Baker’s Dozen: Interview with Boxed Wine

Baker’s Dozen: Interview with Boxed Wine

422239_412263955519179_1725641675_nIn our latest installment of the  Baker’s Dozen Interview Series, Jersey band Boxed Wine shares their thoughts on colloquial Australia, life after school, slaughtering butterflies and playing the laptop. We also delve into their music a bit before hitting the kitchen for a brilliant (and fucking easy) open faced grilled cheese with turkey, gravy and bacon.  Boxed Wine gets cheap and fun now:

TB: Boxed Wine (or Goon as it is known colloquially in Australia) is said to encourage binge drinking and cause an excessive hangover. What kind of symptoms can one expect from a few pours of your music?

Boxed Wine (BW): Ha! Well hopefully the desire to have fun, casually frolic naked, and start a dance party are the main symptoms of listening to us. That’d be pretty much the same as normal drinking symptoms, but with none of the after effects!

TB: You guys got your start when Chris (lead vocals and rhythm guitar) and Ralph (lead guitar) started hating life after school. What was it about that time period that drove you to writing music?

BW: Well, it was nice having an escape through music at such a tumultuous time in life. In fact, it’s still going. The twenties are pretty miserable when you have no direction in life, are burdened by thousands in student debt, and only care about playing shows. We’re still dealing with it, and are really hoping this ‘writing songs’ thing works out…

TB: Your new EP, Cheap, Fun features three very different tracks. There is the upbeat, sing-a-long, hyper pop of “Bones.” The fuzzy, distorted, ringer called “Dayglow” and the poppy, clap trap jam of “Boomerang.” Why did you pick these three for the EP? What makes them fit together?

BW: They don’t fit together! That’s why we chose them, honestly. We really wanted to show that we could do different styles of music, and to give people a taste of where we are as a band right now. The songs on this EP, in our opinion, are far different than our first EP, so we wanted to make it almost a reintroduction to the band itself.

TB: All three tracks come from your upcoming debut full-length album due out in April. What can you tell us about the full-length?

BW: It’s dancier and has better songs on it! At this point, we might even replace one of these tracks with a new one, but we’re still not sure on the track list. More than anything, we want all the songs to sound like they belong together.

TB: “Bones” is the stand out track on the EP and it makes me think about beauty (like cherry trees whisper in the spring air) being trampled down by death (specifically butterflies being slaughtered). What images were you actually trying to conjure up with this song?

BW: Holy smokes, you got it! In truth, most of our songs are so lyrically happy and carefree, so that made us want to take…

TB: I’ve found myself dancing to the track a number of times over the last few weeks. I am still searching for that signature “Bones” dance move. If you were to create your own “Harlem Shake” for “Bones,” what would it look like?

BW: Obviously a cross between the Carlton and the Hand Jive, with a touch of dramatic hipster irony.

TB: I have to ask about the astronaut on the front of the EP. When I think cheap and fun an astronaut is not the first thing that comes to mind. Why did you go with this particular piece for your cover?

BW: We picked the astronaut because Chris likes sci-fi stuff and nobody else had a strong opinion. We wanted a them for this EP and album, just like the theme was robots for the last release. Themes are fun, and you can play off the astronaut thing because it means different things to different people.

TB: Right before the holidays, you guys released and EP full of 70’s covers. What was it about these songs that appealed to Boxed Wine?

BW: You’ve really done your homework here, so cheers to that! We released the covers as a stop gap between original releases. The songs were deemed good to cover because they were all fun songs from a great era of music. Plus, most already had a dance beat and we were easily able to modernize them a bit.

TB: So far, you’ve given all your releases away for free. Why?

BW: People are going to steal it anyway, and at this point we would rather have people putting us on their iPODs instead of streaming and promptly forgetting about the music. All of us do that constantly, and end up remembering 10 percent of the bands who only allow streaming.

Being able to just have the music means we’re gonna be listened to more, end up in personal playlists, and maybe even have a few fans come to our shows instead. For the album, we might have to charge a bit, but we like to think the year of work we put into it is worth the value of a Big Mac or half a six-pack.

As for iTunes, they’re not gonna let us give anything away, but if anyone likes us enough to research the music, they’ll find it free somewhere. We just hope they buy a t-shirt or something to show they care.

TB: You’ve got a couple shows lined up in March and April around New Jersey. Are their plans for a more extensive tour after the debut album comes out?

BW: Yeah, we’ve mainly done one-off shows until now because of work schedules. Hopefully, we’ll find a week we can all take off and finally do a real short tour, but it’s tough. If the album does well, somebody might realize we’re a blast to see live and offer us the chance to open for someone bigger. That sounds a tad cocky, but we’re starting to realize that you don’t get anywhere by being completely humble. Our songs are fun and meant to be seen in a live setting while getting intoxicated.

What’s coll is that we’ve been asked to play every show on our schedule right now, so somebody is realizing we’re a good band to play with. Or maybe every noisy metal and hardcore band in our area is terrble…either way, cheers to them.

TB: You were quoted in the Daily Targum as saying “Bands with instruments that aren’t generated by computers are in steep decline. The guitar just isn’t that cool anymore.” How did you come to that conclusion? What are your plans for making the guitar cool again?

BW: I think that was Ralph being misquoted a bit, being the sentence doesn’t exactly make sense. Not your fault, but maybe he meant that only synth and laptop bands are doing well right now. That’s true and false at the same time, but it does seem that the guitar isn’t cool anymore.

That’s primarily because everything that could be done with it already has. We’re trying to show it still has something to say, but we’re not exactly breaking the mold trying to do it. All of our songs are simple, and the most we do is use odd chord voicings that sound a bit unique from just plain old power chords. We’d like to show that it could be used to great effect in dance songs, but maybe that’s just because we haven’t learned to play the laptop yet…

TB: Does Boxed Wine get the chance to do much cooking? Any special recipes we can steal from you?

BW: Ralph is the cook in the band, but his secret pasta sauce is from his grandma and not allowed to be told to anyone. We can attest that it’s seriously delicious. He adds sausage and maybe other pig parts and lets it sit for like three days just slow cooking. It’s intense. Here’s a different recipe he wanted me to put in (verbatim):

Chris: Hey, did you write out that recipe for the interview?
Ralph: Open faced grilled cheese with bacon and provolone with hot sliced turkey and gravy, done.
Chris: Really? That’s it? No actual recipe?
Ralph: LOL. It’s so easy. That’s really it.
Chris: That’s pathetic, I’m not putting that in if that’s all ur giving me. Make it look like a recipe. Put some heart in it!
Ralph: It’s a fucking grilled cheese with turkey.

There you have it. I tried turning it into a recipe below. (Get the printable version here.)

TB: Ending sentiments? 

BW: Nothing really, thanks for asking real questions and we can’t wait to send you the album in May! Maybe we can tour as the Goons in Australia. That’d be sweet.

Boxed Wine’s “Bones”:

There track “Dayglow (Why Can’t We Stay)”:

Check out Boxed Wine on: The Web, Bandcamp, Facebook, Reverbnation, Spotify

Spinach, Onion and Vegan Feta Pizza Delivered by Automatic Children and The Invincible Summer

Spinach, Onion and Vegan Feta Pizza Delivered by Automatic Children and The Invincible Summer

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I never got around to making my own cheese before I stopped eating it. A lot of that had to do with the fact that every cheese recipe I ever saw involved days and days of waiting around for something to happen. Couple that with all the things that could go wrong and I figured it was much easier to go to my local grocery store. After reading that there are cookbooks full of Artisan Vegan Cheese I felt a slight calling to try some homemade “cheese.” Not yet having access to Schinner’s book I started with a Vegetarian Times recipe I gathered a number of years ago. The recipe was for a homemade vegan herbed feta. My ultimate goal was an onion, spinach, mushroom and vegan feta pizza. To concoct this dish I paired a stand mixer crust, with the cheese and these toppings (minus the mozzarella). The final result was something delicious and guilt free. I had no qualms eating the entire pizza (made from half the crust and 1/4 of the cheese). No qualms, that is, until halfway through my run when I cramped up and had to slow considerably (note to self, don’t eat an entire pizza moments before running four miles your stomach will make you regret it).

New York City collective Automatic Children is sort of like this pizza. They combine the coolest bits of every band your older sister ever told you about into one helluva an act. For instance, their latest 7” Johnny/Now You Know, features loud hooks that recall Surfer Rosa-era Pixies, a high-registered vocal delivery (courtesy of Adam Lippman) which echoes The Get Up Kids and lyrics that display the world/weary smarts of Paul Westerberg. Its music that is lean, fun, and unpretentious. Check out “Johnny” below. It’s what’s for dinner:

Australian indie pop band, The Invincible Summer drew a number of comparisons after the release of their first two singles “Runaway” and “To the Sky.” These comparisons included Foster the People, Coldplay, Tears for Fears and MGMT. While appropriate, these comparisons don’t do justice to everything The Invincible Summer has going for them. First, they don’t watch television. They also don’t read or do crosswords (and you can’t tell me MGMT doesn’t fill in the crossword squares). This leaves lots of time for experiencing the city, exploring the beach and making music. It also provides a few moments a day for contemplating world domination. This world domination begins with their new single, “The Edge”, which forms one half of the next double sided single release (due out sometime in April).

Strawberry Spinach Salad Adopted by Strangeheart, Astronauts, etc and Old English

Strawberry Spinach Salad Adopted by Strangeheart, Astronauts, etc and Old English

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Plant City, Florida, which is about 30 minutes outside of Tampa, is the winter strawberry capital of the world. The town begins pumping out berries in late January/early February and continues doing so until sometime in March. The high point of the season is celebrated with a festival that features music, games and the best strawberry shortcake around. In a normal year J-Fur and I will eat a few flats of berries together. This year she decided she was going to take part in the adopt-a-migrant farmer program and so she ate flat after flat all on her own. But a falling out with the company that runs the adopt-a-migrant farmer program (they used her money to get Arsenio Hall to sponsor) brought her strawberry eating to a sudden halt. This wouldn’t have been an issue except we had a flat still sitting in our refrigerator. I waited patiently, thinking her stubborness would pass. But it didn’t. Berries started to rot and discolor. Juice began leaking on our fridge bottom. I needed to get ride of a bunch of berries in a short time. So I sought out an appropriate recipe. I found this one.

Strawberry Spinach Salad (adapted slightly from Allrecipes)
(printable version)

-1 Tbs. Poppy Seeds
-1/2 Tbs. Black Sesame Seeds
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/8 cup white vinegar
-1/8 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire Sauce
-1/2 Tbs. white onion, minced
-10 ounces spinach
-1 quart of strawberries, cut into fourths
-1/4 cup almonds

1. Mix the seeds, sugar, oil, vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and onion. Set aside.

2. Wash the berries, remove the stems and cut them into fourths. Place in a large metal bowl. Pour the dressing over the berries. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.

3. Spoon the berries over a bed of spinach. Toss to combine. Sprinkle almonds on top. Eat it.

Strangeheart is a Hollywood duo who put out the song “In Another Life” about three weeks ago. The track combines 70’s style pop magic with electro beats and a catchy chorus. I figured I’d post it just in time for their new song as tonight they will be unveiling a new track on the radio (LIVE 105) between 7-10.

Also berry worthy is the new Astronauts, etc track. “Sideswiped” captures the beauty of those few peaceful moments one experiences before falling asleep after a long day of stealing commodities from bargain bins.

I’ve sat on Old English’s album Prose & Kahns for a few weeks. Perhaps it was because the band has been working on the album for three years (in 6 cities and 3 countries with over 20 collaborators) and I didn’t want to not give it the justice it deserved. 27 total songs were written for the album. Each song needed to relate to the previously completed tracks. As a result we have in front of us an album that is transparent in design but varied in its influence. Inside you’ll find moments of brit-rock, shoegaze, electro-pop, and folk meticulously detailed and seamlessly layered in the same order that they were written. My favorite track is the oozing pop haunt of “Lotteries and Tents”

Food Flavored Video: Stay Still by Vuvuvultures

Food Flavored Video: Stay Still by Vuvuvultures

In “Stay Still” by the Vuvuvultures one of those bored housewives goes off the deep end and completely beheads her husband. This is after serving him up a plate of dead chicks, maggots, spiders, ants and a number of other gross appetizers. Not the kind of food you were expecting? Perhaps I should include that there were some oranges, strawberries and pasta involved as well. The catch in all this is that the housewife (who performs amazingly in her lip close up scene) is married to a fly. Maybe he is abusive. Maybe he just watches too much television. Or did he marry out of his league? Whatever the reason, he loses his head moments before she sits down to eat herself. Her meal? Her husband’s head…

After an EP last year, Vuvuvultures is preparing a debut album. No word on when it will be out. One hopes it is as deviant as this video.


Minus the pictures:

Chipilo-Venetian Posole Assimilated by Paper Crows, Turrentine Jones and Enerate

Chipilo-Venetian Posole Assimilated by Paper Crows, Turrentine Jones and Enerate

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Before I give you a brief history lesson I have to mention, this is sort of a bitchy dish. Back in November I cooked up this compromise and exuded about it in a playlist. I then moved on to other foods, the holidays, life stuff. Unfortunately, like a spoiled brat, this posole would not let me live a day without reminding me that I had not dedicated a post to it. I tried to reason that a playlist is infinitely better than a post but it would not listen. So, I gave in. Tonight.

Anyway, during the Italian Diaspora a number of immigrants left the region of Veneto and settled in the Mexican State of Puebla. These five hundred or so immigrants founded the city of Chipilo and remained pretty isolated from the rest of Mexico. As a result, their language and traditions didn’t change much through the generations. If their grandparents had reincarnated from the dead, they probably would’ve recognized what was going on. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some Spanish influence, just that it was a lot than what happened in Veneto when Italian got its hands on it. This dish was born in a similar way to the Chipilo-Venetian Dialect. It was a posole, a pre-Columbian stew from Mexico, that remained largely isolated and unchanged for years. Why mess with the dish of my ancestors (by that I mean J-Fur made it once)? After all, if it was good enough for them, it was certainly good enough for me. But everything changed when I had some extra pasta sitting in my refrigerator. I didn’t want it to go to waste so I tossed it in the posole. Never shall the two be parted again.

Chipilo-Venetian Posole (adapted slightly from One Green Planet)
(printable version)

-1 Tbs. olive oil
-1 onion, small dice
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-4 corn tortillas (6 inches), small dice
-1 Tbs cinnamon
-2 tsp oregano
-2 tsp coriander
-1 tsp paprika-1 package of your favorite brand of fake chicken
-2 cans white hominy, rinsed and drained
-2 jalapenos
-2 Tbs. tomato paste
-6 cups vegetable stock
-4 ounces of pasta

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it is softened. Drop in the garlic and heat, stirring constantly, for a minute.

2. Add the tortillas and and saute, continuously stirring, until they have taken on a golden brown hue. Spoon in the spices and stir until everything has been well combined.

3. In a small bowl, combine the chicken, hominy, pasta and jalapenos. Stir. Add the pasta mixture to the tortilla mixture. Measure in the tomato paste and vegetable stock. Simmer for 12 minutes (or until the pasta has softened). Eat it quick lest the complaining begins.

In just a short while Paper Crows (and indie electronic duo from London/Glasgow) will be releasing a brand new single. In the meantime they are whetting our appetite with some of their tastier previous tracks. Included in this is the hypnotic drum machine burner “Pieces of Yourself.” Check it here:

Around the same time this posole was beginning to percolate through my household blues rock band Turrentine Jones released their track “Show Me Mercy.” I missed it. Or I ignored it because it contained the word “blues.” Whatever the reason, Brett from Balls Out wouldn’t let things stay that way. Not only did he turn me on to their old stuff but he also had me check out the new single “Della May.” Can’t say I like it as much as “Show Me Mercy” but it still has its shining moments:

“Della May” in all its red butterfly glory:

I ended the posole with a side of Sydney’s indie sensations Enerate. The band’s new single “Unstoppable” is a whimsical number with simple acoustic guitars and driving synth lines. But the true beauty comes from front man Josh Graham’s vocals. Can you say never ending falsetto?

Video games and swimming:

Darren Ockert: A Mini Documentary Wins the Enzian Film Slam

Darren Ockert: A Mini Documentary Wins the Enzian Film Slam

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British-turned-Floridian Darren Ockert is a man who does it all. He sings, writes music, produces and votes for important music decisions such as The Grammy winners and inductees to The Songwriters Hall of Fame. Recently Darren added actor to his CV as he starred in a documentary (entitled Darren Ockert: A Mini Documentary) that centered around his life as a professional musician. The ten minute film was directed by Hector M. Sanchez Jr. and it  follows Darren (and his dog briefly) around his South Florida home and into the studio as he records his new album, Short Story Long (due out this Summer). It hits topics such as Darren’s music career, his style of writing and what it is like to be an openly gay artist. “For me, it just felt really important to be myself…even though it felt really scary” he states in the film. He is inspired by Adam Lambert who was able to make it big while being openly gay and, to a lesser extent, Ricky Martin. Although he thinks Martin would’ve done just as well if he had been out from the start. The documentary premiered last night at the Enzian Film Slam in Orlando and walked away with the top honors

Darren’s first single from his new album will be released in mid March. “You Don’t Know Me” is a danceable pop number that serves as an indictment of people on television who preach about the sanctity of marriage being between a man and a woman. Darren suggests that these people are so interested in “preaching fairy tales” and offering charades “of a better brighter day” that they “cram us into a box” without even knowing his name or anything about him as a person. You can hear the track below:

 

Documentary Teaser:

Hank & (Avocado-Chocolate) Cupcakes

Hank & (Avocado-Chocolate) Cupcakes

DSC_5319Somehow, some way, J-Fur and I have to figure out how to fit a baby in this cramped apartment. In recent weeks we’ve combed painstakingly through our possessions trying to figure out what needs to go and what can stay. One of the first things we attacked is our 95 book shelves. Memories ensued, followed closely behind by tantrums, as I had to part with some meaningful pieces of literature, magazines and (sigh) cookbooks. I left the literature intact and most of the magazines too but before I sent those cookbooks to the Salvation Army I completely raided them (I apologize to those who purchase them and realize too late that they are missing a number of pages). Today’s recipe choice came from one of those raided pages. It was an avocado/chocolate vegan cupcake from Vegetarian Times.

The cupcakes use avocado as an egg replacer. Interesting and all but I wasn’t sold. After filling the twelve cake tins I had some batter remaining in my metal bowl and I licked it out (the beauty of vegan baking is licking the bowl without fear of salmonella). Something wasn’t right, it tasted just a little “off.” But then  magic happened. As the cupcakes baked, whatever was “off” about them disappeared. And when I removed the tiny cakes from the oven and prematurely ate one, I was immediately impressed with how moist and light they seemed. And they weren’t overly oily either. I couldn’t wait to glaze them up and go. The recipe’s glaze consisted of silken tofu, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt and vegan chocolate chips. I double broiled the chips, processed everything else together, mixed the two liquids and dipped the cakes in. After stripping away the wrapper I took a bit and prepared for a little bit of hea…blergh. Something was “off” about the glaze. I played with it for a bit, but to no avail. I tossed the glaze away and ate half the cupcakes plain. Maybe I’ll play with another topping tomorrow. Or maybe I won’t.

If you are interested in the cake recipe, go here.

So I heard (from like 9 Million blogs) that Hank & Cupcakes have a new EP called Ain’t No Love out. One of the tracks, “Sweet Potion,” was remixed by RJD2 (a remix that was included on the EP). I gave it a listen thinking that Hank & Cupcakes would go great with these avocado delights listed above. Pretty lackluster as far as I’m concerned (I should remind you that I am not a big fan of remixes and so that could be a large part of my boredom with it). Before I totally left the EP behind I figured I’d give another track a listen. “Fly” was the lucky winner. Featuring verses of angry hip hop style spoken words, with a magically airy chorus over swirling rock instrumentation I wasn’t sure what it was I was listening to. So, I played it again. And then a third time. At that point I was convinced that, even though I wasn’t sure what this was, I liked it. Hank & Cupcakes are hitting the road including a date in Tampa on March 2nd. I might have to stop by and take them some cupcakes. Check out their other tour dates here.

Food Flavored Song of the Day: The Promised Land by The Hyper Actives

Food Flavored Song of the Day: The Promised Land by The Hyper Actives

Right before Christmas the  The Hyper Actives released a critically acclaimed debut album called Rock N Roll Lives Again. The album pays tribute to some of their adrenaline fueled forefathers like AC/DC, Motorhead and Dead Boys. The album is largely made up of three chords being played for about three minutes (or less) as fast and aggressively as possible. It is a fun time packaged into short increments. Sort of like sex? Anyways, “The Promised Land” is sprinkled with little bits of fine wine and a helluva lot of PBR (or whatever Stockholm’s version of a cheap beer is).

As a bonus, check out “Rock N Roller Man”:

 

 

 

Food Pairing 101: What Goes Well With a Dairy Free Sicilian Pizza?

Food Pairing 101: What Goes Well With a Dairy Free Sicilian Pizza?

DSC_5313A few years back I wrote about the wonderful deep dish Sicilian pizza that is offered in a Wesley Chapel strip mall. After every half marathon I return to La Prima Pizza to ease the pain and celebrate a (hopefully) successful 3 months of training. Now that I have pretty much removed dairy from my diet I was looking for another way to continue to enjoy Sicilian style pizza without all the guilt that is attached to it. Thanks to my friend Bob Beck, I may have found it. When Bob does pizza, he does the Pizza Lab on Serious Eats. The author, J. Kenji Lopez (sounds all scientific with that beginning initial), provides information about many different styles of pizzas, from the sauce to the toppings to the different doughs. Right before Valentine’s Day J. Kenji Lopez posted about vegan pizzas. Seems like he goes on some sort of Vegan experience each year and he missed pizza so much that he had to make a plot chart for it. The post contained three vegan pizza recipes. Two of them I wasn’t super interested in. I have had bad experiences with potatoes and pistachio on pizzas so it is hard to get super excited about any pizza that contains them as a topping. But his third pizza was a deep dish Sicilian topped with sundried tomatoes, olives, caramelized onions and bread crumbs. That was something I could get behind.

And get behind it, I did. Last night, around 9:00, I fired my oven all the way up to 500 degrees (I didn’t think my oven went that high) and opened all the windows in the apartment to ensure the fire alarm didn’t go off (they usually do when the oven goes above 450). I topped the pizza, put it in the oven, and watched an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 21 Minutes later what exited my oven was a beautifully crusted, vegan Sicilian. While it wasn’t perfect (olives were too salty, I should’ve cooked the dough a little longer) it did give me an almost finishing point for experimenting with Sicilian pizzas again. I’m already imagining all those toppings…

J. Kenji Lopez seems to know his pizza. He is like a pizza king or something. I can’t imagine what that is like, I mean, heavy is the head that wears the pizza crown. His deep dish creation needs to be paired with a wordsmith that knows a thing or two about heavy crowns. That artist is Michel Dida. He has traveled the world (Abidjan, Paris, Jyvaskula and Copenhagen) to gather inspiration for three hay-wired mixtapes. His latest track, “No Hard Feelings,” finds Dida pairing with Swedish compatriots My Tandem for an airy piano driven number. It is finalized (the breadcrumbs on top) by vocals from Rebecca & Fiona’s “Hard.” This track will be featured on Dida’s upcoming mixtape Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown.

Rebecca & Fiona’s original version: