Sofar (sounds) so good…

11 Jan

So we went to a Sofar Sounds show….

Preface: Pokito, a wonderful (tiny) asian/southwestern fusion bar/resto with fantastic happy hour and food. We also met one of the performers (review to come later) who enthusiastically and sincerely asked, “but why are you even coming?” – to which we emphatically responded, to see what’s out there. To seek out some interesting shit.

And then, First, venue: a 20-something gent named Michael let us into his eccentrically appointed artists loft on South 4th (next to the Woods – I’m already on board). We packed into a large room, grabbing a spot on the floor, with 50-60 creative-minded people (read: lots of chambray and denim combos). I brought a travel neck pillow as a butt donut (yasss). After popping a bottle of BYOB red wine and some glasses carried en tote, we were introduced to the Sofar evening’s host, our fellow guests (yes, there’s a meet and greet moment) and then the music began.
Set 1: Magana – This beautiful, subtle singer-song writer had us with her minimalistic, breath-fueled vocals. She was captivating and modest and I couldn’t help but gape. Her song, “No More Friends” brought me right back to college, and a memorable trip to the Bronx zoo. Apparently, she has a full band show at Pete’s Candy this March. I’ll be stopping by.
Set 2: Girl Blue  – holy shit. white girl’s got pipes. With meaningful lyrics and political satire, our pre-show girl crush (said performer we had met at Pokito) had the right aesthetic for the room. Her voice is brilliant and wielded with powerful intention. I could have listened to her sing about tax returns. PLEASE let her sing about ANYTHING. Hailing from Albany, she’ll be opening for Michael Bloom at Bowery Ballroom this spring. I will absolutely be following her tour dates.
Set 3: Micky Sings + Mateo – not for me, but in an “I respect the hustle and what you’re trying to do” type of way. Micky was an aggro male voice who’s played over 400 times in 2016. I think he was a bit restrained by the Sofar format but it is what it is. Mateo on the keyboard grabbed one solo song and nailed it – I’m not a huge electric keyboard gal, but I picked up what he was putting down. They’re at Rockwood on Saturdays in February, if that’s your thang.
Overall, I would say go to a Sofar Sounds show. Get to know their scene, enjoy the unique setting, the undiscovered musicians, and, if you’re blessed by the domestic gods, apply to host one. Everyone on this list owes it to themselves to check it out, should there be events in your hood. Check it out.

She’s bi-PARTY-san

6 Nov

May the best woman win…

Part restrained disco, part oddly Fleetwood Mac-ish (hey now – wait till the female vocals come in), Shiny Toy Guns won’t have you Fading Listening (except, of course, if you’re faded while you’re listening – but that’s another set of circumstances for a different time). Moving along… if you haven’t noticed yet, I have a massive thing for the xx – this Take It Easy Hospital rework of Angels takes things to the next level without losing the authenticity of the original track.  Completely losing the original track, the Cyril Hahn take on Losing You by Beyonce’s lil sis Solange is pretty out there – if by “out there” you get that I freakin lurve it.

Other highlights include the oh-so-dancey Good For You by Icona Pop and DVNO,  a rager crafted by Justice then refined by Kids at the Bar.  Closing things out, the completely sex-i-fied Something About Us by none other than Daft Punk will have you forgetting political lines and seeing… well, stars.  Rock the vote, then rock out, kids.

Want on the mailing list to get the full downloadable playlists?  Leave a comment or shoot me an email to Rhea Recommends at gmail dot com.

Over and out.

She’s So Emo

16 Oct

Oh, so this is going to be a regular thing?

Swedish trio Niki and the Dove‘s 2010 track Mother Protect gets the Goldroom treatment; the resulting mix is a small synth-pop celebration that’s perfect for shaking the goods.  On the other end of the spectrum, one of my favorite bands, Tame Impala returned to the studio to create their sophomore album, “Lonerism” – introspective and psychedelic songs like Mind Mischief are sure to continue growing a fan base for the Aussie band.   Tickets for NY shows sold out large venues in a day (I snagged a pair for the Webster Hall show this November back in August) – keep an eye out for upcoming show announcements.  The latest track I’m getting all emo over?  True Romance is a giddy electronic chronicle of young love whose sound inspiration was allegedly “Kanye West producing an Arcade Fire song” according to Citizens!, the five-member all-male band behind the track.  Whatever that means, this Gigmesh remix nails it.  If you’re as big a fan of Chad Valley as I am, give a listen to Tell All Your Friends and I’m sure you’ll do just that.  Head’s up; he’s opening the Windish Agency’s CMJ Showcase at Brooklyn Bowl on Friday, Oct. 19th – snag tickets and party with the cool kids (including yours truly).  Rounding things out with a dark finale, First Aid Kit relies on haunting vocals doctored to produce the perfect chilling sensation, reminding you that though it’s still Autumn, Winter Is All Over You.

Friends: enjoy the listen and expect the full Rhea Recommends: She’s So Emo playlist, coming to an inbox near you soon.

She’s Fall Mixed Up

24 Sep

It’s about time.

CHVRCHES – The Mother We Share – Bubble gum synth pop, and that’s fine by me.  This Glasgow-hailing trio is buzzing right now – they’ll be touring with Passion Pit this Fall; I can only hope they’ll hit the US. hard.

Escort – Cocaine Blues – BK-based contemporary disco that’s catchy as hell.  Apparently their live sets feature a 17-piece line-up.  October 27th at Webster Hall. Color me interested.

Sky Ferreira – Everything is Embarrassing –  US singer-songwriter-model-actress-whatever, this chick’s got chops.

Lana Del Ray – Backfire– Sure, she’s awkward as F live, but with the catalog of hauntingly sensual tracks she’s amassed over the past year, I’ll give her a pass for the whole SNL blunder.  This one doesn’t disappoint.

Jamie xx – Rolling in the Deep (feat. Childish Gambino)– The boys managed to sneak their way into this one by piggy-backing re-inventing this not-just-quite played-out Adele mega hit.  Love Childish Gambino’s feature and if this is your first encounter with the solo work of the xx’s Jamie Smith, you owe yourself a good catchup session.

Till next time – RR signing out.

Check-Out Hotel Chantelle

23 May

When looking for somewhere new to do dinner, I found myself perusing the menu at the LES’s somewhat-recently opened Hotel Chantelle, which, in the epic words of R. Kelly and Cassidy is not a motel or a ho-li-day inn (or even a real hotel – say what?!).  What the folks at Hotel Chantelle do happen to be working with is one of the best kept secrets of the LES dining scene.  With a massive retractable-ceiling roof deck, lively bar sitch and some hella good food, it’s really a wonder that dinner’s yet to catch on with the trend setters of lower Manhattan.

Please don’t mistake me – I’m not trying to claim discovery of this palace of swank (after 11pm on weekend evenings, you’re in for a scene at the door) – I’m merely baffled that dinner has yet to take on a larger following.  Wine and cocktails, like the mapped-out namesake Ludlow (gin + mint = up my alley) are on happy hour at the bar till 9pm week nights – definitely grab a stool for a pre-dinner libation.  Once you’re seated, try starting with a Mediterranean dip trio for the table; we dipped six grain and herbed lavash in roasted garlic hummus, cucumber with mint tzatziki and eggplant caviar (a personal fave).  During appetizer round, we opted for the tomato and (oh so creamy) mozzarella salad, which was good, but not a show stopper.  The refreshing watermelon salad with pine nuts, fresh mint and ricotta salata turned out to be a much better call, as far as different flavors go.

I’d have to say that at a place with such a casual cool vibe and swallow-able prices, I was impressed with the high quality of the seafood entrees, which far exceeded my expectations.  A lobster tagliatelle was flavorful with buttery claw pieces throughout the ribbons of al dente pasta and the snapper was melt-in-yo-mouth tender.  My grilled Mediterranean whole sea bass was stuffed with sliced lemon and fresh herbs and tasted un-fussed with; its careful preparation resulted in an effortlessly elegant flavor.  Simply put, if you want to go to the Hotel, all you gotta do is holler at me – I’d even go so far as to make plans to stay for an after [dinner] party, checkin’ out 6 in the mornin’…

Somebody That I Used to Know: Hester Street Fair

30 Apr

It’s been a year since my last foray to the LES street fair standout on Hester Street and, unlike the many reincarnations of Gotye’s post-breakup ballad (yes, you can have too much of a good thing), this food and fashion fest is jam packed with the vendors that I used to know but actually enjoy in subsequent encounters.   With tried ‘n true faves like Luke’s Lobster (#1: holy shrimp roll, Batman) and it’s-new-to-me-comers like La Sonrisa (#2: Chipotle mayo + spicy queso makes for effin delicious grilled corn), this trip back to Hester Street Fair was revisiting the scene of a love affair that’s not painful to remember (but easy to dwell upon). Oh, and boozy cupcakes (#3) from Prohibition Bakery (sweet, sweet, irony) like the pretzel and beer mini are finger lickin’, tongue and cheek offerings.

After the first round of eats, I helped myself to a few more delicious items.  First, an iced coffee from the fine folks at Cafe Grumpy (#4) was an excellent mid-meal refreshment.  Shortly thereafter, I had my first encounter with the lovely ladies at S’Amore who recommended I meet Tom (#5); a salted chocolate graham cracker sandwich with a hand-torched marshmallow, almond and melted dark chocolate. This may be the best dessert I’ve ever eaten.  Seriously. After that, I treated myself yet again – to a Swarovski blinged-out star burst ring (#6) from LYRALOVESTAR by Crystal Streets (wholesale prices at HSF each week, what what!?).  To be honest, you could spend your Saturday doing something other than attending this faboosh affair, but like the sorry dude on YouTube trying to cover Gotye for the 1,000th time, don’t be that guy.

Keeping Up with the Cocktails: Lantern’s Keep

18 Nov

So many things in 2011 have been cheers-worthy; I’ve had a major (excellent) career change and began working on a new blog professionally (you can still find my resto reccos here).  While I know it’s been a spell since I’ve had time to visit with you all, my recent trip to Lantern’s Keep gave me a reason to come out of retirement.  This classy little Midtown speakeasy is giving the cocktail shops Downtown a run for their money and giving me another reason to cheers.

On this particular cold and rainy evening, stepping inside the Iroquois Hotel (W 44th St btwn 5th/6th Aves) was a thoroughly welcomed escape.  Through the lobby, I spotted the lavish digs Lantern’s Keep calls home – the rich chocolate woods are complemented with plush blue Venetian-style seating and a fireplace nestled in the back corner will warm the crowd of cocktail enthusiasts during winter months.  The menu, which features selections crafted by head bar keep Theo Lieberman, stays true to the classics while infusing its spirits with creativity as much as the ingredients themselves.

My standout cocktail of the evening (like I was really stopping at one!) had to be the Wildest Redhead ($14).  Served in a lowball glass with a glacial-sized rock of ice, this scotch-based concoction plays on the warm aromas of all-spice with the belly-heating effects of its spirit base.  The drink is best when consumed through a chilled metal stirrer-straw, as provided by the Keep’s tender.  Another favorite was the Mexican Bouquet ($14), which leans heavily on blanco tequila while letting the St Germain Elderflower liquor and rose syrup whisper a lovely floral perfume.

The charcuterie plate featured an array of cheeses, meats, fruit and warm fresh bread served on a slate and smartly labeled so I’d never confuse my Vermont Shepherd with  the Tickler Cheddar (as if!)  This and other petite plates prepared by The Iroquois’ Executive Chef Jason Tillman are portioned perfectly to keep your worst hungers at bay.  And no, I’m not talking about that hankering for your next cocktail, there’s no helping that desire.  Not that there’s anything wrong with having another one when the drinks are flowing at the Lantern’s Keep  – and to that, let’s cheers.

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