Archive for December, 2010
Ranking stuff is hard, so here’s a list of songs I loved this year in no particular order.
“Palaces of Montezuma,” Grinderman
Nick Cave’s Grinderman is a raunchy, brash, psychotic mess of a band…ie, totally bad-ass. This is the lightest cut off Grinderman 2 and it’s a beauty. Cave lists off cultural artifacts he’d give his lover in exchange for her affection—a sweet idea that gets graphic and gruesome, in prime Nick Cave fashion.
“New York Is Killing Me,” Gil Scott-Heron
On his first album in 13 years, poet and musician Gil Scott-Heron sounds older, gravelly, and introspective. The minimal production on this blues track—just hand claps and fuzz—emphasizes his weathered voice, exhausted and trapped in a city of millions.
And check out this remix video by director Chris Cunningham, with all music replaced by the sounds of the New York City subway.
“Fall in Love (Your Funeral),” Erykah Badu
New Amerykah Part 2 is brilliant and beautiful front-to-back, with Badu in full-on soul siren mode, singing about love and affection and relationships. This track samples Eddie Kendrick’s 1977 “Intimate Friends” and finds Ms. Badu feisty and coy: “You don’t want to fall in love with me,” she says, “If you stay, prepare to have yo shit rearranged.” It’s a playful taunt, and even if you don’t want to fall in love with Badu, it’s pretty impossible not to.
“Lower Leg,” Wetdog
London’s Wetdog plays noisy, chaotic post-punk a la the Raincoats, Kleenex, and the Slits. Cacophonous, playful, and weeeird, oh my! They’re not reinventing the girl-punk wheel here, but holy crizzap is it exciting to find a band of ladies making this kind of music in 2010.
This was a super difficult decision, much more than in the past years. Apparently, this was an excellent year for music! You’ll notice by my long list of honorable mentions that I had a lot of trouble narrowing it down!
Girl Talk: All Day
Wild Nothing: Gemini
The Thermals: Personal Life
Active Child: Curtis Lane EP
Robyn: Body Talk
Cee-Lo Green: The Lady Killer
El Guincho: Pop Negro
The Radio Dept: Clinging to a Scheme
Drum roll please….
15. Hot Chip: One Life Stand
While it’s true I love pretty much anything these guys release and they are definitely one of my favorite bands to see live, this album is actually good. It’s full of solid, danceable tunes (see “One Life Stand” and “We Have Love”) as well as beautiful “slow jams” like “Brothers” and “Slush.”
14. Matthew Dear: Black City
This deep, dark, beautiful album is creepy and stunning at the same time. A departure from Dear’s usual techno-dance style, this album actually makes you think while you tap your feet.
13. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today
This album is weird and unique in the best ways. But not too weird that you can’t sing along: “L’estat (acc. to the widow’s maid)” is a new take (or is it old?) on pop and “Round and Round” has so much variety in one song but yet it is still obviously one unit. Great album for a subway ride or a party.
12. Best Coast: Crazy For You
Bethany Cosentino’s new band made a splash with their surf-happy music and boyfriend-related lyrics. I pretty much can’t get the whole album out of my head for days after I listen to it, and that doesn’t bother me one bit.
11. Janelle Monáe: The ArchAndroid
Monáe’s debut full-length is a huge undertaking that paid off. It begins and ends with orchestral overtures and the middle is chock-full of fantastic songs. What more can you ask for?
10. LCD Soundsystem: This is Happening
Can James Murphy and Co. do no wrong? Seems like it, with this latest offering, which starts off with a slow build and then knocks it out of the park, and that’s just within the first song.
9. Das Racist: Sit Down, Man
These guys from Brooklyn came on the scene last year with their single “Combination pizza Hut and Taco Bell” and I basically wrote them off as a purveyor of silly but amusing songs to get attention. Boy was I wrong. They released two mix tapes this year, this one being the second, and both are clever and funny without trying too hard. Oh, and did I mention they released both as free downloads?
8. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings: I Learned the Hard Way
God I love this woman. I am so thrilled she is finally getting the recognition she deserves, and let me just say that this album is a solid entry into the annals of Motown and R&B, and goddamn her voice is fabulous!
7. Arcade Fire: The Suburbs
These guys have grown and matured since they first rose to popularity in 2004 and they now present themselves as semi-adults ruminating on that life and all it brings. This album could have been trite and clichéd, but thankfully it’s not.
6. Big Boi: Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
I was surprised by how much I liked this album. Songs like “Shutterbugg,” “Follow Us” and “Tangerine” are instant hip-hop classics and I found myself grooving to this album on the very first listen.
5. Caribou: Swim
Another old favorite, Caribou (aka Dan Snaith) will always be super talented to me and he proves that yet again with this release. From catchy songs with interesting effects (“Odessa” and “Kaili”) to danceable tunes with minimal lyrics (“Bowls” and “Hannibal”). Snaith truly is wunderkind and his music is unique and new.
4. Beach House: Teen Dream
When I bought and enjoyed Beach House’s first album in 2006 I didn’t think they’d be a band that would stay with me over several years; I thought I would tire of their sound because they wouldn’t be able to build on it. Again, I was wrong. With this album, their third, they sound polished and entrancing, and anything but boring, which is how I feel some people assume their music is before giving it a good listen. Give it a good listen!
3. ceo: White Magic
This is Eric Berglund of the Tough Alliance’s solo project and what a project it is. I love Tough Alliance, and you can tell these are related, but ceo is definitely it’s own thing. It shares Tough Alliance’s precision–to quote Pitchfork, “There’s an understanding of hooks and pop structure here that almost seems only available to the Swedish,” but the lyrics and melodies are more positive and joyful, as in “Illuminata” and “Come With Me.”
2. Kanye West: My Dark Twisted Fantasy
I know, it’s expected at this point…this album is on pretty much every media outlet’s Top Album list. But yes, it really is that good. People love to hate Kanye, but personally, I love to love him. You should try it, and you can start with this album.
1. The Drums: The Drums
This is the album that I listened to the most this year, it just seemed to always fit my mood. The songs are smart and catchy and Jonathan Pierce’s voice is like nothing I’ve ever heard before–and I mean that in a good way. I can’t even call out a few songs as special–I love them all!
It seems the blog-gods heard my plea, and my awesome friend Ruth, who saw my post about my inability to find White Cow Dairy‘s pumpkin yogurt in my post about their other fabulous yogurts, bought me not only the pumpkin yogurt, but their pumpkin pie custard as well! Yay Ruth!
On to the reviews…the pumpkin yogurt was pretty awesome, to put it bluntly. The tangy taste of fresh yogurt was still there, but there was a strong and delicious pumpkin flavor coming through, accented by cinnamon and maple sugar. YUM. I can’t really think of a better, cheaper breakfast on the go!
After my previous custard experience with White Cow Dairy I was definitely skeptical, I really did not like their vanilla custard very much. However, their pumpkin pie flavor is an entirely different story. This tasted like the most delicious pumpkin pie filling you’ve ever had. It was super pumpkin-y, even with a few chunks, a bit maple-y, and just enough vanilla bean thrown in, as well as a touch of sea salt. This is what pumpkin pie filling should taste like–pumpkin! I could’ve eaten three of these jars without a problem.
Top 10 of the ’10! I have wanted to say that for years. Picking my top 10 of the year is always a fun challenge, but this year it was especially hard because there was a lot to choose from. Plus, I try to wait it out until mid-December to give myself the most amount of time with everything that comes out later in the year. Here are my top choices, in no particular order:
10. Glasser– Ring
I’ve praised this album on the blog before, so no need to go on and on. The album artwork is fantastic and check out her site for music and fun videos.
9. The Black Keys– Brothers
I know that I am late in the game, but this is the album that convinced that I should be in love with The Black Keys. If you haven’t heard yet, you are missing out.
8. Future Islands–In the Evening Air
I’ve been psyched on this album since it came out, and it hasn’t died down for me. This wasn’t a huge hit for everyone, but I find their particular style quite appealing. Check out their blog for some funny photos, and click here to hear music.
7. Big Boi– Sir Lucious Left Foot…The Son of Chico Dusty
This album blew my mind: Big Boi still has it. Was there actually any doubt? This album makes me forget that OutKast doesn’t exist.
6. The Drums– The Drums
These guys rocked my world at CMJ, and if I wasn’t hooked on their album before I saw them live, I certainly was afterwards. It was a close call with Surfer Blood’s Astrocoast, but these guys stole my heart.
5. Beach House– Teen Dream
Aside from their bizarre music videos, Beach House is a stellar example of modern, fresh indie rock. It took me awhile, as with The Black Keys, to fall in love, but when I did, I fell hard. This whole record is fantastic.
4. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
There is probably nothing left to say about this album that hasn’t been said. Just watch the video (feature film!!!) and enjoy the madness.
3. TOBACCO– Maniac Meat
Another great album, with wonderfully weird music videos. But then again, we wouldn’t love Tobacco if they weren’t totally absurd. This album makes me happy. I can’t explain why. It’s just that good.
2. Das Racist–Sit Down, Man
I’ve been a champion of this album since the beginning, and you’ve heard me blab about it here before. One of the most interesting records of the year, hands down. I couldn’t find any actual videos, but this song is so good perhaps it doesn’t even need a video? You decide.
1. The Thermals– Personal Life
Definitely one of my favorite music videos from the year, but that might just be because I’m a serious Sleater-Kinney lover. This was yet another album that made me reconsider the artist’s back catalogue; turns out I’ve always loved them but just never knew. This album is intelligent and intensely catchy.
In no particular order, because I just can’t make up my mind about which I like the best. Check after the jump for my honorable mentions.
As the end of 2010 comes near we here at TNJ have decided to look back on our Top 10 Brunches we had this year. These aren’t necessarily new places that opened in 2010, these are just places we enjoyed eating at this past year. Without further ado:
2 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY (212) 777-2410
The latest restaurant in the Danny Meyer empire, Maialino offers a solid brunch in lovely surroundings, with the stellar service Meyer’s restaurants are known for. The pastries are delicious and the gigantic Raviolo al Uovo is pretty spectacular. For a more detailed review click here.
9. Get Fresh Market Table
370 5th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215-3399 (718) 360-8469
Slowly becoming a Park Slope staple, Get Fresh Market Table is located across the street from Perch but serves a larger range of breakfast fare. Highly recommended is their Egg Sandwich, which is served on a sweet brioche with farmstead cheese.
8. Chinese Breakfast at No. 1 East Restaurant
4127 Main St Flushing, NY 11355 (718) 460-8686
If you are ready to try something different, venture out to Queens and try the savory soy milk, radish su bing, and crullers. You won’t be disappointed. Read a more detailed review here.
79 5th Avenue Brooklyn, NY (718) 622-2250
Miriam is a true brunch classic that we will never get tired of. An Israeli-style breakfast is a unique thing in Brooklyn, so Miriam stands out among the masses. Try the Israeli Breakfast with eggs, pita, Israeli salad, and labne, the Burekas, or the Mediterranean Crispy Dough.
732 Classon Avenue Brooklyn, NY (718) 622-3100
Located in Prospect Heights, this small restaurant serves Mexican classics like Chilaquiles, Huevos Rancheros, Omelet de Nopales, and breakfast tacos. Each meal starts with a basket of delicious Mexican pastries and only gets better from there.
5. Hundred Acres
38 MacDougal Street New York, NY (212) 475-7500
Hundred Acres is one of those places that you think of immediately when you remember a delicious brunch that you had. Owned by the same people who own Cookshop and Five Points, the brunch is generally American fare with some twists, such as the delicious Chilaquiles. They offer Warm Cream Biscuits, Ricotta Fritters, or Glazed Buttermilk Cake Donuts to start. You will not leave hungry.
4. Southport Grocery
3552 N. Southport Chicago, IL 60657 (773) 665-0100
Every time TNJ is in Chicago we make going here a priority. Their brunch dishes are not only creative, but supremely delicious. And the decor and market are adorable to boot. For a more detailed review click here.
3. Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 487-2600
Tartine is a bit of an exception, because it is mostly a bakery with a ton of seating. A bakery that people wait in lines that often curve around the corner is guaranteed to be delicious. Being that it was my first time there, I went a little crazy and order the Morning Bun (a “grown up cinnamon bun” to quote JB), the Double Pain Au Chocolate (gooey and delicious chocolate), and the Buttermilk Scone with Currants. These weren’t just for me, I promise, but they were certainly devoured.
89 Greenwich Avenue New York, NY 10014 (212) 691-8080
Their Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast is out of this world, and they have solid drinks and egg dishes as well. A great choice if you’re in the West Village, and even worth traveling for. For a more detailed review click here.
1. Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10013 (212) 925-3797
This is our favorite place to go for “fancy brunch.” You’ll definitely spend a pretty penny for a full sit down brunch, but if you’re in the hood stop by the bakery counter and get a few snacks–you won’t be disappointed. For a more detailed review click here.
Yogurt is my during-the-week daily breakfast. I throw it in my bag and eat it when I get to work at my desk. However, I am very picky about my yogurt. I do not like fruit on the bottom, or big chunks of fruit in my yogurt. I also love the cream on the top of full fat yogurts; I hate the aspertame-y taste of low fat or non-fat yogurts. I like my yogurt creamy, but not too thick–I had a brief affair with Fage Greek yogurts before I decided they were too thick. My usual go-to is Brown Cow, in the vanilla, maple, or coffee flavor.
However, I recently saw an interesting post on Serious Eats about White Cow Dairy, extolling their custard and pumpkin yogurt. I am a total sucker for anything pumpkin, as well as cute packaging, so I knew I had to try their pumpkin yogurt in the adorable little jar. White Cow Dairy is located in East Otto, NY, and their products are sold in many places in upstate and Western New York state, but here in the city it’s only sold at Murray’s Cheese for $2.99 a jar. I header over to their Grand Central location twice, and both times they didn’t have the pumpkin flavor–perhaps it’s seasonal and I missed the boat? I’ll keep trying for that, but in the meantime I managed to sample quite a number of their other flavors.
I started with their rhubarb yogurt because I’ve never seen rhubarb yogurt before and the cashier assured me it was delicious. She was right. First of all, all of their yogurts are nice and thick–but not too thick–and have a pleasant tangy background taste that all fresh yogurts should have. The rhubarb flavor was tart, but had notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as maple. The rhubarb pieces were cut up teeny tiny and distributed throughout–just the way I like it!
Next up was cherry, which was made from sour cherries. I could taste the sourness of the cherries, but there was a light sweetness as well to complement the tartness of the cherries, which were also chopped up into tiny pieces and distributed throughout.
My final fruit yogurt was gingerberry, which consisted of blueberries, maple sugar, ginger, and cinnamon. The ginger was a nice addition to the usual blueberry flavor, giving it some bite. It was also such a beautiful color!
I also, of course, had to sample the maple yogurt, and compare it to Brown Cow’s. It was super thick and creamy, more so than the fruit yogurts. Not surprisingly, it was not as sweet as other maple yogurts, relying more on the actual tangy yogurt flavor. Yum!
My one disappointment from White Cow Dairy was their custard. I was actually super excited about it, especially when I noticed the clusters of vanilla bean on the bottom of the jar.
But alas, it was way too eggy for me. Although there was clearly a lot of vanilla, along with nutmeg, maple, and a bit of sea salt, I could barely taste any of that due to the strong egg flavor. The consistency was also clumpy and not smooth like all their yogurts. About halfway down I was able to mix it up and get more of the vanilla flavor, but sadly I probably would not buy it again.
If anyone spies the pumpkin yogurt lurking at Murray’s Cheese, give me a holler (or if you want to be super nice, buy it for me!) because after eating all their other yogurts I can only imagine how spectacular it is.
Update: Jens Lekman is DJing in Greenpoint on Wednesday, December 15 starting at 9:30 with Taken By Trees’ Victoria Bergsman. They’ll be at Veronica Peoples Club at 105 Franklin Street Brooklyn, NY 11222
Happily, I cannot get Jens Lekman‘s “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill” out of my head; it is so much more welcome than all that Christmas music that’s been taking up space lately. I had the honor of seeing Mr. Lekman along with 399 others at the unique Green Building on Union St. in Brooklyn on Thursday night. He also played there on Friday.
The venue is usually used for weddings and parties; I think this was the first concert they’ve had there. It’s a nice open space with no view obstructions and lovely painted brick walls and chandeliers. It has a nice farmhouse vibe. The stage was decorated with some tree branches and a couple lanterns in the back. Mr. Lekman was in the US briefly and stopped in LA and Brooklyn for 3 shows total. He mentioned that his last time in Brooklyn was not such a good one, as he ended up in Coney Island in the cold, but that he looked at these shows as closure and that he feels “like I’m ready to fall in love with New York again.” New Yorkers were certainly ready to fall in love with him, if they weren’t already. The audience immediately began singing along and Lekman encouraged it wholeheartedly.
The evening started off quietly, with stripped down acoustic versions of songs like “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar,” “Kanske är jag kär i dig,” and a new one that may have been called something like “Argument with Myself on Elizabeth Street,” which in his typical way he introduced with a background story. He also gave a detailed story about the song “Waiting for Kirsten,” which is essentially about stalking Kirstin Dunst in his hometown of Gothenberg, Sweden. Lekman was joined by drummer Charlie Hall so the music wasn’t completely stripped down, but things didn’t really pick up until he employed some backing tracks for “Opposite of Hallelujah” near the end of the set. He ended with a remixed version of “Sipping on the Sweet Nectar” and returned for two encores. All in all, a beautiful and special night.
Full setlist below the jump.