Nov 29, 2007

MAASTER GAIDEN/ the POINTS split single 7inch EP

Two side of blasty blaaangowaang from different sides of this country. From the heart of Texas Maaster Gaiden do more of a "what happened after the Ramones suceeded to fuck up kids in Suburbia yet a fair distance before you'd get kicked out of a party for not attending the church of Screeching Weasel" thing than their punk rockers in an Iroc vibe their full-length gave off.
The Points, outta Washington DC, sound like they were the ones that did kicked out of those Screeching Weasel church group parties so they'd go home and listen to Motorhead & Devo (leaning more to the Lemmy than to the Bob's in case you are footnoting) records while planning some type of revenge.
http://www.myspace.com/bigactionrecord

Nov 26, 2007

THOMAS FUNCTION "My Empire" 7inch

Over the last year or so the Rocket City boys of T-Func have been nothing but a hit machine. Their past three 45's all had something that, in a perfect world, would be spending months on the top 40 charts and blasting out of cars and around the skateboard parks. It's far, far, far from a perfect world though isn't it? I'm sure if I said "T-Func are pop geniuses" (albeit very oddball ones) around most dorks who consider themselves music fans they'd say "You mean T-Pain, right?" All I know really know about T-Pain his seeing his name as a collaborator in every other music review I read in Entertainment Weekly. Based off that I'm guessing he must be this season's Akon or some shit (who is another who's songs I couldn't identify if I heard one but saw the name in a lot of magazines).
With this, the 4th single in their canon, the Thomas Function aren't showing any sign of needing a hook girl, samples from an 80's pop song or a dude to provide a rap part in lieu of a middle eight. "My Empire" bounces like the Lyres yet broods like those recordings that Television made a bit of a while back before they made "Marquee Moon" but with all the excess baggage tossed out the window and waved bye-bye at. "Earthworm" is like a spaghetti western soundtrack take on a death ballad being interpreted by a dustbowl John Cale. What? That doesn't sound like pop music to you? You must be in a different universe than the one I choose to inhabit.
ps: I used the abbreviated name "T-Func" as an attempt at a joke. Please no one start to actually refer to them as that. Earlier in the week someone asked me if I heard the the new album by "The Head". I thought he was talking the Head single that Goner put out but it seemed kinda off because the person never seemed to be someone who'd ever stumble across something like that. And I was right. They were talking about the new Radiohead lp. Do people actually refer to them as that or was the guy just choosing to do it all by himself?
http://www.myspace.com/thomasfunction

Nov 25, 2007

BLONDSAI/thee LEXINGTON ARROWS split single 7in EP

Two female fronted punk rock bands from the Charm City. Blondsai do it in a Joan Jett jacked up on a bunch of bombast with a singer who doesn't look like the kind who'd smokes non-filtered Camels and gargles with bourbon but when she opens her mouth she sure sounds like it. The Lexington Arrows got a former Shakedown and a Beatnik Termite in the band. It's leans more to a garage rock/surf kinda thing with a singer who at times sounds like she trying a bit to hard to sound streetwise and "real". She's doesn't have a bad voice but the exaggerated vibrato and and overemotive breathing thing she does would probably start to annoy me after 10 minutes. Good thing the side is only about 5 minutes in length then I guess.
http://www.myspace.com/blondsai
http://www.myspace.com/theelexingtonarrows


Nov 24, 2007

Harpoon Brown Session Ale

Two assignments were given to me for my family Thanksgiving gathering (which was today, a few days later than the actually holiday thanks to the bullshit scheduling geniuses at the corporate office of my employer). One was to find a turkey that would feed four adults & four kids. The other was to get a good beer that all us adults could agree on. My place of employment gave all it's drones a bird that was way more than enough for the former. Like a 20 pounder. Yeah, It surely did the trick and all of us who were at the table will be eating who knows how many turkey concoctions over the next couple of weeks. The latter was a little trickier. The wives don't care that the colder weather warrants stouts and will say stuff like "We aren't lumberjacks" if you try to serve them one. The other guy who would partaking in the quaffing is ALMOST as much of a beer snob as beer but is more of a malt man than a hops fan. It was an assignment of considerations to say the least. I stood in front of my selections available to me almost grabbing something off the shelf then thinking "Will this be the ideal one to go with the eats as well as hearty yet smooth drinking while watching whatever is expected on TV?" It must've took me close to a half hour to decide. Not something wimpy but nothing over the top either. "Hmmm, a brown session ale. Well, if their claiming it's good for a sit down and drinking session, something which beer drinkers of all stripes usually have to discover and judge for themselves, they've taken a lot of the guess work out for me. I hope they're right."
Brown in color (natch) but a little on the lighter end of the shade. Not much in the aroma department but if ya take a big whiff some malt and caramel scents are detected. Tastewise it sorta of the same thing. A lightly carbonated malty taste in mouth and a sweet Brazilian nut thing going on in the finish. It's mild yet still a bit flavorful so I won't challenge it's claim of a session beer because they go down easy and have an appealing enough taste to please a wide range of beer drinker. That's pretty common for brown ale though, isn't it? I like things with a bit more complexity and character session or not but I'm not scoffing at this either.
http://www.harpoonbrewery.com/

Nov 19, 2007

SONIC CHICKEN 4 s/t LP

The Sonic Chicken 4 are not an easy one to pin down. My first exposure to them was their song on Nasty Product's "Love Killed My Brain" 7inch comp. Even with heavy hitters such as the Fatals, the Mighty Go Go Players and Kung Fu Escalator on it they stole the show with a piece of Velvet Underground and Jesus and the Mary Chain get a touch of Ye'-Ye' accents called "Love Song". The next thing I laid my ears on by 'em was their second single (never have heard the first. It's long gone out of print. Would like to have one in my collection some day) and it was a bit different than what I expected judging off the one song that had become one of my favorite tunes of the last five years. Both "Don't Let Me Down" and "Sonic Night" threw me for a loop because they were highly caffeinated (or maybe under the influence of "hot drugs") maximum R&B spazzouts that could get any ol' bag of bones gyrating and shakin' all loose but trying to keep up tempo-wise might dislocate a joint or two. Then they throw in the suitcase xylophone on the latter's the Fall does some kinda mutant rockabilly wandering lost in the middle of a city where Salvador Dali once declared it's train station the center of the universe (as well as a noted wine region) that the Sonic Chicken 4 call home and you've got a band that rises a mind to take note and enquire what they'll do next.
Hitting right off the bat with Velvet's "I Can't Stand It/Foggy Notion" type chug infected with a twitchy nervous condition called "Sexiest" and a chorus that not only sticks in your head but eventually caramelizes it. It's followed by two trashy numbers wringing wet in maximum R&B, "Stupid n' Crying" which tags back and forth between and a folky jangle with full on "Woo" backing vocals & a rat ta tat tat drumbeat and "Margharita", which takes the Gories recipe and broils it to a crisp with a searing harmonica honk and a smashed up Mod guitar crashes. "Do It All Right" an impetuous collision of American country music, Jaques DuTronc's capriciousness and the Real Kids declaring elation for getting out of the folks house.
"On My Way" wiggles with a twisty duo ragga guitar lines ala the Feelies, a buzzy turnaround part that keeps popping up and bending the tune into a place different than a song like this usally goes, a melodic drone something like the Telescopes and a blast of dirty guitar to hold it all together. "Only Lose" fools you at first thinking it's gonna be some ragged teen jangler then the noise is turned wide open and it sounds like something like the Cheater Slicks kicking the shit out of some brit-pop song.
It's dark and rainy 'round here today but when "Shalalalalove" comes on it's like a summer day. A dance party on the beach, a girl group gone really, really bad and the boys that led 'em down that path and the taste of lemonade and vodka. A tart sweetness with more than a bit of spike. "Girl 66" has a bit of that Chuck Berry when he played hillbilly licks thing going on and hoping the bus across town for a bit of sugar. The bus is missing it's tail pipe so it inspires ol' Chuck to get all the guitars to sound like it. He couldn't quite do it though so he wrote it down, stuck it in a bottle and decades later the Sonic Chicken 4 stumbles across it on a riverbank a million miles away from where it was launched.
"I Had Too Much To Drink (Last Night)" takes another VU formula, feeds it's a steady diet of punk rock and drops of some type of psych-noise brain frying grease. "Creature In The Pictures" flashes back and forth between a My Bloody Valentine track peeled down to just it's meat in the middle of a torrential downpour and a walk through the park on a day when flowers are bloom.
There's been a few times through this record where I've wanted to declare a certain tune "The damn best pop song of the moment" then "The Right Side of A Woman" comes on and I wanna do it again. The right amount of everything they put in their songs all in one package. This album will not be leaving the turntable if not for any other reason than because of that. You hear the songs and find something that catches your ear making ya wanna sing along or turn up loud & jump on the couch, make you rethink the kind of distortion pedal you have and how you use it....You get the picture. Late contender for album of the year but they'll be making my 2007 list.
http://www.myspace.com/sonicchicken4
http://www.intheredrecords.com/

Nov 17, 2007

BLUES CONTROL "Puff" LP



Blues Control? More like Snooze Patrol!!! Take an Andreas Vollenweider record you found at the Goodwill, run it through some effect pedals then get that weird old guy from down the road who can play some tripped out jamming on a guitar but was never in a band because he never ever listens to anybody to throw some leads over the top of it. Today outsider and weird-tomorrow the new wave of new age.
http://www.myspace.com/bluescontrol

Nov 14, 2007

Anderson Valley's Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout

Ahh yes. It's offically Stout season...I know about a month or so ago we got a little teaser in Michigan of the weather to come. Then the temps crawled back into the low 70's for a couple of weeks and held off further explorations to the real dark side for a bit. Not now though.
With an elk drinking from a crisp blue lake & mountain ranges on the front label and a story on the back label that incorporates some of the local dialect-here's hoping what's inside the bottle can start up as much conversation as it's packaging.
This is pretty damn dark. Almost as dark as Victory's Storm King I delved into when I jumped the gun 30 or so days ago but really, I don't recall ever seeing something as dark as those. Colorwise it's right on hue with any previous oatmeal stout I've tried and a peanut butter colored head that faded fairly fast. A very roasted scent reminding me of an ealy winter bonfire. Warm and mellow caramel, oats and coffee flavor on the front end. Like breakfast on a cold morning where ya need something to warm your bones before you go outside to dig the car out of 8 inches of snow because even though the kids got a snowday ya have to go to work. Granted, one has to wait to the workday is done and the chillun' are in bed before relaxing with a laid back yet hearty brew but this one is a great reward. A slight bit of hops shows up in the aftertaste but it's not at all bitter because it's balanced by a smokey molasses and malt tinge strolling around through it.
The cap tells me that this is a "Solar Powered Beer." Being that it's the brewery is located in the old hippie enclave of Mendocino county if the claim was just a gimmick or catchphrase but, what do ya know, the brewery actually IS solar powered. That's pretty damn cool if you ask me. I don't what effects it might have on the brewing process, if any, but this is a very natural tasting beer and I will be on the lookout for whatever other Anderson Valley Brewing Company beers that may land on the beer shelves of this town.
http://www.avbc.com/

Nov 13, 2007

LAZLO LEE & the MOTHERLESS CHILDREN "Hey Doctor" 7in EP

A straight forward garage punk rawkin' trio. Four tunes dealing with living on the unhealthy side of the streets in the vein of the Mud City Manglers with less time logged listening to the Stooges and not as heavy on the throttle of a motorcycle aimed toward a wall of plate glass windows. Instead it seems as if Thin Lizzy's "Vagabonds Of The Western World" got it's fair share of spinning time on their turntable as well as some Blues comp they swiped out of their folks record collection and the occasional AM cheese chestnut while downing a bottle of Sangria.
http://www.myspace.com/themotherlesschildren

Nov 12, 2007

the PLEASURE KILLS "Smash Up The Radio" 7inch

Will all the geeks for a loud and brash pop song raise their hands? Not necessarily power-pop geeks though. Well, power-pop geeks can raise their hands too but don't act too dorky, okay?
Yeah, I'm a sucker for a good loud and brash pop song. I think it has a lot to do with that in junior high I discovered the Knack, Blondie and the fact that maybe not all girls had cooties. I don't fawn, flip or freak over every band doing it but when there's a hook that gets stuck in the head it can't be denied.
Now throw a female singer into the equation. The girl band geeks can raise their hands now too but things get a little tricky here. Girl band geeks aren't the choosiest. I have nothing against girl bands or girl singers. I'll admit to anyone that the Go-Go's are one of my top favorite bands ever (Did I already go over this? Pretty sure I have) but a lot of dudes will like the band just because they have a chick singer. Things like actual good songs can take a backseat in a lot of those situations. "Yeah, the tunes are sorta weak and the hooks kinda dull BUT THE SINGERS GOT A NICE SET OF CANS." Such a scenario explains how a not much else going for them band like the Charms gets priority display space on the racks at Best Buy (Well, that and some money of course).
I am not by any stretch an opponent of a nice set of cans but ya better have something more than that going for you. Sure, a nice set of cans grabs one's attention but if that's all the band has to offer gawkers are only gonna get ya so far.
The Pleasure Kills seem to got it going on in the right departments though. Not a superslick production but there a sparkle and a bit of grit. A large dollop of Blondie and maybe a few dashes of Martha and the Muffins going on. There's that something going on here that would've had Rodney on the Roq playing this on the radio for weeks on end back in his early 80's heyday. If someone played me "Smash Up The Radio" and asked "Do you remember this song from the Valley Girl" soundtrack I would say no but only because between seeing in the theater a bunch of times when it came out, then it's run on HBO and spot it still holds with basic cable airings I pretty much got the film commited to memory. It's a cool little piece of day-glo earrings and checkered Van's new wave rock yet it's the flipside's "Over and Over" with it's "Bop Bop-A-Bop Bop Bop" chorus and guitar fuzz solo stirs up memories of me wanting to go to California and finding a girl who smells like a raspberry Blow Pop.
http://www.myspace.com/thepleasurekills

Nov 8, 2007

Avery White Rascal Wheat Ale

The constant search for the most delicious of wheat beers can be a tricky one. Some have too much of this, not enough of that... you know the drill. The too much's or not enough's usually end up being the same thing more times than not. Those are coriander and citrus. I usually don't care for the ones that have too much of a dominant taste of one or the other but I feel also the same when they lack one of the two. It's the twists or the just right balances that win me over.
A not quite clear but not too hazy color and a nice balance between the citrus, coriander and malt in the scent. The taste also equals that balance too. A slight citrus tang but not too much, a bit of spice but not too much or this or that with a clean and refreshing yeasty finish. Considering that we're into November and the temps 'round these parts are no longer what people would call warm this isn't quite a seasonal appropriate brew but when the warm months roll back around I'll be sure to have these on hand from time to time. It's surely one that'll hit the spot after some yard work.
For some reason, even with all the raves I've read about about the Avery stuff, this is the first time I've ever tried one of their wares. The take on this stuff over at Hedonist Beer Jive was an influence of led me to take the leap. It's got me wanting to give more of their stuff a shot very soon.

My favorite beer vendor ask me what I thought of them and I gave him a bit more condensed response than the one above. He then said to me "Dale, you always seem to like the things with the most sinister of looking labels." I never even thought about that til he mentioned it. Now, I must reflect....
http://www.averybrewing.com/

Nov 6, 2007

WOODEN SHJIPS s/t LP

Though I've found myself doing it more than a few times I do realize that putting the Wooden Shjips under the "Psychedelic" tarp is painting with a pretty wide brush. What do people think when they hear that term? I'm sure everyone has a different impression of what the word means if were talking the category in it's classic sense. On the other side of the coin there's the head music that came out years after the calico walls fell down. Y'know, like Hawkwind's disturbing cocktail of speedfreak ring modulations & LSD wah-wah squawks and the distorto-deconstruction sounds of Chrome. Neil Young and Crazy Horse's rootsy travels into the abyss. The whimsy into paranoia into space travel noodlings of Pink Floyd. The drone building to transcendence of Spacemen 3 and Flying Saucer Attack...Hell, even Kraftwerk (I dunno if they're considered krautrock or in a world only that fits only them) and Tangerine Dream (though only "the first few albums" from either of course) to an extent with some of the first trippers I ever associated with. Listening to the Wooden Shjips is like standing in the middle while all the things above circle around you.
"We Ask You To Ride" opens the album up with the band inviting you to take their trip. A hypnotic austere bass and drum pattern lays down the foundation for a part 60's arty horror flick/part 4 a.m. dancing under the streetlights on microdots organ part to swell giving way to laid back vocals awashed in rubbery echo and an electrical storm of gain knob cranked guitar scuzz. It's is followed by "Losing Time" and "Lucy's Ride." The former a blurred groove of basement fuzz blues minimalism that's would be great for driving in an at dusk rainstorm and the latter is another cruise this time through a forest of trees in another dimension in search of a place for a latenight swim.
Side two are two long pieces. "Blue Sky Bends" boils in a slow tension walking tempo all the way through while the guitar alternates between a cold sweat and hot flashes. "Shine Like Suns" vibrates like it's stayed up for 48 hours but it's the first sunrise it's watched in ages.
http://www.woodenshjips.com/

Nov 4, 2007

DIGITAL LEATHER "Hard At Work" LP

The front cover is the inside photo of the Stones "Sticky Fingers" album but they ran it through some kind digital effect. What's the name of that photoshop setting? They took the Stones back cover and did the same thing for the back too. When I put the record on is it gonna be the music off that album run through some digital filter too? That would be stupid.
It's some type of rock but not "Sticky Fingers" rock & roll though. It's as rock as you can while using mostly synths though I guess. Jay Reatard hangs out with these guys and that's enough for some people. For me? I'm not so sure yet. I recently got dragged out to goth night at a local meat market. I will say the stuff on this record is more much more convincing than any of the shit the dj played that night. I was angry there because of all the low budget horror house fashion models. This makes me angry because it's totally fucking pissed off sounding. It's a more useful kind of anger.
http://www.myspace.com/digitalleather

Nov 2, 2007

GOODNIGHT LOVING "Drafted Into War" 7inch

Recorded in Memphis earlier this year by brand new mama Alicja Trout and happy back-up harmonies provided by the ladies of Vancougar Goodnight Loving deliver another winner. "Drafted Into War" could possibly be the most subtle AND most entertaining protest song to come along since....oh...."99 Luft Balloons" maybe. 80's classic alternative rock ain't the template here though. It's sunshine pop gone way scruffy. Something like the Monkees when they were smoking lots of grass (and according to a book I read a couple of years ago-They smoked A LOT of grass. I know it was commonplace for all the musicians back then to toke a little bit but when I read the adventures it was like "The Monkees?! Really?! Wow! Damn!") set Don Kirschners wig on fire, had gotten 100% complete total control on "Headquarters" and hired Roky Erickson and Roger McQuinn to hang around the studio just for ambiance and the occasional thumbs up. "Life Ain't So Great" is has a little less ambiguous statement of life in the modern world and is a bit more dark musically then the a-side but no less infectious.
http://www.contaminatedrecords.com/

Nov 1, 2007

the PHARMACY "Abominable" 7inch EP

Lots of 80's sounding synths meets the Beach Boys but a bit of a snarky post-indie rock "Well if Modern Mouse can get Johnny Marr to play in their band let's try to get Ric Ocasek's attention" feeling to it. It's a quirky, sometimes catchy & clever. I'm sure the retro kids around their town are probably crazy about 'em because the new Interpol album sucks and they got this to grab on to. They sure gotta lotta myspace friends. Weird Pop???
http://www.myspace.com/pharmacy