Sunday, April 30, 2017

Click (Music): Quinoa Bowls, Cathedrals, Scrambled Eggs and a Heavenbound Mt. Wolf

"Heavenbound" by Mt. Wolf

Maybe it was the vanilla coffee I was heavily under the influence of but I swear I saw Jesus in my red quinoa this week. I tried to grab the nearest person for confirmation. Unfortunately, that happened to be a priest, and things got way too convoluted between my mouth and his ears. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Jesus chose to show his face in the dark, rounded Peruvian grain that became a staple of my many varied vegan bowls this past hebdomad. I mean, I was doing a lot of soul searching, reflecting and meditating and most of the time there were some pseduocereals involved. Speaking of pseudocereals, Jesus and meditation, have you checked out "Heavenbound" by Mt. Wolf yet? This anthemic little single feels a bit like the National in terms of its melodic songcraft. Add in the sky-scraping atmospherics that have become sort of a Mt. Wolf trademark and you've got the type of thought-provoking single that men have hummed while walking through amaranth fields for centuries.

"Link in Bio" by Diet Cig

I'm in the store getting some avocados and broccoli, because what is a quinoa bowl without those two ingredients, and I see some old guy checking out. He's talking to the lady at the cash register. Well, probably it would be more accurate to say he was talking at her. Somewhere in the midst of his conversation he suggested that the lady should smile more because life isn't that awful. After that suggestion, I couldn't help but think about "Link in the Bio" by Diet Cig.

As Alex Luciano notes, "'Link In Bio' unpacks this idea that women + femmes should be any specific way and says uh NO. It's an extra special fuck you to the notion of a 'chill girl' that I swear was created by cis men to make women + femmes feel bad about voicing their feelings. It's me screaming that it's okay to be loud and bossy and sensitive and kind and weird and angry and ecstatic and literally any other emotion that you feel because YOU ARE A RADIANT AND NUANCED HUMAN BEING WHO IS GOING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD

Old man...if that lady behind the cash register wants to be pissed off because life recently took a shit on her, then she has that right. You don't get to decide how she should or should not feel.

"Man Up" by Everywhere featuring Rebecca Nohr

Along the same lines as Diet Cig and the old guy in the grocery store, "Man Up" by Everywhere explores themes of unfulfilled expectations, dominant partners and living up to an old fashioned idea of what it means to be a man.

I've done some being a man exploration this week, thanks in large part to a series of radio spots by a frozen cheesesteak company that I heard way too often. From these ads I discovered that "manning up" absolutely cannot take place on a vegan diet. Real men eat frozen cheesesteaks! Terrified that I wasn't a real man, I decided to enroll at The Real Man Institute hoping that I could be cured of my lack of manliness. The institutes gauge whether you have been cured of your non manliness is sort of rorschach test involving Everywhere's "Man Up." They play the line from the song,"You gotta man up, or I will eat you whole" and then ask you what you are thinking about. The first few times I told the institute's technician that it was avocados I was thinking about. He sighed and sent me back in for more "treatment." Finally I got wise and told him cheesesteak. I was thinking about cheesesteak. He gave me rubber stamp and an "I am a real man" sticker and sent me on my way.

In GQ terms (is that manly enough for ya?), "Man Up" is dressed in an electro-pop suit, sports funky basslines, analog synths, and features an appearance by Swedish singer/songwriter Rebecca Nohr. "Man Up" could be a part of Everywhere's album that they are currently working on. There is nothing set in stone yet but they hope to have it out this fall.

 "Try to Fight" by Cathedrals

If the previous tracks were the veggies and quinoa in the bowl, "Try to Fight" by Cathedrals is the sauce that ties it all together. You want it sweet? Salty? A combination of the two? You want it hot? Spicy? Somewhere in the middle of it all? Those are the questions that "Try to Fight" sets out to answer. I interpreted "Try to Fight" as a vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter and sweet chili paste combo. But, as the scorpion and the frog always say, you do you.


"Heavenbound" by Mt. Wolf

The official music video for "Heavenbound" captures the essence of a man’s final minutes, projecting the sense that love will always be so much stronger than hate.

"Losing It. Finding It." by Empty Lungs

The video for "Losing It. Finding It." by Belfast's Empty Lungs is a sort of tour diary, filmed when the band was touring down the east coast last year on their way to FEST. Yes, that fest. The one in Gainesville. The band even played the pre-fest show that takes place in Ybor. Yes, that Ybor. The one right down the road. Why wasn't I there? Um, I stayed home to rinse my pseduocereals. In hopes that it makes me a little less lamer, I've regretted not going to New World Brewery every day since I've seen this video.

"After the Party" by The Menzingers

"After the Party" brought all those memories of brushing my teeth with my fingers outside of the Dairy Queen, laundromat fights, karate battling the ATM and dining and dashing back full force. It also reminded me that, after the party, it is just me and you (and a big bowl of quinoa, veggies and sauce). A sobering reality unless you like the one your with.

"Skin" by Rag'N'Bone Man

I usually avoid videos that have upward of 8 million views but sometimes there is power in numbers. It feels good to fight alongside 8 million of my friends for once.

"Scrambled Egg" by Eat Fast

I'm pretty sure I've made this video a thousand times before. The only difference is my eggs are usually called "egg like product." Egg like product really goes well with quinoa and veggies.

"If U C My Enemies" by Rubblebucket

The story behind the video for "If U C My Enemies" is that there is this kitchy haunted horror cabin where people go and just hang out on their cellphones. No chatting, just texting. A gender ambiguous fashion witch comes on the scene and takes the cabin crew hostage. This villain teaches her/his victims how to love and be present with each other (bloodily killing them is so 2010).

Get All of 2017's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Where We Eat: Retrobaked

Are you serious right now? These cupcakes are vegan AND gluten free? How do they taste so good? 

That's pretty much the conversation that bounced around my head as I sat on Retrobaked's cute front porch a few weeks back and ate my cupcake. As a vegan, I feel that most of the time it isn't possible to eat gluten free. I mean limiting yourself to one or the other (vegan or gluten free) can make it difficult to eat tasty food. Doing both? Nearly impossible. But somehow Retrobaked has managed to do just that.

Retrobaked is not the kind of place you can just show up and buy from their shelves. Most of the time you have to order ahead. But on the first Friday of the month they are part of the Bradenton First Friday Art Walk. During this event they open their doors from 6-9:30 (PM) and you have free reign to buy whatever they are selling (which they do a good job of promoting on Facebook in the days leading up to the show).

April's art walk featured Retrobaked's vegan and gluten free version of a chocolate chip sandwich cookie, oatmeal cream pies, brownies and four or five different cupcake flavors. I purchased a key lime cupcake for me and a peanut butter and chocolate one for my daughter. I then took a sandwich cookie and oatmeal cream pie to go (they were already wrapped making them the logical eat later snack).

Key Lime and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Those cupcakes, whoa, best vegan cupcakes I've had in a long time (maybe ever). The cake was moist. I really couldn't tell that it was vegan or gluten free. The icing was perfectly creamy without being too sugary. I loved the hint of lime taste and the gingersnap crust in the key lime cupcake. My feelings about the peanut butter and chocolate cupcake...pretty much the same. Not too sugary, perfectly creamy and dreamy and moist.

As far as the to go items, um, not as much as a fan. For both the cream pie and cookie, again I could not tell they were vegan or gluten free. But both of them were just a little bit too sweet for my liking. I think it was the icing. They were good, but not the image of perfection that their cupcake brethren were.

Will I be back to Retrobaked? Hell yeah! Will I special order a cake? Got my birthday order ready to go. Worth the drive from Tampa on the first Friday of the month? Yep. Will I order anything other than cupcakes? My calories for sweets are limited, I gotta stick to what's best.

The drive to Bradenton was fueled by the new (or is it old?) the Dirty Nil LP called Minimum R&B. Minimum R&B, which is due out next Friday, features eleven tracks from the Dirty Nil's back catalogue. It includes such "hits" as "Little Baby Metal Fist", "Cinnamon" and "Nicotine." Also included from the back catalogue is "Guided by Vices," one of my favorite Dirty Nil songs (before I met Higher Power). One new track, "Caroline", is also included on Minimum R&B. You can check that one out below:

Pre-order the album here (if you live in the US) or here (if you live elsewhere).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Listen: Eddy Faulkner, Sigrid and Work Drugs

Making up a batch of barbacoa cauliflower and need a soundtrack? Try these three singles on for size:

I don't know if Eddy Faulkner is a barbacoa type guy. Based on his Instagram pictures I can confirm the following things about Eddy and his eating life: Eddy can cook (and I'd assume eat) macaroni like a pro, he pairs his pasta with asparagus and he is working on some kind of Lean Cuisine sponsorship deal. But lyrically Eddy's new single "Cruel" is barbacoa through and through. First and foremost, Eddy consistently drops the line "why you gotta be so cruel" throughout the track. One could easily sing this same chorus about the heat that barbacoa cauliflower packs into it's innocent little self. It doesn't look hot, it doesn't smell hot but hot damn if it doesn't taste hot. Even more cruel is burning through a flatbread or two and then trying to go for a run. You sir, will definitely regret that one. Next up is the "kept me hooked on this feeling so long" portion of the song. Maybe it is the combination of vinegar and lime, maybe it is the melding of cumin and cloves, whatever it is, there is something strangely alluring about barbacoa that keeps you coming back for more. Alluring enough that it will keep bringing you back long after the flatbread is gone and the only thing remotely close that is left in the house is Ritz crackers. Finally, there's the "are you sure you can handle what's inside." I mean, if barbacoa could talk, isn't that exactly what it would say? Especially when it comes with beef lips...

Sigrid is a 20-year old Norwegian artist. She was inspired to write "Don't Kill My Vibe" after she was put in a difficult writing session. According to her, the song can be interpreted in several ways, “it may be a message to your cat, telling her that she's not the master of the universe or maybe it's just a really long DM saying you're SO done with someone barbacoa not made from cauliflower.”

Work Drugs first release of 2017, "Giving Up The Feeling", is a slow macerating smooth-fi gem. It is the musical equivalent of throwing a bunch of finely ground cauliflower into a tub of Mexican spices and letting it simmer on low all night (or day). Don't just take my word for it, type the chorus into the new Google Cook app and it spits out the following:

i've fallen for your brown eyes (eyes the color of barbacoa)
give up, please don't try to disguise (interesting, cauliflower disguised as meat, I'll give it a go)
miss you, i'm gonna take the long way (macerating overnight for six hours on low, definitely the long way)
i'm gonna let you go but takes time when you're lonely (lonely? just make a pair of tacos, that cures all loneliness).

Cook: Barbacoa Cauliflower

Things got a bit cheeky in the world of barbacoa this week. 

Courtney Aguilar was visiting El Rincon, a Mexican restaurant in Pflugerville,Texas, when she decided to get an order of their barbacoa. During her consumption of the barbecued meat that typically comes from the cheek or jaw of a cow she came across what she thought was teeth. She called her waitress over and the waitress, jokingly I hope, suggested that they weren't just any old teeth. What Ms. Aguilar found in her meat was a collection of "baby teeth."

After what I imagine could only have been an absolutely disgusting back and forth between the vendor who delivers El Rincon's barbacoa, the restaurant, and Ms. Aguilar, it was discovered that those weren't teeth that had made their way into the barbacoa but beef lips. Rest assured, everyone, beef lips are a "USDA-inspected product for human consumption.

Um, no thanks. I'll just save myself the hassle of finding baby teeth/beef lips/cow cheeks in my meal by making it all about cauliflower. To make it: baste a head and a half of browned cauliflower in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, garlic, cumin, oregano, salt, cloves, veggie broth, lime juice and chipotles in adobo sauce. Simmer it on low in a crockpot for about six hours. Serve it on flatbread topped with lettuce, sliced avocado and salsa. If you want to give your vegan dish the El Rincon treatment, this site has a fabulous suggestion.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Food Flavored Song: Scrambled Egg by Eat Fast

Fun Fact: Back in 1992, while Ed Boon and John Tobias of Midway Games were dreaming up Mortal Kombat, a small town boy in East Bloserville, Pennsylvania was also doing some video game dreaming. He had devised what he thought was a brilliant game idea. The game featured two Turritopsis dohrnii (aka immortal jellyfish) squaring off in battle. The winner continued on to face other Turritopsis dohrnii, the loser was scrambled like eggs and placed on the plate of one of the jellyfish's natural predators. Dubbed Immortal Kombat, the game was pitched over forty times to different gaming companies. Not a single one was interested. 

With the release of their upcoming EP, also called Immortal Kombat, Eat Fast has become a footnote in this little known story. Ironically enough, the band's first single from Immortal Kombat, is the razor like "Scrambled Egg." The track continues to travel along in the footsteps of prior Eat Fast tracks (Sand Drone, Byker Drone, Public Display of Affection, Fenham Dreadlock and Stammer) in that the lyrics are sharp, the guitars are scuzzy and the wall of noise is simultaneously engaging and scary as hell. It is here, in that wall of sound, that "Scrambled Egg" diverges from Eat Fast tracks of the past. Unlike those singles that have come before, "Scrambled Egg" seems perfectly willing to show a side of Eat Fast that is sensitive and, gasp, poppy. It doesn't hang around too long. It's the type of poppy sensitivity that could be missed if you were to concentrate too long on blowing a bubble with that huge ass piece of gum in your mouth, but it is there.

"Scrambled Egg" offers a nice little gateway into the world of Immortal Kombat. The album finds Eat Fast in their "leanest and most succinct form" yet. The six tracks on the EP are bound together with squirmy guitars, thunderous drumming, and taut vocals that document the "limitations of self-love; the pathology of loneliness in the modern world and the intrinsic need" to connect with others. Immortal Kombat also deals with death, mortality and approaching love under the guise of both.

You can catch Eat Fast's new EP on Cannibal Hymns, after its release on May 19th.

Click (Music): Barbacoa Cauliflower, PSSY PWR, Cold War Kids and Black Honey

"Rodeo" by Pssy Pwr

I'm standing around for forty-five minutes just waiting to gain entrance to my local five and ten. I think, when I finally get a seat, that I'm going with the norm, a bowl of vegan lentil soup. Across the way I see an absolutely gorgeous lady eating a double shot of tacos. I approach her and inquire about what she is currently placing onto her tongue. She smiles and says "Barbacoa cauliflower tacos." My mind is spinning a million miles an hour when she adds, "These will make a man scream hallelujah!" I took out my journal and jotted down the following list:

Things that will make a man scream hallelujah (in no particular order):
2. Barbacoa Cauliflower Tacos
3. Rodeos

"I Still Wait For You" by Xylo

Graffiti written on the wall in charcoal at our local barbacoa joint: "Every second feels like forever, where the fu** you been? Are you listening?" I get that same feeling every time I think about those cauliflower tacos. Where the fu** you been all my life?

On another note, I challenge you to find some who that utters the word fuck in a sweeter way than Paige Duddy. I could listen to her say that word for multiple hours a day.


"Somebody Better" by Black Honey

If only all of our journey's to be better could sound so splendid.


"I Got You" by Bebe Rexha (White Panda Remix)

I got you...a barbacoa panda.

I don't even know.


"Biggest Fan" by Will Joseph Cook

Absence, and falling oranges, make the heart grow fonder.

"Your Love" by Haerts

There's some fire, a man running and a couple nude bodies. Other than that, I have no idea what I'm looking at. Thankfully the audio is so much clearer. Welcome back Haerts.

"So Tied Up (Los Feliz Blvd)" by Cold War Kids featuring Bishop Briggs

In my humble opinion, Cold War Kids are like chipotles in adobo sauce right now.

"Mother" by Idles

Well played Idles. Well played.

 Get All of 2017's Click Tracks (when available) in One Spotify Playlist:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Listen: Brothy Sounds from Caged Animals, Knifey and LAIKIPIA

Savory mushroom and sesame oats taste a whole helluvalot better with:

While some may mistake the Caged Animals' track "These Dark Times" as being about mushrooms or possibly broth soaked oats (I've seen both suggested on Facebook), the reality is so much more emotional and necessary. "These Dark Times" is the band's response to the police murder of Philando Castile. Here is their explanation about it:

Philando’s death hit me hard. It drove home, in a very personal way, what it means to live in America with white privilege. Here was a guy my age, gunned down in front of his partner and child, during what should’ve been a normal traffic stop. A working-class American who was playing by the rules, serving his community, and bleeding out on cellphone screens across the world.

Witnessing the viral Facebook video of his bloody final breaths, I couldn’t help but notice the disparity between his reality and mine. Under no circumstance could I picture an outcome like this if I were the one being pulled over. Philando’s crime: an alleged cracked tail-light. Philando’s fate: an unholy death in front of the whole world. To make this even starker, I spent the majority of 2015/2016 driving around NYC with my wife and daughter in a car with a broken tail-light. I was never once pulled over.

In the days following Mr. Castile’s death I was moved and inspired by the outpouring of support from the community he had served. I began writing.

What I came up with is a meditation on what it means to desire something more for yourself, to push past your prescribed boundaries, and remain hopeful in the face of overwhelming obstacles. I channeled Philando for the lyric “I want to make it out alive from my hometown.”

In some ways I thought this song didn't deserve to be heard. Maybe my voice wasn’t the right one to give these emotions expression. I sat on it for a few months and searched my heart. After the result’s of our presidential election I even thought about quitting music all together. “In times as disturbing as these,” I thought, “what good am I offering the world with music?”

Thankfully a turning point came in my way of thinking. Instead of defeatism I became filled with a sense of urgency. This new motivation has given me the inspiration to carry on and a renewed confidence in creating music.

Attending The Women’s March with my wife and two-year old daughter reinforced this new outlook. I began to believe more and more that we must remain engaged with a political struggle while also channeling our hearts and minds toward a cultural one. I got straight to work recording my new song.

Throughout history, artists have been tasked with the responsibility of holding a mirror to society but they have also been given the privilege to shape it. We each need to use this opportunity now, more than ever, to engage emotionally with other people. To change hearts while we change minds. In that spirit, and in my small way, I hope to contribute to this turning of the tides.

Here is a song called "These Dark Times." It is delivered with hope that we will transcend this moment and it is dedicated to the memory of Philando Castile, his family members, and the millions of Americans shouting “Not My President!”

Thanks to my partner Magali Charron for providing the excellent photograph from the NYC Women’s March that graces the single’s front cover.

"Tanlines" by Knifey is a track designed to cut through the bleak twilight of winter and reminisce about better, warmer and more naked - times. The song has a desperate energy that stretches out its frozen fingers towards the not-too-distant memory of a lover’s touch made soft by seawater and tropical air. It is the type of fanboy fantasy material perfect for late night trips on decrepit (or even super well maintained) streetcars.

Like LAIKIPIA, I'm a dreamer. Mushrooms, oats and veggie broth were born out of a fifteen minute late night doze session. LAIKIPIA's version of dreaming takes the form captivating soundscapes and extremely hopeful lyrics. "Hello Dreamer" encourages listeners to embrace the dreamer in them and take the next step to do, well, whatever you are dreaming about. The song is, according to Taylor Harrison and Xander Rawlins the duo behind LAIKIPIA, about waking up, self-reflecting, renouncing hesitation and putting ambition into action.