Author Archive for Bear Witness


Records of the Year

Letters Letters : S/T

The first track on Letters Letters debut self-titled album starts of sounding like they decided to jack the beat from Spank Rocks ‘What It Look Like’ slowed down to half-speed, mixed with that sound you get when you try to call a fax machine on a tin-can phone. Couple this with lyrics about ‘blow jobs on a park bench’ and getting those ‘bloody hands off of my dick’ and, sadly, you have my attention. Letters Letters is a trio from Montreal comprised of Mitchell Akiyama, Tony Boggs, and Jenna Robertson, all known for their own electronic music explorations. Montreal, I realize, is a heavy qualifier these days; I think that people may even pay attention based solely on side-lipped mutterings of the city’s name, however, this band has little to nothing in common with the big names from that scene (read: Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, etc.) There is one common denominator, though, and that is: pop! Letters Letters write beautiful, sleazy no-wave pop tunes drenched in gritty city soundscapes.

Kano: Cherry picked from the Mixtape and London Town

Kano. So much to say about Kano. So. . . I downloaded the Mixtape back in spring and I was like picking my jaw up of the car floor and that, hitting rewind, just straight shaking my head. I was saying to myself: this is the throw-aways!? This is the shit that wasn’t good enough for the album? No effin’ way! “And for all those sayin’ you doubt me/ can’t even hear what you’re saying about me/ Your on the street/ I’m on the beach/ When I’m on the street/ Your on your knees/ Saying ‘Kano I love your Music/When the next video/I love your new shit.” See, but it turns out the problem is that he probably needed to hear some of these people on the street. That tune on London Town with Craig David is a got damn embarrassment, along with the other 3/4 of the album. London Town is the sound of a top MC choking real hard. Only 3 solid tracks out of 11. This album was the letdown of the year for me, but luckily I had the Mixtape to fall back on, so I chucked out the weak Gorillaz tune and a number of others off that and fitted on the best tracks from London Town, as well as some past hits like P’s & Q’s and Typical Me. Anyway, I hope I can blame label shit on Kano’s proper album flop. It couldn’t have been the record he wanted to release. I’m going to go on believing that, hoping he’ll show and prove next go round. But despite all this, anyone want the hip-hop (grime) album of the year, hit me up and I’ll yousend that shit!

Japanther: Skuffed Up My Huffy

This is the standout Brooklyn band in my book. This album kicks, claws, and scratches from beginning to end. It’s just a relentless party album. Every track has a propulsive forward energy, and from what I’ve scene in pictures, they bring it in a live setting as well. Everything is over-processed and crunchy, there’s too many cut’n’paste samples to catalog, and someone is either living it to the fullest or getting killed some how from cut to cut. My only complaint about this album is that it is so short! These guys have a fairly large catalog, and just about everything I’ve checked is worthwhile.

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM: Sound of Silver

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM - The Majestic, Detroit

I guess you could say James Murphy is one of my pop culture heroes. For starters, he claims to have read Gravity’s Rainbow like 5 times. That in itself is an astounding feat. Additionally, it signifies a couple of things for me. First of all, it is a testament to perseverance to be able to read such a behemoth one time, and perseverance is, I think, a trademark of his success. I mean, the guy didn’t see any real success until he was in his thirties, long past prime when it comes to becoming a budding pop star. Second, it illustrates his sense of humor for me, a humor that I greatly relate to, and thus, when I listen to his bands songs, they are painted in a certain light that I find deftly humorous, ironic, absurd, tongue-in-cheek, undeniably self-conscious, and finally self-satisfied, and proud. LCD Soundsystem is a rarity in the music industry, making the music they absolutely want to make with no restrictions, and growing ever more popular in the process.

2B Continued


Chicken Wang for a Thousand

Chicken Wing

Originally uploaded by paperhouse79

My girlfriend and I decided to go out for a walk in the snow earlier today, and whilst we made our way beneath a dark, dank bridge, I stumbled over this chicken wing. It struck me as a profoundly odd place to find a whole, uneaten chicken wing. Presumably, this wing came from the BBQ joint down the road a mile or so, Sticky Lips, but you can never be too sure about where a chicken wing comes from these days. The thing that is curious to me about this particular wing is the way it is split at the skin there. Now, granted it is in the 20’s F or something cold like that, so the wing is frozen, but this is exactly where the questions begin. Was this a particularly moist and succulent wing that had been abandoned, and had the cold weather that set in here caused the moisture locked into the luscious meat (not debatable: chicken wing meat is in fact luscious) to freeze and expand like an ice cube? Or, on the other hand, had this wing been over-smoked (if we go with our presumption that it was from a BBQ joint), and thus, (and this could be the cause of its abandonment) left devoid of any moisture to speak of? Now, I know that there is some debate as to the degree to which a chicken wing should be cooked, and we’re talking strictly about the method used to cook them, not seasoning and so forth. The variations are endless, I’m sure. Now, some people like them to be fried to all hell–till the bone gets crispy, and you can snap right through it, like a pretzel; others, and I would count myself in this camp, like wings to be cooked till they’re real crispy on the outside, crispy enough to hold it’s own against that bath of, of . . . mmmmmm. . . butter and hot sauce, and all that mouthwatering goodness–but still have moist, tender chicken tidbits to suck off the bones once the armor-fried skin has been breached. This to me is the ideal; the perfect chicken wing, so long as they’re fat and meaty. But, before we continue, there is still yet another way that I have discovered that chicken wings can be prepared. A week or two ago (and this may contradict what I will write later on, I haven’t yet decided), I was at a bar in Philadelphia, Monk’s Cafe, where they served a baked chicken wing. I never had any this way before. I might as well come right out and say that I was not feeling it, but it was an interesting interpretation, none-the-less. For starters, they kept the drumstick and the actual wing intact. You can get them like that at chinese places, but those are outside of the realm of chicken wing for which we are talking here. Those tend to be bland and homogenous, a contradictory expression of all the chicken wing is capable of. I won’t dwell on it. In any case, this connected chicken wing was baked, and therefore, when it arrived it was actually, well, it was soggy. Sorry, but no. Belgians may know many things about beer, however, this expertise decidedly does not transfer to chicken wings. In addition to being soggy, it was pasted with this thick layer of hot sludge that sent pepper shrapnel all over the place as I snapped the drum from the wing. That’s right, I ate it, even though I didn’t particularly like it. Now, let us return to the chicken wing in question.

Oh, Chicken Wing.

I believe that this chicken wing had been smoked. If you look closely at it, (which I know is hard to do, but if you click on the picture you can make your way to a larger size,) you can distinguish a rather gritty aspect on parts of the wing. This is indicative of a ‘rub’ which is a standard seasoning technique in BBQ cuisine. Secondly,if you notice there is an almost, but not quite, charred feature around the edges of the wing, that is another hallmark of BBQ. I have eaten exceptionally delicious smoked chicken wings in the past. It has been awhile, though. But this is all neither here nor there. The real point that I wish to express is that his chicken wing saddens me. More than it should probably. In know it is just a chicken wing, but for real, shit used to be a chickens arm, and you can’t just toss an arm under a bridge without, at least, eating it. It’s unacceptable. Chicken, and beef, and pork, and many fish are such a commodity in our society these days that nobody considers where they come from, or how they were raised, what they were fed, or anything along those line, and the reality is that nobody really cares. Unfortunately for me I have started to think about these types of questions, the questions of where my food comes from, who is producing it, how the animals I enjoy eating are raised and fed. Honestly, it is a pain in the ass sometimes, but ultimately I think it is rewarding to really take into consideration where your nourishment is coming from. With so many things that are out of control, and how it’s often so easy to get lost or disillusioned, I find it reassuring to know that I can control what I put into my body. And it is here that I sadly announce that my chicken wing eating days are over. To know where 99% of the chicken we eat comes from, the conditions they are raised under, and antibiotic cocktails necessary to keep them alive–not to mention the horrific environment of the mass-produced slaughter house, it’s frankly vomit-inducing. All I can try to do is buy chicken from farms I can trust. You should, too. It is easier than you may think.

Oh, Chicken Wing.


July 2018
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