Blame Serious Eats, where the review of the Culver’s butterburger got under my skin, wiggled around, and insisted that trying one was a much better idea than attempting to make shrimp burgers, inventing a hamburger made of ham (with pineapple), or creating Hawaiian pasta.
A Wisconsin eatery requires a Wisconsin indie band, so let’s check out the Laarks from Eau Claire.
We have to listen quickly because Culver’s is fast food. So: Ian Jacoby on keyboard and vocals, Kyle Flater on guitar, Zach Hanson on bass, and Brian Moen on drums. Yes, he calls himself “BMoen.” (Say it out loud. Say it twice. This is very, very funny if one is eating cheese curds while thinking about it. And in Wisconsin, one usually is.)
About the cheese curds: don’t do it. The problem isn’t the enhancement to one’s sense of humor. Nor is it the calories, nor the saturated fat. The problem is the blandness. Anything this bad for one’s health is expected to roll about on one’s tongue in a provocative way, flashing tantalizing bits of flavor. Would you like to make odds on whether I’m contemplating the prospect of deep-frying chunks of roquefort or some other cheese that has more bite?
The Laarks are quintessentially of the Upper Midwest: sparse, distorted harmonies; sparse, distorted lyrics that are enigmatic yet definitely moody. There’s something about the Upper Midwest that lends itself to metaphor… possibly winters so harsh that it’s worth saving a few words in order to avoid exposing one’s tongue to the cold.
The Upper Midwest also lends itself to comfort food. This is, hands-down (no, wrong metaphor, as my hands are around the burger, and you’re not getting it away from me) the best fast-food burger I have ever encountered. It’s crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside, and tastes like real meat.
The only trick is that it has to be eaten quickly, as the hot, juicy, crispness is ephemeral. Once the moment passes, it’s just one more burger. Also, don’t bother with toppings. Nothing should come between the sizzling burger and the hot, buttered bun. Notice how quickly this is becoming food porn in a literal sense. The burger is that good.
What I’m enjoying about the Laarks is its fusion of slightly grungy Midwestern rock and electronica with lots of beeps and boops and shifting rhythms. It’s also a resourceful group that introduced me to a new form of time-wasting entertainment: $99 Music Videos. This is for real: indie bands and indie film-makers collaborate to do one-day shoots of videos for under $99 (an amount that’s still about $30 higher than what’s available after all members of the typical indie band have emptied their pockets).
Here’s the Laarks’ contribution (I disclaim all knowledge of what this song is about, other than about 4 minutes).
With Midwestern thoroughness, the Laarks also created a “making of” video to explain any symbolism one might have missed.
Speaking of clever marketing, how’s this for a hint?
Fortunately, I can’t stand vanilla.
Anyone who has read this far has a duty to post an ice cream flavor he or she would like to see featured in the next round of Freezer-Bag Ice Cream. Make it interesting! Make it challenging!