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Beats & Eats: Volume 4 (James)

May 27, 2016

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Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

Depending on what part of the country you’re living in, you’re either relishing the last few days of Spring, when you still need a light jacket at night and the days don’t necessarily demand shorts, or dreading five more months of the blistering, oppressive, full on heat wave of Summer. Either way, there’s a zero percent chance you want to spend your time in a hot kitchen cooking something. So this month, we forgo the food recipe for a better sort of recipe: two delicious cocktails you’ll want to sip on your favorite porch or patio.

Volume 4 of Beats and Eats opens with the infectious pop of Minneapolis upstarts Holidae. Burnin is equal parts CHVRCHS and T Swift – the soundtrack to your Summer that you haven’t heard yet. And of course they’re not the only Minneapolis band represented on this month’s mix: Haley Bonar (I Can Change), Har Mar Superstar (Youth Without Love) Andrew Broder’s Fog (Jim) all make solid contributions. Bonar has been busying herself with the more aggressive post-punk of Gramma’s Boyfriend lately. I Can Change is an impressive first single of her forthcoming Impossible Dream album, due in August.

Slacker set darlings Car Seat Headrest live up to all their hype with Fill in the Back, the infectious, head bopping lead single off of their album Teens of Denial. Twin Peaks and Summer Cannibals follow.

I’ve been particularly impressed with the Bryce and Aaron Dessner-produced Day of the Dead compilation, The National brothers’ Grateful Dead covers comp that features a who’s-who of indie rock acts. Full of several hits, and a few misses, the comp is nonetheless impressive in it’s breadth. Two tracks show up on this month’s mix, The National (Peggy-O) and criminally underrated Hiss Golden Messenger (Brown Eyed Women).

Speaking of covers, SOAK’s industrialized interpretation of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is sure to piss off a few purists out there, so of course I couldn’t resist including it. ANOHNI stuns on Drone Bomb Me. James Blake (I Need A Forest Fire) and Kaytranada (Got It Good) make strong claims for “Album of the Year” status.

Aesop Rock returns to form on Lotta Years, off The Impossible Kid, his first full length in four years. A Sinclair, A Giant Dog, and Blue Healer represent the great city of Austin.

Holy Ghost, Jessy Lanza, A$AP Ferg (featuring the one and only Missy Elliot), and hip-hop pioneer The Egyptian Lover (who’s 1983 – 1988 production work sees long overdue reissue on the recently released 1983 – 1988) close things out on an uptempo note.

The month’s mix has a little bit for everyone so crank it up next time you have friends over for porch hangs. Two cocktail recipes below. Enjoy responsibly.

Mezcal Margarita

This smokey-twist on a simple margarita is perfect for hot nights on the back porch.

- 2 oz VIDA San Luis Del Rio mezcal
- ¾ oz Cointreu or other orange liquor
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz simple syrup

Combine all four ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour over fresh ice in a lowball glass with salted rim. VIDA San Luis Del Rio mezcal is a personal favorite but there are other great mezcal’s on the market right now, due to the spirit’s increasing popularity. Whatever you do DON’T go with a cheap mezcal. You’ll appreciate the extra couple dollars spent.

Rum Old Fashioned

Another classic cocktail twisted to please the sweeter summer palate.

- 2 oz ANGOSTURA 1919 8yr aged rum
- ½ oz demarera syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 orange peel

Whatever you do, DON’T go with a white, unaged rum for this cocktail. There are a lot of good 8 – 12 year aged rums out there right now that won’t break the bank, so treat yourself and thank me later.

Combine first four ingredients in a pint glass with ice. Stir. Stir, stir, stir. You want to get this drink nice and chilled before serving. Pour over 3 – 4 large ice cubs in a lowball glass. Garnish with orange peel expressed over the glass.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 3 (James)

April 15, 2016

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Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

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Earlier this month, music blog Consequence of Sound published a listicle on the Top 20 Deftones songs of all time. The Sacramento, CA quintet just released their eighth album, Gore, to critical and fan acclaim, so a career spanning listicle seems like the right thing to do. And the critics are right. Gore is really good.

I’ve always loved Deftones. The band changed what I thought metal and hardcore music had to sound like. Moody and emotional with pummeling riffs. Drummer Abe Cunningham’s beats are the unheralded backbone of the band and a huge influence on me as a drummer.

There’s nothing wrong with Consequence of Sound’s Top 20, in fact it’s fairly good, but it wouldn’t be my Top 20.  For no particular reason other than my own enjoyment, here is my Top 20(ish) Deftones songs along with a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Tacos. Because nothing is more metal than Spaghetti Squash Tacos.

Bored, Deftones’ ‘side one, track one, album one,’ kicks things off. Sure — nobody likes the guy who was ‘listening to band XYZ before anyone else was listening to band XYZ,’ but I vividly remember my bestie Ivan Torres Torres bringing Deftones Adrenaline to school and letting me borrow it for the weekend (Ivan’s version of the story may or may not involve the CD being returned scratched to shit and the case cracked – oh well).

I’d like to think this mixtape spans the length of Deftones’ career, including newer cuts from Koi No Yokan (Swerve City), Diamond Eyes (You’ve Seen the Butcher) and new release Gore (Doomed User). But in reality, this mix probably errs heavily on the band’s early stuff, Adrenaline and White Pony, especially.

You might have noticed by now that this playlist is 24 songs long. Missing from the COS Top 20 were the Deftones covers. The band has always chosen good songs to cover, and I love a good cover song. Depeche Mode’s To Have and To Hold kicks off this Deftones cover block, tracks 8A – 8D, followed by The Chauffeur (Duran Duran) and the even more unlikely No Ordinary Love (Sade). Jawbox’s Savory closes out the set of covers, with the last two featuring former Far and Onelinedrawing frontman Jonah Matranga.

An assortment of moody (Passenger, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Good Morning Beautiful), aggressive (Rocket Skates, Hexagram, Acid Hologram) and rap metal efforts (Engine No. 9 cause I had to) round out my Deftones Top 20 (yeah, yeah, 24).

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Spaghetti Squash Tacos

INGREDIENTS:

- 3 lbs (1 large or 2 small) spaghetti squash
- tortillas
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well

SQUASH SEASONING:
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lime

GARNISH:
- 4 ounces crumbled queso fresco, feta, or cojita cheese
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- hot sauce (Sontava or Cholula)
- lime wedges

RECIPE:

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray pan with coconut oil cooking spray or coat with 1/2  ounce of olive oil. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast the halves facedown on baking pan for 35-40 minutes or until flesh is soft.

- Once the squash is cooked, remove and allow to cool 5 minutes, then scrap the flesh with a fork to loosen and separate the strands. Add strands of flesh to bowl and discard skins.

- In a separate bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt, whisk in lime juice and pour over squash strands. Gently toss to mix seasonings throughout, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

- To assemble the tacos… oh what the fuck you know how to assemble a taco. Warm em up, put down some beans, put down some spaghetti squash.

- Garnish with cheese, avocado, cilantro, onion,  couple drops of hot sauce  and a squeeze a lime.

- Serve with an ice cold Modelo Especial.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 2 (James)

February 19, 2016

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Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into that month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

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February is my better halfs’ birthday month (she’s a leap year babe, so she gets to celebrate whenever she wants, generally all month), so that got me thinking: Parties. Party Music. And salsas! Beats & Eats: Volume 2 “New Jack Edition” is all things New Jack Swing.

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Quick history lesson: In 1987, Teddy Riley is singing Groove Me in Guy and perfecting a signature production style that blends hip hop beats, R&B grooves, and Gospel trained vocals. This sound becomes a staple of 90s popular music. According to Wikipedia, the first tracks to feature the New Jack Swing style of production appear a year earlier, on Janet Jackson’s Control in 1986, produced by Jimmy Jam and members of the Time. No doubt an influence on Riley. After disbanding Guy, Riley goes on to produce tracks for Michael Jackson, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown, and form two new groups, producing his brother Markell Riley’s Wreckx-n-Effect, and Blackstreet (No Diggity). It’s 1996 and New Jack Swing is in it’s heyday.

I exercised two “phone a friends” (is that a dated reference yet?) and called on Kellen Kid Slyce Chumley and Yadira Brown to help me with this month’s playlist and recipe. Kid Slyce is a notorious party starting DJ in Austin, TX, known for his semi-monthly New Jack Swing dance parties, and Brown is 1/3 of ultra-talented vocal trio Keeper. She’s also an excellent cook and her recipe for Columbian aji picante is mouth-watering.

“Mary J Blige’s Real Love would be my all-time favorite,” Yadira says. “I think it was the harmonies over dance beats, honestly, that made me love New Jack Swing. I was in 4th grade when [Boyz II Men] Motownphilly came out, and I’d rewind and listen to the breakdown over and over, trying to learn all the parts.”

My love for this sound admittedly came later, fresh out of college and bartending Saturday nights at Austin dance club Plush, where Kid Slyce and his partners in Tables Manner Crew spun the best New Jack Swing and hip hop cuts.

“New Jack Swing takes DJ’ing back to a place where dancing and good vibes were paramount,” Chumley told me. “The music and lyrics are relatable. The majority of [rap and R&B] today is mired in trap and unrelatable if not incomprehensible.”

The two hours of tunes on Beats and Eats: New Jack Edition run the gamut of the New Jack sound, and 90s R&B in general. Godfathers Guy, Janet, Keith and Johnny Gill. Soulful sisters Monica, Aaliyah, TLC and SWV. And some deeper cuts thanks to Kid Slyce! What’s missing? Well, Another Bad Creation, Wreckx-n-Effect and Color Me Badd, to name a few. Hey, not every musical trend produces pure gold! Dig your Jock Jams cassettes out of your mom’s attic if you wanna hear any of those bangers.

This playlist is guaranteed to get any party started. And this salsa is pure fire. Literally.

 

Columbian Aji Picante by Yadira Brown

Ingredients:

- 1 seeded small jalepeno or 1 red habanero pepper
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ½ cup chopped tomato

Instructions:

- put the seeded pepper, water, and vinegar into a blender or food processor for a few minutes

- then combine with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate, preferably over night.

- best served with empanadas or patacones.

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