Cookbook Challenge: Mad about Muffins

Every summer since I met my lovely wife, we’ve taken a few days to visit her family’s home-away-from-home in Wells, Maine. They rent a beach house out on the sandbar for a week or two and invite the family to come up. We have to rotate through because it’s not a very big house, but we’ll generally try to get there while some other family is around, since it’s nice to see family outside of the usual holidays and birthdays that usually bring us together.

In recent years, we’ve made an effort to visit Spiller Farm while we’re there. This is a kind of unique farmstand (think fresh local veggies, imported watermelons, and lobsters in tanks) that has a pick-your-own component as well. When we get there, it’s usually pick-your-own highbush blueberries, among other things — we’ve gotten corn, carrots, tomatoes as well as the usual fruits in the past. We make a point of picking lots and lots of blueberries — about a gallon, if we can. Of course, many blueberries are eaten in the process, and occasionally we just throw them up in the air and try to catch them in our mouths.

052614-blueberries

When we get back from Wells, I pack the blueberries up into 2-cup servings in freezer bags and freeze them. It may be months before I get around to using them but they’re still delicious.

Recently, we had a houseguest staying with us, and I decided I’d up my breakfast game and make some muffins. So I entered the cookbook challenge again. This time, I’m using a book called “Mad About Muffins“. There are great recipes — from basic bran muffins to “Taco Muffins” that use salsa and meat drippings. But for now, as you can probably imagine, I’m sticking with a basic, classic blueberry muffin.

Caveat: I don’t know the rules about posting recipes out of someone’s cookbook, but I’m going to hope that if I’m doing it in the pursuit of promoting their cookbook they’ll be OK with it. However, this recipe is written more narratively and also has some tweaks that make it a little different (but not a lot). Nevertheless, if I get a C&D order I’ll have to take it down.

Blueberry “Mad About” Muffins

Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Soften 3/4 stick of salted butter and mix with 2/3 cup of sugar (I use Florida Crystals or some other fine-grain minimally-processed sugar) until well combined. Beat in 2 eggs. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract (I recommend Penzey’s if you can get your hands on it), and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Add a cup of all-purpose flour, mix in. Add 1/4 cup of milk, mix in. Add another cup of flour and another 1/4 cup of milk, as well as 2 cups of blueberries fresh from the bush — or the freezer — and mix until just combined. Try not to crush the blueberries too much.

Grease a muffin tin (or use muffin cups, which is what I did) and evenly distribute the mixture into 12 muffin-shaped depressions. Finally, take 1/4 stick of softened butter and mix with 2 tbsp of cinnamon sugar (or 2 tbsp of brown sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon). The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts as well but if you don’t have any, just double the butter/sugar mixture (1/2 stick of butter and 4tbsp of cinnamon sugar). Put a dollop of the mixture on each muffin and bake them for 25-30 minutes.

Muffins

The muffins turned out great, and were gone within 24 hours. We have no self-control, evidently. The stuff that was supposed to be streusel topping just ended up giving each muffin a slight sugary glaze. This was also the first test of the Baker’s Edge pan I got last Christmas. Why, you ask? I have no idea. It’s just a well-made muffin pan; the company claims the shape is good for something but I think it’s just an interesting gimmick to set them apart from other kitchenware makers. Since they’re well made, I don’t mind buying into the gimmick. I really love their brownie pan too, but I like edges so it makes sense.

I’ve got more food posts lined up, so keep an eye on this space.

MusicBlox: Red Red Groovy

redredsmallI was digging through my music directories, and stumbled across this album I had almost forgotten about. It took me way back to the days I spent as a highschooler digging through CD bargain bins, looking for … I don’t know, things I hadn’t heard of that looked interesting. I remember finding this album vividly. I was a student at St. Mark’s in Southborough for less than a year (long story), and one of the teachers had a kind of club that went in to Faneuil Hall for a fancy dinner and classical music with the BCO periodically. I joined out of a sense of adventure and an interest in not being cooped up in my dorm room with people I barely got along with. Prior to the dinner and music part of the evening, we had the run of the market and had much fun at stores which have long since been replaced with tedious facsimiles.

One of the stores I made a point to hit was Sam Goody, a music chain in the vein of Strawberries or Coconuts (what did music have to do with fruit in the 90s, anyway?). I’d leaf through their bargain bin, then go through their electronic section. At this point in my life I had already solidly connected with the rave scene, and even if I was unable to go to parties frequently I was voraciously devouring as much of the music as I could get my hands on. Eon, Plastikman and the Speed Limit series were on frequent rotation in my dorm room, to the consternation of the dorm parents.

The time in question, I had struck out in the bargain bin but stumbled across an intriguing cover in the electronic section. Sometimes, when I found little else, I’d take a gamble on something by the cover alone. This time, when I got a listen to the CD, it wasn’t at all what I expected — but not wholly disappointing, either.

Red Red Groovy was a band on a short-lived spinoff of the MCA record label called Continuum Records. The label folded in the mid-90s, which left them without a platform on which to release their music. There’s also a rumor that they were embroiled in a legal battle with the similarly-named but unrelated industrial act Red Red Groove, which kept them from pursuing new representation under a new label. Rather than renaming and pressing on, they disbanded and went their separate ways.

The album they left behind remains, in my opinion, one of the most unique and overlooked electro-pop albums of the early 90s. While some will note the similarity to pop-psychedelic groups like the B-52s and Deee-Lite, the fact is that their placement in the electronic section of Sam Goody was not accidental. The album has a strong dance groove, aside from the unmissable 60s-style Hammond-organ grooviness that invites comparisons to Madchester bands or Saint Etienne. However influenced they may have been by some of the UK music scene around the same time, Red Red Groovy was from Minneapolis and also influenced by the burgeoning US rave scene that was their more direct experience.

Despite the fact that the band’s website is long gone, their album “25” is still available from time to time on Amazon. Or of course, you could just stream the whole thing on Youtube.

Sneak Peek on a new pattern

It’s been a while since I’ve spent time actually working on a new technique to incorporate into a pattern, and it’s both as exhilarating and time-consuming as I remember it. This one is doing double-duty as a set of samples for one of my upcoming workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab, but I’m pretty happy with the results so I wanted to show it off. Also, I’d love some feedback if you feel so inclined.

As you may (or may not, I won’t judge) remember, I released a pattern a while ago using double-knit openwork. It was part of a book by Artyarns, and as such I think it didn’t really get the wide exposure it probably deserved. In retrospect, releasing a brand new technique in a method that requires that I sign away all rights to the pattern was probably not my wisest move. Fortunately, the pattern, while fun to knit and a great excuse to play with yarn I would probably never otherwise have been worthy to lay my hands on, was not the best use of openwork in the world and I was sure I could do better.

Unfortunately, I didn’t. I let the technique lay dormant for a while — and in the meantime, I got one-upped by someone else who independently developed their own technique for double-knit openwork. I’m happy that pattern came out — because it opened more eyes to the untapped possibilities of double-knitting, and that’s my bottom line — but part of me feels I should have been more proactive, and gotten double-knit lace out there faster (and bigger, and better) than I did.

But it’s all water under the bridge now. The best I can do is to show what I can do with this technique. So without further ado, here are a couple of samples, done in Anzula Dreamy. The colors aren’t perfect here — it’s more of a spring green and dark tan — but you get the idea.

DK-lace-sneakpeek

These are mockups for an eventual cowl. Obviously, there will be more repeats in both directions, and I need to play more with needle sizes to get the best lacy-ness while keeping the stitch definition clear. So why are there two? Well, actually there are three but the third is still on the needles. These two showcase two separate ways of processing yarnovers, both with their pros and cons. The third way is single-sided — the holes show up only on one side but the colorwork shows on both.

The one on the right uses “standard” double-knit yarnovers, which are easier to process and result in a very nice and solid fabric since the two sides lock together at each yarnover. The resulting fabric shows the opposite color as background for both sides, but working it causes the ends to twist once around with each yarnover. Here, the color changes offer a chance to untwist the yarns as you go, but there are more YOs than color changes so you’re stuck untwisting manually every now and then.

The one on the left uses “reverse” double-knit yarnovers — and when you encounter them on the next round, you need to work into the back loop for both stitches to keep the hole nicely open. This method does not lock the fabric together at the yarnovers, which results in more visible holes all the way through the fabric since the two sides are free to move. Here, the color changes offer places where the fabric locks together to keep the entire fabric from separating.

The third way has a similar structure to the one on the left — in that the two sides end up disconnected — and solves the issue of having no background to the holes by making no holes on the opposite side. However, it’s not quite as reversible so you need to make your color choices carefully.

This is why, when I teach Double-Knitting Lace and Openwork, I let people practice all three methods — any of them can be easily done off a standard lace chart, assuming you know how to translate from single-sided lace to your chosen method of double-knit lace.

There is a fourth method that’s similar to the third and even cleaner, but it will require recharting (and some new chart elements as well).

I’m inclined to use the second method (the one on the left) because it reacts better to yarnovers directly after colorwork, and the rhythm of the TBL stitches is easy enough once you get used to it. But here’s where I ask for feedback — what do you think of the pattern? Too complex? Would you (want to) knit it if it were cowl-sized? Or should I go back to the drawing board?

If you’re interested in learning double-knit lace and openwork, I’ll be teaching in Manchester at the Interweave Knitting Lab — and probably not again until next season.

In other news:

My Craftsy Class has hit 6000 students as of this morning! Thanks everyone — now let’s see if I can hit 7000 by the end of the year!

There’s a list of independently-published knitting books on Goodreads that Shannon from Cooperative Press has been asking people to vote on. I have no idea what the votes are good for, but go check it out and vote for my book, if you don’t mind. It can’t hurt :>

Return of the son of 52 Pickup

52 Pickup Covers.inddIf you’ve been following my progress for the past few years, you may have heard that, back in early 2012, I released an ambitious double-knitting pattern called “52 Pickup“. Sales have continued to trickle in as equally ambitious double-knitters buy the pattern.

In time for the winter holidays in 2012, I decided to release a very limited pressing of the 52 Pickup pattern in book form, and compiled a few kits as well. I had been touring around some of the big shows with this pattern and along the way it caught the eye of Sally Holt, author of Knit Companion.

Sally was gathering presenters for the 2013 kClub, a series of webinars and KALs, and asked me to present — alongside other luminaries Cheryl Potter, Cat Bordhi and Lucy Neatby — a new and exclusive version of 52 Pickup. I set to work designing one.

52PickupkClub-600Now that the kClub is over, it’s time for the new 52 Pickup to come out of hiding. The kClub Edition pattern has smoothed-out lettering, new card backs and a wealth of new yarn and gauge options to give you more ideas about how to use the card charts in new and creative ways. You can read more about it on the pattern’s Ravelry page.

Everyone who bought the original pattern (those who bought it digitally on Ravelry as well as those who used the Free PDF code inside the pattern book) should have gotten a code to get the new version for more than half off the normal price. If you didn’t get the code, let me know and I’ll check my records.

For anyone who hasn’t gotten either of them and wants both, you can add them both to your Ravelry cart and use the code “blackjack” to get a hefty discount too.

Finally, since the demise of WePay and the advent of my new website, I have relisted the original pattern book and kit on Etsy, if you want to help clear space in my apartment. As before, both the book and kit will get you a free download of the original PDF, and I will send you a separate email with a discount code for the new pattern as well.

IKL-2014In other news, all of my workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab are full enough to run, but since I get paid more the more people who sign up for the class, I’m going to need to continue to shamelessly self-promote. That said, please consider signing up for my workshops at Interweave Knitting Lab! I’m teaching at least one of every workshop I offer, and I will be debuting two new classes, Double-Knitting Lace and Openwork and Double-Knitting Cables! Read more about all of my workshops on my website.

MusicBlox: Elephant Revival

Over a decade ago while living in Maine, I attended an outdoor fiddle festival and happened upon the amazing music of The Mammals (“Hi, we’re The Mammals, and so are you”). Now sadly defunct, their musicians have gone their separate ways. I keep tabs on one of the resulting projects — the duo of the original two members playing together now as a husband-and-wife combo simply called “Mike & Ruthy“. I heard they were coming to Boston to play at the Brighton Music Hall, opening for a band I was unfamiliar with. But the endorsement of former members of The Mammals is good enough for me, so I got my tickets to go see Elephant Revival.

I was blown away.

They’re young, attractive, and blisteringly talented. They could be considered bluegrass, or even “newgrass” but, like The Mammals, that doesn’t really completely encompass their sound. Sure, there’s the usual complement of guitar, banjo, upright bass, fiddle and washboard — but what they build out of it is so much more.

Back before I left my own singing voice behind, I dreamt of one day being part of a group like this, even for a little while, a night or two a week, casually. Being the offspring of two incredibly musically talented people, I couldn’t help but try. I don’t know, but I feel like Elephant Revival probably met like that, jamming around the living room and eventually playing out. I don’t reach for that dream anymore but sometimes, listening to this music, I feel like it’s not totally out of reach. But there’s only so much time in a life, and I prefer to place beauty in the world in different ways. I’ll leave this kind of beauty up to those who chose it and do it well.

Buy Elephant Revival’s CDs on Amazon or CD Baby

Introducing my last contract design … for a while, anyway.

One of the perils of being a newly-successful (for some values of successful) knitting designer is that people see your work and say “Hey, I want to get in on that”. Shortly after my book came out, yarn companies, publications and even shops began to see my work and said “Ooh, we’d love it if you designed something for us!”

And I was flattered, and I said, “Sure! I’d love to!”

So if you’re wondering why I haven’t been designing much lately, that’s why. I got bogged down in design contracts, and put my own work to the side. The Parallax eBook had literally been pushed aside for more than a year, while I designed things for yarn companies and other folks. I’ve always put a lot of stock into keeping one step ahead of the crowd, so that you’ll always have something to learn from me, but I’ve been stagnating a bit and I need to get back to what’s important to me — pushing the boundaries of double-knitting for the benefit of the knitting community at large.

Now don’t get me wrong — I did the contracts because I was interested, not because I felt forced into it. I wanted the opportunities, I wanted to get my name out into other areas of the knitting world, and I wanted to get out of my niche a little bit. I designed things that were (gasp) not double-knitted! But I took gambles, and in some cases I lost. The pieces were mostly good, but they didn’t reach as far as I wanted them to. They didn’t help expose the rest of my work all that well. But I’m glad I did them. And I’m also glad that I’m not going to be doing as many from now on.

Severn-Thicket-1

All that said, I’m pretty proud of the last one I designed. Back in early 2013, I was invited to teach at the Knitting Boutique in Maryland, under their “Famous Knitters” program. I was flattered, of course, to be considered famous enough for that. While I was there, Dianna (the shop’s owner) unveiled a bag of new yarn samples — a new line of yarn she was going to be releasing in the Fall. I gravitated, naturally, to the one which was a BFL and silk blend. Dianna, for her part, gravitated to a sample I had brought with me, which I use to illustrate double-knitting cables. It is, of course, based on the iconic Barbara Walker “Twin Trees II” chart. Dianna wanted me to do a cowl in her new yarn, based on that chart, but simpler. I told her I’d be able to start designing in January, when the rest of my contracts were done, and I did. Also, in another first for me, I contracted a friend who has test-knit for me in the past to sample-knit this time — saving me yet more time to work on other things.

The pattern isn’t released yet (sorry) but I wanted to show it off before I mailed it in. As soon as it’s ready for primetime I’ll let folks know. I assume they’ll be selling it online as well as in the shop, but we’ll see.

Severn-Thicket-2

In other news:

  • If you’re in Western Mass and want to learn two-pattern double-knitting, WEBS still has a few slots left in my Saturday afternoon class on April 12th
  • If you’re in New England in general or want to travel here to take a bunch of classes with awesome designers (myself included), come to Interweave Knitting Lab, May 13-18, where I’ll be teaching all 6 of my workshops.
  • And finally, I registered a new domain: metapixels.net. Bookmark it! Something interesting will eventually show up there.

MusicBlox: Khepri

Occasionally I’ll trip over something unique in my erratic stumbling around the web. Tonight, I found myself listening to some sound samples of a band I hadn’t, for some reason, come across before.

There is a genre called “Oriental Metal” — I prefer to think of it as a subgenre of Folk Metal — which uses eastern and middle-eastern influences alongside distorted western guitars. The trouble I have with this, as with much modern metal, is that even if the 30 seconds of preview is excellent, there’s a decent chance that somewhere a little further on there’ll be a lead vocalist screaming/growling/coughing up a lung. This, frankly, ruins it for me most of the time. But not this time.

Featured Artist: Khepri

KhepriAscension

This time, I checked YouTube to hear a whole track. Lo and behold, there are no vocals! This is a blessing — vocalists in metal are risky. A rare few have real talent and musical ability; the others, I find, detract from the music I’d rather be listening to. So when an artist or band, through choice or simply lack of a better option, chooses to put out an instrumental metal album, I’m usually glad to snap it up. These albums put their instrumentation front and center, and more often than not when a band is willing to do this, it means that they feel their music is strong enough to stand up without vocals.

This is certainly true of Khepri. Okay, the production value may not be as high as some of the major bands out there, but it’s clear the artist knows what he’s doing when it comes to the guitar — not to mention the doumbek. I can’t find any info on who exactly is playing, so I assume this is a one-man-band type of project.

I have a fair number of friends/acquaintances who bellydance either professionally or recreationally. Here’s hoping one of them latches on to this artist and blows some minds at the next party. It’s certainly going to be different from the usual Beats Antique or Azam Ali accompaniments, and while I love both of those, I definitely feel some shaking up is in order.

Check out Khepri’s website for more info

Buy digital versions of Khepri’s albums on Amazon MP3 (but be careful, the search algorithm has dropped some red herrings in the playlist) or Emusic.

Buy Khepri’s CDs on CD Baby

 

Cookbook Challenge: Panch Phora Aloo

If you’ve spent much time around me and food has come up in the conversation, you probably know I have a passion for Indian food. Once upon a time, I set out to try every Indian buffet in the Boston area (there are over 50 accessible by the T, to say nothing of those accessible by the bus system) and documented my findings on a short-lived blog called “The Phantom Buffet”. During my journeys, I got to try all sorts of new dishes (and compare some ubiquitous dishes, served at almost every buffet).

Prior to that journey, however, I had spent 4 years in Maine as a cook at 2 well-regarded restaurants in a town full of good restaurants (and not just the seafood variety). I got pretty good, and some of the dishes I designed for one restaurant remain on the menu today.

So, as I wound down on the Indian buffet venture, I began to work on reproducing some of the dishes I enjoyed most. Some are too far from realistic for a home cook (I hope someday to have a kitchen with a tandoor, but not today) but others are eminently doable. Through several cookbooks, I have tried many recipes and discovered more and less successful ways of doing some of my favorite dishes, and have approached restaurant-quality meals in some cases. Last week, I finally decided to tackle an elusive favorite dish which I had yet to discover a viable recipe for: Jeera Aloo (and its delectable cousin, Methi Aloo).

The dish is simple in concept but less so in execution. Basically, they’re Indian homefries with whole spices and a really complex flavor that’s soaked up by perfectly-cooked potatoes. There are some complications: First, “perfectly-cooked” potatoes are hard to do. Mashed is easy, undercooking is woefully simple, but getting nicely-formed cubes that are fully cooked without being mushy is difficult. Second, getting the right flavor is hard because you can’t taste the potatoes until it’s too late to re-season them.

Another monkey-wrench thrown into the mix is the Cookbook Challenge. This is something my wife put me up to in order to help me trim my wall of cookbooks. She said, “You have 1 year. Make something out of every cookbook you want to keep. If you fail to make something out of a cookbook by the end of the year, the cookbook goes.”

Enter the Spice Bible. This is a book I was gifted some years ago and have glanced at but never really used. It’s unique in that it organizes its recipes by the dominant spice in the recipe. It also goes into some unusual spice mixes and pastes toward the end. And under one of those mixes, I found my recipe.

jeera-alooPanch Phora Aloo is a dish very much like Jeera Aloo, but with a more complex flavor palette. Instead of just jeera (cumin), it uses a spice mix consisting of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, nigella and black mustard seeds (in equal amounts). It also uses copious quantities of ghee.

The first batch I made I followed the directions on but didn’t think too hard about seasoning. Salt would have been important but I didn’t use it until it was too late. The spice balance and heat level was good but salt brings the flavors to the forefront and the result was an unevenly-flavored dish that I was convinced I could do better.

I took a risk. Last Tuesday I had heard some old friends were all coming to the Tuesday Night Dinner — a potluck at the home of another old friend. When I can make it, people know that whatever I have to offer will be one of everyone’s favorites and the host will probably end up scraping the bottom of the dish and eating it right off the serving spoon. So I had to do it right. I changed one thing about the recipe: after sauteeing the panch phora and onions until nicely browned and fragrant, I added a liberal quantity of salt (about half the amount of whole spices) at the same time as adding the powdered turmeric, freshly-roasted and ground cumin and chili powder. This made the oily paste (sounds appetizing, right?) extra salty and flavorful just before adding the parboiled potato cubes and garlic. The naturally bland potatoes and the oversalted sauce combined to create — voila! — a perfectly-seasoned dish. After sauteeing for 15 or 20 minutes, the potatoes cut nicely and a taste test confirmed all was well. A bit of lime juice and cilantro tossed in at the last minute and the dish was ready.

At the Tuesday Night Dinner, it was one of only a handful of vegetarian dishes and therefore much appreciated by the handful of vegetarians — but lauded by many others as well. In the end, the score was Potluck: 1; Cookbook Challenge: 1; Phantom Buffet: 0. That’s one more dish I don’t need to search out on the buffets and menus of Boston — now I can do it myself just as well or better!

I hope you enjoy my culinary adventures. Remember, if you want to turn these off and just read my music or knitting content, use the “Choose Your Own Adventure” floater to your right.

Introducing Parallax v3.5

Parallax v3.5-2

You’ve probably already heard about my Parallax project. If not, go check out the recent post about it, as well as the eBook I just published.

While I was working on the concept for Parallax v3.0 (the three-color scarf in the eBook), I began playing with some other three-color ideas. This is the one I really wanted to knit from the beginning, but I knew I had to start (relatively) simple.

But as soon as the eBook was published, I chose colors and cast on for the one that I’d really been waiting for. This one, you see, really shows what I’ve been trying to prove with my multi-color Parallax concepts: In two colors, a checkerboard is still just a checkerboard. In three or more, new options are available. Sure, you’ve got an extra color to play with, but also new shapes. I’ll expound on this more later — but suffice to say, I can use the third color to emphasize different parts of the design that would not have been immediately visible with only two.

Take, for example, the scarf in the picture. There are two distinct alternating patterns. Would you find it surprising to learn that both of these patterns are based on the same warped-checkerboard grid? It’s hard to see — but it’s true. The same gridwork repeats throughout the entire scarf — only the way the three colors are used is changing.

As usual, Parallax v3.5 is done in Kauni — but this time, I’m using a more subtle trio. One color is a Kauni Solid; one is the very subtle Kauni Effektgarn EN; and the last is a slightly less subtle Kauni Effektgarn EF. I chose subtle colors for this one because I wanted the pattern to stand on its own merit, not necessarily as a celebration of unpredictable colorways like v3.0.

Finally, for those who want to know when this pattern is coming out, I have mixed news. It’s likely that I will not release the pattern for this anytime soon. It’s very complicated and I am under no illusions about the marketability of complex patterns. However, enough people have told me that my recent work “belongs in a gallery” that I am going to begin working on a new body of work that will be Parallax-based, very complex, and geared toward eventual display and sale as art pieces, not patterns. Depending how this venture goes, I may choose to release select individual patterns later, perhaps in a book dedicated to my Parallax explorations. But that won’t be for many years to come.

Parallax v3.5-1

MusicBlox: Boxcar

Featured artist: Boxcar (not Boxcar Willie or Boxcar Racers, just Boxcar)

IMG_0283Sometime in the early 90s, I was visiting my grandparents’ summer house in the mountains of New Hampshire, and we had gone down the hill to town for some provisions. In the grocery store, there was a kind of bargain bin of cassette tapes. I think they may have been $1.00 each. I dug through the bin — I have had great luck finding gold nuggets in other people’s cast-off music — and came up with two tapes which ended up being favorites of mine for many years to come. I chose them because the covers looked interesting, and for $1.00 that’s a gamble I was willing to take. The first was “Blind” by the Icicle Works; I picked it because the cover featured a guy with fish for eyes. I figured such surreal cover art couldn’t steer me too far wrong and I was not disappointed.

But the album that made me really sit up and take notice — and has been on my regular rotation ever since, repurchased several times over in CD, vinyl and finally, when the band re-emerged from limbo onto the internet, in bulk with several other hard-to-find bits in MP3 format — is “Vertigo” by Boxcar.

For years I searched for more Boxcar, but as they were an Australian group that never really gained any footing in the US, most of their work was only sparsely available on these shores. I asked friends and family who went to Australia later in life to keep an eye out for Boxcar, but by then even the land down under was short on this amazing stuff.

I had Depeche Mode and New Order and early Nine Inch Nails in my rotation as well, and I felt that Boxcar fit snugly into all of that. They felt like Australia’s answer to New Order, but far less prolific. And their producer was behind some of my favorite stuff from Severed Heads, and, as it turned out, in some way connected to Single Gun Theory as well (another amazing Australian act I was, eventually, lucky enough to see live on their first and only US tour).

Boxcar is, happily, still somewhat active if not really creating much new music. You can find them on their website as well as on Soundcloud. Digital versions of pretty much everything are available direct through them and that’s always the best way to support an artist you love.