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 Dischord.com

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 FutureIslands.com

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 Wearedumdumgirls.com

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

Image via Twinsistermusic.com

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 Stereogum.com

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 RcrdLabel.com

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 the Dutch

Readers of this blog should be pretty familiar with my love for Locanda Verde’s brunch. So when head chef Andrew Carmellini opened a new restaurant called the Dutch in Soho, I knew I had to have their brunch. And I was not disappointed.  The vibe is low-key and friendly, but with impeccable service, just like at Locanda Verde. And the food and drinks are also top-notch.

Wonderful cocktails at Andrew Carmellini’s new place, the Dutch.

My companion and I had to wait for a table (but not too long) so we sat at the bar and got a Bloody Mary ($12) and an Aperol Fizz ($13). The Bloody Mary was one of the best I’ve had; perfectly spicy but still easy to take down. And it came with a nice toothpick of pickled vegetables, including an amazing pickled okra. The Aperol Fizz was a blend of Breuckelen gin, aperol, lillet, passionfruit, tangerine, and cremant, a great variation on the typical mimosa.

Perfect fluffy cornmeal pancakes.

Once seated, we managed to resist the pastry board, something I’m not so good at while at Locanda Verde. We did get an order of the Cornmeal Pancakes ($17) though, which were amazing. Definitely contenders for best pancakes in New York City! The cornmeal didn’t keep them from being fluffy, but added a nice texture to make them unique. And they came with a delicious local blueberry compote and a nice ball of salty butter.

The softest eggs you’ll ever have, in a good way.

We also got the Soft Scrambled Eggs ($21), which come with smoked sable, trout roe, and a toasted half-bagel. It was topped with a thick dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh scallions. The scrambled eggs at Locanda Verde are some of my favorite, but these were out of this world. When they say soft, they mean soft–as in almost liquid, with a grits-like consistency. Divine. The smoked sable was fabulous and the trout roe were large and fresh. My only complaint–I wish they gave us a whole bagel instead of just a half.

If you like oysters, they have a huge raw bar. They also have a burger and sandwiches, as well as fried chicken available during brunch (that all looked delicious), if that’s more your style. Are the prices a little bit absurd? Of course. But when our bill came they charged us about $4 less for each food item, I have no idea why. So I was perfectly happy with the value, as it was definitely one of the best brunches I’ve ever had.

October 2, 2011 at 11:33 am 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 MergeRecords.com

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

Image via sbtrkt.com

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

Image via MintRecords.com

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 Fader.com

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

Eat My Craft: Breakfasty Crafts that Butter Our Biscuits

We love crafts at TNJ, so we thought we’d start a new feature that combines our love of breakfast with our craft obsession, and voila! Eat My Craft is born! Each month we’ll feature some of our favorite breakfast-themed crafts from the web. Feel free to send in links or photos of any awesome crafts you find or make yourself!

This month’s theme is knitted and crocheted items. It’s amazing what you can do with some yarn and needles!

1. Joy Filled Donut Rattles for Babies

It’s never too early to get Baby on the doughnut love train! These adorable hand-crocheted rattles will surely have Junior drooling and smiling at the same time. You can buy these on Etsy from huckleberryfaye right here. And if you’re lusting after some real doughnuts, our favorite shop is Doughnut Plant in NYC, with locations on the Lower East Side and Chelsea. Try the Tres Leche, Blackout, Banana Pecan, or the new Matcha Green Tea. You won’t regret it.

2. French Toast Amigurumi

Although amigurumi (Japanese knitted or crocheted toys) are essentially useless, they are also incredibly adorable. Like this little French toast guy! You may not realize it, but you NEED him. You can find it NadiasPlace on Etsy, along with lots of other cute amigurumi, breakfast foods and otherwise. To find out about our favorite edible French toasts, click here.

3. Custom Made Bacon & Eggs Breakfast Bikini

So you want to wear your breakfast? How about this amazing crocheted bikini in the form of eggs on your breasts and bacon over your crotch? Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? If you’ve got the eggs to wear this, you can get it byZIEHL on Etsy here.

4. Breakfast-Themed Scarves

Not quite ready for the bikini? How about one of these awesome scarves instead? Show your love for bacon and eggs (and a pancake purse!), toast and butter, or pancakes with syrup!

5. Breakfast Time PDF Pattern

Perhaps you want to try your hand at crocheting some breakfast foods yourself? This adorable crochet pattern lets you make a bowl of cereal, milk, a banana, and of course a spoon. Test your skills and remember not to eat your work! You can get this pattern from KTBdesigns on Etsy.

6. Crocheted Breakfast Headbands

Yes, these are slightly ridiculous. But aren’t they also super cute? Maybe you can force one on  to your young child…perfect Halloween costume! Find them and other charming crocheted snacks at youcute on Etsy.

September 1, 2011 at 10:13 am Leave a comment

Eat This (Before They Close!): Brunch at M. Wells

M. Wells is a restaurant in Long Island City, Queens cooking Quebecoise-style food and run by a Montreal husband-and-wife team that opened in an old diner last August to rave reviews. After a year they have announced they will be closing the diner to reopen in a new location and format. We’d been dying to get there since last year and we finally squeezed in a visit last weekend. Such was our devotion that we waited an hour and a half in the pouring rain to get seated in the tiny diner, but with good friends in tow we were perfectly happy, especially after we grabbed some coffee, iced-tea, and biscuits from the counter inside.

Tray of bisciuts at the counter

Oh, and by the way, that biscuit may have been the best I’ve had–especially since it was not even served warm and it was still amazing! It was fluffy and dense at the same time, with no need for extra butter, or anything really–I ate it bare and loved it.

Patrons at the counter of M.Wells

Old seltzer bottles and other diner-y things at M.Wells

After we finally got seated in a small booth we took in the kitschy surroundings and examined the menu, quickly affirming that there was a lot of meat, mostly pork. Since JudyJams and I both don’t partake in the pig variety, and JJ is basically vegetarian, our options were somewhat limited. I guess those Canadians like their pork! But, we pulled through and everything we had was delicious.

Pass the pepper!

Naturally, we started with a round of Bloody Marys. These were good, but not great. I added pepper to mine, which helped, but it was my least favorite thing we had at the restaurant.

The Seafood Cobbler had spots of pink from the inclusion of beets

As a lover of lox, I was super excited to order the Gravlax Pie, having heard many great things about it, but unfortunately they were sold out (it was pretty late in the day by the time we sat down), so I substituted with the Seafood Cobbler, which was being made with Pollack that day. When I was told it came with beets I was somewhat skeptical, but it turned out to be a great combination. The fish and beets were accompanied by potatoes as well, all mixed together in a delicious cream sauce, and topped with two biscuit halves covered in yummy melted cheddar cheese. (Yes, that means I ate another biscuit…!) I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish it because it was a bit heavy, but it was so tasty I couldn’t put my fork down.

Super-thick gazpacho

Spanish Tortilla, M. Wells-style

JudyJams ordered the Gazpacho, which was thickened with bread and had a lovely herb oil on top. It was quite flavorful, but we had clearly ordered too much because it went unfinished. It certainly was not the light, summery gazpacho you might be craving on a hot summer day. She also had the Tortilla, which is nothing like the potato and egg ones they serve in Spain, although it had the same basic ingredients. For starters, it was served hot and fresh from a skillet, and was round in shape (instead of a slice). It was more like a yummy, eggy latka than a Spanish tortilla and it was quite delectable. It’s served with thick slices of country bread from Balthazar.

Beef Tartare with poached egg and salad

Our friend Tobey ordered the Beef Tartare, which was divine. The meat was incredibly fresh and tender and almost tasted like tuna it was so creamy. It was decadent and delicious, served with a perfectly poached egg on top and salad on the side. Nothing like some good runny yolk on some amazing raw beef!

One hell of a sandwich!

French-Canadian Fries

Lindserella went with the Sausage and Egg sandwich, which was on a homemade English muffin (a recipe for our own version of this feat to come soon!) with homemade mayo, Vermont cheddar, and pickled jalapenos. She said it was delish, of course, and left not a crumb. We also got French fries for the table, which were perfectly fried and lip-smacking good.

Maple Pie, no whipped or iced cream necessary

Even though we were stuffed, our waitress convinced us to get a slice of the Maple Pie and we were not sorry. The crust was crumbly and browned and super-yummy, while the filling was a nice fluffy version of a pecan pie filling, but with intense maple flavor. Pure maple syrup was drizzled on top to complete the effect and it worked–we polished it off in no time.

Being that it’s August 22, I suggest you get your butt over to Queens asap to go to M.Wells–you only have until the end of the month! While I’m sure the husband-and-wife owners/chefs’ next venture will be amazing, it’s definitely going to be a new concept, so don’t delay!

M. Wells, Long Island City, Queens

August 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

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