pumpktoberfest #43 -
treat yoself.

spice up yer nuts.

pumpktoberfest 2010!

#195 - links &
drinks 2011.


#196 - tracks & snacks 2011.

for the past two years, when this time of year rolled around & i sat down to compile my top ten tracks & snacks of the year, it's been a relatively painless process. not so this year. in the past, i've always been able to open up itunes, take a look at my list of most played tunes & easily compile a list. this summer, my computer finally decided to kick the bucket for good, taking all the precious "most played" info with it & forcing me to rely on my memory, a task which is a dicey proposition at best. 

...so there's inevitably something i'm forgetting but i have to give nods to das racist, st vincent, cut copy, adele, shabazz palaces, los campesinos, atlas sound, pj harvey, destroyer, girls, anvil hands & cities aviv who, if this was a top 22 list, all had songs worthy of being on it. in the end, each artist on this year's list has never been in my top ten before although three songs from the albums on my mid-year top five list made it into the 2011 top ten.

...so if you're the type who's looking for a shiny new band to call your own, there are ten great candidates below & links to videos for eight of the songs & "listen" links for the other two. ALSO, since spotify has finally made its way to america, i've tossed up a playlist of the nine top ten tracks that are available on it, so if you swing that way, have at it here. BRING ON THE TRACKS! BRING ON 2012! SMELL YA LATER 2011!


"sobriety," the missing teens (listen) - musically, one of the cooler things that happened to me this year was that i went back to managing the missing teens, a nyc band that i'd briefly managed for part of 2009 & 2010. this year, they put out their second album, the power of the crystals, and performed it as part of a motivational seminar/rock concert as part of the nyc fringe festival. therefore, it's safe to say that i've listened to the album over a hundred times & on a countless number of occasions (especially when i've got a few beers in me), the song "sobriety" starts running through my head. with repeated sobriety-themed lines like "gonna lose some weight, save some money" & "i forgot how damn mundane everything is," it's sort of easy to get the tune stuck in your head, even if you haven't heard it hundreds of times like i have.


"get away," yuck (watch - NSFW) - in the early 90's, i was in high school & absolutely clueless about the existence of seminal indie bands like dinosaur jr & the pixies. for the most part, it wasn't until the next decade when i found out about dinosaur jr, the pixies & a wealth of other cool bands. the members of yuck, who are all just over twenty years old, are WAY cooler than i was at their age. they're not only familiar with the music of the 90's but they put out a self-titled debut album that sounds like the good stuff of that decade without sounding derivative. my fave track off the album is "get away," the opening cut. it's got the bass line & fuzzed/screechy guitars & catchy hooks of a good pixies song. in reality, i could've gone with "the wall" or "holing out," which are both standouts but "get away" was the first song i heard by them, so i'm going with that.


"my country," tUnE-YarDs (watch) - from my comrades who enjoy the indie rock, i'm fairly certain that this track is guaranteed to get the loudest "bullshit" of any on the list. while the album itself--W H O K I L L--has been lauded by critics as one of the best of the year, i find it a bit annoying. still, i can't get enough of the album's opening track, "my country." it's spazzy dancey, with pounding drum beats, horns, fuzzed synth & the lyrics "my country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, how come i cannot see my future within your arms?" it's a collage of sounds that's dancey & unique. i'm not sure why the rest of the album doesn't do it for me, but "my country" kinda makes me want to shake the booty.


"lotus flower," radiohead (watch) - these days, every time radiohead puts out a new album, it's a big event & much of that comes from the fact that the material's basically unfamiliar to the general public prior to the album release. never before heard songs! how exciting?!!! well...that's usually the case but personally, when this past february's king of limbs came out, i gave it a big, fat meh. the more that i heard it though, the more that it grew on me. the only track that i initially enjoyed was the first release off of the album, "lotus flower," with its memetastic video of a spazz dancing thom yorke. though the other tracks have gained more value for me, "lotus flower" still stands out as the catchiest track on the album.


"abducted," cults (watch) - at mid-year this year, i declared nyc's cults' self-titled debut album to be my #4 pick. eventually, their twee sweetness wore on me but i've still been consistently listening to the opening track on the album, "abducted." from the washed out opening sound to the point where the song kicks on into gear all the way through to the end, it's just a damn happy song, the sort of thing that easily snaps me out of a funk. think beach boys motown for the new millennium. ick. did i really just use that phrase? the added bonus: cults female singer--madeline follin--has a gorgeous voice & a gorgeous, well...y'know.


"queen of hearts," fucked up (watch) - "queen of hearts," off of the latest album from toronto's fucked up, entitled david comes to life, was the final track i discovered this year that made this list. except for catching the last two songs of their set out in chicago at the '09 pitchfork festival, i'd never really heard fucked up. they're fronted by this big bearded dude named damian abraham, who goes by the name "pink eyes." the other band members? 10000 marbles, gulag, young governor, mustard gas & mr jo. OBVIOUSLY. as for pink eyes, he employs the ol' "scratchy, shouted lyrics" method. i can take the style sometimes, but occasionally i'm all "dude, why you gotta yell about everything?" this particular song, the first one after an intro, actually features cults' madeline follin on guest vocals & in this case, the tradeoff between her voice & pink eye's voice over driving guitars is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME.


"midnight city," M83 (watch) - at the aforementioned pitchfork festival in the summer of '09, M83 was the band that my partner-in-crime & i chose to lay down & relax during. they sounded pretty & all but they also sounded pretty damn boring. it's not that their music wasn't good. it was that it wasn't exciting. with this in mind, when they released a brand-new, double album in mid-october, i initially ignored it. then i started to hear about how it was awesome, how it TOTALLY wasn't boring. i gave the album a shot & it's good. it basically sounds like M83 took the brains of john hughes & peter hook & distilled them into pop songs. "midnight city," the first single off of the album, utilizes the keyboards & drum machines & vocals of the 80's to create a dreamy, dancey track that definitely does the trick of setting the mood for the album as a whole.


"baby's arms," kurt vile (watch) - kurt vile is a friggin amazing songwriter. in march, he put out smoke ring for my halo, his fourth album & it's solid from start to finish, with ten tracks of longing & confusion & whatever other themes i've attached to his music. with kurt vile, you get some beautifully-played acoustic guitar & some dark, clever lyrics. the opening track, "baby's arms," features these attributes in spades & is accented by a sweet video that, all together, makes me want to find an artsy female to hang out & do cool shit with...line forms to the left, ladies. when he sings, "i get sick of just about anyone & i hide in my baby's arms," it's so sincerely sweet that it brings me to the verge of tears.


"first of all," japanther (listen) - first of all, the song "first of all," the first song off of japanther's beets, limes & rice, starts off with the words "first of all, fuck you all." back in june, a friend was heading to see japanther's 10th anniversary show at music hall of williamsburg & had an extra ticket. i'd been hearing their name for years but for some reason had never checked them out. as this was their 10th anniversary, it was a rare opportunity to catch the band in a regular venue, as they usually play shows at underground venues & museums & stuff. i was blown away. since then, nary a day has gone by where i haven't tossed on a japanther song to get my blood pumping. although i'm listening to their older albums a lot, "first of all" is definitely in the mix. it features the pounding drums & fuzzed out bass guitar & lyrics that japanther's perfected & was my wake up song a ton of times during 2011.


"raw meat," black lips (watch) - by far, the album that i listened to the most this year was arabia mountain by atlanta's black lips. in the past, their stuff didn't really click with me, but this album was produced by mark ronson (who also helmed amy winehouse's back in black) & the result is a track listing that, from beginning to end, is chock full of awesometastic songs. eight songs in, there's "raw meat," a song that essentially sounds like the ramones with whistling added into the mix. on the food tip, the lyrics mention raw oysters, sea urchin, sour cheeseburger, butter, cocoa leaf, sweet bread, lactaid, meat, fresh onions & horseradish with horse meat. at just under two minutes, it's just a damn bouncy fun song. bonus: the video has leo fitzpatrick in it. good times.


...and now it's the moment you've all been waiting for! this year, i tried & failed at eating healthier, expanded my food truck horizons, abandoned my cheese habit & replaced it with a serious taco fixation. i ate a bunch of tasty treats over the last twelve months, going out of my way more so than ever before to explore what NYC had to offer & eat as much new stuff as possible. i'm pretty sure i did a satisfactory job. here's to more awesome snacks in the 20-12! how's about starting off with some of these ones, eh?

snack: chobani black cherry yogurt (NEW)

early in the year, in an attempt to eat healthier, i started eating chobani greek yogurt every morning, often mixed into a bowl of granola. no fat? 14g of protein? NOT a donut? PERFECT. unfortunately, i eventually got sort of tired of eating greek yogurt every morning & had to take a lil' break from it but for a good portion of the year, i was eating it on the regs, usually opting for the black cherry flavor. you've got all that healthy yogurt crap on top & a bunch of black cherries on the bottom. once you've mixed that shizz up & tossed in some granola, you're pretty much going to be able to run a marathon. it's THAT healthy, folks. remember: for every ten chobani greek yogurts you buy, a greek god gets his wings.

snack: sweet afton fried mcclure's pickles (only in ny #9)

2011 was the year where i truly discovered the astoria section of queens. prior to this year, queens was a strange & mystical place. then my bro moved up there & a majority of the missing teens lived in the hood, so i spent a lot of time exploring the nabe, usually for food & drink purposes. it was while exploring that i ended up at sweet afton, a restaurant & bar that will be celebrating its third anniversary this coming summer. the few times i've been there, i've sat on the tiny back patio & ordered up some mcclure's fried pickles. with light breading, thick & spicy pickles and a side of smoky sauce, they're worth getting every time you go there on principle alone.

snack: chocolate pirate's booty (fifty states #5)

early in the year, i tossed on sufjan stevens' illinois & reflected on 2005 & frowned over the fact that sufjan had abandoned his idea of making an album themed for every state in the union. there would never be a new hampshire album with a mournful song for franklin pierce. rather than letting this realization spiral into a nasty depression, i decided to create a new column featuring a snack & a drink from every state in the union. so far, i've knocked off six states, including my current home state, which houses the headquarters for the makers of pirate's booty. in 2011, their chocolate booty melted my, um...heart with its pleasant cocoa coating & light, airy puffs. i've always been sort of "meh" towards pirate booty products, but this one's rather addictive.

snack: back to nature fudge striped cookies (fifty states #2)

in my exploration of the great state of wisconsin, i came across back to nature's fudged stripe cookies, a madison product that's essentially a slightly-better-tasting, all-natural version of the keebler's fudge stripe cookies that punctuated my childhood. they just cost a little bit more than the keebler version...that's all. sure they're nothing more than shortbread cookies & fudge, but they're simple & tasty & easily fit onto my index finger for consumption purposes. that's some sort of nostalgia-tinged trifecta right there.

snack: korilla BBQ porkinator taco (6.24.11)

in the year where my taco love reached a fever pitch, it's no surprise that 20% of the items on my end-of-year best snack list are of the taco persuasion. the first comes from korilla BBQ, a truck that launched in late 2010 here in the city & quickly made a name for themselves, eventually parlaying that notoriety into a spot on the great food truck race (before they got kicked off for cheating). when i hit up korilla, i always get the sampler, which comes with one "ribeye of the tiger" (beef), one "wonder bird" (chicken) & one of the "porkinator." BRING ME ONE OF EVERY ANIMAL! they're all pretty flavorful, but for my money, the porkinator's the best of the three. if you try it out, i suggest just going with the recommended toppings. they'll do you just fine.

snack: alternative baking company phenomenal pumpkin spice cookie (pumpktoberfest '11)

this is the second straight year that one of alternative baking co's cookies have made my end-of-year top ten list of snacks. in 2010, it was the cranberry orange muffin cookie. this past year, it was their pumpkin spice cookie, which i first discovered during pumpktoberfest. on a basic level, it's a sugar cookie but what makes it good is the addition of the pumpkin & pumpkin pie spices. from what i can tell, they're available year round, so even though there are still eight plus months to go until pumpktoberfest, if you can find them, there's nothing holding you back from eating 2-4 of them this very instant.

snack: planters five alarm chili peanuts (11.8.11)

since i like it spicy, when i came across my first jar of planters' brand new five alarm chili peanuts this past fall, i grabbed them up quicklike. then i brought them home & pounded them like my life depended on it, despite the five alarm seasoning, which is basically dried chili & onion powders. they go great with a cool beer & while the seasoning is hot & spicy at first, it's only five alarmish for a brief bit. eventually, your taste buds adjust, allowing you to switch into vacuum mode & just inhale the things straight up...which is what i did on more than one occasion in 2011.

snack: kettle fully loaded baked potato chips (NEW)

of all the snacks in my top ten, this is the one that's been subject to the most false starts. i mean, i have at least a half dozen photos of snack/drink pairings featuring the kettle fully loaded baked potato chips. unless i flake out again, there's a full review of these chips on the way but for now, i'll say that they're pretty much like eating a friggin baked potato topped with butter & sour cream. these days, it's not very often that i try a new flavor of potato chip & instantly fall in love with it but these ones made me want to eat the whole bag down just to have an excuse to go buy another bag. wait a sec...isn't that how crack works?

snack: dunkin donuts pumpkin donut (pumpktoberfest '11)

every fall, just in time for pumpktoberfest, dunkin donuts adds their usual round of seasonal coffees & treats to the menu, trotting out apple cider & pumpkin flavored donuts & beverages. i could care less about that apple crap but i'm obviously a supporter of all things pumpkin & a dunkin donuts slave, so i had my fair share of their pumpkin donuts & pumpkin lattes this fall. where i got my pumpkin donut definitely mattered (windham, nh was moist & yummy; union sq was drier & crustier). the only constant was that each time i got a donut that had a bunch of spices in the cake. on another note, dunkin donuts should seriously stop fucking with their customers & make the pumpkin donut a permanent part of the menu. it's that good. stop teasing us, jerks.

snack: oaxaca potato y poblano taco (only in ny #11)

the simple fact is that after this past year, according to ACTUAL MEDICAL DOCTORS, my body has become 8% taco. some may see this as a curse, but i personally see it as a blessing...y'know, one of those sweet blessings that comes complete with a bleeding virgin mary & shizz. it's telling that this is the first time that both parts of a snack & drink pairing have made my end-of-year lists. after all, tacos do make everything around them better. the potato y poblano taco is made with a hashbrown-like potato, guac, poblano, pickled onions, cojita cheese, cilantro & occasionally some corn & goes for only $2 during taco happy hour. you can't beat that with a bat.

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