02.16.2020
Walter Martin
The World at Night

Charming.

02.12.2020
Sarah Mary Chadwick
Please Daddy

The spirits of Bright Eyes and Chad VanGaalen are alive and well (and freaky) in the work of Sarah Mary Chadwick. Just look at that album cover while reading this list of the first three tracks on the record: "When Will Death Come," "I'm Not Allowed in Heaven," "Please Daddy." Then take all of that borderline disturbing content, and combine it with some impressively handsome sounding chamber folk/pop, and you're either in or you're out. Frankly, I'm in.

02.12.2020
Chrome Ghost
The Diving Bell

Every year it happens. December rolls around, I take some time and try to write up my Best of the Year lists, everyone counts down to midnight, the new year rings in, and I suddenly discover a handful of albums from the previous year that probably would've made the list had I actually heard them in time. This Chrome Ghost album the first one of 2020. I don't know if it would've been that high on the list (unlike the Windhand album from last year, which is coincidentally also a sludgy, melodic, 90s alternative inspired take on 21st century stoner metal), but it certainly would've made it.

02.12.2020
Deerhoof
Balter / Saunier

By my estimation, it was about 8 years ago that I abandoned Deerhoof. Breakup Song had just come out, and it was their 2nd or 3rd album in a row that didn't excite me as much as their previous work, and I just felt like the band had explored everything they were going to explore, and it would be diminishing returns from there. No fault to them, they'd put out at least 10 years worth of incredible music, but I just felt like I'd had my fill. So I just kinda stopped paying attention.

Earlier this month, I heard a guitar chord, and an electric circuit reconnected in my brain. I don't know what song it was, what year it was from, but it was a Deerhoof guitar chord. And a Deerhof guitar chord doesn't sound like any other guitar chord. It got into my brain, and for the next couple days I kept humming Deerhoof tunes like a psychopath. Then I cued up Reveille. Then Milk Man. Then Offend Maggie. All of it. For about three days straight I mainlined Deerhoof. I even went back to the later stuff that made me abandon ship, Deerhoof Vs. Evil and Breakup Song. Mainlined it. Loved every bit of it. Best part of all has been discovering music they made in the 8 years I've been away, albums I heard about in passing, but just assumed would be more of the same. They're all fucking great.

Most interesting of all is this collaboration with Ensemble Dal Niente, Balter / Saunier. It sounds like a novel idea, Deerhoof teaming up with a contemporary composer and 22 piece chamber jazz ensemble, one that could come off as "Deerhoof with strings." But the result on record is captivating—it's a genuinely collaborative effort, which lands somewhere in between contemporary classical, jazz, and yes, Deerhoof. It fully works. It's quiet, patient, sublime, with occasional shots of weirdo maximalism.

I used to like Deerhoof. I've always thought they were great. But on this second round of listening, I've turned a corner; I love Deerhoof, and not only are they great, I'm now deeply convinced they're they're one of the greatest American bands of not just my generation, but of the entire rock era. But beyond that one level still, I'm realizing they're not even a rock band. The music they've played for 30 years now owes just as much to ideas of jazz and improvisation and contemporary composition and the avant-garde as it does to, like, Led Zeppelin or Nirvana. They do it all, and they've been doing it all for a long time now. They're some of the best we've got.

02.11.2020
Blinker the Star
Careful With Your Magic

Somehow Blinker The Star keeps releasing new music, every couple years, and somehow it always takes me nearly a year to hear about it. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; they (he) never exactly garnered a lot of attention from the music press back in the 90s, much less now 20-whatever (ugh) years later. But whatever Jordan Zadorozny does as a day job (I can't imagine being Blinker the Star pays the bills), I'm glad that he still has the passion to keep pushing out new tunes. Because, honestly, they're pretty good! He knows his way around a song, and even though nothing he's been releasing is ever really going to blow up in the 2020 indie young person scene, it's still totally, totally solid music that I find myself listening to way more than I expect to. Good job, Blinker the Star.

01.01.2020
Steve's Favorite Music of 2019
A List

Favorite Albums:
1. Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs
2. Moon Tooth - CRUX
3. Young Guv - GUV I
4. Oozing Wound - High Anxiety
5. Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising
6. Big Thief - UFOF/Two Hands
7. Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race
8. SUNN O))) - Life Metal
9. Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary
10. Mount Eerie w/ Julie Doiron - Lost Wisdom pt. 2
11. FKA Twigs - Magdeline
12. Panda Bear - Buoys
13. Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars
14. Wilco - Ode to Joy
15. Billy Woods - Hiding Places
16. Elder - Gold & Silver Sessions
17. Black Midi - Schlagenheim
18. Mdou Moctar - Ilana: The Creator
19. Mylingar - Doda Sjalar
20. Earl Sweatshirt - Feet of Clay

Favorite Songs:
1. Big Thief - “Not”
2. Jay Som - “Superbike”

Everything after that is a tie.

Old Albums That I Discovered or Rediscovered:
1. Miracle Legion - Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
2. R.E.M. - Monster*
3. Soul Coughing - Irresistible Bliss
4. George McCrea - Rock Your Baby
5. Wuhling - Extra 6

* (Obviously I didn't "discover" Monster this year, but it morphed itself from a jokey afterthought in my conscious to one of my absolute favorite things to listen to all year.

12.31.2019
Steve's Favorite Music of the 2010s
A List

Favorite Albums:
1. Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me
2. Brad Mehldau - Highway Rider
3. Superchunk - Majesty Shredding
4. Shearwater - Animal Joy
5. Courtney Barnett - A Sea of Split Peas 
6. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
7. Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple
8. Trust Fund - Seems Unfair
9. Screaming Females - Rose Mountain
10. Natalie Prass - Natalie Prass
11. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
12. Walter Martin - Arts + Leisure
13. Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
14. Moon Tooth - Chromaparagon
15. Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer
16. Future Islands -In Evening Air
17. Girlpool - Powerplant
18. A.C. Newman - Shut Down The Streets
19. Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau - Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
20. Courageous Endeavors - Prototype
21. Jessica Pratt - Quiet Signs
22. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
23. Young Guv - GUV I
24. Nude Beach - 77
25. Adult Jazz - Gist Is
26. The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
27. Blake Mills - Heigh Ho
28. Okkervil River - Away
29. Sampha - Process
30. Mastodon - Cold Dark Place EP
31. Moon Tooth - CRUX
32. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN
33. The Darkness - Hot Cakes
34. D’Angelo - Black Messiah
35. Ought - More Than Any Other Day
36. Oozing Wound - High Anxiety
37. These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
38. Hailu Mergia - Lala Belu
39. Rhye – Woman
40. The Go! Team - The Scene Between
41. CFCF - Zellers Presents Slow R&B for Locations Canada-Wide
42. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
43. Owen Pallett - Heartland
44. Blood Incantation - Hidden History of the Human Race
45. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
46. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
47. Big Thief - UFOF / Two Hands
48. Cornelius - Mellow Waves
49. Okkervil River - Away
50. Riley Walker - The Lilywhite Sessions

Albums that are unimpeachably beautiful and profound pieces of work, but are just so dense and demanding to sit through that i have a hard time calling them my "favorites," thus not knowing where to put them on the first list, but feeling like a fraud by leaving them off altogether:
1. Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked At Me
2. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid MAAD City
3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
4. Sun Kill Moon - Benji
5. Billy Woods - Hiding Places
6. SUNN O)) - Life Metal
7. Low - Double Negative

Favorite Songs:
1. Japanese Breakfast - “Everybody Wants To Love You”
2. Frank Ocean - “Pyramids”
3. Sheer Mag - “Fan the Flames”
4. Big Thief - “Not”
5. Father John Misty - “Pure Comedy”
6. Courtney Barnett - “Avant Gardener” 
7. The Both - “Milwaukee”
8. Eleanor Friedberger - “Stare at the Sun”
9. Flying Lotus w/ Kendrick Lamar - "Never Catch Me"
10. Sydney Gish - “Sophisticated Space”
11. Fiona Apple - “Hot Knife”
12. Beach House - “Zebra”
13. Cornelius - “If You’re Here”
14. Elder - “The Falling Veil”
15. Steve Lacy - “Dark Red”
16. Bruce Springsteen - “Hello Sunshine”
17. Arcade Fire - “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”
18. Natalie Prass - “Bird of Prey”
19. Jay Som - “Superbike”
20. Eleanor Friedberger - “Owl’s Head Park”
21. Ought - “Habit”
22. Erykah Badu - “Window Seat”
23. Gillian Welch - “Dark Turn of Mind”
24. David Byrne & Florence - "Here Lies Love"
25. Big Boi - "Shine Blockas"
26. Arcade Fire - "Reflektor"
27. Courtney Barnett - “History Eraser”
28. Laura Stevenson - “Torch Song”
29. Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment - "Sunday Candy"
30. Case/Lang/Veirs - “Atomic Number”
31. Superchunk - “This Summer”
32. Hammers of Misfortune - “The Grain”
33. Walter Martin - “Down By the Singing Sea”
34. Kanye West - “Runaway”
35. Real Estate - “Green Aisles”
36. Rhye - “Last Dance”
37. Kendrick - “DUCKWORTH”
38. David Bowie - “Where Are We Now?”
39. Gang Gang Dance - “Glass Jar”
40. Morgan Delt - “Barbarian Kings”
41. FKA Twigs - “Cellophane”
42. Girlpool - “1 2 3”
43. The Darkness - “She’s Just A Girl, Eddie”
44. Chastity - “Heaven Hell Anywhere Else”
45. Hailu Mergia - “Lala Belu”
46. American Pleasure Club - “this is heaven and id die for it”
47. Sampha - “Blood on Me”
48. Okkervil River - “Okkervil River R.I.P.”
49. Ian William Craig - “Contain (Cedar version)”
50. Danny Brown - “Dirty Laundry”

12.13.2019
Mylingar
Doda Sjalar

I was truly taken aback when I first heard Mylingar. So many metal bands, particularly of the death and black variety, try to sound like they're summoning demons with their music. They use distortion and dissonance and speed and guttural growls, often within long accepted structural forms of rock music—riffs and progressions and verses and choruses and solos.

Mylingar is the first metal band I've ever heard who not only sound like they're attempting to summon demons, but sounds like they're succeeding. This shit is so intense, so dark, so ghastly inhuman, there's no other explanation. I think there are guitars here—there might be riffs, there might be some drums down there, there's certainly a humanoid creature vocalizing—but holy shit this is barely even music. It's terrifiying. And thrilling.

This is probably lame, but I need to just paste their bio's description of the music here. Because it's fucking absurd—and every word of it is correct:

A tempest of whirlwind blackened death metal barbarity and animalistic filth, unrelenting in its intent to rend flesh from bone and inflict torment.

There is no peace here. The guitars and riffs burn through everything like scorched earth with the scraping, gritty bass barreling forward into total massacre. All the while the insanity presided over by a voice neither animal nor human but both at once, diseased, psychotic and commanding. The pace in general remains maddeningly frantic but relents as needed to revel in the violence of its creation.

Less an album of songs to passively enjoy, 'Döda Själar' is an all-encompassing specter of claustrophobic oppression and pestilence, draping its blackness over everything and leaving little but barren wasteland behind. An unexplainable, unknowable force for the malevolent villainy that envelops our world."

And lastly, an equally correct review by another listener: "If insanity itself caught leprosy and took a bunch of PCP in a pitch-black cave, this is what it would sound like."

This album is like nothing I've ever heard and I love it.

12.13.2019
Mount Eerie
Lost Wisdom Pt. 2

Phil Elverum can sing now.

12.13.2019
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
I Have Made A Place

It's impossible to believe, but this is Will Oldham's first Bonnie Prince Billy album in 10 years. He's released other stuff—covers collections and collaborations and re-recordings and live records and other experiments—but as far as a full length collection of original material, this is the first in a decade. It's a very nice listen. I wish it was more than that.

11.25.2019
Blood Incantation
Hidden History of the Human Race

Metal. Death. Chaos. The cosmos. Annihilation. Infinity. Horror. Aliens. Nothingness. Ferocity. Psychosis. Incantation. Mesmerization. Reverb. Galaxies. Supernovae. Explosions. Megacosms. Microcosms. Vociferation. Blast beats. Pinch harmonics. So many pinch harmonics.

11.13.2019
FKA Twigs
Magdaline

This is the best Kate Bush album of the century.

07.29.2018 - by Steve
TerzoSouth Minneapolis
Duck breast, mushroom bolognese

Other than its occasionally outstanding Porchettaria sandwich window, I've never given Terzo much thought. I knew it was owned by the Broders people, and of course I love Broders Cucina and very much like Broders Pasta Bar, but something about Terzo always made me think "this isn't for me." Well so, we just tried to go to Broders Pasta Bar, and it was too long of a wait, and Broders Cucina sounded a little too basic for our fancy dinner needs. So we went to Terzo. And listen: It was one of the better "good" meals I've had in a while. This place is le-g-g-git, and should be included in any conversation about the best restaurants in this town, which I don't think it's been heretofore.

07.28.2018 - by Steve
Hamburguesa El GordoSouth Minneapolis
Tacos, hot dog

Hamberguesa El Gordo is a dream. It's exactly what this city needs more of.

05.01.2018 - by Steve
Taco CatSouth Minneapolis
Tacos

Taco Cat is just as good as everyone says it is.

04.03.2018 - by Steve
Jakeeno'sSouth Minneapolis
Pizza

Jakeeno's might be the most perfect dumb family pizza joint (it's a genre, look it up!) in Minneapolis. There's nothing at all remarkable about it, but it's fully satisfying in every way.

04.03.2018 - by Steve
Porchetteria South Minneapolis
Porchetta

I already did a post on the Porchetteria a couple years ago, but I just had it again and think it deserves an update. Because while —if my memory serves me—my last review was good but a little bit unexcited, this time around it was holy shit good. Some of the best porchetta I've ever had. It changed my whole outlook on this place, and now I just want to wait for all this stupid snow to melt so I can go back again.

01.16.2018 - by Steve
Steve's Favorite Food of 2017South Minneapolis
A List

1. Gino’s - Broccolini
2. Young Joni - Parisian pizza
3. Homemade sarmale rolls
4. Xi’an Famous Foods - Hand pulled noodles
5. Swedish meatballs - Homemade
6. Pearl’s - Jerk chicken bake
7. Ghorka Palace - Lamb Newari choyla
8. Pequod’s - Deep dish pizza
9. Milkjam - Black chocolate ice cream
10. Uncle Franky’s - Coney dog
11. Homemade cast iron steak and butter
12. Jersey Mike’s* - Italian sandwich
13. Stray Dog - Bacon caramel roll

* Yes, Jersey Mike’s. Look, it’s a dumb chain. But I had it for the first time this year and I think it’s super legit and is far and away the best sub sandwich chain around. My first sandwich there was a minor revelation to mean I will vouch for it all day long on this dumb blog.

12.15.2016 - by Steve
Steve's Favorite Food of 2016South Minneapolis
A List

Just for clarification, I base the items on this list more by 'meal' than by 'establishment,' and more on 'pure satisfaction' rather than 'quality.' Like, if I had a really great and satisfying piece of chicken at Popeye's, I'm going to go ahead and throw that on here, even if it's junk. So the items here and their placement have more to do with how much I simply enjoyed one meal at one place than what I think of the place in general, or if I think one might be technically better than the other. Like, obviously Revival is of higher quality than L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, but whatever. On with the show!

1. Juniper (Boise, ID)- Maple bacon sweet roll, mole huevos rancheros
2. Hi Lo Diner - Chicken wings and pancakes
3. Spoon & Stable - Grilled venison
4. TIE - L&L Hawiian Barbecue (Honolulu, HI) - Plate lunch
4. TIE - Cafe 100 (Hilo, HI) - Moco Loco
5. Revival - Roasted pork
6. French Hen Cafe - Banh mi benedict
7. World Street Kitchen - Beef shawarma tacos
8. Lu’s - Pork banh mi
9. Koja Kitchen (Berkeley, CA) - Korean short rib bowl
10. El Farolito (San Francisco, CA) - Al pastor burrito
11. Bibuta - Sushi burrito
12. Surly Brewing Co. - Cornbread
13. Red Stag - Limousine burger

07.05.2016 - by Steve
Hi Lo DinerSouth Minneapolis
Reuben, pie

Okay, Hi Lo fully won me over. It didn't take much, I was impressed on my very first trip. But I've been back there 3 times now, and I'm continually impressed. All the worries I had about it being this or that (or the other) are basically moot. Like, yeah, it's a little on the yup side, but not by much, but none of that matters, because all the food I've had has been fantastic. This time it was the reuben. It's not a 100% traditional one—it's served on some sort of toasted roll rather than rye bread, and the sauce in which it's downright slathered has a bit more bite than your standard Russian dressing—but it is profoundly satisfying. And then they toss in the classic crinkle-cut diner fries, which unlike a crinkle-cut standard bearer like Cecil's, have a rich golden brown fry to them, something we've grown used to on hand-cut pub fries, but is really a rarity on crinkle cuts. It's great! And then we get to the pie. You guys. They've done it.

06.08.2016 - by Steve
A Baker's WifeSouth Minneapolis
Chocolate donut

Baker's Wife started using darker chocolate on their donuts! Today is the first day of the rest of your life.


(2)
05.27.2016 - by Steve
RevivalSouth Minneapolis
Roasted pork, fried chicken, fixins

Here's a funny thing: Revival actually lives up to the hype! Wow! Hey! But. Except for the chicken, which is very good, but not so much better than your average mom n pop fried chicken that it's worth the two hour waits and parade of Minnesota Monthly superlatives. But but. Everything else, from the mac'n'cheese to the rice and beans to the cheesy grits and collared greens (holy shit that rhymes!), and the bread & butter pickles and the barbecue sauces, and especially the roast pork, is perfection. Top to bottom. Just absolutely delicious. I'll (of course) argue that a place serving this food shouldn't be as fancy (read: exclusive) of a sit-down place as it is—it should really be a counter-service 'meat and three'—but I don't care enough to belabor that argument, and I'm an idiot anyway. All that matters is the food is awesome and now that it's been open for a year maybe you can actually get a table and try it soon.

05.16.2016 - by Steve
Terzo Porchetteria South Minneapolis
Porchetta

I feel like Terzo's Porchettaria is flying under the radar, as much as a place can fly under the radar in this town these days. Deal is: You know Broder's Pasta Bar, and you probably know Broder's Cucina across the street. Well down the block is Terzo, a newer, smaller, lower profile cafe from the Broder family. I'm sure it's good. But more importantly, on the side of Terzo, by the patio, is a small window and a pig-shaped sign announcing the Porchettaria, where during the day you can get take-out porchetta sandwiches that have been a staple on Terzo's bar menu since day one. This is a wonderful thing. This town needs more of it.

05.03.2016 - by Steve
Hi Lo DinerSouth Minneapolis
Hot beef commercial

I was very skeptical of this Hi Lo Diner. Restaurant investors buy up an old timey historic diner car in Pennsylvania, move it to East Lake Street, create a menu of "American diner food with a modern twist", charge $20 for a lamb patty melt and $25 for lobster scrambled eggs and $18 for local honey walnut waffles, and people will go crazy for it and you'll never actually get a table and it's just going to be annoying. But! I was wrong! Mostly! Kind of! I mean, it's not cheap per say, but it's not terrible. And the menu really is fairly "normal" diner food for the most part. Most exciting of all is they serve the southern-Minnesota staple Hot Beef Commercial! See my review of Bump's for my history with the beef commercial. And it's pretty darn good! It's "modern" in that the beef is short rib rather than just regular old chuck roast or whatever, and it's plated kinda fancy, and drizzled with a horseradish aioli, but otherwise it's pretty standard. Only problem is it could've used more gravy. It should be swimming in gravy. And oddly enough, despite its urbane and implied quality, I almost sorta kinda enjoyed Bump's more trashy beef commercial more. Still, I do have to admit that Hi Lo is hitting the right notes in what they're doing. And best of all: Late night pie!. Stay tuned for that.


(1)
05.03.2016 - by Steve
IcehouseSouth Minneapolis
Pork nachos

I already wrote about Icehouse on here a couple years ago, but I just went back and had a much more enjoyable experience. Not a ton to add really, but they have a nice late night happy hour, and the seating in the bar area is pretty chill. The pork nachos were much better than the jazz trio in the main room.

03.25.2016 - by Steve
United NoodleSouth Minneapolis
Japanese curry

United Noodle! The myth is real! A well stocked Asian supermarket hidden in the industrial warehouse glut of the Seward/Riverside no man's land, whose deli serves up some of the most highly regarded noodles in the city, and staffed entirely by first-generation Asian—wait, no, it's a bunch of hipster college kids. That was unexpected. But still, this place is pretty close to matching its reputation. Maybe not quite, but close. I can only speak for the Japanese curry (tasty but a little on the tame side; it got boring after 4 or 5 bites, and the breaded pork was on the dry side) and the bbq pork ramen (of which the broth was a bit bitter for my taste, but the pork itself was soooo good. Absolutely perfect), but it's right up there with any of the cooler, hipper, expensiver, louder shops that have opened up in recent years. I'd love to go back, but they close so early that it's not going to be easy.

03.03.2016 - by Steve
Taco CatSouth Minneapolis
Tacos

Have you seen these hilarious "Damn Daniel" videos? They're hilarious, and everyone's seen them. Have you seen them? Where the guy says "Damn Daniel" to the other guy? Shoes maybe? Have you eaten Taco Cat?

01.17.2016 - by Steve
Victor's 1959 CafeSouth Minneapolis
Cubano

Somehow I've never actually managed to order a Cubano at Victor's until this weekend. Every time I've been there previously was for their (equally-if-not-more famous) breakfast. In fact I didn't even realize that their lunch menu was available during the hours I was there, so the Cubano never even crossed my mind. And I'm a man who loves Cubanos. They're a perfect sandwich, and I imagined a Cuban restaurant would make a good one. Guess what? They do.