Vacation, all I ever wanted/Vacation, time to eat five meals a day

Posted: May 29, 2014 in Miscellaneous, music, Record reviews
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Special D and I have just returned from a week on the East Coast, visiting our families and old friends from Portland and Seattle. This is a review blog, meaning I have a duty to review the 17 people we corraled in eight action-packed days. But this is a music review blog, meaning I can escape the oath I took to the International House of Critics and save my own life. I’ll simply say, then, that on our journey we encountered all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, and all things wise and wonderful. Yep, the Lord God made the lot.

In the middle of the week we drove from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh and back again, five hours each way through the cradle of the Civil War. We drove the back roads and we were lucky enough to catch and eat superb Virginia road food both ways.

On the way south we stopped at Payton’s Deli in the metropolis of Standardsville. Payton’s doesn’t look like much, but we were starved and couldn’t resist the sign that said “Greene County’s Best Chicken!” Our lunch, which was cooked up in the back of a store so old that the wooden floors undulated, wasn’t just the best fried chicken in the county, it might’ve been the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten.

Best fried chicken in Greene County

On the way north we tried the Cruis-In Cafe in beautiful downtown Keysville. The Cruis-In appears to be run by expat New Yorkers with accents a mile deep. Sounded just like my mother’s family. I had the hamburger steak with whipped potatoes and gravy followed by some sort of ice cream cake and nearly swooned. I didn’t have to eat again until Monday.

Cruis-In Cafe
I want to emulate their décor in my living room.

Despite all this excessive fun, I’m happy to be home and I’m ready for summer! Hope you are too, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere and you’re getting ready for winter. Bundle up and keep rockin’.

Random Pick of the Day
Slint, Spiderland (1991)
Dark dark dark dark dark. The opener, “Breadcrumbs,” is a purgative for your soul. “Washer” is mired in melancholy, except where it veers toward the apocalypse. The rest of Spiderland circles the same patch of ashen ground.

The singing is worse than what Nirvana dished out, and for one dreadful moment I thought I was listening to Black Sabbath. This was Slint’s last album, I assume because everyone in the band committed suicide.

Overall, though, Spiderland belongs on your late-night listening playlist. Very late night. Not your thing? Go back to bed.

Random Pan of the Day
Neil Young, A Letter Home (2014)
Neil, cut this shit out. A Letter Home was recorded inside a cramped 1948 Voice-O-Graph booth using cramped 1948 phone booth technology. (“Like talking on the phone,” the original ad said, “but a thousand times more thrilling!”) Next I guess he’ll stick his head inside a 1957 Schiaparelli hat box or maybe sing through tin cans tied together with string.

Neil gives his pre-Industrial Revolution, country treatment to Rod Stewart (“Reason to Believe”), Bruce Springsteen (“My Hometown”), Bob Dylan (“Girl From the North Country”), Willie Nelson (“On the Road Again”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), and you get the idea. The sound quality is, of course, abysmal, and many times I wondered if Neil’s heart was really in this.

If Gene Autry or Roy Rogers were still alive, would they shoot Neil full of holes? No – on the strength of one song, Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” Suddenly I heard the whole point of this project. For four minutes, in this strange acoustical environment, everything works. Is one song enough to recommend this disc? In other cases I’ve said yes, but A Letter Home is so strange that this time I must say no.

Neil Young is still a god. Write that down.


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