Archive for June, 2010

Junip is More Than Just a Backing Band for José Gonzalez

Jose Gonzalez and Junip, Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

Swedish/Argentinean singer-songwriter José Gonzalez has been wooing young women for a few years now with his smooth voice and Spanish-influenced acoustic guitar picking. His  covers of the Knife, Massive Attack and Joy Division, as well as his debut album Veneer, put him on the American and British musical map in 2005. Since then he’s released some more EPs and another full-length, In Or Nature.

Junip, Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

This year he and his bandmates (Tobias Winterkorn and Elias Araya) decided to reform Junip, a band whose sole output until now was an EP in 2005 called Black Refuge. The band was put on hiatus when Gonzalez’s solo career took off. They released the Rope and Summit EP at the end of May as a free download on their website. This is a precursor to a full length album due in September. The EP, which garnered an 8.0 from Pitchfork, is a beautiful collection of haunting and evocative songs. The band does much more than simply amplify Gonzalez’s sound and style; they add a rhythm and beat that uplifts and enlivens Gonzalez’s lyrics and guitar work with mesmerizing bass and drum lines.

Junip played two New York-area shows, June 9 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and June 10 at Bowery Ballroom. At the Bowery show, fellow Swede Hanne Hukkelberg opened the show with her quietly lovely songs.

Hanne Hukkelberg at Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

Hanne Hukkelberg, Bowery Ballroom, June 10,2010

When Junip took the stage it was clear there would be an increase in volume and it was most welcome. The group stuck to their own material (none of Gonzalez’s solo material was played), which was brave considering their released material only consists of two EPs. They played many songs that will be on the upcoming album and they certainly did a good job of exciting the crowd for that release. The four songs from the recently released Rope and Summit EP were of course well received, and translated well to the stage. All in all, a great preview for the newly reformed band.

Jose Gonzalez and Junip, Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

Junip, Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

Junip, Bowery Ballroom, June 10, 2010

June 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm 1 comment

Eat This: Brunch at Locanda Verde

Locanda Verde opened in 2009 to some fanfare as the new Robert DeNiro establishment. DeNiro is a part owner, and his last venture at that spot, Ago, did not fare so well. However, Locanda Verde has gotten some pretty wonderful reviews, including two stars from Frank Bruni at the New York Times.

If you are looking for a special occasion brunch, look no further. Located in Tribeca, the restaurant is beautiful and airy, with enough tables to cut down on a long wait, but you can make reservations. The beverages all sound delicious, but if you’re not in the mood for alcohol the Tre-Stelle, which is the house juice made with pomegranate, blood oranges, and Valencia oranges is superb and refreshing. Although at $7 it’s not cheap. The cocktails are $12.

I highly recommend beginning with an appetizer, something I never really do at brunch. But at Locanda Verde it’s hard to pass up. The first time I was here, on Valentine’s Day, we got the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta, a specialty of the restaurant. The creamy cheese is served with truffle honey and burnt orange toast and it was sublime; really one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The second time I was there, for my husband’s birthday, we got the Pastry Misti del Giorno, a trio of the pastries of the day by pastry chef Karen DeMasco. DeMasco is a genius and her pastries have been much lauded by many. That morning we enjoyed a lemon rosemary muffin, a strawberry scone, and a cinnamon and sugar donut, served with a lovely strawberry jam and creamy butter. The scone was transcendant, the others very delicious.

Both times I’ve been there, I ordered the Soft Scrambled Farm Egg Crostino for my entree. It is a plate of the softest, lightest scrambled eggs with leeks and herbs served on a piece of toasted crostino. It also comes with a side salad that is among the best salads I’ve ever eaten. I don’t usually get so excited about salads, but this one is a thing of beauty. It consists of arugula and hen of the woods mushroom and has an amazing lemony parmesan dressing.

On his birthday my husband ordered the Organic Oatmeal with stewed fruits and almonds. It was light and creamy and delicious and perfect if you’re not in the mood for eggs, but don’t want to splurge on pancakes or French toast–especially if you’ve already had the pastries for an appetizer! However, the Hazelnut-Crusted French Toast, which comes with a lovely citrus salad, is delicious, of course. My husband had that on Valentine’s.

So, if you’re looking to splurge on calories and money at brunch, Locanda Verde is an ideal venue. And afterward you can enjoy the lovely Tribeca streets, especially in summertime.

June 18, 2010 at 10:44 am 5 comments

Guest Post: forgetters at Bell House 5/27/10

Punk royal Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker, Jets to Brazil, Thorns of Life)  took the stage with drummer Kevin Mahon (Against Me!) and bassist Caroline Paquita (Bitchin’) as forgetters, a Brooklyn band deliciously reminiscent of Jawbreaker with plenty of its own personality and emotion to go on.

Photo of forgetters by Mobius Strip

While no album has yet been released (word on the street is that the self released debut is forthcoming), restless enthusiasts may be familiar with many of the songs they played from the handful of bootlegged shows circulating the internet, some vestiges of Thorns of Life. “Not Funny,” “Vampire Lessons ” and “Oh Deadly Death,” in conjunction with new songs such as “Sirens,” made for an atmosphere charged with enthusiasm while simultaneously enraptured by Schwarzenbach’s presence and bands overall quality.

Photo of Blake by Mobius Strip

Quoting lines from Act I Scene V of Hamlet, Schwarzenbach kept the audience amused and impressed, at one point apologizing for seeming stern, and explaining that he was concentrating. This focus was apparent and appreciated, as the trio delivered a five-star show not to be forgotten.

Photo of Caroline Paquita by Mobius Strip

Text by Inari Gallifrey. More photos by Mobius Strip after the jump.

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June 16, 2010 at 10:42 am Leave a comment

Weekend show selection: Future Islands at Silent Barn, 6/12

If you’re in NY this weekend, and feel like seeing some music, check out Future Islands at Silent Barn in Ridgewood, Queens tomorrow (Saturday, 6/12) with Sensual Harassment and Lower Dens. I’ve been a fan of Future Islands for some time and made a note on the blog back in April to check out the new album In the Evening Air.

Photo of Future Islands via Thrilljockey.com

Since then, it’s become an obsession, and I’m going to make this rather bold statement: it’s one of my favorite albums of 2010 so far. Aside from the song I posted last time, “Tin Man“, there are a slew of others that are a perfect blend of swaggering indie rock and the more proggy minimal psych-rock that Thrill Jockey is known for. See also “In the Fall.” This painting below, inspired by “Tin Man” is fantastic:

Painting of Future Islands by Elena Johnston via ThrillJockey.com

Enough gushing. You can find more tour dates here. Stay tuned for an interview with the band!

June 11, 2010 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

La Roux, “Bulletproof”

Summertime and dancefloor anthems go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Like . . . bread and butter. Like, yeah, toast and jamz. Released just in time for the season, La Roux‘s Gold EP gives us the 80s-influenced synth-pop hit “Bulletproof,” a dancefloor  jam in the vein of British New Wave heroes Erasure and the Human League.

The key difference here is vocalist Elly Jackson, who’s got her own spin on that mostly male-dominated era in music: She’s a tough chick with a fierce independent streak—think Beth Ditto, La Gaga—and she styles herself more like David Bowie and Tilda Swinton than like other sex-fixated pop singers her age (*cough* Ke$ha *cough*).

The Brit duo (with keyboardist/songwriter Ben Langmaid) has been a hit in the UK since releasing their self-titled debut last year: They were nominated for the Mercury Prize, and Jackson is already a fashion icon for coolies on the other side of the pond. They’re doing some damage stateside too, with “Bulletproof” creeping up the Billboard Dance/Electronic charts and a slot on this spring’s Lillith Fair Festival.

Buy the EP here. Tour dates after the jump.

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June 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: 8-Grain Bread from The Hungry Ghost

The Hungry Ghost

We here at Toast N Jams are huge fans of Western Massachusetts, and we are lucky enough to have a wonderful friend who lives in Northampton. She is always kind enough to offer her home and we are more than glad to visit. She also has introduced us to the joy that is The Hungry Ghost, an amazing local bakery (specializing in bread) that we make a point to visit every time we are in town. On Memorial Day weekend, Devo LT and JudyJams stopped by the shop and met this gentlemen, who showed us the bread options for the day:

Friendly Hungry Ghost salesperson.

The bread options from Hungry Ghost vary, ranging from the delicious 8-grain that we got (there was also an option of Rosemary bread) to challah to sourdough. In addition to bread, they make scones, cookies, crackers, and more. Most of their tasty offerings are made in the massive wood-fired brick oven below:

The oven!

The inside of the bakery is pretty small, but they churn out many breads daily, and have a schedule on their website. We noticed a huge stack of flour bags right when we walked in:

Giant bags of flour

The purchased 8-grain bread:

The bread, before being cut and devoured.

If you are a bread lover and happen to be passing through or staying in Northampton, make a point to stop by The Hungry Ghost (and eat lunch here)!

June 8, 2010 at 10:09 am Leave a comment

JudyJams (semi) weekly picks #6: Chief, Suckers, BLK JKS, Jungol

So, internet world, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is just not shaping up to be a weekly column. I apologize! I will do my best to be prompt with the picks but it might end up being semi-weekly. To make up for it, I have packed this week’s picks with a bunch of extra-goodness. First choice is Chief, who are releasing their debut album Modern Rituals on Domino in August, but are giving a few sneak peeks out now!

Photo of Chief via Domino Records

You can get a preview of their classic rock inspired indie-pop tunes when the band releases a 3 song 10″ teaser on June 22nd. A track from that album, called “Night & Day” is available for download here. They are playing Union Pool in Brooklyn on June 5th, if you’d like to check them out in person.

Second choice of the week is Suckers, who are releasing their debut full length Wild Smile on French Kiss records June 8th. The band plays a brand of wild “tribal indie-rock,” and you can get a taste of that by downloading their new single “A Mind I Knew” on their website or here via Spinner.com. The artwork for the new album is kind of amazing:

Cover art for Wild Smile via Suckers.com

Suckers will be playing three dates in NY at the end of June (June 18th, record release party at Music Hall of Williamsburg, June 29th at Prospect Park Bandshell, and June 30th at Governor’s Island). For those of you not in NY, their website has the rest of their dates!

A record I have been excited about forever is the new BLK JKS ep, Zol! The South African band has been recording since 2000, but only made their US album debut officially in 2007. They’ve received critical acclaim here and abroad for many years, and received a SAMA (South American Music Award) for the best Alternative Music album. They were recently awarded a huge honor: they are playing at the first ever FIFA World Cup Kickoff Celebration Concert, live from Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Thursday June 10, 2010!

Photo of BLK JKS via Secretly Canadian

You can check out the title track Zol! here, and the entire album is currently streaming at KCRW.com! I hope you enjoy as much as I do. Check out my full review of it here.

My last pick, Jungol, after the jump.

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June 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment


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