Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kenyon launches his CD

October 22

I was right! It’s not a universally acceptable act just to plow into people, no matter how crowded a place is or how drunk the people there are, without acknowledging that you’ve made uninvited physical contact.
This was clear last Saturday at the Mercury Lounge, when a sold-out crowd showed up to celebrate the launch of “Like a Bitch," the debut album of my friend Kenyon Phillips’ band Unisex Salon. The place was packed, and Kenyon was obviously thrilled, but even though the doors opened at around 11:30 p.m. and this was unlikely to be the first stop of most of the people there, the crowd was cordial, used the hand-on-the-back gesture when trying to get past people, and in general behaved like they were raised as something other than caged animals.
I drank Sierra Nevada and was delighted by Kenyon’s new sound. I’ve always liked his music, but the album has a harder-rock quality than his previous stuff, which Kenyon says is due to the influence of his brother Stephen Phillips, a longtime studio musician.
“My brother brings a real hard rock influence. And my sensibilities keep it poppy, I suppose,” he told me.
He also told me that his lyrics, which generally sound like they have to do with romantic conflict, are often written by him to himself. Narcissistic, perhaps, but also quite dark.
I shared the CD with my colleague, Elissa Elan, who said it was “interesting” assessed it thus: “Dense instrumentalism and a little bit of a Kinks sound but kind of alt at the same time.”
That dense instrumentalism and Kinksyness would be Stephen’s influence, the alt would be Kenyon, a longtime Brian Eno fan.
I guess the album’s single would be a number called "Don't Look Down," for which Kenyon has even made a video, but my favorite song is the tenth track, ”Feels So Good,” which you can find here if you click through the music.
The after party for the disk launch was at a club called Don Hill’s, a place that I’d never heard of but when I got there it struck me as a gay club for straight people — lots of overt sexual innuendo, a hot-body contest, people walking around in their underwear, others pole-dancing, bad beer selection.
Yesterday at lunch, a native New Yorker told me that Don Hill’s was, in fact, once a gay bar that had been infiltrated by others.
That was at the Peninsula Hotel, which was holding a press lunch featuring Curtis Duffy, an Alinea alumnus who is now the chef of Avenues, the restaurant at the Peninsula in Chicago.
Actually, Curtis had been working for Alinea executive chef Grant Achatz even before that restaurant opened, when Grant was the chef at Trio, in Evanston, Ill. His hometown is Columbus, Ohio.
I bet you were wondering how I was going to get the restaurant world into this blog entry, weren’t you?

What we ate and drank at the Peninsula:

White truffle, tapioca, Parmesan sable, chive
Do Ferreiro Albariño Cepas Vellas, (Rias Baixas, Spain)

Golden trout, Semmillion verjus, honshimeji mushrooms, spruce
Qupe Roussane Bien Nacido Hillside Estate (Santa Inez Valley, Calif.)

Hato Mugi (a type of Japanese grain), red wine, manchego broth and sorrel
P. Manzoni, Pinonero (Langhe, Piedmont, Italy)

Wagyu (actual wagyu, from Japan), smoked coconut, white shoyu (leftover shards from the process of making soy sauce, in fact), African blue basil
Artadi Pagos Viejos (Rioja, Spain)

Carbonated Cabernet verjus, with various aromatic flower petals and fruits

Chocolate, Chambord, malt, anise hyssop
Yalumba Museum Reserve Antique Tawny (Australia)

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