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May 16, 2024

Corridor

Mimi

Here’s a cool Montreal post punk band, who’s music is pretty good, but all I can think about is that cover art.

May 16, 2024

Inter Arma

New Heaven

Everyone’s loved Inter Arma for years now, and I’ve tried, and I’ve tried, but I never really got it. But this one, this one I get. Extreme metal that’s not afraid to get weird. But not too weird. And the centerpiece is this big bass-forward instrumental that plays like almost like “Orion” or “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” Why doesn’t every metal do one of those on every album?

May 7, 2024

Micky Greaney

And Now It's All This

From what I’ve been able to read (not much), Micky Greaney is a singer/songwriter from Yorkshire who recorded this album in 1996, got some sweet offers for a record deal, and turned them all down. And that was it. He appears to have some sort of local-legend (“legend”) status in Yorkshire, but his music and reputation elsewhere in the world, or even England, seems to be naught.

This happens sometimes in the internet age, where these lost records somehow find the light of day and find some bit of modern acclaim. Usually it’s some record collector, crate digger who brings them to light—or Light In The Attic. But here it seems to be Micky himself, or maybe an associate of his, trying to bring this album back to light. There’s an odd bit of desperation in the PR, but also a bit of mystery. Like, who tf is this guy? What is this about?

Whatever it’s about, whoever this guy is—wow this is a nice album! This guy had something! Pretty down-the-middle, Britpop, singer-songwriter stuff. But it was produced by the guy who produced The Bends, features the galdang Prague Symphony Orchestra. This isn’t some home-baked lo-fi outsider situation. Micky Greaney could’ve, honestly, been big.

May 1, 2024

Dew

Gospel of Mycelium

These guys kinda suck but I like that they’re called Dew.

Just kidding, they’re pretty good. I don’t know why I said that.

April 17, 2024

Oisin Leech

Cold Sea

I like Steve Gunn. He’s a good and clever guitar player with a talent for arrangements. But his actual songwriting and vocal work has never won me over.

Oisin Leech, meanwhile, I don’t know much about Oisin Leech. It seems he was in a kinda-dumb early aughts garage rock band, then was park of an alt-folk duo for a while, but beyond that your guess is as good as mine. But what I can tell you about Oisin Leech is that he has a nice voice and writes nice songs.

This album, his first solo collection, is produced by Steve Gunn and features Gunn on guitar on nearly every track.

It’s beautiful. It’s nearly perfect, really. I could listen to it all day. Patient, tempered, adult music by a bunch of total pros. Hell, M Ward is on this thing! But it’s also one of those albums that leaves almost no lasting imprint on my mind. I can’t hum any of the songs, or remember any of the lyrics. Maybe just a little too adult?

I do know that I’m going to be listening to it a lot in the foreseeable future.

 

 

March 28, 2024

Waxahatchee

Tigers Blood

Somehow not doing it for me.

March 26, 2024

Slow Mass

Drift Themes

Back when I was a younger me, and had some (fleeting, never fully serious) dreams of some day being in a band and recording music of my own, the music I imagined I’d like to make is almost exactly what Slow Mass is doing on this album. Massive, Hum-Failure-like melodic guitar swells and understated vocals, stretched out to epic, post-rock lengths with the occasional metallic heaviness, variations on a single theme, contrasted by more gentle come-downs of the same themes. No verses, no choruses, but never breaking down into your usual post-rock cliches.

They’ve done it better than I could’ve, so good on them. Weird to hear my dreams and only give it a gentleman’s 8.

March 18, 2024

Faye Webster

Underdressed at the Symphony

Time will tell if this whole album fully clicks with me, but for now, “Lego Ring” is one of the prettiest songs I’ve heard in a long time. Thanks in part to Lil Yachty?? I’ll be damned.

March 18, 2024

NAYAN

Rock N Roll Ruined My Life

A bunch of 40-somethings who grew up on quirky alt rock, ska, punk, power pop, and their dads’ prog records, making music that probably can’t be appreciated by anyone who isn’t also a 40-something who grew up on quirky alt rock, ska, punk, power pop, and their dad’s prog records. This album is deeply uncool, but also deeply composed and heartfelt and kind of a total joy.

March 11, 2024

Ben Frost

Scope Neglect

It’s so exciting to listen to a new album and be able to say, my god, I’ve never heard anything like this before.

Ben Frost, I don’t know exactly what his story is, but he’s made a whole lot of music—mostly experimental, ambient, electronic but with a lot of organic acoustic instrumental interference. He did the score to Dark? Seems like he did. I don’t know.

So imagine the music of someone who did the score to Dark and makes mostly experimental ambient electronic but with a lot of organic instrumental interference music. Now imagine that person made a death metal album.

Scope Neglect is metal. It rips through palm-muted, ravenously distorted, complex riffs with double bass drum accents. But it contains no vocals, no rhythm, no repetition, no songs, not even a snare drum. He carefully arranges these riffs in between periods of silence. Or decay. Or synthetic drone. Or animalistic EQ variation. It’s like he’s taken the raw recordings of a heavy metal album (a heavy metal album), and gutted them, crushed them into digital artifacts and flipped them upside down. Like he broke into Trent Reznor’s hard drives from The Downward Spiral era and melted the tracks on a jet engine.

The ultimate effect of this is something between paranoid chaos and pure meditation. The cuts of riffs become a mantra over the course of any given track, and you become hypnotized by it. Rather than startling you, you can’t wait for the next hit.

The idea of metal as meditative ambient music isn’t totally new, think something like Sunn O)))  or Meshuggah, or even a lot of black metal bands, where the goal isn’t piling up riffs as much as lulling you into the darkness. In fact, Meshuggah might actually be the closest comparison here, if Meshuggah simply played fewer notes. But if Meshuggah is a metal band that has indulged in ambient electronics, Scope Neglect is an  ambient electronic album that indulges in metal. And does it extremely well.

May 16, 2024

Tonchin

Manhattan

Ramen

Manhattan

Tonchin is a very, very popular ramen place that is weirdly hard to get into. Not, like, a line-around-the-corner place, but definitely a reservation-a-month-in-advance place. But we got lucky the other week and caught a stray reservation the same day, so, hey, ramen!

Funny thing is I sat down to write this lil write-up, but I suddenly don’t remember what I have to say about it. It was good! I think? Yeah, it was good! It was really good! Pretty luscious, rich, somewhat neutral but in a good way. Other than that…

What did strike me though, is how normal the place felt. It was nice and slick and everything, but you wouldn’t guess that it was one of the most popular ramen joints in the city.

But anyway there’s another location in Brooklyn that you can probably get into without trying too hard.

Oh! And the edamame was excellent.

May 9, 2024

New York Pizza Slice Roundup!

A List

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while, and for no particular reason (maybe I’m hungry?) I just got it in me to do it right now.

So here, in no particular order*, are all the good places to get a slice (not a whole pie, that’s an entirely different and impossible list) in New York City:

  • Joe’s
    • West 4th, Manhattan
      • Their pepperoni pizza is the Good Lord’s ideal image of what pepperoni pizza should be. I don’t care that it’s been so popular for so long that it’s no longer cool enough to be popular. The constant lines of tourists (we’re all just tourists, really) just means that you’re guaranteed to get a fresh slice, no reheating necessary.
  • F&F
    • Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn
      • Their brown butter sage sausage slice is an immaculate bit of post-authentic foodie nonsense. This place is so good that I’ve been getting my haircut across the street for years just to give myself an excuse to eat there every few months.
  • New Park Pizza
    • Way out in Queens near JFK and the Rockaways
      • You’ll probably never go here, and the people who live down there don’t want you there anyway. But it’s a perfect slice of pizza.

(I lied about these being no particular order; those 3 are the best. But here’s the others.)

  • NY Pizza Suprema
    • near MSG, Manhattan
      • Looks like it’ll be shitty, is actually great.
  • Little Italy Pizza
    • all over Manhattan
      • This place is a chain, and there’s starting to be way too many of them, but it’s surprisingly good. The 34th St. location near the Empire State Building has the same popularity effect as Joe’s; there are so many people getting slices there, you have a good chance of getting something fresh.
  • Louie’s
    • Jackson Heights, Queens
      • This is kinda cheating because I’m only including this place for its grandma slice. It’s delicious. Their regular slices are whatever.
  • Freddy & Pepper’s
    • Upper West Side, Manhattan
      • Overlooked! Appears small and unspecial, but always delivers.
  • Randazzo’s
    • Kensington, Brooklyn
      • Again, their regular slices are unremarkable. But they do this chorizo, jalepeno, and onion pizza which is just about as good as any slice anywhere. I think about it all the time, but it’s in a random location that’s not really convenient for me or anybody else.
  • Pizza Wagon
    • Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
      • Good pizza, lovingly untouched interior.
  • Krispy Pizza
    • Dyker Heights, Brooklyn
      • Supposedly they have some locations in New Jersey and elsewhere, but otherwise feels like any old local spot. Totally normal pizza, but the quality is high.
  • sLICe
    • Long Island City, Queens
      • I don’t want to like a place called sLICe, but they make a good one.
  • Smith St. Pizza
    • Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
      • I can’t tell if this is a bougie place pretending to be normal, or a normal place pretending to be bougie, but either way it’s a fine slice.
  • Lucia of Avenue X
    • Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
      • Another one that’s so far flung that you will probably never go there—and it’s shocking that something this good and new can exist in Sheepshead Bay. But as I wrote in a previous post, I imagine they’ll have a location closer to civilization soon. Ride the wave. (UPDATE: They indeed have opened a new location in Soho.) 
  • Scarr’s
    • Lower East Side, Manhattan
      • Rare magic of pure hype delivering in every respect.
  • Sauce & Soda
    • Bushwick, Brooklyn
      • Still a little mad that this place is so good.
  • Andiamo
    • Midtown, Manhattan
      • Nothing to say about this one. But every time I’ve had it out of pure convenient circumstance, I walk away surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
  • Nolita Pizza
    • Nolita
      • Go for the pizza, stay for the wildly incongruous celebrity photos on the wall.
  • Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
    • Greenpoint, Brooklyn
      • Can’t argue with it.
  • Smiling Pizza
    • Park Slope, Brooklyn
      • This one might not actually belong on the list. But it’s snuck in on pure aesthetics.
  • Artichoke
    • whatever
      • Whatever.
  • Mama’s Too
    • Upper West Side
      • Give it a year or two for the lines to die down.
  • Upside
    • Manhattan
      • Another chain around Manhattan, started by some so-and-so who got his start at some such place. Trying too hard, but it’s legit good.
  • Rizzo’s
    • Astoria, Queens
      • Their whole thing is this extra thin crust, which is never thin on flavor!!!
  • J&V Pizzeria
    • Bensonhurst, Brooklyn
      • Trying to decide whether or not to include this place, because their owners constantly play insane right wing news channels on the store TVs. But we’re here to purely and honestly judge the pizza, and the pizza is like a solid 7.9. Oh also it’s one of the most incredible, untouched 70s era interiors you’ll see, and I just hope that the psychotic fascist owners sell it, and that the new owners don’t touch a single thing.
  • NYC Pizza Kitchen
    • Midtown
      • Absolutely hate that I’m including a place called “NYC Pizza Kitchen.”

 

* In no order, but I def thought of some before others, if you know what I mean.
* These are just slices; triangles from circles. Well, except for Louie’s grandma slice. If you want Detroit style, that’s a different list.
* Okay, that list is: Prince Street, Paulie Gee’s, and Uncle Sam’s
* No, I’ve never been to l’Industrie. Gag me. 

May 6, 2024

Lucia Pizza of Avenue X

Brooklyn

Rigatoni alla vodka

Brooklyn

I’ve written about Lucia before, so I won’t get into it here. Basically: surprisingly good pizza, surprisingly deep and hidden away in Sheepshead.

I don’t get there too often, it’s a solid half hour bike ride with almost no other destinations nearby. But I swung by the other night for a slice, and ended up instead ordering a plate of rigatoni alla vodka, which was seemingly their weekly pasta special.

The slice was good. The rigatoni was great. Just so satisfying, spicy but delicate. I’m still mad that it was twenty dollars, but then I think about wanting to eat another plate of it and forget about that part.

Anyway, Lucia Pizza of Avenue X. Be prepared to see some new location of this place pop up in, like, Dumbo before too long.

May 6, 2024

ME CHICKEN RICE

Manhattan

Hainanese chicken rice

Manhattan

I’ve made a realization in the last year or so: all I ever want for lunch is a sandwich, and all I ever want for dinner is chicken and rice.

That’s a generalization of course, sometimes I want other things. And by “sandwich,” I mean any possible type of sandwich, from a hoagie to a burger to a gyro, even a taco. And as long as there’s chicken and rice—kung pao, jerk on rice and peas, Peruvian chaufa, whatever—it counts.

So here I am, walking around the Lower East Side one night trying to find something for dinner, when I see the glowing sign in the window of a new little eatery: ME CHICKEN RICE. 

Me. Chicken. Rice. I felt so seen.

So Me Chicken Rice serves Hainanese chicken, which is possibly the purest form of chicken and rice. It’s simply poached chicken, rice cooked in the chicken’s stock, and a little bit of dipping sauce, a dish which comes from a corner of China, but has become massively popular in Singapore and Thailand. It’s almost always delicious, and this was no exception.

Not much more to add. Not since CHEOGOD.ZIP have I been stopped in my tracks and decided to eat somewhere on the spot simply from its name. Still trying to figure that one out. Tell you what though, that place also had good chicken and rice.

 

May 1, 2024

Chez Tousignant

Montreal

Poutine

Montreal

Unlike the supposedly amazing bagels, which only seem to exist in two shops in the city, poutine is all over Montreal. You can’t miss it, and trying to track down the best poutine feels like a fools errand.

Nonetheless! One of the names that keeps popping up on lists is Chez Tousignant, a fairly new, hipster-ish millennial-modern-throwback diner in the [I don’t know] neighborhood. If I sounded annoyed typing that, don’t think too hard about that—the vibes were good and I wish I would’ve been hungry enough to add a burger to the order. But I was there for the poutine. And the poutine was good.

How good? I don’t know. It’s gravy and cheese curds and fries. After about the 3rd bite, you start to black out a little and forget why it is you’re holding a family’s worth of grave and cheese curds and fries. But if the gravy is good (it was) and the fries are good (they were), and the cheese curds were present (check), what else could you possibly have to critique?

May 1, 2024

Gibeau Orange Julep

Montreal

Orange julep

Montreal

There’s a giant orange on the side of a highway near some strip malls in Montreal, where they sell “orange julep,” which you might have guessed is basically an Orange Julius. Except it’s somehow better than an Orange Julius. Like, imagine the first half of an Orange Julius without the second half of an Orange Julius. None of that icy brain freeze froth taking up half of the cup.

I would drink one of these stupid things every day if I had a giant orange ball near me.

May 1, 2024

L'Express

Montreal

French things

Montreal

Montreal is super French. Did you know this? Like, obviously going in I knew that they speak French, and there’s some history of French culture there. But I guess I always thought that, here in the 21st century, that was more like some formality, or fuddy duddy tradition. Like kids took French in school, maybe spoke it with their grandparents, but mostly just lived in English just like they were in Toronto, or Saskatoon.

But no! Montreal is French as hell! Everything is in French, everyone speaks French by default, teens chatting on the street are doing it in French; and with that there seems to be some cultural, uh, somersaults that happen when a region connects its dots to a different language. In short, when opportunity allows, they do as the French do.

To that end, one of the most beloved restaurants in the city is L’Express, which I shouldn’t have to tell you is a French restaurant. French as hell. I haven’t been to France, so what do I know, but this place makes absolutely no concessions to the fact that they’re in Canada. You may as well be in Pa-ree when you walk into the joint.

Which means: there’s a lot of liver and pate on the menu. I don’t have time for that stuff, I’m sorry. But also, incredible cornichons.

All the food was good. Honestly I don’t even remember what we ate. It wasn’t as life-affirmingly good as the steak I had at Bar Tabac a little while back, but it was very satisfying all around. What I remember most, honestly, is the service. Impeccable. Just absolute pro wait service from beginning to end.

This is a good restaurant. One of those rare places that, even if the food isn’t necessarily top tier, simply spending a meal there feels like a pleasure. There should be more of them.