02.27.2017
Ryan Adams
Prisoner

I generally haven't been a big fan of Ryan Adams' music. I definitely haven't been a big fan of Ryan Adams' personality. But I have to say I'm really, really into this new one. It's big but it's personal, tongue-in-cheek maybe, but no more than nearly everything he does is tongue-in-cheek in one way or another. But it does lead me—along with some of the later-era Fleetwood Mac I've been listening to lately—to one major conclusion about the state of today's music trends (as if I hadn't already come to enough conclusions on those). It's that everybody in the last couple years has been digging into the 80s, grabbing the synth sounds and the wet drums and the gauche of it all, but they're missing the romanticism of it, the grace. But that's what Prisoner seems to get right. There are subtleties to the arrangements, and Adams seems to know when it's about to go too far into parody or irony and pulls it back. But on top of it all, it's still a Ryan Adams album, with admittedly great Ryan Adams songwriting and vocals (I've never liked the guy, but I have to admit he knows what he's doing), that pulls all of the right 80s influences off the record shelf. Granted, unlike most everyone else going for this sort of sound, Adams probably actually listened to this stuff growing up and actually has the right records to pull.

10.27.2017 - by Steve
Jambo KitchenU of M
Beef bisbaas rice bowl

There's this place that opened over near Cedar Riverside a few years ago called Afro Deli, which is sort of the first attempt at making a "Chipotle-for" style restaurant for east-African food. People like it. They've opened up another location in St. Paul, too!

Jambo Kitchen is not Afro Deli. There's a sign right in the front window that tells you as much. But you'd be forgiven if you got confused, because Jambo Kitchen is in the same space as the original Afro Deli, which has now moved to Stadium Villalge, serves essentially the same menu, in the same "Chipotle-for" style, and even has a uncomfortably similar rainbow-colored logo. It's weird.

The weirder thing, is that I don't feel like my entree tasted particularly African. Not that I'm an expert, obviously. It was good though! But my rice bowl, with steak and veggies and a "bisbaas" sauce, tasted what I would cynically describe as "vaguely ethnic." You could've told me it was Colombian or Cuban and I would've believed you. But still, it was delicious and fresh! My beef sambusa, meanwhile was more what I had in mind. Spicy and intensely flavored ground beef'n'stuff in a nice fried wrap, like a samosa. It was perfect. Really I could sit and eat three of those and call it a meal.

So yeah, Jambo is good. I'd go back. I should probably go to Afro Deli too.

10.17.2017 - by Steve
Isles BunUptown Minneapolis
Cinnamon bun

It's very easy to forget that Isles Bun exists. And that's actually not that bad, because you really don't need to eat these things any more than once or twice a year. But just remember, when you really need that cinnamon roll, feeling some deep longing for the decadence of a Cinnabon without the requisite shame that accompanies it, swallow your pride and go to Uptown and slather your feelings in frosting from their little tub.