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.

10.17.2017 - 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.

10.17.2017 - by Steve
Northern Waters SmokehausDuluth
Smoked salmon banh mi

I wish Duluth was a better food town. Probably most people wish that; I mean, why not? But aside from the New Scenic*, and the Duluth Grill**, there doesn't seem to be any real momentum in transcending the half-assed tourist town cafes and Grandma's-owned food factories that the city currently calls it food scene. But there always seems to be a little bit of hope. Currently it's Northern Waters Smokehaus (sic), which despite its hashtag-basic name and Canal Park location, has lately been the universal recommendation of anyone even half in-the-know when asked what's good in Duluth these days. And even though most of these people will also recommend Burrito Union to you (blech), dag nabbit they're right about this one! Northern Waters is a small little deli in one of those weird Canal Park shopping/office complexes—which I think is more charming than annoying—which basically operates like a more urbane version of your standard north shore smokehouse. Smoked salmon, smoked trout, smoked herring. All that. But they go a step farther and do their own pastrami and sausage and porchetta (of course), and offer a whole bunch of different sandwiches. The porchetta was a little bit tame and dry for my liking, but still tasty. The smoked salmon banh mi, meanwhile, but a goddamn taste explosion, and even though you could barely make out the salmon in it, it was still a damn good sandwich. Especially for Duluth. And for what it's worth, I ate some of the salmon on its own, and it was perfect. Meanwhile, we got some polish sausage to go, and cooked it up a couple days later, to phenomenal results. As you can tell, I like this place. It's just what Duluth needs, and I'm glad it exists. And based on the lines that afternoon, I'm imagining they're going to be twice as big next time I visit, and hopefully no less respectable.

* Which isn't even in Duluth.
** Which I've actually never eaten at, but I refuse to believe is really any better than your standard Highland Grill / Chatterbox style "hey look at this funky food!" cliche which would never fly in a bigger city in 2017.