Pickled grapes

Back From The Grave

If you enjoyed what you heard while tagging along on Jason Heller’s guided tour of fuzzy, filthy garage rock, might I suggest Crypt Records’ series of Back From The Grave compilations for your next trip? Unlike Nuggets, the prototypical garage comp, and the many series that followed, Back From The Grave never drifts from its explicit focus on the rawer, dirtier side of mid-’60s rock. But what it lacks in stylistic diversity, it makes up with chutzpah and consistency. Crypt founder Tim Warren put the first volume (still one of the best in the series) together back in 1983 and followed it up with seven more LPs full of primitive, angsty teenage punks until 1992. (The eight volumes were later reissued across five CDs as Parts one, two, three, four, and eight. Yeah, it’s a type-A collector’s nightmare.) This year, after 23 years of hibernation and a newfound spotlight thanks to rise of prominent disciples like Ty Segall (who’s covered a handful of Grave tunes, including The Fabs’ version of “That’s The Bag I’m In” from Volume 1), the series made a surprise return with two new volumes, and it hasn’t missed a beat. I wouldn’t say these new entries rekindled my love of the series (I haven’t stopped listening to the old volumes since falling head over heels for them several years ago), but they did get me to start seeking out physical copies. Crypt recently started remastering and reprinting the LPs, and I’m slowly building my collection. The photos and ridiculous liner notes that tell the stories of these short-lived bands are worth the price of admission alone. The best way to get a hold of them seems to be straight from Crypt’s website, but the Hamburg-based label doesn’t have a dedicated web-store. You have to order through email, which in itself feels like a fittingly DIY solution. For now, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Back From The Grave burners from Volume 8: “Can’t Tame Me” by The Benders. [Matt Gerardi]

Solids, Blame Confusion

If you were to push Japandroids and Metz together the result would probably end up sounding exactly like Solids. Though the Montreal duo may not be as well known as its Canadian contemporaries, they finds ways to link accosting noise and sing-along choruses with ease. The band recently wrapped a tour with Self Defense Family and Makthaverskan—two bands I’ve gushed about before—but, due to some confusion about what time the show started, I arrived just as Solids’ set was ending. Thankfully some of my friends caught the set, and all their chatter about how great it was convinced me to buy the band’s 2014 debut Blame Confusion without any concept of what it would sound like. Any potential buyer’s remorse was washed away by the album’s second track, “Off White,” as the song cascades with hooks for its duration, offering up new earworms at every turn. [David Anthony]


Pickled grapes

A wet spring is underway in Chicago, with the occasional 70-degree day hinting at the heat to come. Those days are putting me in the mind of lemonade, iced coffee, Popsicles, and pickled grapes. It sounds weird if you haven’t tried them, but grapes pickled aren’t much different from cucumbers pickled. They’re a fantastic briny snack to enjoy under a hot sun, cool from sitting in the fridge and refreshing from sitting in vinegar. There are plenty of recipes online if you’re the sort of person who wants to measure things out, but you can also simply boil a spoonful of sugar in apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar, or a wine vinegar), add some pickling spices bound up in cheesecloth, and toss in grapes with the top sliced off. You have to slice the tops off so the vinegar can permeate the grape. Pickling spices can include coriander, dill, fennel, pepper corns, dried chili peppers, brown and yellow mustard seeds, allspice, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, juniper, ginger—you know what, just throw in a bit of whatever dried spices you have on hand (though you can also find them in a nice pre-mixed bag). It should be noted I’m talking about a simple pickling here, not full-on canning, which requires sterilization and therefore a lot more work. When you’ve finished with these grapes, refrigerate and enjoy within a few days or weeks. Pickled grapes are good on their own and also pair nicely with cheddar cheese. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]