadow of the former greatness of The Microphones, this album can genuinely freak you out if listened to under the right circumstances. Like being alone in a dark house after reading pages and pages of stories about mysterious disappearances, unexplainable lights, and human combustion.

09.04.2018 - by Steve
Potter'sDinkytown Minneapolis
Sausage roll

I think I've had a Potter's pasty from their food truck before, but I honestly can't say I remember much about it. But this weekend I finally got to their brick and mortar store (which is only a brick and mortar store in that they sell some food out of a window connected to their commissary kitchen in the basement of a building connected to the back side of a convenience store), and was duly impressed by their sausage roll. See, I'm a bit of an expert on sausage rolls; I went to England one time. So. Anyhow, these aren't quite as good as the rolls at Greggs (um if you've ever been to England like me you'll know what I mean, mate), and they don't serve them with HP Sauce (God save the Queen), but rather with a sort of tangy apple reduction, which I don't think quite worked with what was more of an Italian-style sausage than the traditional English breakfast sausage that you'd expect from a roll. But despite that, I fully enjoyed the roll, and have to say there's something very refreshing about a place in Minneapolis that just sells out of a basement window. It's the sort of secret-handshake "in the know" place that doesn't usually exist around here.

09.04.2018 - by Steve
MeyvnUptown Minneapolis
Bagel

Meyvn is the latest attempt to bring a 'Montreal style' deli to Minneapolis, and considering the fact that my bagel was served in a cardboard box with a salad and was somehow wet, and the fact that the interior is designed to look like a reclaimed barnwood retro futurelounge rather than, say, a Montreal deli, it will surely be the next Montreal style deli to close in Minneapolis.

08.22.2018 - by Steve
CampingGrand Marais
Knockoff Nando's chicken

We'd been thinking a lot about Nando's lately, the British peri peri chicken chain, which has become nearly as ubiquitously 'basic' in England as Chipotle is here. We ate it earlier this year during our trip out there, and it was legitimately delicious. Which wasn't totally a surprise, because even though it's almost become a punchline over there, it's still (like Chipotle) beloved by nearly everybody. So when it came time to find some good recipes for camping up on the North Shore, I got the idea to find a recipe for a Nando's grilled chicken facsimile. The one I found wasn't the traditional flavor (peri peri peppers being a little hard to come by in the upper midwest), but was Nando's bbq flavor. Basically a marinade with bbq sauce (cheating, I know), worscestershire, a bunch of garlic, hot sauce, etc. So the morning we left, I tossed some chicken in the marinade, let it linger in the cooler all day, then at night I tossed it right on the campfire grill. It was a little nerve-wracking for a while, since a wood campfire isn't terribly consistent. But after giving it a good blackening on the outside, I wrapped it in foil for another 10 minutes and prayed that it was cooking through. Upon opening up the foil, I was greeted with the most perfect looking chicken I've ever made. And then I tore off a piece, and my god it tasted as good as it looked. I can't say whether it actually tasted like Nando's or not, but it was some of the best anything I've ever grilled, camping or not. Ledge.

08.22.2018 - by Steve
BellecourWayzata
Escargot, short ribs

Did you know escargot is snails? Ick.

08.08.2018 - by Steve
OMCDuluth
Barbecue

I'm going to try to not be too critical of OMC because honestly, Duluth needs good places to eat. And not just good places to eat, but good places to eat that are away from the Canal Park / Fitgers continuum. This place is in a little business strip in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is cool and neighborhoody and up-and-coming and I didn't even know it existed until now. But also it's weird and gross, because this entire block is seemingly owned by the Bent Paddle Brewery, OMC included. So between OMC, and the "Detroit style" deli, and the cool ice cream place, you're basically just spending your night at a glorified brewery food truck lot. It's weird.

Oh also did I mention that OMC stands for "Oink, Moo, Cluck?" Yep.

So anyway, their barbecue is good. It all has that extra 'something' that makes it stand out from your standard barbecue, a little oddball seasoning here and there, some nutmeg maybe, who knows. And the pulled pork has that porchetta vibe that makes sense for the north country. My problem (as usual) comes because I'm a cheap jerk: It's just too expensive for what you get. The portions are decent-ish for a regular restaurant, but not for a bbq joint. That would maybe fly over in Canal Park, but this is a Locals Only street. It's not expensive real estate. You can't be charging this much for not all that much meat. Plus there's no bread! No bread! Just throw some Wonderbread on the plate, OMC! Help us out here! Plus, even though I enjoyed the little extra 'something' in the meats, they kept adding somethings into the sides, until it was all too much. They need to find some very simple, baseline flavors that you can pile all the good good meat on top of!

How bizarre.

07.29.2018 - by Steve
TerzoSouth Minneapolis
Duck breast, mushroom bolognese

Other than its occasionally outstanding Porchettaria sandwich window, I've never given Terzo much thought. I knew it was owned by the Broders people, and of course I love Broders Cucina and very much like Broders Pasta Bar, but something about Terzo always made me think "this isn't for me." Well so, we just tried to go to Broders Pasta Bar, and it was too long of a wait, and Broders Cucina sounded a little too basic for our fancy dinner needs. So we went to Terzo. And listen: It was one of the better "good" meals I've had in a while. This place is le-g-g-git, and should be included in any conversation about the best restaurants in this town, which I don't think it's been heretofore.