All The Best Songs I've Eaten This October


I don't really believe in "mindful eating," that thing of eating quietly and contemplatively and with total focus on the act of nourishment or whatever. I think it's better and smarter to intensify the goodness of an eating experience with music that makes your head feel full of lovely things. So these are five new-ish songs I was obsessed with this month, along with some food that tasted extra-wonderful while listening to them. I'm really excited to eat November. 


I feel confident that most people reading this will love the hell out of Courtney Barnett: her vibe strikes me as very Strawberry Fields Whatever-y, it's dreamy and lazy and a little bit kooky but in an entirely chill and heartfelt way. "Avant Gardener" is my favorite track on her EP How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose and it's the best song I've heard about asthma attacks since "Asthma Attack" by the Fiery Furnaces - except I like it way better than "Asthma Attack." Courtney just has a cool way of swirling all these different feelings together, and I can't think of any other song in the world that's such a perfect balance of melancholy and funny. Toward the end of the song there's a lyric that goes "I was never good at smoking bongs..." and she sounds so genuinely wistful and you can really hear her singing the ellipses. She also does lots of weird things with words - she turns "emphysema" into a verb and rhymes "anaphylactic" with "super-hypocondriactic" and at one point lists off all these vegetables, including radishes. Radish is a beautiful word and a beautiful food; I like how its coloring's all cheery and pretty but then it kind of bites you in the mouth as you're eating it.

I guess "Avant Gardener" should be radishes, like watermelon radishes or maybe radish pie, but right now I'd rather make it these sunshine raspberries I bought on Monday at Super King. They look like some boozy drink you'd get in a halfway decent Chinese restaurant, pink and hazy-yellow like if golden raspberries and regular raspberries had some nice little babies. You should buy How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose and buy a pint of sunshine raspberries and eat the whole thing and listen to the whole thing, lying on the floor, not doing anything else.


In my neighborhood there's an adorable little grocery store called Cookbook and they sell these dates called Bahrain dates, which I suppose means they come from Bahrain. Bahrain dates taste like they soaked in honey for about a hundred years, but really there's no honey: they're just that soft and gooey and golden-y on their own.

Minor Alps is a new band with Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws from Nada Surf and there's nothing gooey about them but they're definitely golden and soft. "Soft" like "tender" and "quiet" - like soft rock! Seriously. It's soft rock that's deep and powerful, and sometimes devastating, which is an adjective I can never not use when writing about music by Juliana Hatfield. The "honey" part is that the melodies and guitar are sweet and glistening, but it's also about how honey can be medicine (it makes coughs go away and helps cuts get better faster). Minor Alps is less medicinal and more elixir-like, and they can cure headaches and irritability and make you feel warmer and a little lighter and brighter.

"Buried Plans" is the first song on Get There and the vocals in the last 40 seconds are like angels and skies and make me excited about going to church on Christmas Eve. I don't know whether that's a fucked-up thing to say or not.


One time I was listening to "Mary Magdalene in the Great Sky" on the swingset by Santa Monica Pier and the next day I had a bruise on my left arm from leaning into the chain and it looked pretty cool. "Mary Magdalene in the Great Sky" feels like swinging on a swing on the beach at nighttime more than it feels like a lavender honey nougat bar but, I don't know, "lavender honey nougat bar" just seems like one of the most quintessentially Tanya Donelly-y things you could possibly ever eat: it's sweet and lovely and kind of weird, and it's delicate but it sinks into your teeth and then just stays there.

"Mary Magdalene in the Great Sky" is from Tanya's Swan Song Series, which are these EPs she's putting out at the beginning of every month from now till early next year. Three have come out so far and I love them all and I got to interview her about them and about Belly and books and other great things for Popdose and that was a dream. BTW if you want an MP3 of Tanya speaking the word "Hunkpapa" in her cool whispery voice from the other end of my phone, I'll send it to you for one million dollars, which is a total bargain.

P.S. I found my lavender honey nougat bar at a wine store on Larchmont that's maybe my favorite place in L.A. right now: it's tiny and smells intensely of expensive cheese and they sell lots of extravagant candies and also make these amazing-looking sandwiches you can eat on the sidewalk. While I was there I also got the most darling bottle of vodka, in the shape of a skull. 


Walt Whitman Mall came out last spring but I'm happy I waited until early-autumn to buy it. It's melancholy-making but cozy and it sounds like home, which is my favorite quality in a record lately. The part in "Withering" about getting drunk and crying to the Beach Boys: kills me. I still stand by the thing I said in April in my post about loving Boston, about how Bill Janovitz/Buffalo Tom is warm like whiskey but not too much whiskey, but Walt Whitman Mall is also this crazy-heavy/crumbly homemade Nutter Butter thing I got last Sunday at Cookbook and ate with that cute Asian pear, watching the Red Sox game. It's sweet things that fill you up and are even good for you.


There's this new place in L.A. called Donut Friend where you can build your own donut from this insane menu. I went there the other day and got that donut up at the top, which I was trying to make look like the cover of the new Lee Ranaldo album - it's a raised donut with apricot jam, lime custard, strawberry glaze, and lots of rainbow sprinkles. The best thing about my Lee donut was all the different textures - like, the strawberry glaze was very faintly grainy, and I swear I could feel like the individual sugar molecules on my tongue. It tasted like a melted rainbow, like psychedelic Skittles.

I don't really have a favorite song on Last Night on Earth; it's one of those records you let play and do whatever you're doing and slip away from it every once in a while but then something snaps you back and you get all zoned out on the cool psychedelic-Skittle vibes. Before I bought the album I was worried it was going to be all noisy and overly aggressive with the guitars, like this solo-Lee track a dude put on a mixtape for me in 1997. But instead it's Hippie Lee, and the guitars are dreamy and pretty and sometimes even lush. I love Lee's melted-rainbow brain.

Another great point about Last Night on Earth is my friend Danielle Petrosa took some of the photos featured in the album art. Here are a few more groovy Lee pix from Danielle. Lee Is Free x 1,000.

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