04.16.2018
R.E.M.
Monster

I've been listening to "What's The Frequency Kenneth" endlessly in the last few days. It's a strange choice, I know, but the song has completely hooked itself into me. The proximate blame goes to Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott's new podcast "R U Talking R.E.M. Re: Me?", where they talk about R.E.M. for an hour every week, even though they haven't even gotten to Monster yet, and really I don't find their analysis and discussion of the band all that interesting. It's just a fun goofy listen. But what it has done is made me revisit their records with fresher ears, and ultimately that's what's making me think I've grossly underestimated these guys my whole life. They're really fascinating once you lay it all out, almost by being so un fascinating. There are no major peaks and valleys to their career; there's no drama, no grand failed experiments, no major lineup changes. And yet since 1983, these dudes have released so many undeniable hit songs, entirely in their own voice, making (practically) no concessions to fashion or popularity. Every single album (at least until the 21st century, where you can forgive them for being 20 years into their career) has at least one song on it, usually 2 or 3 and sometimes 4, which would be any other band's creative pinnacle, most of which have since entered whatever we can describe as the modern rock/pop canon. It's remarkable.

Even Monster, which at the time perhaps got some criticism for selling out to some grungy, alt-rock zeitgeist, has mostly aged beautifully, and contains at least 2 all time greats. One of which, to take us back to the lede, is "What's The Frequency Kenneth", which, again, was kinda made fun of at the time for being alt rock nonsense. But listen to it! It's great! It's an undeniable jam. And even though they might've distorted the guitar a little more than previous albums, it is anything but a grunge cash in. It's pure and beautiful and perfect. And lucky for all of us, you can find dozens of copies Monster for $2 or less at every used record store and thrift shop in the country.

03.22.2011
R.E.M.
Automatic For The People

After years (decades?) of hearing "Everybody Hurts" coming out of tape players, MTV, FM radio, dramatic TV shows, gum commercials, grocery store speakers, Chris Farley movies, Applebees restaurants, and my own subconscious, I am just now sitting and listening to it, patiently and consciously, in a good pair of headphones. It's fun to do that sometimes, you know. Actually pay attention to music. And it makes an incredible difference. What I felt for years was an overblown, hyper-emotional ballad, sounds humble and quiet. The famous guitar arpeggios is nearly equaled in the left channel by an organ, which you can barely hear in any radio mix. It's really a pleasant little song. Plus, and this really gets me... this is practically an Otis Redding song! Listen to it. Imagine Otis moaning "When day is long..." Perfect, right? It could stand up right next to "These Arms Of Mine" and "Pain In My Heart." And when they hit that F# and the drums come in on the bridge? Awesome.

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.