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!
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:
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.
5. Wye Oak– Civilian
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 Jesus– Conatus
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
Merrill Garbus is my hero, and “Bizness” is one of the best songs of the year, hands down.
8. The Antlers– Burst Apart
A very successful sophomore effort that made me go back and reconsider the debut.
9. Wild Flag– S/T
These ladies rule my world. Nothing will ever replace Sleater-Kinney, but this record comes pretty damn close.
10. Peaking Lights– 936
This was my “ignore-everyone-on-the -subway-and-enjoy-beautiful-music” record. It worked out very nicely.
(Honorable mentions after the jump) (more…)
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:
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.
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.
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 Sedgewick– Love Gets Lovelier Every Day
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
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
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 Sister– In Heaven
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!
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:
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
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.)
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.
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
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 Boys– Glazin’
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
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.