We'd been craving paletas — and Mexican snacks generally — ever since we vacationed in CDMX years ago. Sweet, spicy and sour chamoy creations, corn chips drenched in pickles and sauces, mango everything. It's become my ideal comfort outside soul food, which, thankfully, Mid-Atlantic Seafood satisfies my Southern hunger now that I've lived away from the South for 16 years.
Just recently I came across a Mexican ice cream and paleta shop just over the D.C. border in Bladensburg, Maryland. We've only been there thrice, but the women who run La Neveria Michoacana already know my daughter and me by sight. A-L always wants strawberries and cream, which honestly is some of the best I've had, but so far I've tried pistachio, black cherry & cream cheese (incredible!), mango with chili, Oreo, tres leches, rice and milk (basically horchata), pine nut, tamarind… I MUST TRY THEM ALL. — Lars Gotrich
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FLACCO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, SUGAR ~ SH*T ~ SILK ~ SWEAT (self- released): A post-bop record for a post-everything world. Keenan Ruffin's got a guitar tone somewhere between middle-school metal fuzz pedal and spaghetti western expanse — think Bill Frisell and Alessandro Alessandroni, with a dash of Robin Guthrie's alien ambient textures. But he maps that guitar grit onto modern trad-jazz compositions for quintet. Classy bandstand themes are introduced, split apart and twisted like a double helix — "BLUES MANNERISM," in particular, gets pretty gnarly — but always return to the song's unconventionally anthemic DNA.
Sơn FM, Points of Light (ST๐๐๗) (Siamese Twins): I feel like I've been chasing a better Myst soundtrack ever since I was a teenaged non-gamer clicking on mysterious puzzles to avoid first-person shooters. The Vietnamese duo captures an imaginary world by situating its phase-shifting synths inside the real one — sounds ripple like puddles in rainforests, and swish and sway like the vernal canopy. There's a sense, too, that the real world can be as unknown as our imagination. But these peaceful melodies — looped, decayed and brought back like spring — ground the natural-is-actually-supernatural experience.
Blod, Pilgrimssånger (Discreet Music): My dad's a Swedish immigrant; I didn't grow up with the language, but was partially raised around string bands in church services. So when Blod, who otherwise makes avant-tinged lo-fi loner folk, releases an album inspired by the Swedish free church that deals with "human connection and solitude built upon faith," well, like the '70s Swedish Christian rock comp, I had no choice but to press play. There is a charm to these folk songs and psalms — shakily strummed acoustic guitar, freaky flute melodies, enthusiastically struck (and slightly "off") percussion, rapturous and out-of-tune choral singing. If you didn't know any better, you'd swear Pilgrimssånger was a lost private-press record… or that the Microphones gave that old time religion a try. But for me, this sounds like holiday visits to extended family in the Midwest, sung in a language I never learned, but felt deeply.
Pretty, Last Death (self-released): Sasha Stroud is a studio engineer who has worked on albums by Hank Wood and the Hammerheads, L.O.T.I.O.N., Lily Konigsberg and Warthog at Artifact Audio. And if I remember correctly, she also just joined Firewalker on drums. So, lots of cool-as-hell punk and hardcore bona fides. Stroud's mom (we somehow connected on Instagram DMs a few years ago) sent me her debut as Pretty and now I'm picking my jaw off the floor. One the one hand, Last Death works as a sizzle real for her diverse production talents: Bolt Thrower-buzzsaw riffs, grinding Pig Destroyer punk chaos, cinematic post-hardcore, barked NYC hardcore ("Second Birth"), blackened pop-punk (the hooky "Dropships Over New Castle") and Unwound-y emo ("Leaving"). But it all hangs together as a pretty damn satisfying (and damn good sounding) mixtape.
Romperayo, Así No Se Puede Muchaches (Souk): Tropical folk music that bleeds aguardiente in an electro-psych haze. Romperayo features members of Los Pirañas (a personal favorite), Meridian Brothers and other like-minded weirdos of Colombian fusion. Similarly, there's an emphasis of bent traditions — synth-slurped cumbia, demented cocktail jazz, disorienting doom beats, highlife guitar buoyed by Latin percussion and even a daring cumbia-gnawa hybrid (at least that's what I think "El Borroacho" is) that somehow isn't swallowed inside out from its shifting rhythms. I wanna listen to this album after midnight, by pink firelight, on a cosmic beach.
Judy and the Jerks, Music to Go Nuts (Thrilling Living): How could a band called Judy and the Jerks not signal a beautifully batshit ball pit of chaos? The Hattiesburg, Mississippi hardcore punks speed through 10 songs in 17 minutes — the perfect length for a punk album, if you ask me — only stepping off the gas for the menacing midtempo closer. But like a Melt-Banana raised on obscure power-pop and garage-rock 45s, J&TJ manage to pack a ton of smart arrangements into such a short package: bouncing bass lines carry the melody, swaggering rock and roll riffs rev past their breaking point and blink-and-you-missed-'em licks are all wrapped in the singer's charismatic ping-pong delivery.
Stream the Viking's Choice playlist via BNDCMPR. Tracklist below:
FLACCO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, "STABLEMATES ~ coltcomrades"
Sơn FM, "Loose"
Blod, "Du kan sjunga fritt"
Pretty, "Sacrum Mountain"
Romperayo, "Que Tumba"
Judy and the Jerks, "Buford"
SPECIAL INTEREST, "(Herman's) House"
Pink Mass, "Sulfuric Blessings"
Katie Alice Greer, "Dreamt I Talk to Horses"
Félicia Atkinson, "Becoming a Stone"
Helms Alee, "Big Louise"
snow ellet, "19"
Today's Production, "Rough"
The Cat's Miaow, "I Take It That We're Through"
Mat Ball, "To Catch Light I"
Gaoulé Mizik, "A Ka Titine"
Mary Halvorson, "Belladonna"
I Jahbar & Darkblood, "Puff It"
Aaron Turner, "A Deep and Instant Regret"
Mary Lattimore & Paul Sukeena, "Hundred Dollar Hoagie"
Fallen, "Undisclosed Promises"
An Laurence, "Chants d'amour : interlude"
Broken Spear, "Lurave"
Boris, "She is burning"
Reeking Aura, "Seed the Size of a Spider's Eye"
Psycroptic, "Rend Asunder"
Antti Tolvi, "Spectral Organ"
Cristina Quesada, "Primavera"
Meridian Brothers, "Metamorfosis"
Ferry Djimmy, "Ichango"
Blacks' Myths, "... along came Ra!"
Bleed, "Burnt (By the Sun)"
Alex G, "Blessing"
Trauma Harness, "Last Action Hero"