07-30-2022
Chat Pile
Gods Country

Begrimed, blackened, cruddy, fecal, feculent, foul, impure, loathsome, miry, mucky, putrid, repulsive, revolting, scummy, slimy, slipshod, slovenly, soily, sooty, unclean, unkempt, unwashed, verminous, vile. This album is if Randy Newman suffered from lead-poisoning-induced psychosis, shaved his head and started the country's greatest noise metal band. Album of the year?

07-19-2022
Flacco's Bizarre Adventure
SUGAR ~ SH-T ~ SILK ~ SWEAT

A guitar-centered jazz quintet project of total mayhem that is also knee deep in formalism and something close to melody. If you told me it was two quintets playing at once I'd believe you. It's very much receives my common grade of This Often Isn't My Thing But I Can't Stop Coming Back To It.

07-18-2022
Young Guv
GUV IV

It's only been a few months, but I already have to update my GUV rankings!

1. GUV I
2. GUV III
3. GUV IV
4. GUV II

07-18-2022
Shearwater
The Great Awakening

This is the first Shearwater album that I'm just not sure what to do with. Don't know where to slot it in, what exactly to make of it. I'll definitely give it a few more laps and see what happens though.

07-06-2022
Goose
Dripfield

06-14-2022
Sunrise Patriot Motion
Black Fellflower Stream

This band sounds like The Cure if The Cure was a noise metal band, and it totally rules. There's a lot of metal bands out there these days doing this sort of romantic-new-wave thing, but it usually comes off as a novelty. But these guys somehow figured out how to make it work.

Although holy shit I wish they had a better name than Sunrise Patriot Motion. Like a truly awful band name.

06-14-2022
Kendrick Lamar
Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers

I've made the comment about Kendrick's previous albums that I will almost never go back to listen to them; they're simply so good, so heavy, so profound, that it's too much of an investment to sit and take them in. Like a good novel.

Likewise, I will probably not go back to listen to Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers more than a couple times this year. But this time it's just because it's kinda a sloppy mess that I have no interest in trudging through again.

06-11-2022
Wilco
Cruel Country

I know I said this about the last one, but I really think this might be the best Wilco album since Sky Blue Sky.

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.

05-17-2022
Umami BurgerManhattan
Burger

I think people don't like Umami Burger. I don't know what the whole deal is, but I know that the place, or places, started opening something like 7 or 8 or 9 years ago, one of the first like "fuck you we make expensive fast food under the guise of culture" sort of places that are now a little more commonplace. I remember seeing one or two Umami Burgers in random spots around town, but truly never thought much about them or heard anything.

Then earlier this month I started seeing sponsored Instagram posts and ads raving about Umami Burger's new recipes from our new chef! Seems like a bad sign when your entire chain has a new chef and you're seemingly starting from scratch. The problem was: those burgers looked real good in the photos.

So after a while, I discarded my shame, gave into social media advertising, and looked up the nearest Umami Burger. There's not many left. I also could not help to notice that its Google star rating was dire. Like 3 or 3.5 stars, which sounds okay until you realize that almost everything of even decent quality gets an easy 4 stars practically by default. Geez. But like, how bad could it be? So I ventured to some new glitzy food hall, not in the uber-glitzy Hudson Yards mall, but across from it, and got me a damn Umami Burger.

How bad could it be? Guess what? That was a sneaky red herring on my part! Because this burger was fantastic! Like, nearly perfect. I can't think of a thing to critique with it, and it truly was an umami burger, rich and savory and clearly had something beyond just beef going on in the patty. MSG? I don't care, it worked. It automatically jumped into the top, let's say 5, maybe even 3, burgers that I've had in this city. I also got some Japanese-pepper spiced fries, which were tasty, but more importantly came with this side of black garlic aioli, which was even better than the burger. Just absolutely mouth watering and addictive.

So I don't know what the deal with Umami Burger was. Maybe it sucked? Maybe it got too big for its britches? Maybe they started cheaping out on ingredients after a while? Maybe it got bad reviews because people didn't like paying $20 for a burger and fries? I can understand that. All I know, is I went to this "new" Umami Burger, sure I payed a little more than I would've at Wendy's (but not that much more than Five Guys), but I got one of the best burgers I've had in years.

05-02-2022
All'antico VinaioManhattan
Italian sandwiches

All'antico Vinaio is a very famous sandwich shop in Florence. I know this because every article I've seen about the new All'antico Vinaio pop-up in Hells Kitchen makes sure to tell you how popular All'antico Vinaio is in Florence. You just have to go. I've also noticed that a ton of the people I've seen in line for this new pop-up are speaking Italian to each other. So maybe there's actually something to it.

I finally braved the line last week and tried one of these very famous sandwiches. They're good! But, honestly, despite what your friend who once spent a semester in Italy might tell you, you can probably find an equally good sandwich at a handful of other high-end delis around town, without having to debase yourself lining up down 8th Avenue.

03-29-2022
Shopsin'sManhattan
Biscuits and gravy

I missed out on the original Shopsin's. And what the original Shopsin's was I barely even understand enough to be able to explain to you.

Shopsin's was—is (but we'll get to that)—a diner in lower Manhattan. It was a place that was very much the bailiwick of one man, Kenny Shopsin, and was seemingly pulled straight from his very being. It was the real version of those little local faux-dives that try to bombard you with quirks, goofy shit on the walls, maybe sandwiches that use donuts as buns. But I hear Shopsin's was legit. Kenny Shopsin was a man who loved food and the New York Mets, but mostly food, and what started as a simple diner menu over the years became an incomparable, staggering collection of items completely disconnected from one another, as he seemingly just kept finding things he liked to eat elsewhere in the city, and added it to the menu. Pancakes. Chilequiles. African curry soup. Yuzo pork sandwiches. Latkes. Fried chicken. How they were able to keep everything in the kitchen, and how the found line cooks to learn to make everything, I don't understand. But for years, Kenny Shopsin held court over his tiny little diner hidden in the corner of the Essex Market and became a Legendary New York Guy.

And then they bulldozed the place to build a new luxury high rise and food hall. Which, I guess for the best, features a shiny new Shopsin's.

So for the last few years, since learning of its fat—and Kenny's (RIP)—I never thought much about going to the place. It just felt wrong, a new gentrified Shopsin's with all the quirks and personality retrofitted to a steel and glass box, the menu no longer a mess of Microsoft Word text boxes, the furniture a 2022 retro version of a 90s version of 60s retro. I felt okay having missed out on it, and that was that.

Until this weekend, when I was in lower Manhattan and desperate for some biscuits and gravy, and heading right towards the new Essex Market. So, fuck it, I went to Shopsin's.

Okay, so, they did okay. The place is okay. The vibe is okay. I truly can't compare it to the old place, because like I said, I never went to the old place. I've barely seen any pictures, I just don't know. But all things considered, I feel like the experience here wasn't so different. The menu is still completely unwieldy (a girl at the bar next to me literally said to the waiter, "I need some help"), the staff felt like they'd been slinging Kenny's nonsense food for years, and best of all: OMG this was a damn good plate of food.

The other part is that every single plate that went out to the other tables all looked equally delicious. There's like 200 things on the menu, and as far as I can tell all of them are great, and I honestly want to go back and try at least 3 more of them. Wish I would've done it 10 years ago, but I humbly admit that I'm happy to have done it nonetheless.

02-22-2022
AlidoroManhattan
Soppressata sandwich

I know I've been saying this a lot lately, maybe it's just been a string of good luck, maybe my heady expectations have lowered, maybe the Sandwich Gods have been a good mood, but this is one the best sandwiches I've had in this city.

I'd seen Alidoro on lists here and there, maybe on an Instagram post or two, but I hadn't really thought too much about it. The vibes it gives off are very much in the 'bougie' vein, like part of me thought it was actually a fancy Italian restaurant that just happened to sell sandwiches. Plus the original location is in Soho, so I just kinda chalked it up to out-of-sight-out-of-mind. As it turns out, there's a second location in Midtown just a couple blocks from a library I like to visit, and while yes it reads bougie, it's nonetheless just a bougie sandwich shop, not some reservations-only ordeal with a secret sandwich menu. So all I could do was smack my own head and say Goddammit I could've been eating here this whole time!

Anyway I had a hot soppressata sandwich with homemade mozz and some sort of truffle mayo. It was more or less perfect. Not a single complaint. I think I'm going back today for a porchetta, so maybe I should've waited to write this. Oops.

02-10-2022
The Kati Roll CompanyManhattan
Kati rolls

A kati roll is essentially an Indian burrito. But a small little 'chilito' sized one that makes it convenient (and exciting) to eat two or three. They're Indian, but I guess more specifically they're Bengali.

The Kati Roll Company makes kati rolls, as you most assuredly guessed. It's a small chain that is seemingly just in Manhattan right now, 5 or 6 locations, but holy moly would I like to have one set up over here in my heavily-Bengali neighborhood, because these little guys are delicious.

01-18-2022
H&H BagelsManhattan
Everything bagel

01-14-2022
Burger JointManhattan
Cheeseburger

Buckle up friends! I've been eating like a lout since the holidays, and I have a lot of catching up to do!

Burger Joint! I did it! I went there! This is a place that you'll (annoyingly) see on Buzzfeed lists and Tik Toks and Food Network specials about New York's "secret restaurants." Weird that it can be a secret even though Guy Fieri has probably been there, and it's been vertically chronicled by every sophomore NYU student who's ever owned a USB ring light. "If you're not ordering it with extra bacon you may as well unalive yourself!"

Anyway Anthony Bourdain also liked this place. So that's part of it too. As far as I can tell, he only liked 3 NYC restaurants: St. Anselm, Lhasa Fast Food (right down the block from me!), and Burger Joint. And while it's not secret secret, it is interestingly tucked away inside a hotel lobby, and there's no windows and no sign outside. Just a chalk sandwich board, but I count that as a sign and disqualify it from "secret" status.

Oh! The burger! You know what? It was real good. I've had a number of burgers that are on all the Best Burger lists in this town, and most of them are just totally average, mediocre burgers. The only one that's truly fulfilled the hype is Emily. But Burger Joint isn't fucking around! It's a hell of a lot better than some of those others, just not up to "Anthony Bourdain told me to eat here" standards.

And nothing against Anthony Bourdain, but Lhasa Fast Food is only like the 4th best Tibetan restaurant in this neighborhood.

12-14-2021
Uncle TetsuManhattan
Japanese cheesecake

Have you ever had Japanese cheesecake? It's somewhere between regular cheesecake and angel food cake, a surprising version of cheesecake that's actually light and pleasant rather than thick and deadly. It's nice! Just wish it was a little thicker and deadlier.

12-13-2021
Court Street GrocersManhattan
Rueben

Court Street Grocers makes a marvelous rueben. But I'm not here to tell you about that.

I'm here to tell you about their ordering system. Or rather, their order pickup system. While a lot of restaurants have gotten to the point of just letting everyone inside to pick up their shit, and most players offering indoor seating with proof of vaccine, a few holdouts are still keeping everything as distanced as possible, often times literally keeping a table in front of the door at which they take and distribute orders without letting anyone inside.

Court Street is doing the 2-customers-at-a-time thing, which is totally fine. But instead of either having you wait, or constantly having an employee open the door to yell at Kevin that his order is ready, or installing some convoluted digital/mobile communication app, they've created the simplest, stupidest, yet most ingenious system. Behind their counter in the kitchen, they have a whiteboard hanging, with columns for "In store," "Grubhub", and "DoorDash". Here they simply write the name of the order when it's ready to be picked up. Trained on that whiteboard is a cheap, probably second-hand security camera, which is directly lined to a TV that's installed in the front window of the store. So after you order, you go back outside, hang out on the sidewalk, and watch the live feed of the whiteboard for your name to be written. I mean, I guess this isn't that exciting, but I love it. It works about as well as anything else, practically zero room for technical issues or user error, and makes life easier for the employees. It's a beautiful system.

And I'm serious, it was an excellent reuben.

12-13-2021
SMASHEDManhattan
Cheeseburger

SMASHED! BURGERS! NYC! NOT JUST ANY BURGERS! SMASHBURGERS! YOU WANT A BIG FAT BASIC ROUND BURGER? FUCK YOU! WE SMASH! THAT'S HOW WE DO IT HERE IN LES! OH YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT LES STANDS FOR! FUCK YOU! GO BACK TO FUCKING WISCONSIN! WHAT'S THAT? THEY'VE BEEN MAKING SMASHED BURGERS IN WISCONSIN FOR DECADES? WELL DO THEY ADD A SECOND PATTY AND A THIRD MIDDLE BUN AND SMASH SESAME SEEDS INTO THE BUN AND CALL IT A BIG SHMAC? FUCKIN' A THEY DON'T.

12-03-2021
Two Wheels Manhattan
Pho, chicken wings

Totally decent pho. But some of the best wings I've had in New York.

11-15-2021
Joe JuniorManhattan
Cheeseburger

Joe Junior, aside from having one of the charmingest signs in all of Manhattan, is a constant presence on "Best burger in New York" lists. The place itself is very much just a diner—a somewhat charming one yes, but not quite up to that sign outside. And on my visit, it was swarming with unmasked NYU students out for brunch who were annoyed at not getting served quickly enough. I know that's not the restaurant's fault, but yikes. Although Joe Junior's, shall we say, hands off approach to service definitely didn't help the situation. These guys have clearly been living the diner life for way too long and were did not g a f about it keeping the customer happy. I dunno, good for them really.

The burger: good! Not amazing, certainly not the best in New York. But it was very edible. Which I mean as a compliment. It reminded me of the Jackson Hole Diner burger (another VIP on your average Best Burger list), where it was almost meatloaf in its consistency—soft and even light in a way, almost like it was baked rather than grilled. I'd actually put Joe Junior's ahead of Jackson Hole's, simply because it was a much more reasonable size to actually eat, compared to Jackson's basketball-sized offering.

The other odd thing: Never before has iceberg lettuce worked so perfectly on a burger. Usually the lettuce gets immediately sloppy and wilted, and doesn't make a bit of difference to any burger. But the big ol pile of iceberg on this thing actually kinda bumped it from "good" to "pretty darn good". With that extra fragile texture to the burger, having a nice crunchy cool counterpart on top made the whole thing work.

10-20-2021
Spaghetti TavernManhattan
Spaghetti in a bag

This music and food blog exists to dive deep, to examine how we nourish ourselves—spiritually and gastronomically—the choices we make in our navigation and consumption of art and culture, and to challenge the means by which we reach for our individualistic carnal edification.

The Spaghetti Tavern is an Old West themed bar that serves spaghetti in a bag. It comes with either garlic bread or crinkle cut french fries and they give you a ceramic crock of parmesan cheese so you can spoon on as much as you'd like. There's a moose head on the wall.