05-26-2022
Moon Tooth
Phototroph

My gut is that this is the worst of Moon Tooth's 3 albums so far. It's not bad by any means; I've probably listened to it a dozen times already, and honestly it's fun as hell, lots of super rad lead guitar, interesting little bits popping up here and there like any good Moon Tooth collection. But there's something smoothed-over about it—I'd say that it was their most commercial, radio-friendly album so far, if hard rock radio was still a thing. Is it a thing? Maybe it is. But there's a rote verse-chorus-verse mood to all these songs that is sucking a bit of the adventurousness out of what is usually a totally freewheeling band.

At the same time, I get this feeling that this is going to be a case where, 3 years from now, I'll suddenly be calling this "secretly their best."

05-22-2022
Five Hundred Bucks
$500

This album somehow became an obsession of mine in the last week. First of all, A+ band name. Love it. Second, that cover art. It all works. Thirdly, they have some songs that sound so much like Green Day that I was actually taken aback at first. Put off, even; it's actually weird in 2022 to hear a band go deep into Green Day veneration. For as much pop punk is still out there in the world, it's actually rare to hear a band that makes you say, "Oh shit, that sounds like Green Day!"

But it wasn't the Green Day references that ultimately won me over, it was the Superchunk references. Because, like Superchunk's last decade of work, this is adult pop punk, written by adults and for adults. What I mean is they're not afraid of chords. Good songs, good vibes, performed like total pros. There's really very little to dislike here.

05-17-2022
Warthog
Warthog

This is Warthog's 4th EP that's simply called Warthog. I'm pretty sure posting is this going to break my site. It already broke my iTunes library. But that's probably part of the plan for Warthog, because they are a spike studded steamroller powering forward with the intention of eviscerating everything in their path, even if it's just three songs at a time, once every four years. One of these days maybe they'll release a full length, call it Warthog, and finally stand in their rightful place atop the smoldering rubble of New York City.

05-17-2022
Billy Woods
Aethiopes

I haven't listened to all of this album yet. It might take me another year. But this is a Billy Woods album we're talking about, so that's actually a compliment. This man writes and he writes dense, and you don't exactly breeze through William Faulkner novels at the beach, yknow?

05-11-2022
Undeath
It's Time... To Rise From The Grave!

Every year lately it seems that there's one death metal album that becomes a surprise critical darling, embraced and championed in the wider music blog-o-world rather than just in dirty little metal circles. Blood Incantation maybe started the trend a few years ago, but after that we had Necrot, Tomb Mold, uh okay maybe those are the only ones. But 2022 is the year of Undeath.

The talk about Undeath is how funny they are. Like yes they're very serious and accomplished death metal musicians, but they're doing it all with a smirk and tongue in their cheeks. And I can see that I guess, in that death metal has a long history of bands trying to be as ridiculous as possible, and here it's mostly in the lyrical content. Even just the song titles: "Fiend For Corpses," "Head Splattered Seven Ways," "Human Chandelier." And the title of the album, It's Time... To Rise From The Grave!, places that ellipsis and exclamation point for maximum goofiness.

But the music is very serious, and it's very much good enough to become the annual death metal darling. I can't even get into that much detail about it, because really it's "just" death metal. They're not expanding its cosmic psych boundaries like Blood Incantation, they're not injecting mathy mania into it like Tomb Mold. They're just very good at making death metal music. The riffs are hooky brain nuggets, the solos are melodic and memorable and rad, it just comes together in ways that death metal bands always want to come together but usually miss an element or two. Much like the protagonist of "Fiend For Corpses," it goes down real smooth.

05-03-2022
Romero
Turn It On!

Speaking of bands from Philadelphia...

Upon hearing the first song or two, I was totally smitten with this band. Power pop melodicism, Thin Lizzie guitar licks, pure energy, awesome. Then about halfway through, I realized they sounded exactly like Sheer Mag. Also, it should be noted, a Philadelphia band.

05-02-2022
DEVIL MASTER
Ecstasies Of Never Ending Night

This album fucking rips so fucking hard. Black Metal horror with punk rock energy and NWOBHM licks. And most importantly: memorable hooks and genuine musicianship. There's this melding of black metal and punk that's been happening for a couple years (or has been happening since Venom existed, really), random bands from Belgium and wherever else popping up on Bandcamp mixing and matching but always recording to tape and photocopying their artwork to death—but this is the first time I've heard it really work. And it really, really works.

I just want to add, too, that this band is from Philadelphia. There's something going on in Philadelphia in the last few years. Like, if I see a band is from Philly, I'll be way more likely to give it a listen.

04-27-2022
Pillow Queens
Leave the Light On

This album is good, but in the last year I've decided that In Waiting is actually one of my favorite albums of all time. So yeah, this isn't quite as good.

03-29-2022
Walter Martin
The Bear

Walter Martin does it again. Although he doesn't do it quite as well as he did with Arts + Leisure, which remains one of my favorite albums of the last 10 years. Still. This guy.

03-29-2022
Messa
Close

Sludge prog. Love it.

03-16-2022
Young Guv
GUV III

GUVs ranked:

1. I
2. III
3. II

03-15-2022
Nilufer Yanya
Painless

I don't understand Nilüfer Yanya. Even on the top level, what is that name? I understand she's part Turkish but raised in England, but something about her name, that umlaut floating there, just doesn't compute. Then you have her personal aesthetic, her fashion and style choices—it's very Gen Z, but doesn't really align with any one scene or genre. She looks like she could be a major label pop star, or a Bushwick barista, or a London fashion student, or anything else. That aligns with her album art, which also has a Gen Z art school throw-shit-at-the-wall-thing, like it could either be DIY indie rock or Chicago house remixes.

This all aligns with the music itself. Is it indie rock? Is it secretly major-label pop? Is it some lo-fi side project that's actually helmed by whoever works on Dua Lipa albums at their day job? It's kinda all of it at once. And her voice is so mercurial, hard to get any sense of. Recognizable, to an extent, in its tenor (literally), but listening to her sing gives me no idea about who she is, what she thinks, or what she's trying to say.

So Nilüfer Yanya is one ultimate example of the monogenre. The odd part is that I still enjoy her music. It's a mystery, but maybe there's something there to crack. What are any of the songs called? I don't know. How do any of the choruses go? I don't know. What's the deal with Nilüfer Yanya? Got me! But I think I'll keep listening.

03-14-2022
Superchunk
Wild Lonliness

New Superchunk album! Guess what, it's great!

03-10-2022
Faith No More
Angel Dust

I bought a used CD copy of Faith No More's Angel Dust tonight and I couldn't be more pleased. Something about this dumb-ass funk metal is just what the doctor ordered right now. It's a I didn't know that I needed this in my life situation.

I've been listening to more metal in recent years than I used to, and aside from Moon Tooth, I think I didn't realize how deathly humorless most of it is. Or if not humorless—I guess Eternal Champion has some amount of tongue in their cheek—than at least single-minded. It's all so focused on being heavy. Brutal. Uncompromising. And other adjectives. But this Faith No More album (I can't speak for their other albums at the moment)... it's fun! It goes in odd directions, it bounces and dances. They're not afraid to slap a bass or toss some keyboards into the mix. And Mike Patton—well, he can be a bit much. But he's doing things! I mean, it's barely even metal. I don't know what it is! Yeah it's palm muted E's on distorted guitars and full throat howling at times, but at other times it's Prince. Or Alice In Chains, or Randy Newman.

No idea how deep I'll go into Faith No More. Or if I'll even come back to this album a week from now. But seriously, as of this moment, this is everything I want to hear out of a band. And honestly it makes me wish more modern day metal bands would reach for Faith No More as a reference point. The entire genre would be better off for it.

02-27-2022
Blood Incantation
Timewave Zero

WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHWHHHHHWWWWWHHHHHHWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHH

02-26-2022
Big Thief
Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You

There's 20 tracks on this album and they're all great. But none of them are as great as "Not."

03-29-2022
WinnerBrooklyn
Cinnamon roll

This cinnamon roll was a loser.

03-29-2022
St. AnselmBrooklyn
Steak

My Peter Luger post was extraordinarily long, so since St. Anselm is the anti-Peter Luger, I'll keep this short.

St. Anselm is a lil gem of a place, and their extremely cheap (for a steak) steak is more or less as good as advertised. Except I got the fried mashed potatoes and burned my mouth on them so I had to contend with that during every bite of the steak.

And also I wish it came with some sort of sauce.

03-15-2022
Gentle PerchBrooklyn
Korean-style American-style barbecue

I wrote a whole thing about Gentle Perch but it managed to delete itself and I don't want to write all of it again.

In short: Gentle Perch is pretty good; kimchi baked beans were a surprising highlight, but they gave me a weird cut of spare ribs and I wish their sauce was a lil sweeter.

03-14-2022
Knickerbocker BagelBrooklyn
Everything bagel

Knickerbocker Bagel has a quiet but growing reputation as one of the best bagel spots in the city. Or at least Brooklyn.

Can't lie, it was a great bagel! Best in the city? I guess, why not?

02-27-2022
Meckelburg'sBrooklyn
Meatloaf sandwich

I'd wanted to go to Meckelburg's since before I lived here. Back in the days before Instagram did nothing but show me photos of food all day every day, I remember Meckelburg's was one of the first places that really discovered social media as a venue for food porn marketing. I didn't really know where it was located, or if it was a restaurant or a deli or what, but I kept seeing these photos of amazing looking fried and sauced piles of American-comfort-food. Then I got here, and never really got around to it. And more than that, I noticed that Meckelburg's didn't seem to have that much of a reputation. Or perhaps it was just hot 10 years ago but no longer.

Well last week was finally the moment. I was working in Brooklyn and had the evening to myself, saw Meckelburg's pop up on the map, and thought yes. More specifically, I saw they had meatloaf on the menu, and I thought yes, meatloaf.

So I made it to the original Meckelburg's location, in Crown Heights (or Bed-Stuy? not sure), and and the answer to what it actually is was solved. It's a restaurant in the back of a grocery store. A bougie grocery store without much actually for sale, but whatever. I'm not here for the groceries I'm here for the meatloaf. Really hoping this isn't one of those "Imagine my disappointment" posts.

Imagine my disappointment! This wasn't meatloaf, it was Italian meatloaf. Basically it was a meatball parm with one long meatloaf instead of a few round ones. It was good, okay? But it wasn't meatloaf! I wanted meatloaf! Even the menu said "topped with tomato sauce", and I just assumed it was that sort of ketchupy-barbecue tomato sauce that you always get on a good homestyle meatloaf.

Plus it was like 17 dollars with no sides.

Anyway. Despite all that I still would go back to the Meck's. They have porchetta, so...

02-26-2022
Dun-Well DoughnutsBrooklyn
Doughnuts

I don't know if Dun-Well has any particular reputation amongst Brooklyn doughnut heads; I'd definitely never heard of it and only stopped in after completely randomly driving by it one morning and thinking "Hmm, yeah I could use a doughnut." But I have to say, the name says it all! They're done well! Totally respectable quality doughnuts! Nothing too crazy or weird, but that's almost a selling point. Doughnuts have been solved, you just need to do them well.

01-20-2022
Red Hook TavernBrooklyn
Burger

Yet another of one of "NYC's best burgers".

It's pretty good! A little peppery, but good! Good flavor, not too juicy but not too dry, not overwhelmed with toppings, quality bun! No complaints! Keep it on the list!

12-25-2021
Peter Luger Steak HouseBrooklyn
Steak

Everything you've heard about Peter Luger is true. The good and the bad. Every word of Pete Wells' mordacious zero-star review is true, every word coming from people defending it after the review is true, every boneheaded bit of praise from every Staten Island knucklehead you've ever had the misfortune of meeting is also, fortunately, true.

If you can imagine the things a "fancy" restaurant (and what is a 150 year old generationally beloved steak house charging 3-figures for a plate of meat supposed to be if not "fancy"?) is supposed to do, Pete Luger does it wrong. The lights are too bright; the complimentary bread and butter are too cold; the menu has clearly been photocopied dozens of times over, probably at the library copy machine down the block; the tables are jammed into the dining room to nearly guarantee you're going to be sitting next to a coat rack or a server station; the servers are all 70 years old and sweating in the same white shirts they've been wearing for the last 50; there's a good chance that while you dressed up in your nice shirt and blazer, there's a table full of guys in Under Armour polos and Titleist visors at the table behind you complaining about their wives.

If you told me I would pay over 300 dollars for the above restaurant experience, I could only conclude that I'd be absolutely furious at the end of the night.

And yet I left Peter Luger entirely pleased. Charmed even.

The short of it is that the food was actually good. Great? Great! I can't speak to the famous Pete Wells review about whether it's as good as it used to be, or if it's going downhill or whatever, but this steak truly melted like butter. I've never had a steak so tender. The twenty dollar wedge salad was damn near worth twenty dollars, and the creamed spinach was maybe even better than advertised. Towards the end, I really had one of those moments where I sopped up a plate full of steak juices and butter and for a quick moment went full metaphysical. I didn't care that the fluorescent light above our table was flickering the entire time.

I didn't leave furious. I left feeling like, for as stupid as this fucking place is and for how nobody should ever pay this much money for what we got, there's something honorable in how Peter Luger goes about its business. Forgive me for using this dumb phrase, but there's something real New York about this place. There's a thousand other restaurants in the city that bring in modern and adept business managers, marketing teams, designers and brand managers, and turn out an artful and subtle dining experience. Peter Luger clearly doesn't give a fuck. They're going to dry age their porterhouse like they've been doing for 150 years, the waiters are going to slice it for you at the table and tip the plate up so the juices pool at the bottom without ever smiling or explaining anything about the dining experience, and they're going to drop a couple dime-store chocolate coins on the table with the check. And you'll be chewing on the bone and loving how much you hate it and hating how much you love it. And then two assholes from Whitestone who've been waiting at the bar with 80 other assholes from Bayonne will come take your table and they'll talk to each other about how it's the only good restaurant left in the city because they don't pussy around and stick tiny dollops of tofu foam on oak planks, and what sucks is they're right.

12-20-2021
Anthony & SonBrooklyn
Italian hoagie

Great sandwich. Pleasant sandwich, chill sandwich. Not too big, not too assertive. This sandwich is an agreeable sandwich.

11-12-2021
Ramirez!Brooklyn
Tacos

I did something last night that I almost never do. In fact I usually do my best to avoid it. What I did is I saw a swarm of Cool Brooklyn Children hovering around what appeared to be a cool new restaurant in a cool part of town, and instead of turning heel and going literally anywhere else, last night I decided to stick my nose into the scrum and—really—stand in line with everyone else.

The place is called Ramirez! (exclamation point included), and is a slick little minimalist box with a cool Bushwicky neon sign (even though it's in Greenpoint), which serves tacos and Coke and Topo Chico (yes New York City is in the midst of a Topo Chico revolution), and nothing else. Part of the reason for the mass of bodies was that, oddly, Ramirez! doesn't do take out. Every order comes on a cut colorful little plastic plate. You're free to take the plate wherever you want—inside, outside, across the street, down to the river, into your car if it's cold I suppose—as long as you bring it back. Thus the crush of people 10 years younger than me hanging out eating tacos on the sidewalk.

It's too exhausting to talk about how annoyed this all made me—because honestly it didn't. It's fine. Despite the popularity of the place, there was nothing outwardly obnoxious happening, and really I was there taking up just as much space as everyone else. And I'm maybe just over being over cool places. Fucking whatever man, let's just enjoy it all. Because ultimately: these were good fucking tacos. Absolutely nothing to complain about. And by "absolutely," I mean "I guess they were a little on the wet side and the tortillas got a bit soggy." But that's it. I had 3, al pastor, suadero, and longaniza, which is a sort of chorizo, the differences between which I won't explain to you because I can't. That one was my fave of the bunch, but they were really all superb. Too small (get 4), but superb.

So. Great tacos. Honestly some of the best I've had in this city. Don't even think about going there on the weekend.

11-01-2021
StrangewaysBrooklyn
Coriander crusted swordfish, crispy rock shrimp

Strangeways is a totally respectable hip-but-not-annoyingly-so modern new-American-ish restaurant in Williamsburg. My review of it is: it would be great if it was better.

09-28-2021
Nene's Deli TaqueriaBrooklyn
Birria tacos

Birria tacos are officially a thing in New York. Just like 4 years after they became a thing in southern California.

You may remember my ravings about the first birria place to hit this city, Birria Landia (known at the time as "Beefria Landia"), just a little bit after I moved here. It's a whole long story and I don't want to rehash all of it. The bullet points are: birria tacos start appearing all over my Instagram feed, almost all of which are in and around LA; I look up where I can find some in NYC, and only one place, Birria Landia, existed at that point, and had literally just opened like a week or two before; we take a trip out to some crazy nowhere neighborhood in Queens* and are completely blown away by these tacos.

Anyway now it seems like the rest of the city has caught up. It first started in the direct vicinity of Birria Landia, with every taco shop and truck (and at least one pizza place) on that block advertising birria tacos of their own, seemingly hoping to, I don't know, trick people into thinking they were the real birria place? Meanwhile, a handful of more legitimate places have popped up as well. I imagine the pandemic has made the process a lot slower for these joints, since I would've imagined they all would've appeared about a year and a half ago instead of Summer 2021.

So one of these places is Nene's Deli Taqueria, on pretty regular street deep into Bushwick (but only on the very fringe of the cool part of Bushwick). It's an interesting place; it clearly was and is just a regular old corner deli, that took out all of the deli grill area and put their money all into birria. Because despite being called a taqueria, really birria is the only thing on the menu. In taco form, in quesadilla form, mulita, torta, pizza(!), it's all birria.

And it's great! Tastes great. I have no complaints whatsoever.

The big question of course is: Is it better than Birria Landia? No, I don't think so. It's close! But I tell you, the pure mind-warping pleasure I got from Landia that first time (and subsequent times) is a nearly impossible high to reach. It's no critique that they didn't quite get there. Actually my biggest takeaway from the place was their red salsa that came with the order. It was a peanut based salsa, and it was outstanding.

Anyway if you're in or around Bushwick and want a piece of the birria action, by all means hit up Nene's.

* I now live in this nowhere neighborhood in Queens. The Birria Landia truck is about 3 blocks from here. The only thing that keeps me from eating there every single night is that there is constantly a line down the block to get it; the only times we've eaten there since moving here have been in the middle of snowstorms and rainstorms and single-digit temperatures.

09-28-2021
Blue Collar BurgerBrooklyn
Cheeseburger

Blue Collar Burger is okay but not great. Next.

08-11-2021
Milk BarBrooklyn
Milk Bar Pie

Milk Bar has this famous pie called Milk Bar Pie that's extraordinarily popular. Celebrities post selfies with it, people send it across the country for friends' birthdays, every food publication in America has shared their own recipe for it. It's a thing. In fact it used to be called Crack Pie. But then someone decided that's not cool so they changed it to Milk Bar Pie.

Milk Bar Pie is just gooey butter cake. Everyone needs to calm down.