We are embarking on dark times, maybe some of the darkest this proud and already great country has seen. What I see is a country divided. Divided by anger, resentment and hate. The supreme leader – elect capitalized on that and pushed much of the country to back a man that is a proven racist, misogynist, liar, cheat and failed businessman. He is unhinged, vengeful, irrational, full of hatred and contempt for anyone that stands in his way. He’s not only unprepared to lead this country, he’s the most unqualified person to do so, ever! Now, his presidency might not fully impact your specific way of life, but it will impact someone in your family, circle of friends, co-workers and neighbors.
His hate fueled rhetoric will particularly impact those people in our lives that are women, of color, immigrants, LGBT, Muslim, Jewish, middle or lower class and college students. He’s talked about doing away with the Department of Education and Environmental Protection Agency. He’s talked about putting lackeys such as Gingrich, Christie, Palin and Giuliani in his cabinet, advocated violence against his critics and better relations with one of our nation’s top rivals. The supreme leader will not bring jobs or tax relief to the Rust Belt, Sun Belt, South or Middle-America. If he has his way, he will rip apart immigrant families, turn away those who want to come to our shores, make it harder for your kid’s school to receive funding, alienate our trade partners, reverse climate change regulations, arm more countries with nuclear weapons, get rid of affordable health care and upend our economy. You know, to make America Great Again.
So now, if you don’t think this will impact your life in some way, I ask you to really take a step back, look at all those people you care about and tell me that none of them won’t have a drastically worse life over the next four years. There were roughly 100 million US voters that did not vote on Tuesday. 100 Million that did not lay a stake at who should be leading this country over the next four years. We are a democracy, which means your voice can and should be heard. It’s your right! Like many of you, I’m sad for America right now. Sad for our country, our political system and most importantly for our citizens.
We’ve got four years of this, like it or not. A demagogue who turned Love Trumps Hate upside down and used it to advance his personal agenda, will be the supreme leader for the next four years. We have four November elections to right this ship and move forward as a democratic country that listens to its citizen’s voices and leads us to a united and collaborative future. I’m sad now, but soon after the grieving, the sadness will turn into optimism. Optimism that this hateful regime will not continue to pull us apart, but will galvanize the American people. Freedom always comes at a cost and we’ll certainly pay for it dearly over these next four years. In dark times you unite, you fight, you lead, you inspire.
Closing with something that Mrs. Clinton said in her heartfelt concession speech the other day. Please take it to heart. “I still believe in America,” she assured her supporters. “This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
In the Listening Pile: The Clash – Rock the Casbah
Because we need some change. We gotta rock the Casbah, it’s fucking broken.
A snowstorm is coming. All I can think of is how I miss spring and running outside. We have a few more months of this to go. Winter is here and not going anywhere.
Listening Pile: Purity Ring – Push Pull – I’m really looking forward to this album. Haunting and beautiful. The record sounds like it’s going to be the logical next step from their debut. Megan James and Corin Roddick recorded the album for the first time in the same room together, after making their first album remotely while living in two different cities. It’s gonna sound bigger and more impressive, with bigger beats, soaring vocals. 2nd single is tight too. Can’t wait for the album.
In a lot of ways I’m going to miss 2014. The previous year ended on such a sour note for me that 2014 was bound to be better, based on the balance of nature. 2014 still had its ups and downs, but just like before we made it through the good and the bad. As in previous years, I’m going to stick to what I know, baseball, beer, food and music. Here is 2014 as it mattered to me.
Just A Bit Outside
Madison Bumgarner! Wow, what else can you say. The surly lefty carried the SF Giants on his back to a World Series win. I love the guy, but know that he’s gonna have it rough in 2015 with all those innings logged this year. The Kansas City Royals making it to within an out of tying the series was incredibly impressive as well. Baseball, really needed that and obviously so did the KC fans. It gave a lot of hope to just about any team. A few smart moves and your team could end up in the same spot. That’s probably my favorite thing about baseball now, the parity and quality of competition. Just about every team, bar a few exceptions, have a chance to compete. The Yankees season was just frustrating all around. Injuries and old age really caught up with the team this year. Quote from last year “This team badly needs a youth infusion”. The same sentiment rings true again. They are moving in the right direction, but still have so many questions about their injuries, age and depth. I hope they have a few more moves in store for this offseason, because the team as it looks now, is not a playoff team. And as KC showed, just getting in is half the battle some times. Anything can happen in the postseason now a days.
Last thing about baseball. I cannot remember what it’s like to watch a Yankee game without good old #2 in the lineup. I cannot believe it’s been 20 years since the Yanks had a shortstop different from Derek Jeter. I was fortunate to see him play one of his very first games in 1996 and one of his last in 2014. The guy was a competitor, a class act and a winner. We should be so lucky to see a player like that in our lifetime. He will be missed, by both myself and baseball fans around the world. Best of luck to the man in whatever he decides to do in the future.
The Foamy Stuff
I enjoyed so many great beers this year. There was the amazing Bruery event at Gingerman in September that featured so many beers I never thought I’d try. As for other beers I’ve enjoyed, the new Brooklyn brewery, Other Half did not disappoint one bit. They make tons of hoppy and floral beers, Green Diamonds and Southernhopalistic amongst the best. They have a cool little tasting room as well. Worth a visit if you can make it. Transmitter in LIC is also making some really fantastic saison and farmhouse beers, some with really funky sour notes to them. You can try just about anything of theirs and it will be solid.
My favorite new beer bar in NYC, is the conveniently located Bondurants in the Upper East Side. They have a fantastic selection, with a good amount of quality beers on draft, plus really solid food and friendly, knowledgable staff. It’s a great looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome copper bar. Other new favorites include the Jeffrey and Fools Gold. Both solid spots with great selections. Lots of great new places opened this year, one of the more anticipated being the Bronx Brewery’s spot in Hunters Point. Surprisingly a quick 20 minute subway ride from the UES.
In My Belly
It was yet another great year for eating out and food. I tried a bunch of new spots in 2014. Amongst my favorite was the fantastic thin crust pizza and rabbit meatballs at Marta. The Roman-style pizza was inventive and delicious, with toppings like a sunny side egg, tripe, goat sausage and zucchini flowers. Lots of other good stuff on the menu as well. Another of my favorite new places tried was Bar Primi, in the old Peels location on the Bowery. Really solid garlic linguini, kicked up with 4 cloves of the stuff. Really solid. Easily one of my favorite dishes tried all year. Alidoro makes probably my favorite sandwiches in the city. So good.
Another of my favorite new places was Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in the East Village. They are doing some cool stuff with dumplings, aside from traditional versions. They had a buffalo chicken dumpling earlier in the fall, plus a Thanksgiving dumpling. Their homemade sauce is also pretty great, so good, I think they should sell it on it’s own. It would become a hot condiment, much like hot honey or sriracha. Speaking of which, Mokbar in Chelsea market is doing some really cool and inventive stuff with Korean-style ramen and kimchi. Their lunch special bibimbap topped with seasonal vegetables, spicy dressing and pork, was one of the best I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to get back there and try more stuff from the menu.
In One Ear
Like last year, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but just missed on something. First off, is the SBTRKT album. I was expecting so much from this album, maybe unrealistically so. The previous album was a revelation, mixing many electronic, dance, dub and hiphop elements, plus combining an array of talented quest vocalists. The first few singles showed so much promise too. However this record really falters on so many levels. The songs seem incomplete and as if they were written for the vocalists involved, instead of bringing them in as almost another instrument. That’s what made the first album so special. There was a cohesive vibe and the vocalists all blended into the formula so well. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the Gaslight Anthem, Ariel Pink, Antlers and iceage records. The Gaslight album just fell short in memorable hooks and stories. A fine album, but that’s all. The Ariel Pink just didn’t seem to take his songwriting to the next level as I expected. The Antlers, maybe got a little too much into making a certain kind of record. A couple great songs, but a lot of boring fluff too. The iceage album is just sloppy. I don’t mind the change in direction, they just didn’t fulfill it. The production is just bad, with much of the album sounding terrible, despite some really inventive songwriting. All you hear is vocals, when the instrumentation was begging to be let out.
Finally, on to the best! The Horrors delivered what I think might be their best record yet. They’ve developed from an art-house punk project into one of the most important UK acts around. Luminous takes their sound and just makes it groovier and picking up the pace. The low end really shines through on this album. There are some sick grooves amongst the droney psychedelia, shoegaze and krautrock stylization. It’s an album that could be listened to going on a long run or paired with a bottle of vodka and hallucinogens. It’s wacked out and trippy, but also very rhythmic and machinelike at times. They made a love ballad and huge Soundgarden type riffs(Mine and Yours) all on the same album. They have perfected their formula and are once again my album of the year.
My second favorite album of the year is Tampa post-punk outfit Merchandise’sAfter the End. I jokingly told a young colleague of mine that they sounds like The Smiths meet The Wedding Present meets Talk Talk. He obviously looked at me and had no clue what I was talking about. Bare with me though. It’s a fantastic record that wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played to death in an early 90’s college dorm. It’s got that angst ridden influence of 80’s Brit-pop yet totally American spirit that many of my generation grew up on. Just a fantastic album that combines so much of what I loved in music growing up, yet feels fresh and original. Cloud NothingsHere and Nowhere Else is just an amazing piece of abrasive, fast paced rock and roll with lyrics that explore mental illness, heartbreak and growing up. It’s a punk rock record for 2014. The guitars are loud and edgy, the drumming is propulsive and maybe some of the best I’ve heard all year. Fantastic album from these kids. 8 songs in 28 minutes. Fuck Yeah! Cheatahs self-titled album is much of what I loved about indie(er..college) rock in the 90’s. Sprawlling guitars, hushed vocals, heavy rhythmsection and some stare at the floor shoegaze. I’m a sucker for that shit, everyone knows that. This album hits on all those notes. They were also the loudest band I saw all year….proportionately speaking of course. We Were Promised Jetpacks third album is the realization of years of hard work. Unraveling sees the young Scots leave behind some of the campy, pubescent, nerd punk they were so known for and sees a mature, thoughtful and driven band. They are louder, tighter and more developed. Structurally, they have more in common with bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay(the good kind), then they do with what they sounded like before. The songs are a little darker and grander then they’ve ever been before. Huge leap by these guys. Live too, they destroy now.
The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new. The Eagulls, made a dark post-punk album that just kicks you in the face. It’s measured, aggresive and angular, with tons of feedback and swirling noise. Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 delivered their 2nd proper studio album, a mere 10 years after their first. It seems like they did not skip a beat, with deep groves, explosive beats and snarky vocals. They developed their craft over the years and sound much more cohesive and accomplished than ever before. Pains of Being Pure At Heart make heart on your sleeve power pop. They’ve gotten really, really good at it. Gone are the days of the back-room indie twee, this band has a full and dynamic sound. They scored a Hershey’s commercial for crying out loud. It makes me happy everytime I see it. Spoon’s 19th record, well not really it’s only their 8th, but seems like they’ve been around forever huh? Another fantastic album, this one a bit more Elvis Costello than the last record, which I thought was a bit mellow. This is a bunch of methodically crafted songs of jangly pop infused with Southern soul. Excellent as always. Jungle, came through with one of the best debut records in recent memory. They had a ton of hype around them and it was pulsating when they played their first live show in the US last March. I don’t think anyone thought they’d look like they do, which I actually really loved about it. They made a really soulful and groovy record that would make disciples of TV on the Radio and Ratatat proud.
From there, a bunch of great albums from old mainstays, TV On The Radio, Interpol, Kevin Drew, Jesse Ware, Kele Okerke, Wild Beasts, Twilight Sad, Caribou, The Drums,Aurelio Valle and more, plus Nenah Cherry came back with a phenomenal new album produced by Fourtet, her first in some time. Run the Jewels made the hip hop album of the year and let us hear something from Zach De La Rocha for the first time in ages. The Jazz June returned with their fist album in some ten years. New stuff from upstarts and new acts Ryan Hemsworth, Movement, Ume, Little Daylight, Perfume Genius, Alvvays, FKA Twigs, War on Drugs, Phantogram, The Young, Single Mothers, and Bass Drum of Death. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s and singles from Operators, featuring Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, plus a solid EP from No Devotion, featuring old friend Geoff from Thursday, plus the remaining members of Lostprophets. Additionally, old pal Walter Schreifels popped up on Vanishing Life, a melodic hardcore band he fronts. And finally, Les Sins the dancey side project of Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind Toro y Moi.
Listening Pile: The Horrors– In and Out of Sight – My favorite song on the album, this trippy sounscape of swirling guitars and funky bassline is just so incredibly awesome. The video is weird. Looks like some sort of loopy clip. Maybe fan made. Don’t know.
All Ends With Beginnings
Spring, it’s finally here in NYC. Took long enough, huh? Seemed like we had one of those winters that would never end. Hopefully we get a full Spring and it doesn’t get crazy hot in May. I hate those years. Lots and lots going on these last few weeks. As the weather warmed, I started thinking about road trips, drinking outside, baseball, outdoor concerts and long bike rides with no destination in mind. The weather is getting just about perfect for all these things. Here are some of my picks:
I have already gone up to Peekskill Brewery, did it earlier in the month. It’s a quick ride up the Hudson Line and just a short walk from the train station. They have a ton of great beers(winners of Tap NY’s Governors cup), good food and a rooftop bar coming soon. It’s the perfect destination for quick getaway out of the City on a nice Spring or Summer day. If you’re adventurous you can head into town to grab food, cocktails or beers at gastropub, Birdsall House.
3rd Avenue Ale House
Another place, close to me has just unveiled outdoor seating. 3rd Avenue Ale House, in the Upper East Side has debuted their outdoor seating just over the past few weeks. Lots of sun early in the day, so makes for a nice spot early in the morning when temperatures are still rising. They’ve got a great selection of craft beers and their menu is pretty good. I like the chicken sandwich with apples. Trust me, it works.
I’ve yet to do this, but I’m going to one of these weekends, I swear. But out in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Dumbo on Sundays, they have the Smorgasburg flea market. The kick is, they have great food too. Lots of roving vendors selling great food, pickles, pastries, chocolates, cheese, you name it. Even the Brooklyn Brewshop sells their kits there too. Last year Smorgasburg debuted a local beer, wine, and spirits drinking area called SmorgasBar. It previously featured Brooklyn, Kelso and Sixpoint. I’ve yet to hear much about what’s going on there this year, but will report back. Hopefully as soon as this weekend, wink wink.
Ok, I know I had my issues with Googa Mooga last year, but so did most of the attendees, particularly the people that went to the mess on the first day, where they ran out of food and booze. Hoping they fixed a lot of those issues this year, because it was a fun day in the sun last year. Hall and Oates was pretty amazing too. I’ve never seen so many people so happy and dancing at the same time. From the food I had too, it was pretty good. So, they have a lot going on this year, with a 3rd day added and being billed as a concert with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Flaming Lips. I’m going on Sunday and hope this year lives up to last year and exceeds it in terms of quality, service and fun. Psyched to see Sharon Jones, Cults and De La Soul.
Listening Pile: Daft Punk – Get Lucky ft. Pharrell
I will start with the fact, that as much as I enjoy this group, I also have a somewhat contentious relationship with them. Let me explain. First and foremost, when I worked my first job out of high school, I worked retail at Footaction, which I don’t think still exists. Maybe I’m wrong, I haven’t been to a mall in the US in years. Anyhows, it’s about the same time that Around The World started blowing up. Needless to say, all the DMX programmers(they did the music for countless stores across the US), seemed to want to program this song as many times as humanly possible. So, on an average 4 or 5 hour shift, I would hear this song, oh I don’t know, 7 or 8 times. This happened almost every day for an entire summer. So, by the time I started college in August of that year, I’d heard this song about 500 times. Living in a co-ed dorm, I heard this song another 500 times over the next year. It took me about 10 years to really be able to listen to that song again. I love it, but we have our issues!
So, up next, is their song One More Time. We also have a relationship, though not as contentious, just tedious. Trust me on this. So, spring 2001, I’m about to graduate college and I had been working for a record label for the past year. My student advisor recommended also getting an internship to not only supplement the job I had, but to also gain new experience and credits. “Graduate faster kid!” Seemed like a good enough idea, until I showed up for my internship only to find out I’d be packing mailers of Daft Punk’s One More Time, Gorillaz Tomorrow Comes Today and BRMC’s debut 7″, along with a lot of other crappy records I cringe even thinking of…hello Lenny Kravitz! This was not the fun you’d think it would be. Packing thousands of mailers for 8 hours a day was about as much fun as it sounds. The best thing to come of this was my ability to be able to ravage the music library. I came away that summer with hundreds of awesome records.
Anyhow, me and Daft Punk… we’re ok now. I loved the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I loved Alive. And this new jam, featuring Pharrell is just hot. I think I’ve forgiven them for all they did to me, including showing up at a Pheonix show when I backed out of my tickets at the last minute with a cold. Errrrr… Sorry, sorry. No we’re OK. And I cannot wait for the album. It’s gonna be good, I bet. But I’ve got my eye on you robotic musical geniuses. I’ve got my eye on you.
Go Out And Celebrate An Entire City Of Beer New York City Beer Week is almost upon us. While details have been a little scattershot up until quite recently. there have been a couple awesome events lined up that aim to be quite exciting for both craft beer fans and foodies.
A couple of the events I’m looking most forward to are listed below. And of course, check out the microsite for even more info and events.
2/27 – Brewers Choice @ City Winery
The 3rd annual event at City Winery. This is an event not to be missed. With 20+ beers paired with artisanal dishes from local NYC chefs and food shops. Make sure to check out food ranging from local faves, Blind Tiger, Mile End, My Friend’s mustard, Coach Farm Cheese and many more. All these will be paired with great craft beer that includes Ommegang, White Birch, Spider Bite, Carton Brewing and many, many more.
2/23-2/26 – 7th Annual Williamsburg Cask Beer Festival @ DBA Brooklyn
They are busting out over a dozen specialty casks over the 4-day festival. They also will have a raffle featuring lots of rare and vintage bottles. All raffle proceeds will benefit the family of the late – great Ray Deter, founding partner of d.b.a.
3/2 – aPORKalypse @ Alewife Queens
Aside from their other beer week events, they are doing one of my favorite recent Get Real Events. I worked at this one last year so I got to sample just about every pork dish served and a lot of the beers. If last year was any indication, this will be one of the standout events. They will be carving up carefully prepared dishes along with all local NY craft beer.
The Best Of The Rest
There are places with events all week long, including 508 Gastro Brewpub, which has Beer and Food pairings all week long. Murray’s Cheese Bar, has a selection of 3 New York cheeses paired with 3 beers from local breweries. Queens Kickshaw has all Queens Tap Takeovers, featuring beers from SingleCut, Rockaway Brewing and Bridge and Tunnel Brewery. Pony Bar Hells Kitchen will pour beers from New York State all week. Rattle N Hum has beer nights from Dogfish, NJ/PA, Colorado and California amongst others. The Gate in Brooklyn presents vintage week, tapping a new vintage from their cellar daily. Luke’s Lobster has food specials paired with beers from Maine.
Those are just a few, but if you check out the full site, you can find something almost every single beer bar and tons of restaurants in your area. That’s what makes this week great. You can go and try our new places in new neighborhoods, or you can stick to your favorite spots. It’s truly a great celebration of great craft beer.
Listening Pile: New Order – I’ll Stay With You
Another great song from one of the greatest. Constantly amazed these guys continue to make great music. My favorite song of theirs since Crystal, oh about a dozen years ago.
Rockin Around The Christmas Tree
Checking out a New York Christmas time institution tonight, The Rockettes. I saw this show once when I was a little kid, but don’t remember it at all. Last few times I’ve been to Radio City Music Hall has been to see bands too, so that’ll be a treat. I’ll need to remind my mom and brother I was there. My brother got the whole family kicked out of Radio City after some Sesame Street on Ice show before I was born. I bet my Mom in particular gets a hoot.
Listening Pile – Battles – B + T
Just read this the other night about it being the ten year anniversary of their first show. Crazy, I remember seeing this band close to ten years ago with Ratatat at a hot and sweaty show at the long gone Tonic on the Lower East Side. I didn’t know anything about them, other than the fact that John Stanier from Helmet was the drummer. The only other thing I remember is the show being filled with all dudes. Like 3 girls and a hundred dudes. Weird, guess chicks didn’t dig math rock the way they did the long ball. Haven’t seen Battles in years and wasn’t impressed with their last record Mirrored all that much. They did however inspire one of my favorite t-shirts ever.
complaining, when some people ain’t got shit to eat
Morning commutes in New York City. Love them or hate them, they are vital to millions of people getting to and from work every day. My commute this morning was delayed by a) just missing the train and waiting 10 minutes for the next train b) absolutely no idea, the train literally just stopped and waited, and waited, and waited.
Taking an extra minute to look at Christmas trees this morning made me late to work by 20 minutes. That is life in the big city.
Listening Pile: Cat Power – Ruin
First of all, I gotta say it’s been amazing to see poor little Chan Marshall grow into the artist she is now. I remember seeing her fall apart and turn her back on concert audiences, reading newspapers or just sitting there crying. It was something seeing her get better at performing, to the point that she got so big she played arenas and huge festivals. Crazy stuff, from a crazy gal. Which makes her doing this funny or die video just completely priceless. She’s gotten to the point where she can totally make fun of herself.
She put out a fantastic album this year in Sun. I think it’s her best work since You Are Free, which was also the first album of hers I worked on back in my record biz days. In a couple months, it’ll have been ten years since that record came out.