I was listening to Bloc Party's "Helicopter" a few minutes ago and was immediately drawn back to early 2005 when music was more pure. When the Internet still allowed for musical darlings to rise above the shit and become discovered. When bands like Bloc Party and Arcade Fire and Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen and Clap Your Hands and Annie were actually discovered. And the music was exciting. So much so that people who were tied in to music burbling up on the Internet knew where to tune in to hear the really exciting new music.
Then things got crazy. MySpace exploded. And every band vied for our attention. To the point that there was no longer a filter. Then everything became indie rock. There were no lines drawn, just blurred. The most obscure bands that could play the Pitchfork fest were raised up so fast that before they could ever cross over and become uncool they were already pushed aside. There's only so much weight that indie cred can hold. There's only so much plaid and so many ironic haircuts out there to maintain a scene. In 2005, music was fresh. It was the second calling of the new wave. White Stripes and the Strokes paved the way. This second-second wave built up an incredible base. They brought us into this new space. And then it became overcrowded.
Now, in 2010, we're at a crossroads. We're ready and open for the next vibe. I didn't go to SXSW this year and was told that I missed nothing. There were no standouts. Nothing was exciting. It's time for music to break out and get creative again. Is it that there's nothing to motivate behind? Yes there are wars but do they really affect us on a daily basis? Yes, gay rights should be a non-issue but is that going to motivate politically charged rock? No. We need someone to be bold, to make waves. Don't be derivative. Be original. Do something that knocks us on our asses. Surprise us. Because most other things are just really damn boring. I want to be excited. Excite me!
Details magazine's April issue names Paul Kahan's Salsa Verde, which he serves at his Wicker Park hot spot, Big Star. Best of all, Details shares the recipe so you can make it at home. Feeling like adding a little heat to your day? Start with some serrano chiles.
Paul Kahan's Salsa Verde recipe: (after the jump)
Last night I dug into my wine fridge and grabbed a bottle I've been intrigued by for some time but kept overlooking when I'd want to open something. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact I didn't really know much—if anything—about it. While I love Rhone varietals, and rich Pinot from Burgundy, have tinkered with Bordeaux blends, and have even spent some time exploring the vastness of the Gamay grape from Beaujolais and the Loire Valley, I am on a never-ending quest to learn about French wines. There are a number of appellations within regions that produce many varieties of wine. And this one, the Chateau de Rhodes, is no exception. It hails from the Gaillac wine growing region in southwest France, which was first cultivated back in Roman times and was then known for producing exceptional sparkling wines. These days, Gaillac produces both reds and whites and some grapes are pretty obscure.
The majority of this wine is Syrah (55 percent) while 33 percent comes from a regional grape called Braucol. I looked it up and it's known by a few names, including Fer, which is the French word for iron. Apparently when used as a grape, Fer (or Braucol) refers to the hardness of the vine and winemakers use this grape to add richer color and a more robust flavor. The last bit (just 12 percent) comes from Cabernet Franc, and when that finally shows up, you know it arrived.
Michael David Winery sure has an interesting sense of humor. Many of their wines are named for sins, intuition and other things of higher power. But what strikes me is that while they are attempting to be cute while injecting humor into their winemaking and marketing process, to me it just seems a little odd. Fortunately for them, a lot of their wines, which hail from Lodi, Calif., are pretty damn tasty.
Last night, we popped open a bottle of the 7 Heavenly Chards, which I liked, but didn't love. Its nose had a slight eucalyptus scent and the palate had balanced acid with some pineapple. But something about it reminded me of the chicklet I'd get from the dry cleaner when I'd go with my mom when I was about six years old. I don't know why but as soon as I smelled and tasted it, that random sensory memory came flying out at me. We drank it with some spicy seafood stir fry (the wild caught shrimp were super crisp and the sea scallops had a nice sweet essence) and the wine worked fine. Like I said, I wasn't bowled over by it.
Tonight, however, the 6th Sense Syrah really impressed me. At first, for about 30 seconds, the nose didn't tell a good story. But then it opened up quickly and some really nice blackberry, cherry and spice came up from the glass. The dark and inky wine shows the richness of the Lodi Appellation. It's silky and velvety with nice earth, smoke and jam on the palate that intermingles with deep, dark berries—and for about $17, it's a great buy. But again, going back to the oddness that Michael David uses to separate themselves from the pack, there's a poem on the bottle recounting the six senses with this being the last line: "I sense with my mind, a thought so unkind, I’m trapped six feet under in a bottle of wine." What? Are there dead people buried under the vines? I really hope the grapes aren't being fertilized with old family members who used to farm the land ... but I'm sure I'm reading too deeply into this. Like I said, good thing their wines have some spunk!