Mar 31, 2008

Victory Hop Wallop

Ahhh, yes. The Victory Brewing company. Probably one of my top 5 favorite beermakers ever. When it comes to always to solid quality and good tasting beers-they like to experiment but never get too out of hand and silly like some of the other "extreme" breweries do. They take chances but, so far, have never put out something that sounds good in concept but ends up being something that is a very limited acquired taste even to the utmost of beer snobs ( when Dogfish Head does something like...cough...Fort...cough). It's been awhile since we've discussed on of their beers 'round here and with the appearence of Hop Wallop on some local shelves the time seems right to do so again.
Victory is already a king when it come to a full on hop tang and flavor with their Hop Devil and it did have me wondering what they had up their sleeve with this. Well, let's just say that they took the Devil's platform, supe and juiced it up and the result is one of the best double IPA's I've tasted. A dark clear orange in color with a one fingered head that fades pretty quickly but leaves almost a blowing and drifting snow looking lace on the glass. The hop scent wasn't as stong as I expected it to be but it is there along with earthy and grapefruit aromas.
Though the hop scent isn't that detectable in the smells they sure do in the taste. Tart and sweet like a grapefruit is what you taste in the front end of the flavor. The grapefruitness of it is one more of the ruby red kind than say, your standard white or pink varieties. In some ways it also reminds me a bit of a pilsner with a huge hop profile. Some pine notes though bring you back though to remind that this is an IPA. A slight herbal bitterness follows it up giving it a dry kick in the back end but still not a burn that one would likely expect from something bordering the 9% abv mark. Watch out though cuz it does sneak up on ya.
I've said in the past that even if you were to chose one of Victory's lesser beers (though, honestly I can't think of one they've made that I've tried that could be considered that so far...except for maybe Golden Monkey-the spicing of it strike me weird-but I think that's just a personal taste thing) it's still gonna be better than a lot of brewer's best. I don't see myself changing that opinion anytime soon. The dude on the label sure looks like he knows how to party too.

Mar 28, 2008

BLANK ITS "Stop No Wait" 7inch EP

When the Blank Its released their first single it was one of those one's that just appeared out of thin air and then ya couldn't get enough of it. At the time certain sounds seemed to be on the wane and not much new was ALL THAT exciting. It crashed down loud like a rickety spaceship entering our atmosphere and crashing in your neighborhood. Sounded like it too. Pulsing in fluorescents, the sound electrical charges & metallic fire and green space zombies listening to the zaps of their laser guns. Then their album seemed like one big stumble. What once sounded like a trio of J.G Ballard and Mad magazine fans from a few decades ago with the idea of what future rock would sound like-all oscillating, gyrating, thick and dizzying-seemed rushed & bored. A week of trying to get into it-the record kept drifting back farther in the stack.
After landing this on my record player it's has led me into rediscovering the band. The album...ehhh BUT that first single! And this is exactly along those lines. Spacesurfing in the middle of a meteor thundershower is the scene set for the a-side's "Stop No Wait." "Stretch Stretch Pull" and "Mind Warp" are the Urinals smackdab in the middle of an K-Tel hits collection. They seemed to have gotten their mojo's or moonrock's working again because things that made this band so strange, catchy and anomalous are the all loud, blasty and bright sparks they are throwing here!

Mar 27, 2008

MANIKIN "M Theory" 7inch EP

Who else here remembers when gloom mongering post-punk/pre-goth band's rocked? Sure, it was never in a way of a Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones or Motorhead raise your whiskey glass over your head and yell "Wooo!" type of rockin' but there were sure a lot of moments where one could put on a Bauhaus or Joy Division record, turn it up a bit, think "Man, this is some heavy shit" and let the creepy murk of noises wash over them. Sure, for full effect, listening to it on headphones was required but also can be said about Black Sabbath (who don't get name-checked much when talking about the whole post-punk/pre-goth sound but influenced it, subconsciously if not consciously, than ever credited). Then it turned into a bunch of wussy high school boys hanging around in cemetery's listening to stuff that, well-just did not rock in anyway shape or form with the more than husky fag hag that drove them there. The wussy boys never, ever had a car because either their mom wouldn't let them get one yet, they were afraid to drive or couldn't afford a car because they were saving up for "a trip to Europe to check out all the Gothic architecture" (though when asked what particular cities they hand in mind they could never name one) or "a pair of hip length black leather lace up boots from Lip Service. Whichever comes first."
It's seems that the last couple of years though with bands like Pink Reason, Nothing People and the Blank Dogs that maybe such a cerebral type of rocking is coming full circle. Like those bands-Manikin don't necessarily sound like, say, Joy Division in a way digitally enhanced carbon copies such as Interpol do but do have that dark noisiness and aren't afraid to let stringed instruments grind, howl and rumble as well is having it sound like some suicidal man breaking glass in a barren desert of ice. "Mirror" has a feeling of planning a murder to take place in some brick lined tunnel while listening to Mission Of Burma. All antsy but focused on it evil deed. "Death March" has a thick low end and flanged out Gang Of Four guitar going all over the place, nerdy vocals and some ROCKIN' (see I told ya the word would come up again) string bending toward the end of the song. Ending the record is "Radar" the most straight up "punk rocker" thing on the record but think more of those early WIRE demo's that are floating around on the web & if they were from Texas and used a 4th and even sometimes a 5th chord.

Mar 26, 2008

BEAT BEAT "Taco Show" 7inch EP

Not to be confused with the Georgia band with the cool haircuts of a similar name-this Austrian (not to be confused with Australian) duo make quite a no frills so turn it up as loud as it'll go rock-n-roll commotion.
"Taco Show" is full of unwashed guitar buzz anchored by a neck snapping beat while a raw throat shouts adulation for one of the things that is imperative to any trash rockers diet-tacos. The greasy and unhealthy the better-so these two pull off the lettuce, tomatoes and whatever other intruding vegetables that might be on them, throw them on the ground (Who needs to use a trash can bin anyway? All they do is cause more work for the rats that come out at night just looking for a meal...after all, rat's gotta eat too, right?) then go stand up the grease dumpster to gobble them down while the following tune, "Washing Machine", in all it's Brides/Teengenerate ill-mannerism has gotta be the muddiest dirt blast around about getting something clean around.
"Get Out Of My Life" and "Lock The Door" share the b-side and are of the same rock-n-roll scuzz the other two songs sounding like some of the high points of the long gone Crypt and SFTRI era with a mashing of the Spaceshits more 50's-ish smash-up's and the going off the rails engine block explosion of a lost Dirtys track.

Mar 25, 2008

the POPPETS "Pre-Party" 7inch EP

All those out there trying to cop that Ramones thing (and I know you still exist cause a different band you types roll through these parts every 6 weeks or so) get away from concentrating it all what you think is an awesome loud guitar tone and the beat that becomes redundant because it's the only one used in your set. You realize it's okay to fire you the drummer if you know of one better, right? Stop trying to work some kind of fucking political message into some of your songs too-what the fuck is that about??? Does "Bonzo Goes To Bitburg" stick that much more in your mind than something like "I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement"??? Seriously, come on...doing it that way means you have to start to use words with more than 4 syllables. Then what? Using more than four chords. All you need is three (or if you're truly clever-two). You're doing it allll wrong!!! THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT!!!
Chewing a big wad of grape flavored bubblegum on the beach and haven't yet learned that ya should close yr mouth when the wind whips of the wind sugary crunchiness and the old Tascam four track crackle that would make Supercharger proud. The best use of "Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!" type of simple sing-a-longs since that Sneaky Pinks the Poppets take it to a part of town where a majority of the street lights are smashed-n-broken. Those are always the of places that have the types of people who truly know how to have the best of dumb fun times. The Poppets have been handed the keys to those streets.

Mar 23, 2008

MISS 45 "Steals The Show" CD

Miss 45 could steal a show at the local VFW hall if the kids that go to the local VFW hall weren't a bunch of hating anything pre Nirvana not understanding losers. They got cool clothes. New York Dolls meets Blink 182 but not quite getting the gist of either? Or maybe John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band doing Thin Lizzy and Only Ones covers? Don't the Scandinavians realize that most Americana bands can't pull this shit off either? They drop a quasi Hanoi Rocks reference in the lyrics here and there and it's better than the last couple of Mike Monroe albums. Sounds like they have some decent records in their collections at least. Where were the Fatal Flowers from anyways?

Mar 21, 2008

Founders Dry Hopped Pale Ale

This was my pale ale (or of the APA persausion at least) for quite a bit. Then I couldn't find it around my area for quite a long while. I've did my "Why can't I find that many Michigan beers in Michigan town" rant here in the past so I'll spare you from it again and besides, it's available 'round here again so there's no reason to bitch.
No regular bottle opener was readily available to get the cap off so using the back end of a Bic lighter brings a loud almost champagne like bang when the top is popped. Actually, there was a bottle opener around but the first time I had one of these there wasn't one, used the trusty lighter and that sound they made has stuck with me since then so I couldn't resist in hearing again.
Quite orange and hazy in color. Medium pour brings out an around half inch head and a decent amount of lacing on the glass. The scent is a little grassy, some apple, a bit of a spices, something that I'm thinking is clover and big (but in no way overstated) floral hop aroma.
The citrusy hops are right up front in the flavor but aren't screamingly dominate due to them being dry hopped. Very good (and dry) taste none the less on first sip especially with the good balance of malt, a orange like tinge and some bitters nuances that show up in the mouth. A clean and refreshing feeling all around in the mouth and the hop flavor lingers a bit in the back in the throat but not as crazy as some of the other superhopped and over 5 % abv (this is clocking in at around 6.2). A very good and quite drinkable beer here. I'm thinking about buying up the stock of this at the store just in case it becomes a rarity around this area again because this is easily one of my main pale ale choices (if I could find it regularly that is).

Mar 20, 2008

the YOLKS "Wandering" 7inch EP

Last summer the Yolks served some of the damn catchiest Beatles hanging out in the basement of Stiff Records since, well, when someone like Nick Lowe was doing it in Stiff Records basement. The big dif though is that while most trying to emulate the mid period Beatles thing get all heavy handed with recording techniques-the Yolks have a sound that's like just a few mic's set up in sweet spots, push play on the tape deck, give a four count then go.
Burstin' alive with power-pop zest opener "Wandering" blaaangs out like a chirpier Wreckless Eric raised on cheeseburgers & Cokes instead of tea & crumpets or whatever with the idea of being well-read meaning Marvel comics and Hot Rod magazines from the 70's. "Don't Blame Me" does that thing that the Velvets stumbled on with "There She Goes Again". Here the "Hitch-Hike" riff is tossed aside but ante's are evened with upping of the pace, stuff being painted with bright colors instead of dealing in mostly monochromes, a couple of drunk yobs doing some backup shouting and dash or two of the shambling Postcard sound. "Mob City Hustle" is an energentic organ drenched mod-R-n-B instrumental workout that fills the record's second side.
If you can't dance to this-you can't dance to anything good.

Mar 19, 2008

the PUMPERS "Don't Have To Go" 7inch EP

With a couple of Wax Museums cats in the band and nodding the gods of their Denton, Texas home, the Marked Men, for inspiration-the Pumpers make quite a commotion. Unlike the Marked Men, who could floor the listener with laser pointed accuracy, these guys lob beer bottles as a warning shot then flail away at the ears with rusty steak knives and whatever else that is within grabbing reach. Three songs of balled up fireball rock-n-roll fury that, especially on the tune "On The Record", sounds like the Catholic Boys finally having their minds snap for real. Protect your head because ya might end up with a concussion if you're not careful and it doesn't sound like these guys are careful at all.

Mar 18, 2008

ESTROGEN HIGHS "She Don't Bother" 7inch

On first listen Connecticut's Estrogen Highs give off a feeling of the Feelies dismantled and scattered about while some lunatic shouts out an inventory of the parts. Not a bad starting point but further spins bring out a deformed charm that they can claim all as their own.
A swampy rock-n-roll beat gets crammed into a meat grinder on "She Don't Bother" while "Friends Family LSD" takes jangle rock down to a bad trip rodeo. "Silly Questions" is a hyper kid trying to derail a train with barewires ran off an old Tyco train transformer creating a pungent fuzz and the surface noise from a Gun Club record they found laying out in the middle of the street.

Mar 16, 2008

Dogfish Head Fort

According the the Dogfish Head's website Fort is "a strong ale brewed with a ridiculous amount of pureed raspberries (over a ton of em!)". I don't mind raspberries at all and rather like them in a fermented concotions. The better half and I will split a bottle of Framboise a couple times a year. With a 17% abv and it being a Dogfish Head I knew it would be much bolder than a fru-fru Framboise though. At almost 18 bucks for 750 mil bottle it was a special occasion thing that the better half and I would share with friends over a dinner we we're having together over the weekend.
I gotta say that the label, designed by Tara McPherson, has the cutest cartoon female I think I've seen in quite a long time. Well, her and the Esurance chick that is. The drink itself looks nice too. At first pour it reminds me a bit like apple cider but given a minute in the glass it takes on a summer at dusk orange look. You can smell the alcohol in it. No doubt about that. The raspberry scent raps itself around it. Very interesting. We adjusted our tastebuds accordingly, clinked our glasses and took a sip. Then we all looked at each other.
"Ugh! Cough medicine" was everyone's first reaction. Follow up tastes didn't change much from that. I don't know if that was DFH's intention or if they need to experiment more with the idea. From start to finish it very medicinal and drying. Ethanol was mentioned more than one. The raspberry taste seems it more of the seed than the fruit and any sweetness that comes from it is hanging on heavy and thick to the alcohol making the whole damn thing unpleasant. All of us there are Dogfish Head fans. We wanted to get around the idea of Fort, expecting something a bit juicy with a big kick, but couldn't get into it.

Mar 14, 2008

LES DEUX LARMES "One Black Glove" 7inch

Translated to English the name means the Two Tears. I was thinking "Hmmm, didn't I read somewhere that Kerry of the Red Aunts has a band these days called the Two Tears?"
"One Black Glove" is a trashy sorta White Stripes (All your "too cools" can calm down-they've got hooks all y'all would kill for and you know it) like riff topped off with an angry bug guitar buzz and dangerously steamy vocal chants and come-hithers while "Oooo, I'm Blue" takes a 50's teen tragedy song structure and pushes it down a steep hill of broken glass. Looking around the web for a link to provide and what do you know-this is Kerry's new band. A french label and the accompaniment being provided by a couple of frogs warrants a french interpretation of the name. What a tricky vixen.

Mar 13, 2008

METH TEETH "Bus Rides" 7inch EP

Side one's "Bus Rides" and "Unemployment Forever" are a foot stomping pummel beats of tamborine, bass drum & floor tom, heavy medicated downstroked guitar drone & twinkle while disenchanted with the planet vox borrow melody lines from a campfire song or two.
The flip's first track, "To My Good Friends", pulls the sounds of Syd Barrett brain dabasement and early Pavement slacker damage out of sickly sweet smelling smoke thick air and does a wake-n-bake to fend off a pounding headache.
"Boring Artifacts" could very well be an out-take from country-n-western recording Mark E. Smith laid down in a 2 hour session. The drinking water was contaiminated that day but no one bothered to tell the band. With a former Phantom Limbs in this combo you can easily tape a "Hello, My Name Is: Weird Punk" sign on them (Hell, maybe a "Papa Of" subtitle too) but the sound coming out of the speakers is more like "Weird(er) Psych".

Mar 12, 2008

KAJUN SS "Get Out Of Me" 7inch

King Louie and his group of kajun jazz legends serve up two songs here that may be older recordings or something recorded a week ago but no way matters cuz this stuff knows no era.
"Get Out Of Me" is what you could call a hardcore rager but with a couple of shotglasses full of
REAL hot sauce, greasier pick slides and hints of a bayou croon in the normally suburban bark added to the bubbling pot. "Pill Popper" is the Oblivians chestnut captured in even more broke down lo-fi than the original with a whole bunch of harmonica howl slathered all on top.

Mar 8, 2008

Lagunitas IPA

"Made with 43 different hops and 65 various malts"
That's what it says over at the Lagunitas website. The gist was understood but reading deeper just made it more perplexing. Sometime talking about beer just get's too scientifical, doesn't it? Even reading the label of this bottle is a short article on about what you're about to drink. None the less-I must wax a little bit about what it's like to drink.
Golden orange in color with a thin head that dimished fast leaving just a few slight flits of lacing. Cascade hops right up front in the smell (One down 42 to go? Nah. Maybe some other time. RIght now-it's savouring time) along with mellow malt, a bit of bread and a peach scent. The malts seem to takeover in the aroma with a swish or two but all in all none of them dominate the proceedings.
The label says the brew is homicidally hoppy so I prepare myself but you know what-maybe it's because I had my yearly fling with Bell's Hop Slam a few weeks back ago and it's beautiful yet brusing pungent charms are still fresh in my mind but this doesn't seem all that over the top but then again Hops Slam is a pinnacle not many others can reach so it's unfair to compare any IPA to it. This is pretty much right alone the line a Dogfish Head 60 Minute which, to me, is the perfect go to IPA. This has a little bit more of a toast and honey flavor than a 60's grapefruit sting and a bit more of a grassy aftertaste. Medium bodied and interesting in it's subtle complexities. Though it doesn't change my top 5 favorite IPA's of all time around numbers 6 and below might wanna get ready to move from where they are sitting. For those out there that like a little bit of a hop tang in your beer but get turned off when they glare too brightly this could very well be the one you are looking for.

Mar 7, 2008

GUINEA WORMS "Box Of Records" 7inch EP

The bar has been raised once again in the "Riding the shortbus punk" genre sweepstakes with this record. "How big is the genre, anyways" you may ask. Well, it's not that big yet but with bands like the Wax Museums and these Ohio schlemiel's leading the pack it's only a matter of time when the NME will run an piece on something they'll probably tag as "Tard-wave" (take note where you've now first heard that phrase) and a bunch of dinks who actually take Pitchfork's rating system seriously will be bidding big money on Ebay for records that've been out for a couple of years to prove they're the scene's biggest fan and were "into it before Spin magazine would give them the time of day" or some shit.
"Box Of Records" is a tale the good luck that happens to a vinyl votary while walking down the street that sounds a little like No Trend if they weren't so damn disqusted by the world (and taking that disgust out on the world) and decided to pile a garage punk riff under a couple buckets of sludge. Finding a box full of records just sitting on the curb waiting for someone to find them and take them home before the trashman does and takes them away to a landfill. And though I'm guessing I dig a bottle of beer as much as these guys do ya really can't disagree when the say that satisfaction of a box full of records is gonna last much longer than that brew will. If I saw a bottle of beer sitting on a curb I would pass it on by but if a record was sitting there I would pick it up and take it home.
On the flipside is "I'm A Cobweb", a dollop of No-Wave screech dropped into a glowing red hot iron skillet of bear grease and difficult time signatures then served up to patrons of a bar that caters to those who get kicked out of mental institutions the minute their insurance runs out.

Mar 6, 2008

the MENTHOLS "848" 7inch

I gotta confess something. I had a demo of these guys landed on me about a year ago. In March of 2007 the band I was in played a gig in Hamtramck. One of the other bands on the bill was Tom "Smoke" Potter debuting his Chrome Spiders. After many late night years whoopin' it up in Detroit he moved back to the other side of the state (he's originally over from that way). Wonders and rumors about what he was up to then his hard rockin' combo came and rocked the place out. Later at a party over at Timmy Vulgar's place (yeah, and since I'm dropping names Kid Rock's guitar player and a guy that used to be in Mule were there hanging out too) Tom mentioned how one of the dudes in his band had this pretty cool band that I might wanna check out. The CD-R ended up first in my jacket pocket then later in my guitar case. From there it got added to a stack of things that I intended listening to. It was piling up in a corner by the kitchen CD player for a couple of months until my wife got sick of looking at them and had the kids move them to "the basement corner" aka "The Lair of Rock!". The problem is that in the Lair of Rock-CD's tend to get negleted because there so much of the superior vinyl format around that those little digi-disc's become orphans.
I'm feeling like a dick for not ever listening to it now cuz their first single on UFO Dictator has been on of my favorite records of the year so far and this one came in the mail just today and has already been spun 8 times.
"848" is a beach party being crashed by the Stooges but Iggy doesn't feeling like singing cuz he out dancing by clambake pit with all the girls so a couple of drunk wrestlers pass the mic between each other. "Hey Hey Hey" is the same party a few hours later where the wimps have all went home and everyone is left is yelling at the band to play either a Cosmic Psychos or Go-Go's song. They can't nail down one or the other down so they just wing it going for both at the same time.

Mar 5, 2008

the MOJOMATICS "Down My Spine" 7inch

When this Italian duo first started making the rounds a few back they were lumped into the two piece BLOOZEPUNK thing but you could tell by listening to their songs that they definitely had an ear cocked to something a little more "pop" in mind. Here they sound like some damn catchy early 70's regional hit AM radio classic with all the frills and sweetening. Both songs bring a swing and a hook like if Brian Wilson only lost half his mind and kicked Mike Love out 20 years before the regular world found out he was a total dick and decided all that time spent in the studio was time wasted so he stripped down the band to some bare essentials and went on tour with the Troggs as the opening act.

Mar 4, 2008

Founders Old Curmudgeon Ale

The brewhead readers of this thing have probably noticed that I've made mentions to the greatness that is Founders beer making but have never gotten around discussing their beers. A big reason for this is because, though I have written about them in a local minded print publication in times past before I started posting them here, they've been rarely spotted 'round this area for some reason. My favorite beer store in town made it a mission for me to right this wrong and though the distributor couldn't completely fill complete order Old Curmudgeon was one of the one's that found it's way to this port-which was cool with me as it's one of the brews that these fine craftsmen over in Grand Rapids whip up that I haven't tried before.
A very radiant dark amber color shines through an unfiltered cloudiness. A very, very minimal head that goes away almost as soon it's pour and lacing that slips down off the glass back to the edges of the beer with each sip. A scent's something akin to oak barrel aged bourbon is right up front then followed up a bit of vanilla, caramel, sweet malts and a general earthiness.

First taste already says this is a winner! The thick and creamy (but not too heavy) of a fullness fills the mouth, a bourbon sweetness tickles every corner but not to the extent of a whiskey sting because the malts subdue into an almost caramelized and soothing throat coat. The back of the throat gets a painted with a molasses, hazelnut and honey coat that makes some clear their throat between sips but each sip til the glass is done is a seductive and warm flirt of a 9.5 percent and 50 IBU's. If you're looking for a brew that makes ya feel all warm and jovial before the better weather months get here (which, hopefully, aren't too far away)-keep an eye out for this one.

Mar 3, 2008

NECROPOLIS "Song For A Working Man" 7inch

Over the weekend a discussion about THE BEST song ever written for and about the working man somehow got engaged between a few friends. There's millions of songs dealing with the topic and a task of narrowing it down would be a huge one. To save ourselves from making mile long lists each of folk and blues standards the subject was amended to "of the last 50 or so years". It STILL wasn't an easy task and debates about where Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" would rank, could the Stones "Factory Girl" be included not to exclude the ladies (which then of course open up a gate to let not only "She Works Hard For The Money" by Donna Summer in but her song "Bad Girls" as well), if a tune like the Beatles "Hard Day's Night" technically fits and how do we narrow it down to just one song each by Springsteen and Seger? There's were two obvious no-brainers that made the list right off the top, Merle Haggard's "Working Man Blues" and "Working Man" by Rush, before we called it for the evening and agreed to continue to compiling the next time our paths all cross. When they do-I'm bringing this record with me.
This isn't music by a crotchety country music legend or Canadian Munchkin prog though. Nope, This "Song For The Working Man" is once for those that work the midnight til noon shift at a slaughterhouse for two headed goats and those who administer shock therapy on the criminally insane for fun and profit. Heads pounded on the ground keep a beat as a hurricane of gale force guitar yowls and organ noise groans whip a bunch of stuff around. In the eye of the storm a voice yelps and bawls. Side two's "COCKSUCKERBASTARDMOTHERFUCKER" careen's like early Butthole Surfers with their suitcase full of acid lost somewhere so they took up smoking painkillers.