Music and Food Reviews In Brief – Brittany Howard, Mac DeMarco, BOSS, Quorn

Brittany Howard/Jaime – This album sits at that rare intersection where raw talent, creativity, and conviction meet. Sometimes that happens. I am embarrassingly unacquainted with Alabama Shakes, but Howard appears to be in the same league as Prince or Sly Stone. And she has excellent taste in guitars, playing a beautiful Pelham blue Gibson SG with three pickups which looks absolutely badass in her arms. This is not Dutch Bros. Coffee. When Pitchfork says “this is the eleventh best album of 2019,” if they are wrong about anything it would be albums one-through-ten. I could say the same thing about Queens of the Stone Age’s 2007 release Era Vulgaris, which is a real “kick in the face,” but I am also a fan of any record with a drum sound that dares to be different. It’s very . . . distant-mic’ed? Compressed? Who knows? I like it. A+

Mac DeMarco/Here Comes the Cowboy – Like Harry Nilsson, hard-partying knucklehead Mac DeMarco is devoted not to stadium-sized rock and roll riffage but the perfect sweet pop song. On this sleepy set of songs, like Todd Rundgren (and Nilsson), DeMarco’s straightforward voice transforms into something from outer space when he breaks into a falsetto. A

Excellent Boss BF-2 Flanger Vintage 1984 Electric Guitar Effects Pedal MIJ

BOSS “Green Label” BF-2 Flanger Guitar/Bass Effect Pedal (Made in Japan-1980s) – Speaking of Prince, Prince had one of these on his pedal board. Since the early 2000s BOSS has made a newer flanger, the BF-3. I like the BF-3, which is digital and offers many options the BF-2 lacks, including stereo input and output, tap tempo and a gate mode, but the analogue, monophonic BF-2 does a much better job at the classic “Barracuda” thing. Rather than describe the BF-2 as “warmer” or “more organic,” which are kind of cliches without much meaning, I will say the feedback (a.k.a. “res” knob) is more pronounced yet more musical. While the BF-3 has a pleasant sort of sheen with some subtlety and it excels at rotating speaker sounds, chorus, thanks to the odder-sounding feedback, the BF-2 has an endearing and addicting “sci-fi” sound to it. The “depth” and “range” of the BF-2 are also more limited than the BF-3. BOSS describes the “normal” mode on the BF-3 as being “the sound of the BF-2,” but I would say the BF-2 actually sounds a bit more like the BF-3’s “ultra” mode. The BF-2 also features some of the sturdiest-feeling knobs in the business. The BF-3’s knobs have more of a smooth, modern feel, the the BF-2 knobs (which are black – later made-in-Taiwan BF-2s have white knobs) put up a certain amount of pleasing resistance when turning that says “heavy duty.” By the way, like some older BOSS pedals, this one takes an “ACA” power supply rather than the 9-volt-center-negative-regulated “PSA” standard “BOSS-style” pedals are associated with today. If the pedal is to be used without a battery, the pedal . . . . hmm . . . . takes the usual nine volts but really twelve volts but really nine, which does not make any sense, but in the end it means that it must be used with either a twelve-volt adapter, a BOSS ACA adapter that claims to be 9 volts but is really 12, or, as I do, daisy-chained behind a regular nine volt pedal, which bypasses some weird wiring that made sense in the 80s. A+

Quorn Vegetarian “Fish” Sticks – Nothing says “fun” quite like fish sticks. These are less “fishy” tasting than Gardein’s “fillets,” but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Excellent texture, terrific with tartar and pickles as a side or on a sandwich. A

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