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February 1, 2023

Oozing Wound

We Cater to Cowards

Disappointed. The last Oozing Wound album ruuuled, I just loved it and loved what this band might have in store. They came from the noise world, but High Anxiety played out more like a metal album, leaning into precision thrash riffs, without getting too precise. It hit so hard.

This new one, at first, feels like a step backward. The riffage is simplified, it’s more Melvins than Megadeth. The first big influence that shows through is actually Nirvana’s Bleach. Which, look we all love Bleach, but it just feels too easy for this band.

What happened on further listens though, is that I started to feel what this album is actually doing. It takes a few tracks to get into it, but there’s a mantra-like repetition happening in some of these songs. They’re finding grooves and riding. There’s a run between tracks 6 7 and 8 where it all super gels together, and actually kinda kills. It just takes too long to get to that point, and honestly some of the vocals and lyrical choices (never Oozing Wound’s strong suit) don’t do many favors to what might be going on instrumentally.

So we’ll see. I’m going to run through this one a few more times. Maybe it rules?

January 22, 2023

Dire Straits

Brothers in Arms

I’ve been listening to nothing but Dire Straits all weekend* and I don’t want to stop. “Money For Nothing,” “Walk of Life,” “Sultans of Swing,” I hated every one of these songs when I was a kid. They made me feel sad. I don’t know why. But now I’m convinced that all three of them are some of the best singles of their era. And you can go ahead and throw “Romeo and Juliet” in there too. Just actual perfection all around, they’re extraordinary.

Weird then, how all of the non-singles on these albums are fairly rote. They’re generally pretty decent jams, but they don’t tap in to the melodic exquisity of those singles. The biggest exception is the Brothers in Arms album, which yes has decent jams, but also has vibes. Plus it costs like 3 dollars at every used record store in every city in America.

* I also listened to a lot of Grateful Dead, but that’s a whole other post that I don’t feel like actually writing.

January 17, 2023

Wheatie Mattiasich

Old Glow

I keep looking up the name Wheatie Mattiasich to write this post, and every time I do, I forget it by the time I get back to this window. It’s an extraordinarily unique name, yet it treats my prefrontal cortex like Gallagher’s watermelons.

Wow, I was not expecting to reference Gallagher in this post.

Anyway, Wheatie Mattiasich (copied and pasted) makes extremely mellow, ruminative, post-modern folk-adjacent music that is very much in the vein of Jessica Pratt, without quite matching Pratt’s masterful sense of melody. Still, its a thoroughly chill listen and will probably be getting a lot of spins from me when the winter starts to get bleaker.

January 13, 2023

Tresa Leigh

I Remember

This is one of those beautiful but impossibly frustrating releases that comes to the fore once every few years: a decades-old recording that made zero impact in its day, sat lost in someone’s attic while the artist moved on with their life and never recorded again, and then is eventually discovered and reissued by some cool indie reissue label.

So what we have now, is just 3 songs recorded by a teenager named (or at least stage-named) Tresa Leigh in 1970, and that’s it. Not a full album. Not a whole stack of demos. Just these 3 songs. The problem is, they’re great. They’re so good. I can listen to them all day. And I want more. But there’s no more and there never will be, and I hate that.

December 29, 2022

Steve's Favorite Music of 2022

A List

Boy, weird year huh? One in a series of weird years I guess. Anyway I was thinking about my music list this year, and I’ve really had a harder time than usual to make any sense or order of it. Which is fine, it’s not like it was that hard of a time; I haven’t lost sleep over it or anything, don’t worry. But nothing this year really stuck out as being some timeless classic. Was it a dud year? Maybe. Still some good stuff though.

Interestingly, my #1 this year didn’t start out that way. When I first heard it, I was actually a little disappointed compared to their last album(s). But over the course of the year, I just kept listening to it and it kept growing and growing, and I realized how immaculate of a collection it is. Just warm and cozy honestly flawless. 2, 3, and 4 all could’ve been #1 if #1 didn’t exist, 5, 6, and 7 were maybe my most listened to albums, but for whatever reason I don’t think they belonged any higher even though I’m fully obsessed with them. Everything else, total tossup. Anyway, here:

 

ALBUMS

  1. Big Thief – Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You
  2. The Mars Volta – The Mars Volta
  3. Chat Pile – God’s Country
  4. Lucrecia Dalt – ¡Ay!
  5. The Bug Club – Green Dream in F#
  6. Moon Tooth – Phototroph
  7. Five Hundred Bucks – $500
  8. Cloakroom – Dissolution Wave
  9. Blood Incantation – Timewave Zero
  10. Bríi – Corpos Transparentes
  11. Scarcity – Aveilut
  12. Worm – Bluenothing
  13. Goose – Dripfield
  14. Joe Rainey – Niineta
  15. Billy Woods – Aethiopes
  16. DEVIL MASTER – Ecstacies of Never Ending Night
  17. WHITE LUNG – Premonition
  18. MJ Lenderman – Boat Songs
  19. Ohio – Drift of Summer
  20. Flacco’s BIzarre Adventure – SUGAR ~ SH*T ~ SILK ~ SWEAT

 

SONGS

  1. Basically every song The Bug Club released
  2. Sad Snack – “No Children (Mountain Goats cover)”
  3. Chat Pile – “Lake Time”
  4. Julianna Riolino – “You”
  5. The Mars Volta – “Vigil”
  6. The Mars Volta – “Blacklight Shine”
  7. Grace Cummings – “Heaven”
  8. Cloakroom – “A Force At Play”
  9. Walter Martin – “Baseball Diamonds”
  10. Dazy – “Rollercoaster Ride”
  11. Big Thief – “Spud Infinity”
  12. Steve Lacy – “Bad Habit” (probably the first time a Billboard #1 hit has ever made any of my lists)
  13. Marci – “Immaterial Girl”
  14. The Mountain Goats – “Bleed Out”
  15. Pillow Queens – “Delivered” (I feel so, so bad that the new Pillow Queens album didn’t make my list. It wasn’t bad! It just didn’t do much. But their last album was so, so good and became an all time classic for me, but it never made my year end lists because I didn’t hear it in time.)

 

BEST OLD ALBUMS THAT WERE NEW TO ME THIS YEAR

  1. Faith No More – Angel Dust
  2. Low – Songs for a Dead Pilot
  3. Rainbow – Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
  4. Crash Test Dummies – God Shuffled His Feet
  5. Ghost – Meliora
  6. Squeeze – Argybargy

 

December 29, 2022

MJ Lenderman

Boat Songs

One more last minute entry for the year! Stop the (Word)presses! (lolol).

MJ Lenderman. I have a short backstory for this, but who cares. What matters is that it sounds like a perfect combination of Built to Spill, Neil Young, Sparklehorse, and Pinegrove, and he writes songs about Michael Jordon’s Utah flu game, WWF wrestling, and Dan Marino, even though they’re all actually songs about drinking and sadness.

It’s something I like to call the Mozart/Salieri Corollary, where somebody’s art is essentially making a mockery of the very genre it exists in, and yet they’re so unquestionably good at it that you can’t even be mad at them for taking the piss.

December 22, 2022

Beyonce

RENAISSANCE

I thought I’d finally try a Beyonce album. Give it a shot. I mean, I’ve dabbled before; people lose their minds over these things, so of course I’m going to at least give them a skim now and then. But I’ve really found that there’s just not that much for me. They always start very strong—she’s incredibly good at choosing an opening track. But then they just devolve into an unwieldy too-many-cooks stew of producers and collaborators, and the music is just never quite as interesting as I want it to be.

That’s mostly the case with RENAISSANCE (that it’s rendered in all caps more or less sums it all up). Opening track, good and interesting. But I actually like the guts of this album more than her others, mostly because of its deep dive into what might’ve previously been considered corny 90s dance music. But like, it’s a Beyonce album, you don’t really need me to break it down for you. You’ve probably already listened to this thing a dozen times, right?

It’s fine.

December 20, 2022

White Lung

Premonition

This White Lung album kinda rules, and it’s way better than every previous White Lung album, and it’s the classic example of why publications should stop releasing their album of the year lists when there’s still a whole month left in the year.

January 22, 2023

Harlem Shake

Brooklyn

Cheeseburger

Brooklyn

Fucking of course somebody made a burger place called Harlem Shake.

Tell you what though. Great burger. And jerk fries! Didn’t try the shake though.

January 22, 2023

Oishi Noodle Bar

Brooklyn

Gyodon

Brooklyn

I’ve said it a few times before but it bears repeating: I don’t live in a cool neighborhood. Bay Ridge indeed has some good restaurants, but it doesn’t necessarily have good restaurants. Not many places here could you take an out-of-towner to and have them leave thinking “how cool that you live in Brooklyn and get to eat at spots like this!” The couple that do get close, Brooklyn Firefly (“cool” 10 years ago), maybe South Brooklyn Foundry (“cool” 20 years ago) [side note, how self-consciously telling, that both of those places make sure to use “Brooklyn” in their name] are really the closest you’ll get. I guess there’s also this place called Matter, which might actually be the coolest of all of them, except I honestly can’t tell if it’s a coffee shop or a restaurant. But any of those would be essentially invisible if you dropped them in the middle of Bushwick or Bed Stuy.

And so Oishi Noodle Bar. I think this place might be Bay Ridge’s 3rd cool restaurant. How cool is it? Like a 6. But the food? A solid 8!

January 13, 2023

Donut Shoppe

Brooklyn

Donut

Brooklyn

I think I might’ve found a gem.

Biking down Avenue U, in deep, deep Brooklyn, it appeared to me like Joseph Smith finding the fucking golden tablets. A beautiful goofy, hand painted old sign featuring a donut dipping into a coffee mug, and the Leave it to Beaver styled letters reading “Donut Cafe.” Untouched since, who knows, maybe a 1972 touch-up?

I’ve been fooled by these places before. Case in point, Alpha Donuts in Sunnyside, one of the most charming old little diners you’ll ever see, and two of the worst donuts I’ve ever eaten.

But the racks of donuts in the window of this place actually looked alright. So I figured why not?

Look, These aren’t the best donuts I’ve had in the city. I’m not going to lose my mind here. But they were very good. Italic. And they were a dollar each! Truly, what a fucking joy. Sorry, that’s two swears in this post.

Okay so, charming old diner, great donuts. Is that really getting this place to gem level? Well here’s the bonus: they serve chopped cheeses. And okay I didn’t have a chopped cheese here, but there are no bad chopped cheeses. They’re all good. And it’s kinda hard to find them in Brooklyn, so the fact that this lil donut diner makes them!

And that’s not all! Listen to this. Pork chop sandwiches.

Forget about it. I want to move to Avenue U just so I can personally keep this place in business.

 

January 13, 2023

Golden Diner

Manhattan

Chicken katsu club

Manhattan

Golden Diner has been on my list for a while and I finally (very randomly) made it there. The pitch for this place essentially boils down to cool diner in Chinatown. 

The larger pitch involves American diner classics being done with a vaguely Asian twist, but really it’s not doing that much of that. There’s a Thai cobb salad, they do Korean fried chicken wings, the burger comes with a gochujang sauce, that kind of thing. But really the menu is respectably easy and minimal, a few basics, nothing too outlandish, and just interesting enough that you feel like you’re getting something new.

The problem: jesus it’s expensive. And yeah yeah yeah New York, Manhattan, supply chain, inflation, I know. But there’s something just a little dispiriting about the prices at this place. My chicken katsu club, which, I’ll concede was seemingly hand breaded and fried to order (rather than cheating with a cutlet), but it was $19 without fries! I mean. It’s half a chicken thigh and bacon and red cabbage on toasted white bread! With, as far as I could tell, straight-off-the-shelf Bulldog sauce. It was pretty good (just pretty good), but not $19 dollars good. And all of the salads were up around $15–17 as well.

Again, I know, things are just expensive sometimes. And with a place like the Golden Diner, you’re certainly paying some amount of cool-tax. But it just left me a little bummed, because this place really is cool! It’s a great little space! And other than the prices, isn’t being annoying about anything! It’s pretty legit. Just, maybe throw in the fries for $19.

January 13, 2023

Lombardo's

Brooklyn

Pizza

Brooklyn

Lombardo’s—not to be confused with Lombardi’s, although I imagine that confusion might’ve been part of the marketing plan of this place from day one—is a cozy as hell and charming as hell little sit-down pie joint just a block from my apartment. Their Spring salad is terrible (seriously, is there apple juice in the balsamic dressing or something?), but the pizza is pretty darn good! And did I mention it’s both cozy and charming as hell?

January 1, 2023

Steve's Favorite Food of 2022

A List

Boy, weird year huh? Wait I already wrote all of that in the other column.

So here’s my list of my favorite food from the year. I should mention, the only real criteria I use when organizing this list is “How much pleasure does simply thinking about this food item bring me?” That’s it. Price doesn’t matter, quantity, entree vs. beverage vs. candy bar doesn’t matter. My initial reaction to it at the time doesn’t really matter. I’m just looking at every item from throughout the year and gauging how much it moves my dopamine thermometer.

The only note I have on #1 this year is that I had last January, and I don’t think I’ve stopped thinking about it. It came highly regarded, took weeks or months of being on a waiting list in order to secure, and somehow, against all odds, in a way that these things rarely do, it delivered. #2 might be the best Korean food I’ve ever had. #3 is maybe the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had, full stop, which is amazing that it didn’t automatically land in #1. #4 nearly made me cry. All the rest, yes I’d absolutely eat them right now, but the top 4 are really the elites this year.

Okay, enough of that. Here you go:

 

  1. Pecking House – Chinese fried chicken
  2. Her Name is Han – Spicy pork + banchan
  3. Rowdy Rooster – Indian chicken sandwich
  4. i Sodi – Lasagna
  5. Gohei – Beef udon noodles
  6. Liebman’s Deli – Pastrami sandwich
  7. Coszcal De Allende – Chicken mole
  8. Umami Burger – Burger
  9. Red Hook Tavern – Burger
  10. Machi Machi – Chocolate panna cotta drink
  11. Parm – Chicken parm
  12. Schnipper’s – Sloppy Joe
  13. DunHuang Lanzhou Beef Noodle – Cold sesame noodles
  14. Lat 14 – Jaew bong + lumpia
  15. Bahari Estiatorio – Pastitsio
  16. Abang Yoli – Char siu
  17. Jean Danet Pastry Shop – Pumpkin pie
  18. Mariscos El Submarino – Ceviche
  19. Mandato Bakery – Doughnut
  20. Izakaya Fuku – A whole bunch of stuff
January 1, 2023

Abang Yoli

South Minneapolis

Pork belly char siu

South Minneapolis

I’ve got 27 minutes left to squeeze this one in before the end of the year.

Look, I don’t live in Minneapolis anymore, so I can’t really tell you anything about Abang Yoli. It’s on 38th and Nicollet, but apparently started as a booth at Malcolm Yards. I don’t know what Malcolm Yards is. I assume it’s some sort of food hall. Or maybe an apartment complex? Or a brewery?

But what’s really notable about Abang Yoli is that—aside from being a rare example of legit higher-end Asian food in Minneapolis—it manages to be both higher-end and affordably easy fast-casual counter service. You order at the counter (duh), the seating consists of just some wall-counter high high top stools, the menu is up on a big TV board behind the register. And yet the food is plated beautifully, on nice stoneware, the cook keeps calling the chef “chef”, and, most importantly, the food is excellent and interesting.

Well at least the char siu is. That’s all I had. But it was just about ideal. I mean, it wasn’t really even full-on char siu, more of a hoisin-forward version of roasted+grilled pork belly, rather than the traditional super red colored stuff that you can get chopped up for you from a window in Chinatown. But it’s served with some good pickled cucumbers and peppers and rice, and honestly if I lived in south Minneapolis I would go to this place all the time.

December 28, 2022

Lat 14

Golden Valley, MN

Jaew bong, lumpia, drunken noodles

Golden Valley, MN

Sneaking this last meal in right under the wire before putting up my big year end list!

Lat 14 opened up in the Cities after I left town, and when I’ve been back I keep seeing it mentioned on the good food lists, so I was happy to finally try it. And it’s great. Not much else to add!

December 26, 2022

Le Bouchon

Cold Spring, NY

French onion soup, steak au poivre

Cold Spring, NY

After a lovely hike across from Bear Mountain in the Hudson Valley, I stopped up in the lovely little town of Cold Spring and had a lovely meal at this charming French Bistro. The steak au poivre was a little over-cooked, but the onion soup was some of the best I’ve ever had. Lovely. Just lovely.