Sunday, January 6, 2013

Most Pleasurable Albums of 2012

Alright. Bringing this blog back, but it's not going to just be about food. I don't write anymore, and it's making me stupid.

2012 was a very rewarding year to keep up with new music. I don't believe in ranking art, so this list is not numbered. There are a few albums that I was really into this year that I wouldn't necessarily put on my year end list. The honorable mention: Future of the Left - The Plot Against Common Sense, Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay, Die Antwoord - Ten$ion, Graveyard - Lights Out, Tame Impala - Lonerism, Baroness - Yellow and Green, Action Bronson - Rare Chandeliers, Trash Talk - Awake, Grimes - Visions, Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy, Mr. MFN eXquire - Power and Passion, Pig Destroyer - Book Burner.

And in no particular order:

Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid M.a.a.d. City (Top Dawg, Aftermath Entertainment, Interscope)

I don't think that there's a record that I listened to more this year than Good Kid M.a.a.d City. It's an album about Lamar growing up in Compton. The album was put together by a team of producers headed up by Dr. Dre. Predictably, it boasts a sound heavily associated with Compton. To me, it barely feels like a rap record. I would even go as far as to call it progressive hip-hop (prog-hop?). Many have drawn comparisions to Outkast.

Kendrick Lamar - Money Trees (Feat. Jay Rock)

Pallbearer - Sorrow and Extinction (Profound Lore)

Little Rock quartet Pallbearer aren't necessarily trailblazers. They play a style of metal (doom, specifically) that bands have been playing since Sabbath and Pentagram spread the seed more than forty years ago, but they play it with so much emotion and sincerity that the metal community couldn't help but be utterly captivated by their debut LP.

Lyrical themes of death, sadness, fear, pain, and ultimately strength in acceptence of sorrow and grief, invoke a mood within me that I associate most strongly with romance era poets such as Blake and Browning. Brett Cambell's soaring wail is the perfect delivery system for such profound lyrical content over a soundscape of beautifully heavy instrumentation. Sorrow and Extinction is an instant doom classic.

Pallbearer - Devoid Of Redemption

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music (Williams Street)

R.A.P. Music (Rebellious African People) hits hard lyrically, thematically, emotionally, musically and politically. The record is entirely produced by the prolific Brooklyn emcee/producer El-P. Killer Mike's skillful southern-fried delivery, and thought provoking lyrics, make this album a powerful statement. El-P and Killer Mike share the same rebellious, revolutionary mindset and it really shines through on tracks like "Reagan."

"Four words: I'm glad Reagan dead."

Killer Mike - "Big Beast" (Official Video, ft. Bun B, T.I., Trouble, & El-P)

Captain Murphy (Flying Lotus) - Duality (Brainfeeder)

When this record was released for free via with a long-form video companion, Captain Murphy's identity was unknown. Later in the year it was revealed that Captain Murphy was none other than avant-garde producer/emcee Flying Lotus. Duality is a hypnotising and dark example of what it sounds like when a genius makes a rap record. The record also acts as a guide to becoming a cult leader.

Captain Murphy- "Shake Weight" TNGHT

Krallice - Years Past Matter (self released)

This release from the Brooklyn black-metal/next level shit quartet blows my mind. It's a swirling technical black metal explosion packed with churning instrumentation and compositional genius. It's hard to wrap your brain around it, but it's a rewarding listen when you realize that nothing sounds like this and everyone making the music is smarter than you.

Krallice - Years Past Matter - IIIIIIII - 2012

Aluk Todolo - Cult Rock (Ajna Offensive)

I didn't "get it," at first. This album is so repetitive and noisy that I started to write it off half-way through the first track. As I continued to listen I settled into a trance and was completely immersed. Cult Rock creates a mood that I have never experienced before while listening to music. It takes patience, but once you are drawn in, the music brings you to a different level of consciousness. This isn't just music, it's an experience.

"The requested conditions to play our music is to get in a trance and forget everything... when the musician finally disappears behind the forces he does summon." - Antoine Hadjioannou (drummer)

Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock I

Torche - Harmonicraft (Volcom)

The third full-length record from Torche marks their first release as a four-piece since Juan Montoya parted ways with the group. On Harmonicraft, Torche embrace hooks again (their previous EP, Songs for Singles was basically hookless). I got exactly what I wanted from this record: pop songs dripping with sludge.

Torche - Solitary Traveler

Frank Ocean - channel ORANGE (Def Jam)

This is the studio debut from Frank Ocean, and already I can't wait to hear more. channel ORANGE is a soul-tinged genre bender. The instrumentation is largely electronic. Some tracks are atmospheric, some slow, and some are club bangers. If Frank Ocean can consistently put out material on par with channel ORANGE, he will be our generation's Prince.

Frank Ocean - Thinking About You (Official Video)

Swans - The Seer (Young God)

Writing a small blurb trying to describe this album would be an exercise in futility. It's special. It's the 12th studio album from Swans. Just listen to it.

Swans - Avatar

Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)

The 8th studio album from legendary Massachusetts hardcore/metal group serves as a reminder of why these guys are still around. They still make music as intense, compelling and relevent as any of their contemporaries.

Converge - "Vicious Muse"

Death Grips - No Love, Deep Web

Death Grips released No Love, Deep Web for free on the internet without the permission of their label (Epic) with the intention of severing their ties with the company. The album cover featured a boner with the name of the record written on it.

The producer/emcee duo of Zach Hill and Stefan Burnett are known for their intense, abrasive experimental hip-hop sound sometimes reminiscent of jungle and drum and bass genres. While their early 2012 record The Money Store is noteworthy, No Love, Deep Web feels more raw and visceral to me.

Death Grips - No Love

Japandroids - Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl Record Company)

Celebration Rock is the 2nd release from this Vancouver two-piece. Japandroids deliver an album full of high-energy, high-emotion rock tunes. The album is aptly titled. If you wanted to play the genre game with Japandroids, they already did all of the work for you when they named their record.

Japandroids - "The House That Heaven Built" (Official Music Video)

Monday, May 21, 2012


I may try Winghart's again and edit my rating if my 2nd visit is better, but my 1st visit made me feel like I had just listened to Metallica's "St Anger" record; like a disappointed seventeen year old. I ordered the shipwreck burger, medium rare. The toppings on this burger are awesome, but my burger came out well done. I purposely ordered a medium rare because I wanted it medium, and I know that joints like Burgatory and this place tend to overcook their burgers slightly. Of course when it came out well done I was incensed.

The place doesn't really have a drink menu, or a beer list. I asked the waiter for a beer recommendation and he said "well, I don't drink." That's like going to a furniture store, asking the sales associate "How is this bed?" And he responds with "I don't know, I sleep on a futon." The fries were fine. Overall, this was a disappointing meal, ruined by poor execution by both the front of the house (shoddy service), back of the house (comically overcooked burger), and management (no drink menu or beer list printed, hiring less-than-excellent staff).

Uhhh, more like Wingfarts LOLOLOL!!!111

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tacoquest Pittsburgh: Mad Mex

I swore that I wouldn't go back. I didn't want to. I knew that all that there was for me was pain and disappointment. No matter how many times I tried, the result was always the same. When I left, I had to take that familiar walk of shame out onto highland avenue, bloated with indigestion, ethanol emanating from my pores . But I had nowhere else to go. I had to go to Mad Mex. I continue to go there, even though I don't want to. I have an abusive relationship with Mad Mex.

As far as the standard tex-mex fare goes, I think one thing Mad Mex really nails is that perfect combination of sour cream and salsa [/sarcasm]. Their exectutive chef must have been a highschool cafeteria lady at one point. It's boring, and slightly too expensive. When you take a concept like tex-mex fusion, you have a lot of room to do some really creative things like putting something other than sour cream and salsa on your tacos. Mad Mex just drops the ball. They load their burritos with so much rice that you can't taste anything.

This is what the tacos look like

This is what the tacos taste like

Like any abusive relationship, I try to convince myself to ignore the bad, and emphasize whatever few good qualities exist. While Mad Mex's main offerings (tacos, burritos, enchiladas) are categorically disappointing to me, I've eaten there enough times to find some gems.  The "Pennsyltucky Tofu" is a cheap appetizer consisting of fried tofu, sprouts, sweet soy, cilantro and peanuts. It's simple, but completely satisfying. Mad Mex's wing sauces, for the most part, are pretty great, and seitan wings are available for vegetarians or people who don't want to eat two pounds of chicken. The beer selection is always very good, and the cocktails are adequate.

As a place for to get tacos or any of the taco's delicious cousins, Mad Mex is not good. When you take into account other factors like the bar, friendliness of the staff, and good happy hour specials, Mad Mex is a pretty good place. If you're hanging out with me and you hear me fart, I swear it wasn't Mad Mex. I walked into a door.

Rating: two and a half beardholes out of four

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tacoquest Pittsburgh: Casa Rasta*

One of the primary functions of Beardhole Pleasures is to catalog the author's experiences as he tries to consume tacos from every taco-selling establishment in Pittsburgh. Tacoquest starts NOW.

Beechview is an urban wasteland. For nearly a year, residents without cars had no access to groceries when the Foodland closed. The entire time that I have lived in Beechview the most traveled intersection has been filled with empty storefronts; properties left to rot by an absentee landlord, living it up in Brazil. Lifelong residents of the neighborhood shuffle around, waiting for public transportation, telling whoever wants to hear about how it used to be a nice neighborhood until the "coloreds" moved in. "And there's lots of MEXICANS too!"

Pictured: A rare glimpse of the cliff-dwelling Beechview subspecies known as "racist fuck."

Do you want a draft beer? Well, yeungling is the best you can get, and the lines are probably so dirty don't be surprised if you cough up a chunk of yeast. If the rent wasn't so cheap, I would have have made my exodus years ago. After 4 1/2 years of living on top of shit mountain, a new food option finally popped up: Casa Rasta.

Casa Rasta has no sign save a crayon drawing in the window. When I first noticed it, I was walking to a friend's house to watch wrestling (a popular activity in Beechview). Upon passing a building that I knew to be a closed pizza shop, I saw that there was a lit-up "open" sign in the window. As I walked past I thought, "Open? What's open?" When I returned later in the week, during daylight, I noticed that the exterior of the building had been painted. I sauntered in from the cold, excited to have food in Beechview for the first time that wasn't pizza or bar food.

I was greeted by two dreadlocked smilers who were the namesakes of the establishment. They are a married couple who just moved back to Pittsburgh after a brief stint in San Diego.
The Menu

The menu consists of reasonably priced favorites including tacos with corn tortillas (store bought, but good nonetheless), tostadas (hard tacos), burritos in flour tortillas, and tortas; a sort of Mexican sandwich. After taking an exceptionally long time to order, I finally decided on three tacos: asada, carnitas and jamaican jerk chicken.

The asada and carnitas were palatable. Served with cilantro and what appeared to be house-made red or green salsa, I had no reason to complain, but what really got me going (sexually) was the Jamaican Jerk(off) Chicken. Bursting with tangy and sweet flavor, the texturally satisfying chicken was complemented perfectly by fresh mango-avocado salsa.
I now only eat my chicken in jerk form.

Subsequent visits to Casa Rasta yielded consistently gartifying results. Highlights of return trips include: rajas, jerk chicken with the burrito option, chorizo and soyrizo. The soyrizo was so convincing that I'm quite confident that I would not have been able to differentiate between the two in a blind taste test.

Beechview doesn't deserve Casa Rasta, but perhaps Casa Rasta signals the turning point for the dying neighborhood. An initiative to revitalize Broadway has brought about a charcuterie, a non-profit coffee shop, and an awful, awful IGA grocery store. If Beechviewers can adqeuately support these new establishments, maybe it won't be so awful to live here anymore.

-Mike Moustache

*DISCLAIMER: I'm not from Mexico. I haven't lived in SoCal. I'm not Mexican, and I don't claim to be an expert on Mexican food. For these reasons, TACOQUEST articles will make no mention of the concept of AUTHENTICITY. Put that shit in your beardhole.**
**DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER: Beardhole Pleasures does NOT recommend putting shit in your beardhole.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Pleasures of the Beardhole

When a man grows a beard, his mouth becomes his beardhole. The beardhole is merely a component in the overall aesthetic of the beard; a powerful mating display not unlike a peacock's tail feathers. Its secondary function, however, is to receive sensory pleasures (otherwise known as food). Humans primarily use their sense of taste -- the most delicious of the senses -- to enjoy these pleasures. The purpose of this blog is to not only catalogue the sensory pleasures of the author's beardhole, but to retell the life experiences of the author as he seeks to help his beard achieve culinary enlightenment.

Let the journey begin.