Hanif Abdurraqib-They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us

Hanif Abdurraqib is one of the most unique voices in modern journalism and poetry.  His 2016 poetry collection The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was a standout last year, and his often calm delivery of poetry is hypnotic.  Like Crown, this essay collection They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us is a beautiful meditation on pop culture, race, personal history, and the places where those conversations meet.   Abdurraqib sculpts his prose in a conversationally engaging but also comforting tone. Continue reading

The Truffleist-Bryant Park,NY

 

Continuing our exploration of Bryant Park’s Winter Village.

Cheesesteaks are a reliable food.  They’re easy to do fine, but they’re difficult to make more interesting or better than they typically are.  Also, most people are sure to be more dismissive of cheesesteaks from outside of Philadelphia.  There’s no real reason for this, because you can get a solid cheesesteak pretty much anywhere.  Most are passable.  That being said, the truffle cheesesteak from Cheesesteaks by The Truffleist are excellent and a must-have from Bryant Park’s winter village. Continue reading

Happy Death Day (Dir. Christopher B. Landon)

I can’t say Happy Death Day is particularly frightening, nor is it particularly funny. The plot twist is pretty contrived, it gets frustratingly repetitive and there are moments that just don’t make sense even within its own fantasy universe. So why did I enjoy this so much? This is a case in which so many of the moving parts are messy and dysfunctional but they inexplicably come together as a cohesive whole. It’s like being on one of those giant carnival slides over and over again, or watching a fidget spinner. Continue reading

Doughnuttery-Bryant Park, NY

Doughnuts-dougnuttery-nyc

Who doesn’t love a good doughnut?  Generally, doughnuts are a failsafe food.  Whether you’re grabbing a quick glazed donut from Dunkin’ Donuts or a vegan, apple, chocolate frosted with candy corn doughnut from your latest hipster coffee shop, you’re probably going to be satisfied.  Still, there’s a fine line between satisfied and happy.  That glazed from Dunkin’ is probably going to satiate, but that franken-doughnut sounds pretty damn good.  I was totally satisfied with my six mini-donuts from Doughnuttery, but I wouldn’t say I was really happy. Continue reading

Jetty Bones-Old Women

I hate to make the easy comparison, but this sounds like early Paramore in the best possible way.  The band’s sole consistent member and frontwoman Kelc Galluzzo commands a stage and has a voice that rivals Hayley Williams’.  While 2017 has been a great year for female-fronted bands, most tend to lean towards a punkier or more emo sound, and Jetty Bones are unafraid to embrace a sense of mid-2000’s pop-punk.  The pop embrace is in full effect on the band’s second EP, Old Women. Continue reading

Slaughter Beach, Dog-Birdie

It’s not really shocking to find that Jake Ewald is a massive fan of the Mountain Goats and The Weakerthans.  His Modern Baseball songs were always incredibly descriptive and made mundane events seem much more fascinating with his lyrics.  It’s unsurprising that his second album from his Slaughter Beach, Dog outfit bares a strong resemblance to The Weakerthans’ John K. Samson’s recent solo effort.  Birdie is also much more of a jangle-pop effort than even last year’s WelcomeBirdie seems to be truer to Ewald’s life than the first Slaughter Beach, Dog album in a too sweet for its own good way. Continue reading

Julien Baker-Turn Out the Lights

There aren’t that many artists that can kick you in the shins emotionally quite the same way that Julien Baker does on her sophomore album Turn Out the Lights.  That is to say that these are songs that can make you cry the first time you hear them.  If you’re having a tough time in this thing called life, bring a box of tissues to your drunk/hungover/lonesome listening party of this album.  From the door creak that opens the album to the final fading notes on the piano, Baker will take you through pain, numbness, uplift, and catharsis. Continue reading

The Front Bottoms-Going Grey

The Front Bottoms were at one time leading figures in the emo-revival.  A weird pop-punk band from New Jersey that let indie rock and folk influences bleed through.  They had lyrics that masked emotion through humor and wits.  Also, they were huge.  They could book their own festival at New York’s Webster Hall with their friends and favorite bands and sell it out.  They toured with emo-vets Brand New on numerous occasions and wrote one of the decades’ best songs about life on the roadBack On Top was a major creative leap for the band, adding much more electric instrumentation than before, and it paid off.  The best songs off Back On Top could square off with any number of songs from their self-titled album or Talon of Hawk.  Unfortunately, Going Grey shows them doing just that: greying into a mediocre band. Continue reading

Go Ahead and Walk Away: Modern Baseball-Union Transfer, PA 10/14/17

Even though Modern Baseball made a name for themselves with raw, uncomfortably honest, yet catchy pop-punk, they’ve always been goofy guys.  Watch any interview the quartet provides with each other, and they’re always messing around.  This screw-around attitude does not draw a line in their interviews.  They’ve never been shy about messing around onstage and cracking jokes.  Despite some dark times and no-bullshit relatable lyrics, it’s no surprise that the band’s penultimate “last show for the foreseeable future” show at Union Transfer on October 13 was not some gut-wrenching sobfest.  It was a night of strong emotional performances and a good handful of laughs to be had. Continue reading