The Bug Club
Pure Particles

Ignore the twee name and aughts-ass sketchpad cartoon bubble letter cover art. The Bug Club is simple and Welsh and fun as shit. Bare-bones rock-n-roll power-pop indie-boogie-woogie, blues licks and guitar solos, endless earworms and the dryest humored lead singer since Gruff Rhys. I love every one of its 20 minutes.

Peter Talisman
The Lord of the Harvest

An avant-garde electronic chamber prog folk instrumental rock opera which is also the soundtrack to a video game and one of the most beautiful things I've heard all year.

Courtney Barnett
Things Take Time, Take Time

This new Courtney Barnett album is kind of a bummer so far. But I'm going to give it some more time and get back you on it.


Geese is supposedly New York's hottest buzz band. They're four Brooklyn high schoolers whose primary influences are Interpol and The Strokes, and I'm as shocked as you are when I say holy shit they're actually good! Like really! I was so, so ready to hate everything about this, but they kinda nail it. Yes they clearly give off some early aughts Strokesy, dance punky, post-punky vibes, but they actually seem to have fun doing it. And with swagger! Meanwhile, the singer actually sounds like he knows what he's doing, he actually goes for it. Hitting notes, singing—holy shit—melodies.

I don't know man. This isn't the instant classic that Is This It and Turn On The Bright Lights were, but it's a deeply pleasant surprise, and something tells me that Geese (ugh) maybe has a masterpiece in them once they're old enough to start drinking.

If Orange Was A Place

Between this and the Obongjayar EP from earlier this year, I guess Nigerian Afrobeat is my thing now?

Hushed and Grim

There's a new Mastodon album, and while it's not as good as their last EP (which was great, best thing they've done in 10 years), it's got a lot of cool stuff on it. Problem is there's too damn much of it.

Chalk it up to the digital music era, but I had no idea until I was done listening to it that Hushed and Grim is a double album. It's long. Too long. And it covers a lot of the same territory and there's really no reason to double it up. Not only that, but the actual sequencing of the tracks feels at times completely random, giving the thing no flow whatsoever.

So as a handy guide for my loyal readers, I've distilled this mammoth (um pun intended!) collection down into one single-disc, single hour tracklist for your iTunes playlists and CDR burns to keep in your car.

1. The Beast*
2. Pushing the Tides
3. Peace and Tranquility
4. Had It All
5. Sickle and Peace
6. Dagger**
7. Teardrinker
8. The Crux
9. Eyes of Serpents
10. Pain with an Anchor
11. Gigantium

* The Beast is far and away the best on the album, and is also not coincidentally the most interesting song on the album. Like much of that EP that I love, it's essentially a Brent Hinds country-fried solo song translated into a Mastadonian context. It's truly great and even though it's not the usual album opener, I think it would knock people's socks off to lead with it. I just wish there were one or two more similar tracks on this album.

** Dagger is nearly as odd and interesting as The Beast, just not quite as good. But it has this part in the middle where the guitars essentially hold one chord, and it turns into a hypnotic, Middle-Eastern flavored percussion drone. That's the kind of thing that usually makes me roll my eyes, the whole Middle Eastern motif gets easily overused with some metal bands, but in this particular song Mastodon nails it. I have an alternate dream version of this album where they get to this part and then just keep repeating it, ad nauseam, for 10 minutes or something. Close the album with it. It would be incredible.

Valley Queen

Pillow Queens is the best new band I've heard in a while. They're from Dublin and play passionate, literate, grungy shoegazey alt rock, and their lead singer Sarah Corcoran sings with this barmbrack-thick Irish broogue that makes her one of the most distinctive lead singers you'll hear.

When I first listened to Valley Queen, I was perplexed. The band played a little looser, a little lighter, and something closer to Laurel Canyon classic rock rather than amp-blistering alt rock—but if you told me I was listening to an earlier Pillow Queens album, I would've believed you. The singer emotes with the same exact cadence, similar melodic tendencies, and that same distinctive Dublin accent. Uncanny.

Well obviously they must also be from Ireland, and simply share that same natural manner of singing? No! Valley Queen is from Los Angeles! Their singer was born and bred there! She went to college at Loyola Marymount! Why the fuck is she singing like her parents spent their youth on the run from the IRA?? What is going on??

I have no answers. I've looked into it, and the only thing that I can say is that she's cited The Cranberries as an influence, and I imagine both she and the members of Pillow Queens have done well to ingest some of Dolores O'Riordan's stylings into their arsenal. But when you sit and listen to the Cranberries, you hear a lot of different colorings from Dolores that never made their way to Pillow Queens or valley Queen, it's mostly just the accent. But still, that's all I've got. And I have to admit it's pretty fucking annoying to think about someone from LA singing with such an intensely put-on affectation. I'd say it makes me like the band less, but honestly I still think they're pretty good and the album is pretty enjoyable.

Furthermore: Pillow Queens! Valley Queen! Pillow Queens! Valley Queen! Do you see it? Do you see it?

Anyway. This particular Valley Queens record is from like 2016, and I've listened to a couple of their newer songs, and it sounds like they've toned down the fake Irish thing. If anything, she's singing with an equally put-on indie girl quirk, which is maybe even more annoying.

Cowboy Music

I usually hate this kinda shit, but something about these motherfuckers is working for me. File under: sassy hardcore.

Illusions in the Wake

I'm creating a new tier of metal bands in my mind palace. (NOTE: This portion of my mind palace is designed like a two-page spread in Kerrang! magazine). This tier includes bands like Necrot, SUMAC, Mare Cognitum, and can basically be summed up with "extreme metal bands who don't really engage me intellectually or otherwise leave much of an impression, but whose music is spiritually gratifying upon listening and goes down smooth as pudding."

Obviously the point here is that NOLTEM is one of these bands. I can tell you that they kinda sound like some combination of early-Opeth and Agalloch—and Mare Cognitum and Necrot—but otherwise I couldn't hum a single melody or lap-drum a single riff from this album. I don't currently remember any of it. But I've listened to it about a dozen times.

Actually You Can

Deerhoof is still doing it.

Sufjan Stevens
A Beginner's Mind

Sufjan Stevens has been in the mix for so long now. Michigan was like, what, 20 years ago? So long! And what's interesting is that, this whole time (so long), every Sufjan release has felt like some sort of event. They've been grand experiments, comforting returns to form, stylistic left turns, theatrical projects, deeply personal confessions. Whether or not they've all been successful (though he does have a better 20-year batting average than most), they've all felt like something happening. A Sufjan release makes you notice.

A Beginner's Mind is the first new Sufjan album that I can really remember that just kinda came out and that's that. I think there's a bit of a theme to it: it's technically an album co-attributed to Angelo De Augustine, written and recorded by the two of them during the pandemic, locked up in a cabin somewhere, seemingly writing songs about the movies they were watching and books they were reading. Or something like that? The point is that isn't really important in this case. It's not a grand testament about life and the cosmos. It's not a confessional ode to his parents. It's just a nice collection of songs, maybe his best in a handful of years. A comforting return to form.


I had a borderline religious experience listening to this album last week and extraordinarily high volume while walking around the city late at night. I'm certain it's the best Low album and I'm not sure when I'll ever listen to it again.

Shannon Lay

This is a mostly straightforward folkie Americana singer-songwriter album, but it's an awfully good one.

Sweeping Promises
Hunger For a Way Out

The first couple tracks on this album got me real excited to hear a new post punk band that eschews post punk monotony and revels in melody. Then the rest of the tracks just kinda do post punk stuff.

Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking

Fluisteraars has done this to me twice now. They got on my radar a couple years ago by releasing one of the most interesting black metal tracks I've ever heard—interesting in that it didn't seem to have much interest in black metal orthodoxy, occasionally throwing in some alt rock power chords and some actual humane vocals. Then they put their first full-length out, and seemed mostly to fall back into your standard black metal. I was bummed.

But then I kept listening to it. Something kept pulling and pulling me back, and I started to hear that humanity inside of it, even without any of the alt-rock tricks. It ended up being one of my faves of that year, and I listened to it a ton.

The same thing seems to be happening with this new one. The band recorded it almost on a whim, with the intention of creating something lo-fi and honest, the sound of a band in a room. And just like last time, my immediate reaction was disappointment. Because, well, it sounded lo-fi and like a few guys screaming in a room. But also like last time, I keep coming back to it, and man I think I like it.

If you sat me down and asked me to describe to you what makes Fluisteraars good, I couldn't do it. I don't know. I don't know what they're doing that other black metal bands aren't, I just feel it when I hear it. There's just more passion, more desperation, more soul in the sounds that they make. The screaming feels more human, the drums are hit with a little more catharsis, the guitars feel like they're in a room instead of plugged into a 4-track. And I guess also that they actually play melodies. Simple ones, but melodies nonetheless, which turn into earworms. There's a few other odd bits on this album that make for something—extended drum breakdowns, some trancy shit—but mostly it's Fluisteraars doing their Fluisteraars thing. And at this point I'm fully on board wherever they want to take me.

Leo's LatticiniQueens
Italian hoagie

If I posted about Leo's Latticini before, I was wrong. Last time around, whatever sandwich I had struck me as very average. This time I was totally wowed. Truly one of the best sandwiches around.

Hinomaru RamenQueens

If this website wasn't hopelessly broken, I'd use its search function to see if I've written about Hinomaru before. I think I have. But good luck.

I just wanted to check in one more time on this place, because we stopped in last week and I had their tonkotsu ramen with spare ribs. Spare ribs! I don't think I've ever had ribs within Japanese milieu. But dang, it was good. Sweet and balanced and tender as shit.

Hinomaru is pretty great, it's got a Michelin Bib Gourmand and everything. Seems to be probably the best ramen in Astoria. Maybe in Queens as a whole? Mu was pretty great, but RIP RIP as of the pandemic. Either way, if there's a better spot, I'd certainly like to know.

Broadway Chinese SeafoodQueens
Char siu on rice

For all the Chinese places to be found in this part of Queens (i.e. in Flushing and Elmhurst), there's surprisingly few—for lack of knowing what this sort of establishment is actually called—places with ducks hanging in the window.

If you go down to Manhattan's Chinatown, or farther down into Sunset Park in Brooklyn, you'll see a decent amount of ducks in windows. What this means is they make their own barbecue duck and char siu, i.e. barbecue pork. You can just pop on in and get duck or pork on rice. They take it right off the hook, chop it up with a giant knife on a giant wood block, toss it on some rice with some cabbage, pour some drippings over the top of everything. It's almost always dirt cheap and it's even more always delicious. Especially the char siu.

Problem is in Elmhurst and Flushing, you can hardly find any of it. But I finally found one in Elmhurst, this big weird place called Broadway Chinese Seafood. It was great, of course, but it was very strong, almost too intense. The thing about char siu is that it's made to essentially be an ingredient. Of course you can plop it on rice and eat it, but a lot of people will just buy it in bulk and use it in leftover fried rice, or in soups, or as a small side to go with a larger dish. So in that sense it makes sense to lean a little stronger into the seasonings. And that's certainly what was going on here.

The other thing that stood out with this char siu was that it was topped with this sauce, which was more or less a garlic salsa. I've never had anything like it before! Super tasty, but considering the already-intense pitch of the pork, it was a lil much.

But I'm being too critical! In reality I ate the shit out of this whole tray of pork and rice and felt like junk for the rest of the night. And I'll absolutely do it again.

3 Aunties Thai MarketQueens
Pork nuggets

This place is tiny but disproportionally wonderful. A little Thai grocery store that really is run by three aunties, where you can barely pass anyone in the aisle, but barely know what anything on the shelves are anyway. They've got a little kitchen in the back that makes grab-and-go bites, and I want to try one of everything. So far I've just had these little grilled pork nuggs, which were total yummz.

I may as well make this a double post, because I need to mention that I made a special trip to 3 Aunties to buy this particular brand of hot sauce called SD Sauce. It's almost like the homemade stuff you might get at a good Thai place, little chopped up bits of chilis and garlic and onion soaking in vinegar and sugar and fish sauce and lemon juice. It's powerfully delicious, and it made the pork nuggs even better. It will probably make literally anything even better.

8090 Taiwan CuisineQueens
Pork chop

Update from New York Food Court! Tonight's entry, 8090 Taiwan Cuisine.

God knows I couldn't really tell you what sets Taiwanese food apart from other types of Chinese food, but I do know that most of the specifically Taiwanese stuff I've head has involved noodles, and a couple versions of stewed beef. Most of what 8090 seems to serve, though, is simple, grilled, and clean. Steaks, chicken legs, and (prepare for a paragraph break) pork chops.

The pork chop(s), I'm happy to report, were delicious. Different than a Vietnamese pork chop (my go-to at Vietnamese restaurants), heavily marinated, and actually deep fried rather than grilled. It was also served with three different marinated veggies; I honestly couldn't tell you what any of them were, but they were all great and the pork chop was great and the New York Food Court is 3 for 3 so far.

Bolivian Llama PartyQueens
Pork chola sandwich

This is embarrassing and off-brand for me, but I like that Bolivian Llama Party is cool. So much stuff in my neighborhood is relentlessly authentic, hyper regional restaurants opened by first-generation immigrants mostly making food for their fellow expatriates and the occasional curious neighbor, with little-to-no effort put into the kind of brand-building bullshit that circles around our friends over in, for instance, the entire north half of Brooklyn. This what we always say we want, of course, these mom-n-pop-hole-in-wall beacons of authenticity. And they're great and I love them all! Don't confuse those hyphens for snark!

Bolivian Llama Party, well I mean it's called Bolivian Llama Party. Their logo is a llama in a birthday hat. There are dozens (maybe 100?) South American restaurants in this part of Queens, almost all of which conform to some level of the hole-in-wall authenticity, occasionally adopting a sleeker club vibe, all for the most part orbiting around similar collections of menu items, relative to their respective countries of origin. (And, again, that's great!). But Bolivian Llama Party is over here with fun fusiony sandwiches, loaded poutine-adjacent french fries, fun experimental ice creams, jackfruit meat replacements! Fried chicken sandwiches, dammit!

To all of which you'd usually say "okay, whatever, sounds like some shit you could find at any food hall between Greenpoint and the Lower East Side." Heck I think Bolivian Llama Party had a kiosk in a Manhattan food hall which has since closed. But I'm realizing that there's so little of that stuff around here that getting just a little bit of it is actually fun and exciting.

Furthermore, it's delicious! It's really good! I don't have a single complaint about any of it! And for being cool, it's not that cool.

La EspigaQueens
Barbacoa tacos

Corona Queens is full of authentic Mexican restaurants and taquerias, but something about La Espiga feels extra authentic. During the week, it's one of a countless number of basic holes in the wall, pretty standard menu as far as I can tell, they make their own tortillas, totally decent. But on weekends—and only on weekends—they sell their homemade barbacoa, and they become Superman.

And you can tell it's homemade, because they cook the stuff up in a big ol' pot right there in the front window, slop it onto a cutting board and chop it to sell by the pound and in tacos and on platters to seemingly everyone who frequents the place on weekends. I went with the tacos, and while it wasn't to the "omg I might cry" level that Birria Landia first got me to (although between birria and barbacoa, even though we're talking slow cooked red meat, we're still talking two different flavor profiles), it still fully impressed me. Rich and tender and luscious and simple, on a perfect homemade tortilla.

Meanwhile they've also got some of the best horchata around. This place is really a dream.

Korean fried chicken

I'll get this out of the way: This restaurant is called CHEO GOD.ZIP. That is the name of the restaurant. It's named after a .zip file. I've searched around, and can find no reason to explain why they named it that, or what it means, or anything. It's just one of those cases (I guess?) of an Asian-to-English language/culture translation getting borked in the process, and everyone just accepting the outcome and moving on.

I only stumbled upon CHEO GOD.ZIP when I was biking out in the super Korean part of Flushing last week. I was thinking about going back to this other place called The Coop to have Korean fried chicken and watch the Monday Night Football game, when I looked up and saw that completely maniac incongruous title up above the restaurant. At first all I wanted to do was immediately take a picture and post it on social media to receive the requisite lols, but I quickly noticed that they made fried chicken. "Hmm," I thought. Then I noticed a TV above the bar, playing the football game. "Double hmm," I thought. At this point there was basically no reason not to eat at CHEO GOD.ZIP.

The restaurant itself isn't really as batshit as I'd hoped, all things considered. But aside from the occasionally boffo choices in menu organization (and pizza toppings), this is basically your standard Korean fried chicken bar. This leads me to a larger thought: much like New York pizza, I'm starting to believe that there's little to no variation in quality between Korean fried chicken places. It's seemingly quite good wherever you get it, and it never strays too far from the norm, flavor-wise. Again: they're all great! Delicious every time. But I have a hard time trying to place CHEO GOD.ZIP above or below Bonchon or Pelicana or Unidentified Flying Chickens or or or. It's all just kinda equally good.

What really makes CHEO GOD.ZIP stand out though, is their potato wedges. Honestly, probably the best potato wedges I've ever had. Crispy and precisely fried on the outside, creamy on the inside, not too fat and not too thin. If I have any complaint it's that maybe that could've used a litttttttttle more seasoning. But whatever. They were heavenly.

All paired with yr standard pickled radish cubes and a totally unnecessary cabbage salad, and CHEO GOD.ZIP is a perfectly capable little joint.

I'm going to hit Submit on this post now, just a little bit nervous that the title is going to cause a catastrophic failure on my site. Or set off Google's anti-virus warnings and leave it unreadable. This could be the end, my friends. If it is, it's been an honor serving as your music and food blogger.

Gelato & Co.Queens

I had some dark cherry gelato from this extraordinarily ordinary gelato shop in Astoria, and it was real good. Like real real good. I don't think I've ever picked dark cherry as an ice cream (gelato, custard, froyo, whatever!) flavor in the past, but I think I'm fully on board. Real good.

(I followed this gelato up with some bolognese from a place across the street, which was totally fine but I think I'll skip that whole write up for now.)

Moonlight GrillQueens
Lamb chops

I got these here lambchops from the Moonlight Grill—a deceptively generic looking Middle-Eastern-Mediterranean counter-service grill in the middle of the heavily Bangladeshi-Pakastani-Tibetan-Nepalese part of the neighborhood—and they were an absolute treat. And with two added bonuses:

One, the whole plate, even in a take-out tray, looked as lusciously cared-for as every photo on this place's menu. I watched the owner plate every dish behind the counter, and this was a man who cared about his craft. The cook at the grill, meanwhile, didn't seem to be afforded the same amount of patience. But grilled a damn fine lamb chop nonetheless.

And two, in a move possibly inspired by the neighborhood's heavily Latin contingent a few blocks down, or maybe because it's one of the world's great condiments, they were served with a side of chimichurri. These lambchops were just about perfect to begin with, but the combination of chimichurri and Middle Eastern seasoning is a damn revelation.

I realize most of these Queens-heavy posts are for places you (who even are you?) will probably never visit. But whatever. Moonlight Grill! Don't leave Manhattan to get it or anything, but if you live in Jackson Heights or Sunnyside, shit!

Fat Cat FlatbreadQueens
Pork flatbread

A magical secret of Flushing (and other heavily Chinese neighborhoods around here) is the food courts. Like yeah, walk around outside and you'll see nothing but Chinese restaurant after Chinese restaurant, but occasionally in a mall or behind a grocery store or, in this case, a disarmingly generic looking storefront called "New York Food Court," you'll find dozens more, all of which specialize in one or two dishes, and almost all of which are as good or better than anything you'll get at a restaurant.

Anyway I've got a low key goal of trying to hit every place here at the New York Food Court. I had some fine dumplings and some good noodles, but the one I want to mention is Fat Cat Flatbread. I guess this particular type of Chinese flatbread—not to be confused with the sort of American gastro-pub nonsesnse-pizza—is a thing in some regions, but I hadn't heard of it before. Sort of like a scallion pancake I guess, but not exactly. It's basically two big ol' (but very thin) pieces of crispy fried bread which have a sort of spread of pork in between them. Maybe it's all fried together? I'm not totally sure. The interesting thing is that the pork really is almost totally in paste-form, you're not getting chunks or anything. I guess now that I typed that out it sounds gross, but I swear it's not. It's super savory and deeply pleasurable. And it comes in a little bag that's cute as shit and almost impossible not to post on Instagram.

Hainanese chicken rice

Eim is a restaurant that serves just one thing: khao mun kai. Basically the Thai variation of Hainanese chicken. A lightly marinated chicken poached and served with rice, cucumber, and a couple hot sauces. That's it. It's the only thing on their menu, and it's delish.

Colombian hot dog

All I'm really going to do in this post is list everything that's on this hot dog: Bacon, ranchero salsa, ketchup, mustard, pink sauce, coleslaw, crushed up potato chips, and quail eggs. All of that, and I ordered it without the pineapple sauce, which 5 separate people working at this place thought I was crazy for doing.

And this isn't even particularly remarkable as far as Colombian hot dogs go! It's more or less the standard set of toppings at any given snack joint around here! But I will add that this Prontito place seems like a particularly good one; they've got good looking burgers and arepas and fries and everything else too.

But combining this monstrosity of a hot dog with the standard Colombian plato tipico, I don't understand how Colombians live past the age of 33. This cuisine runs circles around your most slovenly small town midwestern fare.