Sunday, August 21, 2016

Where They Eat: Techtonic at Ezell's Famous Chicken

Seattle based brothers Evan and Tyler Gilsdorf, the duo behind Techtonic, have just released their new track "You Told Me." The single is a hymnal for all those who worship at the feet of summery, future bass. For those of us who just pass by every once in a while to toss an egg or scrawl graffiti on the religious shrines, the song is simply a catchy as hell bender that really challenges your inner dance self.

Despite what the track says, anyone can't really do this shit. It takes a special duo (and then some) to pull off a song like this off. According to whispers I've heard around the future bass community (and posts I've read on future bass message boards), Techtonic couldn't have pulled off "You Told Me" without first selling their soul. They found a buying partner in Seattle stalwart Ezell's Famous Chicken. Here's Evan describing Ezell's and how their chicken relates to "You Told Me":

Ezell's Famous Chicken is that one spot in town where you drive by and your mouth starts watering even if you just ate.
"It's not in the best neighborhood in town either (good soul food rarely is) so you've really gotta commit to making a trek to the other side of town if you want to get it, not to mention the line out the door. But oh man, is it worth it. I feel the chicken fingers are kind of like this song for a few reasons. One, the breading is nice and airy, kind of like the start of this track. But once you bite into them you get the full flavor, and then the spice - just like the 2 drop tiers of the song. The middle section is a call and response rhythm, much like the constant dipping of the chicken in homemade ranch. But most of all, these chicken fingers remind me of a bright summer day hanging with friends and enjoying the simpler things in life, much like was the inspiration for this track."

Get out your finest dancing shoes, grab a jigger of that homemade ranch and experience "You Told Me" how it was meant to be.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Food Pairing 101: What goes well with Beer, Brussels and (Vegan) Bacon?

I woke up this morning with a pounding headache. I replayed last night in my head to see if I could place the source of my pain. Had I eaten Brazil nuts? Snorted lines of fermented cheeses? Did I do shots of vinegar again? Unfortunately I couldn't remember a thing. I stumbled out to my refrigerator and opened it. There, tucked inside the door, was a bottle of Sharkinator White IPA half gone. I pulled out my Untappd App and, there it was, plain as day. I had checked off that I drank a half bottle of Sharkinator (actually I had used it to baste some cauliflower for a burrito but who is keeping score aside from me?). I sought out some hangover cures online, found one that seemed to work with a vegan diet, and by eleven was ready to tackle the day.

The further my hangover drifted into history, the more I felt guilty about wasting half a bottle of beer. I scoured the refrigerator and found some brussels sprouts and vegan bacon. I decided to baste the brussels in a little beer and veggie broth and then toss them into garlic covered vegan bacon. I sprinkled a little Gomassio on to close things out.

So what did I pair with this brussels and beer experience? How about a track that pleads "please take me out dancing this Saturday night, please get me a little drunk, I won't ask why." It's like SLØTFACE's "Take Me Dancing" was written just for me. In reality the track, according to vocalist Haley Shea, is about being free to be yourself regardless of gender. She went on to explain that some people were skeptical about a group of feminists releasing a song about drinking and dancing. SLØTFACE likes partying and drinking and they want people to know that it is okay to make mistakes (you know, maybe drink half a beer too much or pour a little extra in your cauliflower sort of thing). That's why "Take Me Dancing" was written, recorded and released.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Click (Music): Manicured Pea Pods, The Shondes, Babylon, Zombie Eyed and the Importance of Vowels

"Hollywood Romance" by Ex-Cassette

Somewhere amongst the manicured pea pods and farm-to-table vegan, Paleo, high-protein, gluten-free, allergy-conscious, pregnancy-oriented meals on wheels that A-Listers like Felicity Huffman, Jessica Biel, Jeremy Piven, Tom Arnold, Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum consume on the reg is a budding and spontaneous romance ready to begin. That romance, while magical and all consuming, bleeds quickly. Before the delivery guy can even get that $48 dollar plate (plus delivery fee) to their door, the credits have rolled and the end has come. All that's left behind is a collection of memories captured in song.

On a side note, Hollywood Romance's closing line is the best song ending I've heard since Jimmie's Chicken Shack went all "when you die, your dead" on us.



"Babylon" by Half the Animal

The story of “Babylon,” as sung by Half the Animal, ends with a chorus of children suggesting to anyone that is still listening that they see the shadows that are present but they will continue to hold on no matter what the cost. This little sing-a-long symbolizes the idea that even though youth can be lost prematurely because of bad habits, it is never too late to make a change for the better and recapture the camaraderie and community of growing up. As Half the Animal suggests, "Everyone deals with their own “Babylon” in life." Knowing this, knowing we all are going through the same type of sh** just in a slightly different manner, immediately strengthens some of the ruptured bonds created by growing up. The key is to just pull your head out of your phone for long enough to experience it.



"Everything Good" by The Shondes

I tried to play the role of cynic when it came to "Everything Good." Afterall, the song was written by the The Shondes, a band that prides "themselves on their ability to get a cynic to sing along." But f*** it if I couldn't. I mean the way that the band embraces all that is beautiful in life and human relationships in "Everything Good" is enough to break the stone soul of even the world's most dour. Everything about the song, from the lyrical delivery of Louisa Solomon to the swelling height of Elijah Oberman's violin, to the spirited cohesion between Courtney Robbins guitar and Alex Smith's drums, serves one singular purpose, to make happiness in rock and roll a thing again.



"Vowels (and the Importance of Being Me)" by Hunny

I think I remember singing a version of Hunny's new song in kindergarten. How is that possible? My teacher was pretty cool. She was all up on a ton of bands that didn't even exist yet.




"Day by Day" by Disco Fries featuring Katt Rose

I think I read somewhere that a blogger felt that this track was a summer anthem. I'd have to say that I disagree with them somewhat. I think this track is the summer anthem for a recovering alcoholic who is stuck in some sort of groundhog day like state during the Fourth of July. Otherwise, its a pleasure to grind too whether it is summer, fall, winter or spring.



Remixes:

"Lights Down Low" by Max (Two Friends Remix)

This remix by Two Friends hit number one on Hypem a few days ago. My posting it now is sort of like the time my mom finally figured out how to get on Myspace and realized that there was no one left there. That's right, I'm like the old, technology impotent mother of the music blogging world. I wear that description like a badge of old lady perfume honor.



Videos:

"Zombie Eyed" by The Dirty Nil

What goes around comes around you evil, blood spattering brat.



"Hollywood Romance" by Ex-Cassette

During the holidays my family went through some of the old VHS cassettes my parents had at the house. One of the tapes featured my brother and I singing "Self Esteem" in a cheesy, early 90's style, music video that we made at the beach. I have to say the circle outs and wipe away visual effects that seemed so rad when we first made the video, now seem terribly dated and ridiculous. They are the kind of effects that Ex-Cassette used in their video for "Hollywood Romance" to ironically make a point. What's the point? Look no further than the man's name they hired to direct the video....Tim Cheeseman. There's your point.



"You Don't Get Me High Anymore" by Phantogram

What if Jack Nicholson's character in The Shining had his own home improvement show?



"A Living Human Girl" by The Regrettes

The video for "A Living Human Girl" is chock-full of (visual) real talk, exploring the idea of girls as paper dolls to be dressed and judged by others. Here's to hoping the world will be slightly different once we get a female president.




"Closer" by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey

Here are some FUN REAL FACTS about "Closer" by the Chainsmokers featuring Halsey
1) This is not a love song
2) Shaun Frank and Louis the Child helped with the song during the Friendzone Tour!
3) 90% of this song was finished within the first 2 days
4) Drew had all his ex girls at syracuse in mind when he wrote this.
5) The tattoo's on the cover art were drawn by hand onto the bodies... if you look closer the hero tat on their arms combines them
6) We no longer drink fireball...
7)Shack Shack > In and Out

DONT FUCK YOUR EX.

The track is also Drew's debut as a lead vocalist! Hopefully he comes back for more.




 Get All of 2016's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Click (Food): Shark Bait, Adam Lambert Foils Vegans, Google Embraces Vegan Shrimp and Buffalo Quinoa Balls

Happenings:
  • Pip's Original Doughnuts put out a help wanted ad for a new barista this week. The ad included that statement that “No non-medical, non-religious dietary restrictions that would stop you from tasting, accurately representing our food and maintaining quality control to maintain the highest standards of food safety and excellence. We serve products with meat (including bacon) nuts, dairy and our doughnuts contain wheat gluten.” It then continued with Portland doesn't need another "moody hipster providing lame service." So as long as your doctor or religion prescribes you a vegan diet, you are good to apply? If you are doing it for any other reason, look elsewhere? Here's my doctor's note.
  • If you are looking to travel and need a place to stay that supports your vegan/vegatarian lifestyle? Check out vegvisits.
  • Adam Lambert used to be most famous for...something, something singing? Now he can add sneaking meat into vegan customer's foods and bragging about it on Instagram to his resume. *What's that? Hold on. Leaves to receive a call from his agent. Damn, I've just been informed by my agent that these are actually two different people with the same name. Let me go on record as saying that both of their resumes suffer because of this.
Recipes:

Chickpea and Vegetable Picnic Hand Pies by Tinned Tomatoes

These cute little hand pies were crafted completely by ingredients from Iceland. Don't you worry, there isn't anything super exotic that you won't be able to find in your local grocer. Well, except for the pönnukökur (kidding). 

Buffalo Quinoa Balls with Vegan Ranch Dipping Sauce by V Nutrition

Mary Ellen, of V Nutrition, and I have something in common. We both are in the habit of carrying a small hot sauce around in our purses wherever we go. You can judge me all you want about carrying a purse but I used to stick bottles of hot sauce in my pockets and they alway seemed to break and...um...get on stuff they shouldn't. I quickly learned carrying a purse beats burning genitalia any day of the week.

Vegan Mega Burger with Seitan from Sandra Vungi Vegan

Pan-fried seitan steaks, carrot cheese sauce, grilled vegetables all on a burger bun? This mega burger appears to offer a lot more variety than the other mega burger I cam across this week.

Mini Key Lime and White Chocolate Cheesecakes from PeacemealXO

These mini cheesecakes are the sole reason that I went out today, bought a bunch of key lime trees and planted them in my backyard. Big mistake. I read, post planting, that they are a pain in the ass to grow and maintain. Nothing's ever easy in the world of vegan cheesecakes.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Food Flavored Song: Orange Juice by Bellows

Way up in Northern Michigan there is a mom and pop tonic water bottle making plant. This plant has remained in the same family generation after generation. Their tonic water bottle design has also been pretty static since the day they began hand crafting them. As the current owner says, "Why mess with what works." These tonic water bottles, once molded and hardened, are sent to artisanal water plants across the eastern and midwestern United States. There they are filled and shipped to local stores for consumer consumption.

One of these mom and pop water bottles made their way to Brooklyn, New York. It was eyed in some store by Oliver Kalb, songwriter and producer of the bedroom-recording project Bellows. Perhaps he wavered a bit, compared prices before jumping in feet first or, what's more likely, he saw that sleek design and immediately knew that was the tonic water bottle for him. Kalb drank the water inside, still felt some sort of connection to the bottle (probably a lot to do with his hating to lose), and decided to fill it up with orange juice. That orange juice filled mom and pop tonic water bottle then proceeded to accompany Kalb on an evening of concert going at the Palisades. It wasn't until one of those people who like to hang around Kalb and pretend they are trying to help asked him if he was through with his orange juice filled mom and pop tonic water bottle that the connection was lost. At this point Kalb tossed it away so that someone else could enjoy the connection that mom and pop tonic water bottles create.

At least that is what I took from the new Bellows track "Orange Juice." If you got something else, feel free to share in the comments. Before you do, I should mention, I feel like I nailed this one.



By the way, Bellows has a new album, Fist & Palm, due out September 30th via Double Double Whammy.

Oh, by the, by the way (that's sort of like PPS right?) Bellows will also be doing a bit of fall touring to support the album. They will be sharing the stage with Lisa Prank and PWR BTTM.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Listen: The Artisanal Tofu Sounds of Communions

While I'm pretty sure that "Don't Hold Anything Back" by Copenhagen by way of Seattle four-piece Communions was not written about Artisanal tofu, it very well could be. Let's start with the fact that the song texture is a bit crunchy and hard edged on the surface thanks to the on again off again guitar arrangement. Inside, things are a bit softer. This is due in large part to the moments of silence from the droning guitar as it gives way to a soft acoustic one. Not enough? Hmm...well, if lines like "You could either pick me up or lay me down, you could throw me out or stick around" and the constant reminder of "You could be the only one with the way you shine" don't speak Artisanal tofu to you maybe, you just haven't been in the tofu game long enough.


The City of Tampa According to Tofu: Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu

Five spring breaks ago my wife and I spent a few days in Asheville. We were spending two nights in a hostel before moving to a bed and breakfast for a night before coming back to the hostel for one more night (if you didn't catch that the first time, you have my permission to reread the line until it makes sense). When we arrived at the hostel the owner took us on an abbreviated tour. As he showed us the kitchen he said "Some local commune gave us a bunch of homemade tofu. Feel free to take as much as you want while you are here. Hell, you can even take some with you when you go." A solitary tear rolled down my face as I thought about homemade tofu and why Tampa can't seem to get nice things.

Hey, it may have taken until 2016 but thanks to Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu, Tampa finally has gotten nice things (at least in the world of artisanal tofu making). Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu is a unique place. When you walk in half of the business is a restaurant that serves boba tea, Vietnamese desserts, Pho and other traditional Vietnamese dishes. The other half of the building is a grab and go with coolers of homemade tofu, soy milk and various meats that might be necessary for cooking Vietnamese at home. There are also a number of metal trays that hold freshly made items. It was here, in these metal trays, that I found the artisanal tofu I was looking to take home.

According to Laura Reiley, food critic for the Tampa Bay Times Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu churns out seven different flavors of tofu. When I visited they had only four (ha, only four, like four flavors of tofu is a normal thing around here). These four were original, lemongrass and chili, onion and mushroom. The mushroom and onion were sliced into large rectangles. They were priced at four for a dollar. I filled a miniature plastic baggie (yep, that's how you take things to go here) with eight of each. The lemongrass and chili came in two forms, large rectangles (like the onion and mushroom) and a block similar to how traditional tofu in a grocery store is sold. I grabbed four of the rectangles and a big block. I was absolutely astounded when they lady rang me up for the block of tofu and it only came out to two dollars. The only place that I have found tofu that cheap in this city is Whole Foods (organic, $1.99) and MD Market (full of GMO's, $1.29). The lady at the register asked if I wanted any sauces with my tofu (options include chili paste, soy sauce, fish sauce and another one  that I don't remember). I settled on some chili paste.


My Plate of Different Flavored Tofu from Thinh An Kitchen & Tofu

I would love to say that I waited until I got home and ate that tofu properly but I didn't. I ripped into the rectangles as soon as I got to the car. Each tofu flavoring was subtle, it wasn't going to overwhelm you with whatever it was covered with. I liked that because it gave you the option of eating it with a dipping sauce or using it in a recipe. The different tofus had a nice chewy shell on the outside of them. Inside they were soft and creamy, almost like a custard. It was absolutely and without a doubt the best tofu I've ever eaten. J-Fur wasn't as instantaneously taken in as I was. She would not go on record as saying that it was the best tofu she has ever eaten. But when I pressed her to name a place that had better tofu, she couldn't. I took that as a motion seconded.

I used the lemongrass and chili block to make Thug Kitchen's Spring Veggie Bowl with Red Curry Lime Sauce.  I adore this recipe but hate the time it takes for the tofu to finish baking and marinating. Already marinated and baked tofu made this a total win scenario. I was very pleased with how the tofu held up when I put it in Red Curry Lime Sauce to warm. There was no crumbling or falling apart and it kept its chewy shell and creamy interior.