Norman Brannon is General Manager of Collect Records and plays guitar in Texas Is The Reason.
What was the food highlight of your year?
I went to Scott Conant's Scarpetta here in New York for the first time a few months ago, and I usually have this thing at restaurants where I always order the seemingly simplest thing on the menu — the idea being some variation on that theme that you can judge a chef by how well he cooks an egg. It makes sense to me. Anyway, there was a $24 plate of spaghetti with tomato and basil. Like, literally, that was how it was described on the menu. There was something that was so bold about that to me. They didn't even try to spruce it up for description's sake! So of course I ordered that, and from the first bite I was absolutely floored. The pasta was perfection—a firm, thick flavorful noodle like none that I've ever eaten before—and the tomato and basil were so harmonious it actually felt like something new. I cannot stress this enough: To say that you've just eaten the best plate of spaghetti and tomato in your life after 40 years of eating spaghetti and tomato is TOTALLY MOMENTOUS.
What was the music highlight of your year?
People never really believe me when I talk about how much I love Take That, but they are sincerely my favorite band ever. Here's the thing: I'm actually of the opinion that it's super easy to write sad songs. It's almost cheap to me at this point; it's our go-to emotion when we're writing songs. But writing a song that makes you feel like you want to dance like Fred Astaire through Brooklyn—that takes real talent! Take That's new album, III, does a little bit of both, and while I sometimes wish they hadn't ever been the horrible '90s boyband that everyone thinks about when they hear the name, I actually think that's part of the reason why I love them. They are all accomplished songwriters now, they're all accomplished musicians. They proved that they weren't just a bunch of cute boyband hacks, but that you can use that experience and grow into a musician of substance. That is a serious hill to climb, and I am in awe of them.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
I'd heard a rumor that Mark Trombino's Donut Friend in L.A. had a Texas is the Raisin doughnut and I was really hoping that was true. I wound up getting the Custard Front Drive, which was insanely rich, but satisfying to say the least.