Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Listen: Deep Sea Arcade, Animal House and The Disco Fries

I've heard it said that vegan BBQ gives you wings. If you pair it with these tracks your set will be even radder:

Deep Sea Arcade is currently prepping for their first batch of new music since Obama won a second term. The lead single from the new album (due out next year) is "Learning To Fly."

The track melds the psychedelia-influenced sound that Deep Sea Arcade fans will recognize from their debut record with newer electronic influences that the band has picked up in the four plus years since.

"They want to lay her down but she's got them in her pocket." Maybe Animal House really is talking dominoes. But I have a hard time looking past how that line relates to my relationship to vegan BBQ sandwiches. I remember growing up and not knowing when or where my next meal would come from. So anytime one of my Amish friends' family made up a batch of their vegan BBQ I'd have one right then and there and then fill my pockets with three or four others. Here's to "Domino" and the hedonistic adventures of making music and stealing vegan BBQ from our Amish friends!

Such a wholesome meal that vegan BBQ is. Man Soundcloud sure could use a lesson on wholesome. It used to be such a clean, holy place. It was like only the people sitting in the front row of church would comment on there. Now it is filthy and overwrought like the backseat of some creeper's love mobile. Take, for instance, the latest comment on "Is It Over" by the Disco Fries:

Hi, people) Want sex? Am 21 yars old, very hot, but lonely girl... Find me here - goo.gl/xOXOt4 , my nickname LaiGrimaldo22

Whoa, it just got real sticky in here and there ain't no more ciabatta to clean things up. Next time, I'm using a fork.

Cook: Red Wine BBQ Tempeh and Shrooms

My good friend Chef Chloe (I use the word "good" here loosely) posted a recipe for Red Wine Seitan BBQ in one of those Men's Fitness magazines. I think it is the one where men dress up in tight bathing suits and lean up against various sports cars in provocative poses. I came across the recipe not because I have a closet subscription to the magazine, but because my phone stalks all my searches and then inundates me with articles featuring all my favorite key words (like fantasy baseball, vegan and Donald Trump).

Normally I let Chef Chloe do her thing and just roll with it. But I was withdrawing hard from a night of pizza and seitan eating and I couldn't bear the thought of more gluten than necessary entering into my digestive system. So I decided to replace the seitan with a mixture of tempeh and portobello mushrooms. Go with seitan, do the tempeh mushroom mixture or add your own spin on things. Doesn't matter. The key here is Chef Chloe's BBQ sauce. It is absolutely stunning.

Red Wine BBQ Tempeh and Shrooms (adapted slightly from Chef Chloe)
(printable version)

For the Tempeh and Shrooms:
-tempeh block, cut into minute cubes
-1/2 cup of portobello mushrooms
-1 cup ketchup
-¼ cup dry red wine
-1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
-1 tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp Dijon mustard
-1 tsp onion powder
-½ tsp black pepper
-olive oil
-1 large shallot, thinly sliced
-3 scallions, thinly sliced

For the caramelized onions:
-1 large onion, thinly sliced
-2 tsp pure maple syrup
-sea salt

For the sandwiches:
-4 ciabatta rolls
-1 cup arugula
-1 small tomato, thinly sliced

1. Make the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion. Season onions to your liking with sea salt. Place them in a skillet and stir frequently until they are very soft (about 20 minutes). Add maple syrup and let cook one additional minute. Set aside.

2. To prepare the BBQ tempeh and shrooms: In a bowl, whisk together ketchup, red wine, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, onion powder, and black pepper. Set aside. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook shallots, tempeh and shrooms until lightly browned. Add the sauce and scallions to skillet. Reduce heat to low, and gently simmer until sauce has thickened (about five minutes).

3. To prepare the sandwiches: toast ciabatta rolls. Layer some arugula, tempeh mixture, tomato, and caramelized onions on each roll. Eat it while leaning on your car provocatively wearing only some sexy underwear.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Food Flavored Artist: A Double Shot of Honey

What's better than one honey flavored band? How about two. Under one roof. For the same low price. You in?

First up is our sparse, distortion heavy version of that sweet confection. We call it our Pale Honey. There is a lot to love about this brand. It comes all the way from Gothenburg, Sweden. Their newest take is called "Real Thing." According to the beekeepers, guitarist/vocalist Tuva Lodmark and drummer Nelly Daltrey, "Real Thing" is what happens when minds get blown. It's about knowing what you want and going for it. It is both confidence and courage pressed and packed into one song. "Real Thing" will be included as part of the band's second album. The as yet untitled album is expected sometime in spring of next year.

Our second flavor comes from London. We call it Black Honey. This take, dubbed "Hello Today" reeks of shoegaze. It has a more potent, right in your face flavor than the Pale Honey. Being served alongside "Hello Today" is the band's brand new, debut video. The video, directed by Nadia Lee Cohen, finds Black Honey frontwoman/head beekeeper Izzy B Phillips squaring off against a fly-infested heart. According to Phillips, the video is about a girl trying to put her demons behind her. She is followed by an omen (the heart). It drives her to delirium. In an attempt to escape her past, she buries that omen in the desert. Check out the video and audio below:

Just the audio:

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Click (Music): Buffalo Cauliflower, Warning Labels, Donald Trump Swipes Right and PSSY PWR

"Cocaine Girls" by PSSY PWR

I ordered a batch of Buffalo Cauliflower while I was out celebrating a coworker's birthday on Thursday night. The texture was just right. The heat came with a warning, be careful, this stuff burns. It may cause permanent damage to your tastebuds. Also sent with a warning? PSSY PWR's new track "Cocaine Girls." +++ WARNING +++ Clunky, unpolished and unapologetic, PSSY PWR’s tongue in cheek lyrics and detonating sound must be played LOUD AF or your device will explode.

"Solid Air" by Bad Sea

Sometimes you swipe right and you get a complete mindf*** of a time (Donald Trump anyone). And sometimes a swipe right leads to fabulous music, mountains of buffalo cauliflower and precious twitter followers (I'm looking at you Bad Sea). Don't take those swipes lightly.

"Under the Grave" by Rozes

I couldn't believe my ears this week. Were middle aged women really telling me how much they love the Chainsmokers and Rozes? I'm going to show myself out, quietly. If you need me, I'll be the guy burying his head in vegan blue cheese (does that even exist?).

"Get Loud" by Trails and Ways

"Get Loud" is a rush of smooth power pop. It was finished 9 months ago on a balcony on the São Paulo coast. Trails and Ways Brazil tour capped a year of destruction for at least one of the band members. They were forced to face up to their vanity and closedness. "Get Loud" is the catharsis that occurs when guards are dropped, flaws are owned and confidence and desire is achieved through rock music.

"WWDK" by Go Suburban

Go Suburban is a Provo family act. It consists of three Swanson's, two of which are a father and son. That's gotta be a pretty cool feeling. I mean who ever thinks, as your driving away from the hospital with your newly born child, some day I'll be in a band with this guy. I know that wasn't what I was thinking. I was thinking, wait, that's it? I get to leave with this new human and noone is going to stop me? "WWDK" is about growing up. It is about all the things you don't know in life. It is about trying to figure out what that first W in WWDK stands for.


"I Wanna Boi" by PWR BTTM

Homophobes, homosexuals, straight, trans, whatever, at the root of it I think we are all pretty similar. We just want someone to keep our bed warm.

"Apple Pie" by Rafferty

The song my be modern but the video and the persona behind it summon the ghosts of tradition. Apple pie may be the best metaphor but buffalo cauliflower isn't far behind.

"All We Know" by The Chainsmokers featuring Phoebe Ryan

See Rozes above. Then pile on more blue cheese.

"Shaky Ground (Acoustic)" by Freedom Fry

One of my favorite songs of the year just got the acoustic, poolside treatment. You won't hear me, or my daughter, complaining.

  "2017" by Wildlife

From the mouth of Dean Povinksy:

"2017" is a desperate song. It's about a very common feeling our friends and others we know seem to be experiencing right now. We collaborated with one of our favorite artists, Anne Douris (Bossie, Stella Ella Ola) to lay a visual backdrop that juxtaposes the song's initially lighthearted sound with the inevitable crush of the question "why"? Why are we moving so rapidly toward such a hyper individualized bunch when we are meant to be more connected than ever? Why do we have all these addictions to what is ultimately such a meaningless, on-screen world, when we know that the way to thrive is to connect in the ways that have served us so well for so long: By locking eyes and holding on for dear life, making new connections and finding meaning in the real. The throwback images of large NYE celebrations-of-old up against the actual lyrics of 2017 create the perfect vibration between the lust after immediacy and the human longing to connect in real time.

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Taste of Brooklyn (Part 2)

Only three days in Brooklyn, eh. That's simply not enough time. So, I went back. This time I spent three and a half days there! But with no wedding to attend, I was able to get in even more of good vegan eating. Here is a snippet of what I was eating and drink when I wasn't eating bagels.

Chickpea & Olive |  Smorgasburg, East River Park

I crawled out of bed our first day in Brooklyn feeling just a wee bit hungover. Thanks to some shenanigans caused by the federal government in conjunction with a rogue hurricane, my evening flight had morphed into a redeye with a 3 a.m. arrival. My only eats for the past twelve hours had been the free goodies that the airport crew passed out in order to appease their angry clientele. I needed some real food and I needed it now. Thankfully it was Saturday and that meant that Smorgasburg was raging over in East River Park. Chickpea & Olive here I come. Smorgasburg can best be described as a culinary free-for-all crammed into a space about the size of church parking lot. On the Saturday we visited, Smorgasburg was extremely crowded. Had it been just J-Fur and I, I probably wouldn't have been aware of all the people around me, but Z-Bot was along divaing it up in her giant jogging stroller. I steered that monstrosity (magnificently I must say) through throngs of bearded hipsters that always seemed to be going the opposite direction of me. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

Eventually we found our way to Chickpea & Olive. This vegan eatery is famous, at least on Yelp, for its beet burgers. I halfheartedly looked at the menu but really I had known what I was going to order since the day I left Brooklyn two months earlier. It was the beet burger melt with avocado or bust for me. The burger was served on thick toasted bread and sliced in half. I walked with it for a bit looking for some open space to relax and enjoy it. Talk about food porn. People walking by kept eyeing my burger and commenting on how amazing it looks. I'm pretty sure I heard a few catcalls as well.

When I finally found that coveted open space, I dropped everything and took a bite. I don't say this lightly: that was the most flavorful veggie burger I've ever had. The beet burger, vegan cheese and avocado all melded together into a blissful bevy of flavors and textures that held together bite after bite. The thick, toasted bread offered a salty, crispy backdrop of support for the burger to rest its magical head. Some people might balk at the price (13 dollars with avocado added). To those people I'd say, stop treating this burger like your typical veggie burger and start treating it like the hand crafted piece of art it is. You'll quickly realize 13 dollars is a steal.

Georgetown Cupcakes | 111 Mercer Street New York, New York

When my cousin suggested we pay a visit to Georgetown Cupcakes I have to admit, I was quite hesitant. My other vegan cupcake experience in New York, at famed Babycakes, had not gone over so well and I didn't want to waste precious calories on lackluster vegan desserts. When she told me that the place had been featured on some famous food television show and that they have a cupcake camera where you can sit at your computer and watch people make cupcakes all day, my desire to visit dropped even more. Can you say gimmick? But J-Fur and Z-Bot were interested and my cousin espoused their cupcake virtues to no end so I decided to part with some of my precious calories and give their vegan cupcake a go.

The one vegan option that was being sold on the day we visited was apple cinnamon. I could handle that. I'm all about fruit desserts. The cupcake was not overly sweet and moist. Just that in itself made it a better experience than Babycakes. But the pleasure was only beginning. The apple cinnamon cake was topped with an incredible icing that was really creamy. Best of all, this creaminess was not created by fake butter (or at least it had no fake butter taste). A fantastic vegan cake! I hate to admit it but ever since I ate that cupcake, I've been unable to go more than 12 hours without checking in on the cupcake cam. Sometimes I even find myself loosening...nevermind.

The Pulp & The Bean | 809 Franklin Avenue Brooklyn

I had four goals during this visit to Brooklyn. The first one was eat a beet burger from Chickpea & Olive. The second was to get a donut sundae at Dun-well Donuts. Once those two were out of the way, I set my sights on finding some Brooklyn Kombucha on tap. If there is one thing Tampa has going for it right now it is kombucha. I wanted to compare the two cities, see if they were as far apart as I imagined. I conducted an online search for kombucha on tap and the closest one to where we were staying was The Pulp & The Bean, a coffee shop in Crown Heights. Unfortunately the kombucha was all out. I wasn't really in the mood for a latte but Yelpers had kept talking about the soy rose latte, so I got one iced. I wasn't blown away by it. For one, it wasn't sweet enough for me. When I drink coffee, I like it to be sweet. The cool thing was that the latte wasn't overly expensive. I think I even paid less for it than some of the ones I get in Tampa. One thing worth noting about the Pulp & the Bean is their excellent customer service. I loved that even though they were four customers deep the barista ran thru my entire order to make sure she got it right.

Hungry Ghost | 253 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

I achieved goal number three by walking about a mile and a half to Hungry Ghost. The only reason the walk matters is that by the time I arrived, I had to piss really bad and there isn't a space for this at Hungry Ghost. I ordered my kombucha, grape is what they had on tap, and I drank it way too fast. It went down smooth, it was unique (not a flavor I had in Tampa before). It didn't strike me as being any better or worse than Mother Kombucha here in St. Petersburg. That's a good thing (both for Brooklyn Kombucha and Mother Kombucha). After chugging, I went across the street to Starbucks and waited in a long line to use their restroom. Best I could tell is that none of the other coffee shops in the area, and there were a lot, had a bathroom either. That's the only reason I could see so many people in Starbucks when there were a lot of other options around.

00 + Co | 65 2nd Avenue, New York

My final goal this trip was to pay a visit to 00 + Co. I mean there just isn't anything creative going on with vegan pizza in Tampa. If they have any it is simply some fake cheese thrown over their normal crust and sauce. At 00 + Co, vegan is at the center of everything they do. I convinced a large group of friends to join me here so we shared three different pizzas. There was a smoked carrot pizza topped with crimini mushrooms, shaved fennel and parsley-mint pesto. I loved the cheese and balance of flavors on this pie. We also ordered the confit and tomato arugula pie. This one didn't quite have the pizzaz of the carrot pizza. It left me wanting more. The farro sausage pizza was also really good, with a nice spiciness to it. The dough at 00 + Co was incredible. It was charred and chewy. The table also got an order of zucchini noodles and farro. This was my favorite dish of the night. I thought the farro sausage performed really well when placed on top of zucchini. 00 + Co is definitely not cheap. It is the kind of place that vegans can go when they want to splurge and have a nice romantic evening. That being said, I recognize the time and effort required to make vegan cheese so I can fault them for pricing their pies a bit high.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Click (Music): Donuts, Gryffin, Stranger Things, and Where Eagles Dare

Fresh off another trip to Dun-Well Doughnuts in Brooklyn, I've got vegan donuts on the brain. I apologize in advance for any fried dough references which may be forthcoming.

"All I Need" by Cape Cub

One of the "sweetest treats on the high streets" is the spongy, sugary, UK yum yum. Seeing as this doughy dessert calls the same nation home as Cape Cub (aka Chad Male), it would be easy to assume that his new single, "All I Need," is about his affinity for a nice warm yum yum. I've written, what I think are, the lyrics over and over in my journal. I've read them from the perspective of a relationship and a love of yum yums. I'm not convinced one way or the other. Even the press release which has a quote from Chad saying that "All I Need" is about "saying 'things don't feel too good right now, I don't even know what's going on, but without you it'd be so much worse'" does nothing but heighten my confusion. Lover of human? Lover of doughy desserts? I guess you'll just have to decide.

"Where Eagles Dare" by Greta Morgan & Katy Goodman (the Misfits Cover)

Glen Danzing, the man who originally wrote "Where Eagles Dare" showed up in an episode of Portlandia last year. He said, about the experience, that show writers Fred (Armisen) and Carrie (Brownstein) along with the rest of their crew give him a third reason to visit Portland. The first two? Voodoo Doughnut and Powell's bookstore. In their new cover of the Misfits single, Greta Morgan (of Springtime Carnivore) and Katy Goodman (of La Sera) tone down the raw aggressiveness of the original and up the sugary harmonizing. Their version is, as the press release suggests, a full circle return to the girl group and '50s rock & roll sound that initially inspired Danzig while he was penning the track.

"Whole Heart" by Gryffin featuring Bipolar Sunshine

Aside from being a fabulous dance track, "Whole Heart" has actually performed quite a service for society. Before hearing the song I was a somewhat reluctant organ donor. I was totally cool with passing on my lungs, liver, kidneys and even my stomach. When it came to the heart, I was cool giving up my aorta, left ventricle and left atrium but I insisted on holding on to the right ventricle and atrium (I considered them my "lucky" heart parts). But hearing Bipolar Sunshine say over and over "you've got to got to got to go whole heart" convinced me that I was being selfish holding on to my "lucky" heart parts. So how exactly can this be labelled "quite a service for society?" Well, considering I have heard from upwards of a hundred people who have said they "want a piece of me" I've now fully committed to their having just that.

"Eternity" by Communions

It has been a bunch of Stranger Things this and Stranger Things that this week as all my co-workers seem to be going down that path. I hear there are trapper keepers in the show as well as many other fabulous things that made the 80's such a sh***y time. You know what the 80's needed? "Eternity" by Communions. I mean these guys know how to summon the hypothetical 80's pop monster, collar it  and tame it into ET like obedience. How much better would the 80's have been had these guys dropped this track then? Of course, that would mean 2016 would be a lot less nostalgic. I'm not sure I'm willing to trade one for the other. My lingering thought with this track is the line, "I wonder why eternity won't end, here we go again." Replace eternity with the 80's or donuts or the long term effects of lyme disease, it doesn't really matter. The power of constant questioning remains the same. That's when you know you've penned a stellar line.

As a bit of a side note, I'd love for Communions to teach a class on lyric writing to Judah & the Lion. Man, I just feel like that mandolin and banjo are completely wasted because of their do-nothing-for-me lyrics.

"Somebody Else" by Verite (the 1975 cover)

On my last visit to Dun-well Donuts, I ordered a blueberry donut sundae. The vegan ice cream choices were strawberry and peanut butter. The lady checking me out said that a combination of the two would be like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She suggested I go that route. I thought about what she recommended, briefly, and then decided to do my own thing. In short, I let Dun-well and 3 Little Birds (the ice cream maker) do most of the work, but then I put my own twist on the final product. This is very similar to how Verite approaches cover songs. While overall she is not "too keen" on covering songs, every once in a while "things just fall into place" and a cover song happens. With her version of "Somebody Else" by the 1975, Verite tried to embrace the aesthetic (it is simple and relatable) and effective writing of the original. She then took it into her world and reinterpreted it a bit.

"Last Call" by Louis Vivet featuring Mister Blonde

Louis Vivet is a new member of the Liftoff family, a label run by the Disco Fries. Consider him the tiny baby. Only this tiny baby doesn't have to go through the same learning process as everyone else. Nope, the Louis Vivet version of a tiny baby can already make a fabulous dance track. That's something that my toddler still can't do. "Last Call" may not have much in common with J. Dilla, I have to admit that when I hear it, especially in a donut frame of mind, I can't help but think about this.


"333" by Against Me!

Natasha, is that you? It took me until halfway through "333" for me to realize that the reason the actress looked so familiar is because it is Natasha Lyonne from Orange is the New Black. I'd have to say she's a pretty good pick when it comes to illuminating the push/pull relationship between repression and free sexuality. I mean isn't that what her character on OITNB deals with a large portion of the time?

"It's Just Us Now" by Sleigh Bells 

"It's Just Us Now" is almost like two songs in one. You've got the Sleigh Bells of old putting their mark all over the verses, I'm talking combining sonic elements, pushing sounds to and past their limits until they sound like an aural chainsaw. Then there is the new Sleigh Bells, the one that has stopped and started the writing of their new album, Jessica Rabbit, over and over during the last three years as they have tried to push free of the box that their previous releases have put them in. Jessica Rabbit found the band trying out new instrumentation and time signatures, swapping guitars for a synth pad, and even inviting in an outsider (Mike Elizondo who has worked with Dr. Dre and Fiona Apple among others) for the first time. The new Sleigh Bells features melodies that zig-zag in different directions, sort of like playing a game of flirtatious tag with those sonic elements. Both song and album are beautiful, ever-modulated, exercises in controlled chaos.

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Food Pairing 101: What Goes Well with the New Single From Hazel English?

"I'm Fine" is a beautifully blurry indie-pop track powered by transcendent melodies and caked in layers of Californian sunshine and redolent reverb.
-Hazel English Press Release

Did someone say cake? No? I swear I heard someone mention cake. Right now, while I was just sitting here listening to the new Hazel English single, "I'm Fine." "I'm Fine," like most of Hazel English's tracks, can best be described as sun drenched indie pop with a little bit of lo-fi on the side. Listening to her, I'm reminded a lot of Day Wave. The 25-year-old Oakland-based artist recently announced her debut 12-inch vinyl EP, Never Going Home, on House Anxiety/Marathon Artists. You'll be able to get your hands on it October 7th.

I'd pair this stunning track with some sort of sunshiney vegan cake. This vegan lemon sunshine layer cake seems like it would do just the trick.