Aug 28, 2008

Great Lakes Holy Moses

There have been accounts in other places that discuss, critique and even sell beer where people have mentioned that Great Lakes is a Michigan company. Well, they are on a Great Lake but it's Lake Erie which is considered the bastard son (Let's not even discuss the goofs of Lake Champlain or Lake St. Clair trying to get in on the party, okay?) of the largest freshwater area in the world and their based in Cleveland, Ohio NOT Michigan. It's not all that big of a deal but we here at Smashin' Transistors felt that the geographical gaffe had to be clarified before this review could continue.
Holy Moses pours gold in color with a slight haze and a little tint of orange. Half inch head fades fairly quick leaving a cloud cap on top and a spotty lace. The aroma's are right in line of what a quality Witbier should smell like but with a little twist. There's the obvious bready, orange peel and coriander (and to this nose the right amount of coriander-some brews in this style go a little do much with it) smells but also something else. Guessing it as the presence of chamomile that is used in it I asked the better half. She confirmed my guess and with her being the wit head in this house (she drinks maybe two beers a month and if she had her way Victory's Sunrise and Whirlwind would be available year round) took a sip, raised her eyebrows and gave an "Mmmm!" as approval, took another sip and then went and got one for herself. I tried to get her to write her take on the beer after that but she shot me down saying "You're the beer geek here. It's your job...but this is a very good beer" as she headed off to the front porch swing with a book in one hand and a pint glass in the other. I had yet to taste it but after her delicate palate was tantalized I knew my chances of being impressed were better than usual (especially when it comes to Wit's. The most minor thing in one of them can turn me off in an instant).
Damn! There's all kinds of flavor right off from when it first touches the lips. Lemony bite backed up with a fresh out of the banana bread like warmth. In the middle there a crisp and bold spiciness courtesy of the coriander and especially the chamomile which add a very interesting complexity to the brew. Not overly sweet like a lot of the American takes can be nor that almost artificial citrus flavoring taste that a lot of them have. The mouth feel is full and fluffy. Not thin & fizzy but not superthick either. It finishes clean and just a slight sweet tang. Good stuff. Looking forward to trying some of their other brew styles very soon.

Aug 26, 2008


There are a ton of bands these days that can be lumped into some kinda modern power-pop revisionism. Sure, a lot of combo's can glean what they can from the early Bomp catalog & Raspberries and Cheap Trick records (okay, maybe not the examples of power-pop influences that you might cite but ya get the point, right?), turn it up just a bit louder and knock out catchy little number or two. The problem now as it was then was when the full length album's come out-it usually was/is the only catchy number or two surrounded by filler. In the genre it's a rare breed that can knock out a bunch of songs in a row that keep ya from picking up the needle and skipping over songs.
Ear tickling jagged Rickerbacker jangle that's equal parts the Who (cuz after all if "I Can't Explain" and "The Kids Are Alright" are not prototypical power-pop songs what are? Didn't Townshend originally coin the term "Power Pop" too?) and the Jam. There's a slight Brit accent affection in Jesse's voice, but what great American band of this kind didn't have a bit of Anglophile in 'em? (of course we all know that some of the shittiest ones did too but that's not what were talking about here) as he wails & shouts about what these kind of songs are suppose to be about. Y'know. Town flirts, misunderstandings, getting paid and going out. The Men harmonize behind him and play the songs rooted in a way that shows the influences of the best 90's garage punk which these guys definitely cut their rock-n-roll teeth on and that's always much better than the way bands like the Nervous Eaters and Teenage Head sounded after they got defanged by producers who "know how to make a song a radio hit" got ahold of 'em.
Is this the perfect power album? Well....there's a needle lifter, the ballady "Sidewalks", but even it's updated homage paying to the token trick on each and every record of it's kind always has much more of a grit than say the one on that Pezband album. This album's much too good of a rock-n-roll record to hang the "power-pop" albatross around their neck anyway. If the kids ever just wanna dance again Gentlemen Jesse and his Men better be on American Bandstand every 6 weeks.

Aug 25, 2008

the CRETEENS "4 Track Blues" 7inch EP

Do all the French folk that get heavily into the Oblivians have stereo's that have way blown speakers and play a little faster than the rest of the world. Look at the Fatals for example. They never hid how hard they got bit by that sick Memphis bug then set everything on fire while trying to tell everybody about it. The Creteens found some of the smoldering embers they left behind and started a whole 'nother wildfire with it.
Eardrum's get seared with all the hiss & fuzz & howl going on here. 4 blasts of hate-tone screech with one of them being, what else, an Oblivians cover.

Aug 21, 2008

the BLANK ITS "Windows Are Dirty" 7inch

"Windows Are Dirty" opens with a sound something like two wood blocks being whacked across your temple's for a beat. It's then joined by a guitar whirlpool that tosses, turns and spins you around dizzily til it pulls you under murky water. The rhythmic cadence of it could almost be considered mechanical if it weren't a mutant surf bounce that tossed everything around while a cyborg barks & mumbles taunts through a fast food restaurant's drive through intercom. This is where the theory of de-evolution finds itself with nowhere to go but to crawl back up the food chain. On the other side of this slab "Divorce" grinds and bops like Tyvek doing an interpretation of the Jam doing a feel good about a not too feel good situation with Rosie the maid from the Jetsons surly nephew on the mic.

Aug 20, 2008

the GAG FACTORS "We Rock You Suck" 7inch

Leaning towards the "hard rock" side of the 3 chord Ramones influenced pop punk Italy's Gag Factors aren't blazing some trail that oodles haven't stomped before but that not gonna stop people checking out the hike for themselves for decades to come just like it has been decades it's been since it started.
"Gag Factor" (the band's theme song maybe or perhaps following in the step of other bands like Iron Maiden and Talk Talk that have a song who's title shares that of the band name) is loud and fast paced sounding like a day at the beach where not taking off the leather jacket is making a statement. "Starry Eyes" is not the Roky Erickson song but the 25cent 45 bin standard by the Records with louder guitars and gruffer singing.

Aug 19, 2008

Avery Fifteenth Anniversary Ale

Each year the brew geniuses at Avery Brewing in Boulder Colorado do something a special bit off radar to celebrate birthday and this year was no different. On the bottle it informs us that this is one funky farmhouse ale. Not only did black mission figs (as opposed just regular figs) make it into the process but Hibiscus flowers and white pepper where somehow added to the ingredients somewhere along the way as well.
Nice right before dark orangeness in the color. A hearty thick head that left a whole lotta lace residue and a hearty cap through the whole thing.
I'm not really too familiar with the farmhouse ale style but the scant I tried so far did have an earthy and grassy scent. This smells "earthy" but instead of some wide flower meadow....well it smells more like the farm FIELD where the goats and chickens run around after a rain than it does the farmHOUSE up by the road with the scent of wild flowers in vases and the aroma of fresh baked rhubarb pie from the oven.
There's a weird tartness up front. Funk? Ya got that right. It's almost like they took dried orange peels and pepper corns and cooked them in butter til they were almost black. Maybe on some fish or an odd cut of beef it may be okay but it's just not cutting it here. This odd not all that pleasant stickiness goes away as the brew warms up. Problem is that the weird "organic fertilizer" scent gets stronger too. The smell kills noticing any other nuances which are just odd and not all that appetizing to this palate anyways. The finish is almost like a well balanced lemony summer whit but then that (ungood) funk shows up again.
Oh well, I guess Avery can't please all the beer schmoe's all the time. There's always next's years party calling card though.

Aug 18, 2008

BLACK ORPHAN "Circuits" 7inch EP

You ever had the experience where your teeth itch? Usually it such an experience comes from drugs, fingernails dragged across a chalkboard or another night of food packaged in tin foil plates. Depending on where you mind is set or wants to be set off into this can be the most amazing experience or another bit of time spent in a vortex of painful irritation. Black Orphan keep you balancing along that thin line of bliss and distress.
Masterminded by a Spits member this record is a session of claustrophobic confusion where super distortion is piled on everything from guitars that buzz like a transformer in a remote field that supplies power to an area that is overrun by creepy cross-eyed farm families reminding one of Cab. Voltaire's "Nag Nag Nag" to the Bryan Ferry on a second bottle of cough syrup vocals to the overload of of digital blips of standing in the middle of a video arcade on a hit of jittery microdot. Careful where you step. That mud puddle may be caustic.

Aug 12, 2008

All kinds of musical goodness going on in the area this weekend

First off there's the show at the Roche (see above)

Also, On Saturday the 16th Miss Chain and the Broken Heels are playing the Painted Lady in Hamtramck with the Smith Westerns


The Cement Bar Lodge is located @ 6220 Frith Road, St. Clair Township, Michigan. This a daytime all ages show. Live music starts around 4pm.

http://www. myspace. com/misschainandthebrokenheels
http://www. myspace. com/smithwesterns
http://www. myspace. com/themcflys
http://www. myspace. com/subourbonson

Aug 11, 2008

The Readies and Magic Shop

The Readies and the Magic Shop played my town this past Saturday. It was pretty bad ass. The Readies are Dan Kroha (the Gories, Demolition Dollrods) new rock-n-roll trio and the Magic Shop are a loud bit of jangle that includes Steve Nawara of Rocket 455 and Detroit Cobras fame on guitar and vocals as well as Marysville, Mi. ex-pat Jake on bass. Bunch of pics I took and commentary over at the Main site. Go check it out!
And yes....they were all shot on actual film.

Aug 8, 2008

the RED HEARTS "The Big Rip Off" 7inch

The label this record is on is called April '77. No doubt the era this band wishes they were from. Bouncy punk. The Boomtown Rats ("She's So Modern" not "I Don't Like Mondays") meets the Clash ("Garageband" not "Rock The Casbah") maybe? Either that or Elvis Costello and the Attractions if they had songs that sounded more like the Exploding Hearts.

Aug 7, 2008

Harpoon IPA

Because when I'm out in a social situation and tend to yack on about beer almost as much as music to the point where my beer ramblings get published in actual paper and ink print here and there people around my hometown tend to think I'm some beer expert. Far from it and all actuality...I just know what I know and like what I like but it doesn't stop folks from asking me what I think. Recently someone picked my brain about "gateway" beers. Y'know, the ones for those that are interested in something better than your average macro but aren't ready to go feet first and over their head into hops and malts. Along with Sierra Nevada, Bells and Anchor Steam-Harpoon is always on the top of the list for for such recommendations.
Dark gold in color and a one finger quickly fading head is how it looks. Laces a bit more sticky than expected judging from how soon the head vanished. Grassy scent with hints or caramel. Neither of which are very strong if one but it sure got more aroma than a Bud or Labatt Blue. Taste is along the same lines. Slight metallic hop bitterness up front but muted by the malt. Pretty much the same thing going down the throat but with a little bit of a citrus tang sticking to the back. A little bit more carbonation than needed for this style usually but it's easy drinking.
Nah, Harpoon isn't out to knock the snobbiest of the beer snobs socks off but as a starter for someone just dabbling, an old reliable when others just ain't striking the fancy at the time or something to take to beach that ain't all burly but isn't watered down horse piss Harpoon deserves their space on the good beer shelf.

Aug 6, 2008

BEAUTIFUL TRAPS "Wooden Skull" 7inch EP

With this record's packaging in being a silk screened & hand sewn sleeve baring a image of a bird with human skulls in it's nest expecting something a little more art-damaged than normal is usually a given. The opening seconds of the record (and later, the little bits between the songs) really make ya think that's what's gonna go on too. Then Guided By Voices lo-fi aesthetics, suckers for a power pop hook, frosty Echo and the Bunnymen reverb and the heartfelt ragged anthem lust of Midwest heroes like the Replacements before they made a major label deal with the devil meet at a 4 way stop, do a hesitation waltz wondering who should make the next move.