Poison Ruïn
Poison Ruïn

This debut album (or maybe it's a collection of two EPs? Hard to tell what's going on) from Poison Ruïn (fucking killer band name) is fascinating and good. I don't know if I really like it, but still: fascinating and good.

What we have here is ostensibly a punk band (or maybe it's a post punk band? Hard to tell what's going on). They play fast and dirty, the vocalist chants and barks, and it all sounds like it was recorded on two tracks of a 4-track recorder. Lo-fi, ever heard of it? But two things make Poison Ruïn stand out. One is their embrace of what weird music kids regrettably-yet-fittingly call "Dungeon Synth," a cliquey, Reddit-friendly micro-genre that uses dusty, distorted synth tones to recreate the kind of spooky, minor-key, pseudo-Medieval dirge you could imagine hearing in the soundtrack of a straight to VHS Dungeons & Dragons knockoff. Seriously, look it up. There's a shocking amount of Dungeon Synth out there, most of it all sounds exactly the same, but it certainly fits a mood. But Poison Ruïn doesn't lean too heavily into the stuff, mostly saving it for the occasional intro and outro and segue.

What interests me more, however, is the band's impressive use of chords. And notes. Music, you could say! That sounds stupid of course, but remember when I said up there that Poison Ruïn is a punk band? They very much are. But they're a punk band who's made the important realization that there are 12 notes in the Western chromatic scale. So much punk shit stops at 3. Maybe 4 if you're Green Day (6 if you're Bad Religion). But whoever is writing these riffs is having a damn good time just running up and down their progressions; a fill here, a counter melody there, an extra bass lick now and then, throwing two more ascending major chords up the scale before going back to the root. Playing music. With joy and verve. It's a pleasure just listening to the creativity in some of their riffs—it's fun and it hits hard, occasionally even leaning into the whole "dungeon" thing and sounding almost like a classic NWOBHM band. (There's a whole other aspect of this where I mention that they're from Philadelphia, and how their entire aesthetic, from the guitar heroics to the heavy metal zine cover art, feels umistakingly familiar to fellow Philadelphian band Sheer Mag, but I'd have to research that the really make sense of it. Maybe they share a band member?). In short: Poison Ruïn can play the shit out of whatever it is they play.

The only thing that stops me short of declaring total victory for this band is that barking, yapping vocalist. Everything I just said about their playing, the verve and the vigor and the musicfullness—their singer has none of it. He's just a punk guy being punk and honking like a punk. If there's even the faintest hint of melody in his vocals, I haven't quite yet ascertained it. It's frustrating. But it's not a dealbreaker. Sure I wish he brought more tunes to the party, but he still gives these songs energy and muscle, and I guess that's good enough. Oh also the lo-fi recording: I'm all for it to a degree, but I could go for just a little more fi in their lo.

Still. Poison Ruïn. (Did I mention that band name fucking slays?). There's a huge amount of potential for something here, and I'm excited to see how it pans out.

Skylight DinerManhattan
Cheese omelette and sausage

It's been so long since I've sat in a diner and eaten breakfast. So long. You know this, why am I telling you? We've all gone through this shit at the same time, I don't need to sit here and tell you how much I missed eating breakfast in a diner.

This very average omelette and sausage links and home fries at the very average Skylight Diner in Chelsea on a very average Saturday morning was the absolute best kind of average. I loved it and I can't wait to do it again.

Joey Bats CafeManhattan
Pastéis de nata

Just need to update you that I ate another pastéis de nata. This one at the incomprehensibly named Joey Bats Cafe in the Lower East Side. It's far hipper than the Teixeira Bakery in Newark, more expensive than the Teixeira Bakery in Newark, but not as good as the Teixeira Bakery in Newark.

Don't get me wrong, it was good. If you're in the Lower East Side and want a pastéis de nata, by all means absolutely do it. You'd be crazy not to. But if you can only eat one pastéis de nata this year (that would be a weird situation... what would lead to that?), get yourself to Newark.

Chip CityQueens

I was out near Long Island City the other day and wanted a cookie, so I did what anyone in my position would do and I searched "cookies" in Google Maps. This place called Chip City came up, and I eventually found it, a tiny little storefront on the first floor of some new development mixed-use building. Basically just a little bakery case with just 4 trays of cookies, maybe they had a coffee machine and a fridge of milk or something, a cash register, one employee, and that was that.

What I didn't know until just now is that Chip City (as far as I can tell?) primarily markets itself as a home-delivery cookie dough company. Direct-to-consumer, disrupting the cookie dough industry, all that. I bet they've at least discussed sponsoring a podcast. But this just happened to be one little local outlet—possibly even connected to their main kitchen? Who knows.

Anyway their cookies are oddly massive—thick like a muffin top or a dang scone or something. But I gotta say, they were good! I worried they'd be either overcooked on the outside or overly dense on the inside, but no, they were go good consistency all around! Just absolutely way too huge, especially since I (oops) bought 4 of them. Two chocolate chip, one s'mores, and one peanut butter & jelly. How have I never had a PB&J cookie before? Seems so obvious! I'll go ahead and say the s'mores was the best, and maybe chocolate chip, followed by the PB&J. But they were all good!

They won't exist beyond 2021.