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On Hiatus for Winter-Spring 2012

Hello friends! As most of you have probably noticed by now, the posts have slowed to a crawl since December. With DevoLT off on her traveling adventure around the globe, Lindsarella in Boston, and JudyJams in NY trying to plan a wedding, we’re all over the place (literally and metaphorically). This blog has always been a collaborative effort, and we hope to continue that when we are all united again on our fair shores. Please do keep checking in and stay updated, because we have a lot more to say, write, eat and listen to. Happy belated 2012!

March 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm Leave a comment

JudyJams’ Top Album Picks for 2011

I decided to forgo my picks for Nov/Dec since this close to the end of the year, online music coverage is basically a race to the finish line for top 10 lists. I’ve spent the past few weeks revisiting my favorite albums, many of which I have highlighted in my picks throughout the year. Here is what I came up with, and I apologize for going a little overboard in the descriptions of the Top 5:

1. Washed OutWithin and Without
(Image via
This record received so much gushing press before its release that I almost didn’t bother listening. I’m so glad that I didn’t trust my instincts. Washed Out’s debut is a well-balanced, perfectly graceful album that I want to listen to over and over again. In the coldest months of January, I’ll be grateful to have such relaxing, summer songs on my iPod as I trudge through the snow.
2. Bon Iver– S/T

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This man can really do no wrong in my eyes (perhaps the last song on this album was WAY too ‘80’s for me, but I can overlook it). It was thought that nothing could satisfy fans after such a powerful debut like For Emma…, but the self-titled follow-up really hit the mark. It was a slow burn for me, but it really hit home after I saw him live over the summer. I love when artists mix things up a little bit from album to album, and I see Justin Vernon doing that for the rest of his career.

3. Toro Y MoiUnderneath the Pine

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Toro Y Moi’s sophomore album is exactly the type of music that I needed when it came out: fun, quirky, and a good time every time. Each time I listen, I discover another song that I love. His mix of dancey, disco-influenced songs combined with smooth electro pop beats is expertly constructed.
(Image via
An eclectic mix of a record that pairs the British DJ’s beats perfectly with a range of vocalists, including most notably Little Dragon‘s Yukimi Nagano on the song “Wildfire.” To me, this is one of the successful DJ/electronic/vocal combo albums of the year, even though SBTRKT is sure to be overshadowed by the likes of James Blake and Burial.

5. Wye OakCivilian

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After hearing so much about this band, I had to hang my head in shame when I discovered how far behind I was. Civilian was one of the best indie-rock records I have heard all year. It is an album on which literally EVERY song is good. The dual male/female vocalist pairing, with a heavy emphasis on dark harmonies, hits all the right notes for me.

6. Zola JesusConatus

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After teasing us with a dark and wonderful EP last year showcasing her beautiful (classically trained) voice, Zola Jesus finally released her full length and I haven’t stopped listening since.

7. tUnE-yArDs whokill

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Merrill Garbus is my hero, and “Bizness” is one of the best songs of the year, hands down.

8. The AntlersBurst Apart

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A very successful sophomore effort that made me go back and reconsider the debut.

9. Wild Flag– S/T

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These ladies rule my world. Nothing will ever replace Sleater-Kinney, but this record comes pretty damn close.

10. Peaking Lights936

Image via Gorilla Vs

This was my “ignore-everyone-on-the -subway-and-enjoy-beautiful-music” record. It worked out very nicely.

(Honorable mentions after the jump) (more…)

December 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at Shopsin’s

The Shopsin’s experience is one of those NYC legends that travels from person to person like a game of telephone. Kenny Shopsin is known as the “Soup Natzi of the Lower East Side,” and has been said to be brash to customers, throw food, yell at waiters (a few of which are his children), and not to answer any questions about the menu. My friend (and brunch compatriot) and I happened to be in the city, free on an early Sunday morning, and we knew that Shopsin’s would be our destination. We couldn’t stay away, too many urban legends to conquer. But we approached with caution, even though it turned out that Kenny wasn’t even there that morning. Nothing too wild happened, aside from some cursing in the kitchen, so we’ll have to have the real “Shopsin’s experience” another time.

Now, the food: The menu itself is like nothing I have ever seen. Filled with an overwhelming array of options (including the famous Mac N Cheese pancakes), it was a hard, life-altering decision, and narrowing it down took at least 10 minutes of debate. The one thing about lots of options is that there are absolutely no substitutions, an official Shopsin’s rule. The advantage to this is that it cuts down on the obnoxious NY-er stereotype but doesn’t offer much flexibility. Check out just the breakfast page of the menu:

Image of menu via (click on it to enlarge)

And that’s just one page! The other page has a ton of lunch options (they have lunch trays!!!); there is no dinner here, because they are only open from 9 Am to 2 pm Wed-Sat, 10 Am to 2 pm on Sunday, and closed on Monday-Tuesday. We got there luckily right at 10:15. We only had to wait to be seated for about 5 minutes, and almost immediately after a long line queued up along the wall (make sure you wait along the wall by the glass doors or you’ll get yelled at!).

Our narrowed down options were rather healthy, but we had to have something decadent. Enter: the Slutty Cakes.

Image via

However ridiculous we sounded ordering these pancakes, it was worth it in the end. Pumpkin pancakes with peanut butter and pistachio nuts? Yes, please. How could we pass those up? Other pancake options included S’mores, Rocky Road, Brown Sugar  Banana Pecan, and Maple Glazed Raspberry Bacon. That’s not even mentioning the French Toast options (there is Bread Pudding French Toast. ‘Nuff said).

Our egg dishes were the Zebra (egg whites, veggie sausage, black beans, rice) and the Country Scramble with mozzarella, spinach, and avocado. They were our attempts to be healthy, and though they were delicious, we realized in hindsight that we should have splurged more. Granted, we couldn’t even finish all of our food, but those Slutty Cakes were almost completely devoured. Next time, I’m going for the Tiger Paws (egg and cheese sliders).

FYI: If you’ve been to Shopsin’s already, and want to recreate some of the recipes at your house (there are a ton of foodie websites that document these recreations), you can buy Kenny Shopsin’s cookbook here.

November 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm Leave a comment

JudyJams Oct 2011 Picks: Edie Sedgwick, Future Islands, Dum Dum Girls, Twin Sister

Fall is in full swing on the East Coast, and although it has been a schizophrenic season (it’s about to snow here!), we’re happy to be putting on our sweaters and drinking hot chocolate. What I always enjoy about Fall the most, apart from the over-use of pumpkin in every food item, is the downpour of new releases:

1. Edie SedgewickLove Gets Lovelier Every Day

Image via

Seeing this in my inbox filled me with the kind of happiness that only records from Dischord can offer. I was late in the game to discovering this band, and never really got into DC staple El Guapo (lead singer Justin Moyer’s other, more well-known Dischord band). To tell you the truth, I found the whole “cross-dressing as Edie Sedgwick on stage” thing rather bizarre. Bu the music is so good. It just doesn’t matter. If you’re a big Dischord fan like me, and miss Q & Not U terribly, this is not to be ignored. I’ve included the wonderfully weird video for the lead single “Silver Bullets” just to convince you how worth your time Edie Sedgwick is:

2. Future Islands– On the Water

Album cover image via

Future Islands is yet another band that I’ve been rather blatant about my love for. Their debut Thrill Jockey full length In The Evening Air continues to have a steady rotation on my iPod over a year later. Their sophomore follow up On The Water is a worthy successor, with songs like “Where I Found You” and “Before the Bridge,” that give the listener an intense need to dance. You can preview all the tracks here.

3. Dum Dum Girls Only in Dreams

Image Via

If you haven’t heard of these ladies, then you’ve been under your rock for way too long. Last year’s debut I Will Be managed to stand out in the crowd amid a girl group onslaught (we’re not complaining!), with catchy, upbeat  songs like “It Only Takes One Night.” Their follow-up Only in Dreams continues the trend. My favorite track on this album so far is “Bedroom Eyes,” which you can listen to here, along with several other new tracks.

4. Twin SisterIn Heaven

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After putting out two excellent EPs out, Twin Sister left us in wont for a solid full length to bite our teeth into. They have delivered with In Heaven, which gives them room to show their vast range. They waver between sweet upbeat indie pop, and slower, retro-ballads with a late 50’s-early 60’s influence. If you’re unfamiliar, you can listen to the new single “Bad Street” here, and please do check out the video of one of my favorites off of the 2010 EP Color Your Life, called “All Around and Away We Go”:

Only four picks this month, but the month is almost over and there are more to come. Enjoy the rest of your October!

October 29, 2011 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

CMJ Preview 2011

It’s that time of year again, perhaps one of the busiest music moments in NYC: CMJ. Hopefully you’ll get out there and see some shows! If you’re not getting a badge for some industry-related reason, or you’re not getting a discount, don’t buy one! Just buy tickets to individual shows! Here are some suggestions of whom to see, with some brief descriptions:

1. Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Image via

Amid much internet buzz, the New Zealand band Unknown Mortal Orchestra are dipping their toes in the US touring scene with a big stop at CMJ 2011. They are sure to be one of the “must see” bands this year, and with such a catchy single like “FFunny Frends” it’s hard to imagine that the hype is wrong. The full album sounds like a lost Beatles B-side compilation from the Sgt Pepper era. See them live several times this week: Thursday Oct 20th in the afternoon at the Puma Store, and in the evening at Cantora Labs Smartlounge, and Saturday Oct 22nd at Brooklyn Bowl.

2. Small Black

Album cover via Small Black Blog

Small Black stood out among the throngs of bands trying to be heard during SXSW this year, so I’m very grateful that they will be playing (multiple times) at CMJ this year. Their debut album came out last year and they have been touring ever since, spreading the good, fuzzy electro-pop vibes around town. See them live in NY this week: Wednesday Oct 19th at Cantoras’ Labs Smartlounge, on Thursday Oct 20th at Tillman’s, and on Saturday Oct 22nd at both Mercury Lounge and Pianos. (The last two are late night shows so drink your coffee if you want to attend.)

3. Metronomy

Image of Metronomy via

I’m still kicking myself with regret that I missed Metronomy’s past few NY shows, especially the free summer show at South Street Seaport. Luckily, the British band is back and gracing us with their presence this CMJ. I’ve been a fan since their second full length, Nights Out, came onto my radar,  and while I haven’t heard this year’s release (The English Riviera) I can only imagine it will be more of the same upbeat dance-rock. See them live on Thursday Oct 20th at Music Hall of Williamsburg.

4. Emil and Friends

Image of Emil & Friends via Cantora Records

A relatively new band on my radar, Emil and Friends are another CMJ buzz band on the precipice of breaking out. Fronted by Emil Howard (and starring other “friends”), you can tell that the project is good-natured fun, not a serious hit machine. The music has a summery, chilled out indie-rock feel without being too saccharine. See them live Friday Oct 21 at Bowery Ballroom and Saturday Oct 22 at The Delancey.

5. Mice Parade

Image of Mice Parade via Fat Cat

It’s hard to believe that Mice Parade has been making music since 1998, because every new album that comes out sounds fresh and modern. Their newest, What It Means to be Left-Handed, came out last year and is more of the sweet, playful, multi-layered indie rock that we know and love. See them live on Wednesday, October 19th at Mercury Lounge.

Check out the full schedule here and make your own plan for the week! There are a ton of other bands I would recommend but due to my slacking, it’s almost time for shows tonight. Enjoy!

October 18, 2011 at 3:57 pm Leave a comment

Eat This: Brunch at Untitled

During the summer, while scrambling to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the MET (and then waiting over 2 hours in line to see it!), DevoLT and I took advantage of being on the Upper East Side (a rarity for these two Brooklynites) and went to Danny Meyer’s newest addition to his NY dining empire, Untitled. The restaurant is located in the basement of the Whitney Art Museum, and has a very sparse feel, with giant windows pouring sunlight onto large concrete tables and benches. We found the menu to be a really unique version of exactly what they claim: “a classic Manhattan coffee shop.” Take a look at what we decided to go with:

Yogurt with dried cranberries, granola, and honey

This was a last minute addition because we were basically starving and couldn’t wait for our main dishes. No regrets; this granola was some of the best that we’ve ever had. And the yogurt was nice and creamy.

Egg whites and spinach omelet with chicken sausage, potatoes, and toast

This is what I got and it was basically perfect. The sausage was the most flavorful chicken sausage I’ve ever had (and I only eat chicken sausage, so I can’t compare to other types). In fact, everything was so flavorful that I would probably have a hard time not ordering this again. It was the ideal amount of food, too: I didn’t leave over-stuffed, just completely satisfied.

Pastrami and Swiss Omelet

Pastrami and Swiss Omelet

DevoLT’s had the pastrami and Swiss omelet. The pastrami was nice and smoky and well complemented by the Swiss. The eggs were soft and fluffy. The rye bread accompanying it went perfectly with the dish. Oh, and the home fries were awesome.

DevoLT actually went back for lunch another time and got a sandwich from their special grilled cheese section. You can choose your cheese (American, cheddar, or aged Gouda) and bread (pullman, whole wheat, or parma loaf), and add on roasted tomatoes, avocados, mushroom, bacon, ham, or turkey. She got the cheddar on wheat with roasted tomatoes and avocado and it was delicious. Definitely one of the best grilled cheeses in the city: not too greasy, but still very buttery; cheese melted to perfection; and yummy add-ons that didn’t overwhelm.

There were so many tasty things on the menu that it took us a long time to narrow it down. I’d love to go back there for lunch or dinner; I’m sure that their matzoh ball soup is to die for, and they had several salads and sandwiches that made our mouths water. We had to struggle to resist getting a piece of pie, especially because they have selections from Four and Twenty Blackbirds there. The kicker: it’s all very affordable, which was a surprise because I normally associate brunching on the UES with a pocket drain. This was a thoroughly delicious experience.

September 23, 2011 at 11:51 am Leave a comment

JudyJams Sept 2011 Picks: Wild Flag, Sbtrkt, The Pack ad, and more!

Back to School time is actually my return to Picks time. I confess, I’ve been a summer slacker but I’m gearing up for the Fall music rush. This month’s picks are girl-power-heavy:

1. Wild Flag– S/T

Image via

It should come as no surprise that I’m excited about this record coming out on Merge next week, September 13th. I’ve heard several songs from the album and have the 7″ with “Glass Tambourine” so I’m pretty much sold. If you aren’t, check out this really neat album trailer video that they put together:

2. Sbtrkt– S/T

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I discovered this album while it was playing at Soundfix, one of my favorite local record stores. I had heard so much about Sbrtrkt but never actually heard it; it was the right timing, and I purchased immediately. No regrets: it’s like the perfect combo between James Blake and Nightmares on Wax. The album features guest singers Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon, Roses Gabor, Sampha, and Jessie Ware.

3. The Pack  a.d.Unpersons

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More girl power! This one in the form of duo The Pack ad, whose fourth album is out on Mint Records on September 14th. They define the word “badass” and are like a tougher female version of the Black Keys. For those fans of modern sounding classic rock (sung by women!).

4. Jacuzzi BoysGlazin’

Image via HardlyArt

If their band name is not a riff on Beach Boys, I will eat my hat. They sound like a more garage-rock take on the CA band’s first songs. There are even some more spaced-out tunes that recall early David Bowie (see “Silver Sphere (Death Dream)” for a good example). Definitely something for everything surf rock/guitar rock fan out there.

5. Talk Normal

Image via The

Talk Normal doesn’t actually have a current release coming out, but there has been so much buzz about them recently that I’m betting they will announce something soon. They also fit very well into the “girl power” theme of this post, with a few exceptions (Jacuzzi Boys ahem ahem). Talk Normal are considered part of the “no-wave” genre, and the band consists of drummer/vocalist Andrya Ambro and guitarist/vocalist Sarah Register.  They’ve been touring non-stop with the likes of Weekend, Tara Jane ONeil, and even the legendary Wire, so keep an eye out for some stops near you.

September 8, 2011 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

JudyJams’ mid-Summer 2011 picks

The picks have trailed off in the last few months, and I apologize for that. We were just too busy going to shows and going to brunch! I’m going to do a little summary of what I’ve been listening to and loving, and will pick up the picks regularly next month!

1. Beirut– The Rip Tide

Album cover image via

Our love of Beirut has been well documented on this blog, but not until recently did I feel as strongly as DevoLT and Lindsarella did. The new album, and seeing him live a couple months ago, convinced me of just how great the man (boy) really is. The Rip Tide does not contain a single dud; check out “Santa Fe,” which is my favorite track so far. You can listen to some tracks for free here.

2. Washed Out- Within and Without

Washed out album cover via

This album was so widely anticipated that the hype almost turned me off completely. I’m glad that I gave it a fair shot, however, because it definitely exceeded expectations. A main act in the “chillwave” scene, Washed Out is made up of Ernest Greene’s calming voice and smooth, even-keeled production. Check out one of my fave songs, “Eyes Be Closed,” here.

3. Gardens & Villa, S/T

Album cover via G&V bandcamp page

Gardens & Villa was brought to my attention by a reliable friend who has excellent taste. The band, who released their debut on Secretly Canadian earlier this month, plays a quirky combo of pop and darker electro-indie. Check out some of the tracks here for a preview.

4.Grooms, Prom

Album cover image via Kanine Records

This is Brooklyn-based band Grooms’ second album, and it has succeeded in putting them officially on the map. Their sound is a mashup of harder indie-rock with swirling pop sensibilities; the mixture is aided by the trading off of vocals between members Travis Johnson (guitar) and Emily Ambrusco (bass). You can hear songs here.

July 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Top 5 French Toasts

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at TnJ is adventurous eating. We’ve decided to do a series of round ups of some of our favorite breakfast items from our travels, and we’re starting with French toast. “French toast doesn’t sound so adventurous” you say? While we do have one classic version in this list, take a look at the rest and tell me they’re not adventurous! Here are our picks for the best French Toast we’ve had yet:

1. Applewood in Park Slope, Brooklyn

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There is nothing complicated about this French Toast, and that is what makes it so damn delicious. Perfectly crispy and with just the right amount of syrup, this dish is divine.

2. Good in the West Village, Manhattan

Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast at good

One of our favorite breakfasts of all time, this cream cheese and banana stuffed version is as close to perfection as it gets. As we said in our original review: “It’s hard to put into words the intense and delicious flavors and texture that are contained in this dish: the creamy, sweet, cinnamon-y bread concoction overflowing with bananas was, to put it plainly, out of this world.”

3. The Friendly Toast, Cambridge, MA

This french toast was just insane. We couldn’t even finish. It was called Drunkard’s French Toast, and it the sauce on top was raspberry with Grand Marnier. Very, very sweet; meant for sharing.

4. Red Rooster, Harlem, NY

Red Rooster French Toast

The French toast at this Harlem restaurant came drenched in syrup and then surrounded by fried chicken. I liked the fact that it was a unique take on the “chicken and waffles” Southern food staple.

5. Ann Sather, Chicago, IL

Ann Sather's French Toast Fantasy

Given props by Rachel Ray, this insane concoction has “mascarpone-filled cinnamon rolls, battered, grilled and topped with granola and fresh seasonal berries.” If that doesn’t get you excited, then nothing will.

Honorable Mention: Mom’s French Toast, by JudyJams’ Mom, in Westchester, NY

Raisin Challah French Toast

JudyJams’ parents are the original French Toast makers, the ones that inspired her love of all things French Toast. This version of their classic involves Raisin Challah from the Rockland Bakery with fruit on top. Cooked crispy to perfection, this was gone in about 7 minutes.

What are your favorite French toasts?

July 14, 2011 at 10:56 am Leave a comment

Northside Festival 2011 Preview

For those who have followed the rise of The L Magazine’s Northside Fest, they’ll know that it has been a quick and impressive climb. With headliners like Beirut and Guided By Voices, Northside has come to rival some of the best festivals of the summer. Below are some of our picks for the non-headlining shows. This is a fun fest, the tickets are affordable, and it’s all pretty self-contained in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, so definitely check it out if you can!

Thursday, June 16th:

1. Atlas Sound at Saint Cecelia’s Church (Kranky showcase) with White Rainbow, doors at 7 pm

Photo via

Headed by the prolific Bradford Cox, also of Deerhunter, Atlas Sound has a reputation for being an amazing live show event. And how great is the above photo? So wholesome.

2. Reading Rainbow @ Bruar Falls with Eternal Summers, doors at 8 pm

Photo by Peter English via

This will most certainly be a girl pop love fest. Both of these bands have recently reached my music radar screen and are really perfect for summer.

Friday June 17th:

1. Lucky Dragons @ Shea Stadium for the Redefine Mag showcase with Wires Under Tension, Big Spider’s Back, RYAT, and Duyun, doors at 8 pm.

Photo by David Horvitz via

This will without a doubt be a fun, interesting, mind-melding show of the greatest proportions. Yes, I do have a personal investment in it (I’m helping out with the showcase) but I also truly believe that all of these bands, most of which have visual projections to go along with their music, will blow your mind.

2. Frankie Rose @ Glasslands with Brilliant Colors, doors at 8:30 pm

Photo via

Formerly of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts, Frankie Rose plays a solo show without her new band, The Outs, this Friday night. More girl band fun times, from a local Brooklynite.

Saturday June 18th:

1. Twin Sister @ Music Hall of Williamsburg, doors at 8 pm

Photo by George Kalivas via

I fell deeply in love with Twin Sister with their Color Your Life EP of 2010. I was excited to learn that they will be finally releasing a full length album in the coming months. This is certain to be a quiet, chilled out show.

2. Javelin @ Glasslands with Delicate Steve, doors at 8:30 pm

Photo via

I’ve been excited about Javelin ever since I bought their quirky electro-indie album No Mas last year on a whim. I caught a glimpse of them at Brooklyn Bowl last year when we interviewed The Ruby Suns, and their set up, which included then about 20 boomboxes, was quite the sight to be seen.

Sunday June 19th:

1. Yacht @ Music Hall of Williamsburg with The Miracles Club, doors at 8 pm

Photo via

Yacht, helmed by Jona Bechtolt always brings out the passion in their fans; this is partly due to the fact that they have a creative, unique, and perhaps even magical take on the indie-electronica genre. I’ve heard amazing things about the live show, where I’m sure they will be playing favorites from I Believe in You, Your Magic is Real and new material.

2. Diamond Rings @ Europa with Porcelain Raft, doors at 8 pm

Photo via

This should definitely be a fun show if you can make it through to Sunday night. Diamond Rings plays retro-inspired indie dance music, influenced by the likes of David Bowie and The Cure.

June 16, 2011 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

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