Nov 28, 2008


Playing the blues is a tricky thing these days. All the old guys are gone (or probably only have a few years in 'em) and then there those jokers that claim they are keeping it alive but then namecheck Clapton and SRV. A bunch of clowns in cargo pants, pastel colors and some asshole wearing John Lennon sunglasses at night ain't doing nothing to keep it breathing no matter how many times they tell themselves (in an old bluesman's voice of course) "The blues are in everybody." Oh, what's a whiteboy to do?
There is of course the "punk blues" thing but ain't just really rock-n-roll? The SRV and Hendrix corpse humpers aren't down with all that. "That ain't the blues." they'll tell ya then go off into a 20 minute version of "Sweet Home Chicago" (replacing Chicago with whatever suburb they are that evening and doing some retarded ass Frampton squawk box BS of course). "The blues are about soul. You can give it an hard rock edge but you have to do it with respect. Y'know like that tune U2 did with B.B. King"
Yep. I've had many a talk with local guitar legends...You know the one's. There's always a couple even in small towns. It's funny to tell then that you play in a blues-rock band but watch them head for the door by the second song. Shakin' their head in shame because they know there's no way the band's gonna play a cover of "Tuff Enuff". They're also the same guys that couldn't get into the jukejoint bluesmen that Fat Possum, which is the label that put this record out, released because...well, none of those guys were going to cover "Tuff Enuff" either.
Can't say that's highly likely that Oxford, MS inhabitant Mr. Barrett and his evil bass drum whips out the tune in a encore but you're not going to confuse this with some lost Junior Kimbrough tracks though either. Post White Stripes/Black Keys stripped down rock-blues in a one take/one mic/one man band situation. Swampy, stompy (but not all blown out sounding for a change) stuff powered by a bright Telecaster twang and of course, a bass drum of death (which sounds like a normal bass drum actually).

Nov 25, 2008

A couple of Michigan made Stouts (for a Michgan Winter)

It's no secret that the love that us here at Smashin' Transistors have for Grand Rapids, Michigan brewery Founders. It's more than just home state pride thing too because what they do is impeccable. This thing they call Breakfast Stout is one of the many reason's why. It's a double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout that is only brewed quarterly and in quantities limited to a point where beer sellers have to pre-order it and sit on a waiting list til it's their turn to score some. I don't how far they make it out of Michigan cuz even though I live in the same state where the beer is made I'm way over on the other side where Founder's are a rare sight to begin with and this, for obvious reasons, is even less common than that.
Dark brown/almost black in color with very little head and frosty lacing. Big French roast coffee aroma up front with whiff's of chocolate and, with a swirl or two in glass, hazelnut and vanilla character as well. The flavor is huge on the coffee tip. The flaked oats stand shoulder to shoulder with that and also pull together the semi sweet chocolate flavors in line. Every little flavor character in this brew compliments and bring a balance to each. It's finishes just a robust as it starts never once giving you the impression that this it's an 8.3% cuz it's crafted so well. Full and filling in texture this is a slow sipper but on a cold and windy winter night it's something great to spend some time enjoying while keeping warm. Truly one of the most incredible stouts around. There's also a version that Founder's makes called Kentucky Breakfast that aged in oak bourbon barrels. One of these days I will get to try one of those too.

Dark Horse One Oatmeal Stout

The first in the 5 of Dark Horse's annual stout series (one each a month from Oct. to Feb.) and, as it is every winter, always worth the wait. Very dark (almost black) and rich in color with a creamy dark red head that spots away fairly quickly and leaving a decent sized ring around the top of the brew along with a slight lace all the way through it's sipping. Huge roasted malt aromas upfront with dark coffee/chocolate and smokey wood notes along for the ride. It's those kind of smells that remind a winter holiday morning at my grandparents house. The kinds of morning where all us kids were plied with hot chocolate before we were bundled up to go out ride on the back of the snowmobile. Maybe I'm just getting a bit sentimental of days long past but this DOES remind me of that.
Very full bodied in it's silky texture with a whole lotta flavor in the mix. A robust toasted malt is the first thing noticed with a bitter dark chocolate flavor backing it up. The oatmeal sweetness surfaces next not muting the bite of the bitters but balancing them just right. The finish is warm with very laid back/almost hidden hop presence which is a good thing in such brews because it let's the oatmeal and malt characteristics do what they're suppose to do instead of getting stepped all over in the end. Such great examples of complexities to these taste buds all the way through and another gold star for one of Michigan's finest breweries.

Nov 22, 2008

The Flips 45 soon to be out on Bancroft Records (Pre-order NOW!!!!)

Band bio from their myspace page
The Flips formed from an idea born of Natalie Clark (of Tuff Bananas, The Tears) and Wendy Norton (of Plexi 3, Plastic Pets, Monitors, Kryptonite Records, Search and Annoy Zine, Lookers) at a Halloween party, October of 2007. What started as an idea for a recording project quickly morphed into a "real band" after Wendy and Natalie exchanged 4 track demo recordings of their song ideas. "This collaboration between Natalie and I was long overdue," Says Wendy, "And I could tell as soon as we started working together that this would be a really fun group. Our songs are so catchy, simple, and honest. We have a really great dynamic!" Wendy and Natalie scouted Milwaukee for it's hottest girl talent, recruiting the very talented vocalist Betsy Borst (Sugar Stems) as their lead singer, esteemed percussionist Feraim Albano (of The Riveters, My Underwear) on drums, impresario pianist Fran Switalski (formerly of Plexi 3, Jane Doe and The Cop Haters) to play Wurlitzer, and local punk babe Steph Swinney (Goibbledoimbs, Nice Outfit, Sugar Stems) on bass guitar.

Pre-order your copy of it NOW!!!! Release date late Dec./early Jan. The first 100 pre-orders will get a special prize along with the record too.

In the US & Canada paypal $6.25
The rest of the world paypal $8.00

The Flips

Email smashintransistors (at) for the price on multiple copies and distro's get in touch too.

Bancroft also has a scant few copies of the Goodnight Loving record we put out earlier in the year (as well as a couple stragglers of the Mystery Girls and Real Losers singles we did but sorry Black Time, Jack Oblivian's Tearjerkers, the Catholic Boys and the Tears records are all long gone so don't even ask)...Use same pricing as above to get it.

Nov 21, 2008

the FITT "Hawk Eyes" 7inch EP

Is this modern metal that doesn't suck or is early 90's alt-metal sound entering a Renaissance? Maybe the Fitt are leading it. They remember how gay that whole thing got so they don't sound like some prog bullshit that Tool ripped off. Earliest Helmet & TAD, Sabbath's Masters of the Universe played at 45 and the bad touches that Earache records gave me as a tape collecting intermediate school kid.

Nov 20, 2008

JAIL "Pardono" 7inch

If you've taken a shine to that folksy-pop that Wisconsin bands like the Goodnight Loving, Midwest Beat and the late, great JukeBoyds (members of the latter are part of the formers) have done so well-it would a wise bet to track down this record, the debut single, from Milwaukee's Jail. Hell, even a former and a current member of Goodnight Loving (one of them who just happens to be once a JukeBoyd) are in this band.
"Pardono" has swirly country road psych ambiance piled on top of those shambling Midwest rockers that bands like the Replacements made in cold winter practice spots decades ago.
On side two's "Always Wrong" hits a place somewhere like a neighborhood Redd Kross would've lived 6 months before they recorded Nuerotica. Boyce & Hart live next door to them and the Embarrassment rent the house across the street. Mitch Easter manages the convenience store a couple of blocks away and sells specials potions he keeps under the counter to all of them when they come to get smokes and candy.

Nov 17, 2008

ALTERED STATES of the UNITED SNAKES (AS*US) "Exectutive Suites" CD

Take of some of the drugs that Pink Reason has lived on and give them to Skip Spence when he was recording "Oar". Sure, Skip's brain was mess up on all kinda who knows what but the things people were burning up their braincells up on back then look like Vitamin Water compared to some of the toxic things people today ingest for a buzz no matter how damaging the not so long term effects . Then imagine if Neil Young heard the results of such a thing while he was on tour with Sonic Youth (the only time I've even seen Neil live but something like the 5th for SY) and the idea of putting together a rural route influenced doom rock band together.
Critics and his label would've buried the thing but eventually people like the Altered States of the United Snakes would dig it back up and declare it theirs.
Feedback gives way to tape loops that then gives way to rattly acoustic guitars and pie tin cymbal crashes. It gets noisier as it goes on culminating with AmRep recorded on one bargain priced mic slime. And that's just the first song. Calling Columbus, Ohio their place to live they fit right in in the college town that bands like El Jesus de Magico, Necropolis, the Unholy Two and Psychedelic Horseshit also lay their hat.

Nov 15, 2008

Bell's Hell Hath No Fury Ale

Out of all the limited/seasonal brews that Bell's makes this, what they've dubbed as an "American dubbel", is one of their most rare with it's approx. 4 week brewing period. It's also one of the most interesting in the long and delicious lines of the company too and as any Bell's fan knows that's saying a lot.
Dark brown in color with a pinky finger size head that doesn't stick around very long but does leave a thin frost on the windows type of lace all the way through drinking. Roasted malt, smokey maplewood and caramel are the dominant aromas with a slight nip of spicy alcohol in there as well. The texture of the brew itself is smooth but not too thick allowing all kinds of complexities to appear in the taste from start to finish. Up front it's almost like coffee but tempered with the flavors of dark cherries. Toffee and vanilla characteristics have a huge presence in the middle but are also split with a very distinct roasted malt taste. The sweet and lingering finish/aftertaste has hints of black licorice but nothing that would bum out those who don't like the taste of black licorice.
Growing up in Michigan and being planted here still now to who knows when I've gotten used to this time of the year when the signs of a snowy, long, cold & reeking havoc on my home heating bill winter is just up the block and waiting patiently to make it's presence known. Things like Hell hath No Fury make such news a little easier to take.

Nov 12, 2008

the LIVE ONES "Dirtweed" 7inch

Can't say I've kept track on how many times I've walked into a place promising live music in this stupid county then thought "Uhh. It's a bunch of old guys" when the band started to play. The thing is nowadays those "old guys" seem to be around my age. Usually they're embarrassing themselves though by playing really hack versions of current hack AOR and Young Country hits but "Hey dude. Getting paid" or thinking they're pure by playing what they think is the blues ie: Stevie Ray Vaughan and...well, Stevie Ray Vaughan. It makes ya wonder if they even care then ask yourself where's the old guys that who still get off cranking it some songs the wrote up in a neighborhood dive bar. That is unless you walk the same streets in a place where the Live Ones do.
"Dirtweed" is a 3 chord street walking bailed up in Stooges tested/Ramones approved twine vibe with cranky & somewhat disturbed singing. "Don't Look Down" sounds like Danzing if the Misfits didn't break up but he led them into the Evil Elvis thing he completely transformed into on his first couple of solo albums.

Nov 11, 2008

TUNNEL OF LOVE "Hott Radio Revenge" LP

When it comes to caveman rock-n-roll there aren't many bands that give a shot of glamor like the Tunnel Of Love. Jeanie Shrimpton on a meth binge hair-do's, striped leotards with gym shorts pulled over top of 'em, plastic tiara's and purchased from the clearance bin at a Halloween store Dracula capes It's a glamor that's vexatious to tough guys and the humorless but it's there in their thud none the less.
It's all about finding the most scuzzy of cruds then doll it up with broken, busted & bastard brain damage, soiled souls. Tunnel of Love almost take the sound of music and reduce it back to the days of cromagnum man when they just had rocks and sticks to bang against the ground and cave walls. Almost because they stop short of that because, well this ain't no hippie earth/world music jam band stuff. It's rock-n-roll. Beats of a primordial fashion on the floor tom & cymbal bashing rewire the connections of the brain which sets everything into an ooze position. A guitar that is held together but duct tape & sheer luck which may stay in tune for a minute or two blaaaangs from mostly downstroked chordal abuse through an amp that begs for mercy from eardrum fizzing feedback that happens every second when no one is beating the strings while howls of lust push it even father. All of the sounds are in competition to stomp all over each other and the assault turns into a one big nasty audio melee. It's almost like hearing a field recording of the 30's then going back to rediscover the people that recorded it are still alive and playing but despite them getting a big wad of electricity and hearing select songs from the Gories and Captain Beefheart's Original Magic Band they're still isolated from the world and regressing back to a stone age state is what you're suppose to do.

Nov 8, 2008

the PLEASURE KILLS "Mission Boy" 7inch

On this, their second 7inch slab, San Francisco based the Pleasure Kills don't stray from their Blondie gets turbocharged sound and really, why should they? It works well for them.
"Mission Boy", a girl's eye view of tragical hipsters, borrows a keyboard line reminiscent of "Dreaming" but the sound is hopped a bit more. Singer Lydiot's voice has a boom to it that the majority female "new wave" singers both old and new lacks. She's not all growly but she sure can belt and doesn't fall back on that squeaky/breathy/yelping thing too much like a lot of the others do. The guitars tick/tock then bite when they need to while the solo's pay a nod to the Johnny Thunders blare with a bit more flash (but not in that "Les Paul through a Marshall so look at me" gutter geetar hero flash thing which is breath of fresh air in such guitar solo situations). Side two's "Picture's On The Floor" could be dropped in to replace a tune that clearance couldn't be made for on a cable re-run of "Valley Girl" and no one would notice a difference. Yep. They nail the sound well.

Nov 7, 2008

Great Lakes Nosferatu Ale

It's only appropriate that a beer named after a legendary vampire would have a reddish tint to it. No, this beer isn't bloody looking or anything but it is sharp clear red in color. Once inch head that fades a bit but still sticks around pretty healthily and all kinds of thick lacing all the way through. Aroma's are subtle here. A bit of hops, a strawberry tinge and dark malts are what my this nose is noticing.
The flavors in the brew itself are much more pronounced than they are in the scent. There's a huge malt sweetness up front then a ESB like bitterness shows up soon afterwards with more that a dint of alcohol hotness in the end. Firm, creamy body but overall though not a whole lot of complexities and something seems just not there. Maybe it's the weird spicy bitters characteristics that stick around too much that are leaving me a little put off. The remaining 3 of this 4-pack will eventually be finished and though it won't prevent me from trying other Great Lakes makes (cuz I've been impressed with some of the other random samplings I've tried) but I'm just not feeling this one.

Nov 6, 2008

El JESUS de MAGICO "Unclean Ghosts" 7inch

A fuzzy two note buzz starts off a-side's "Unclean Ghost". A mesmeric boom bop beat then joins in giving signals for an Eno in the most turbulent of moods keyboard drone to meld into the sound. By the time the glassy splashes of guitar and haunting heavy echo chambered vocals come in you are already in a stupefacient daze...eyes closed (cuz they're rolled in the back of the head) with yr head swaying back to forth. Simplicity like the lure of one of those good Wire songs uses, the missing things that have puzzled me when I meet people who claim to be Discordians but haven't ever heard of Hawkwind and a part where the could've let doves out of a box but they end up being rats. No one notices the punctured skin/bite marks until a day or two later. By then it's gonna take much, much more than iodine and calamine to treat it.
All kinds of hell breaks loose when you flip it over for "Pirate Utopia". Stand back cuz they're gonna start a fire of metallic (but not METAL) grind voodoo played on a guitar that was being used as an oil drip pan underneath a bl
ock of a greasy old real engines that were made to be worked on in your driveway. Sparks fly & skulls break from the smack! pound! smack! pound! If you listen very closely rumor has it that you can hear Gibby Haynes & Peter Cushing arguing over who get's to play the lead in the movie based on the songs El Jesus de Magico write.

Nov 3, 2008

HUNX "Good Kisser" 7inch

If provocateur and friend of Tina "Boom Boom" Lucchesi Hunx was around in say 1972 the whole glitter rock thing (at least in the US) might have taken a different turn. Because of Hunx starpower Led Zep would've never take up all the table's at Bingenheimer's English Disco and if they did a piece of useless Psychical Graffiti trivial would be that "Sick Again" was written about 14 year old boys, Bowie and Bolan would've grown lumberjack beards (because Hunx already cornered the market on rockin' the cop mustache) and started lifting weights and Iggy would've accepted that bus ticket from his parents to come back home to Ypsilanti and learn to be an Optometrist. What other choice would they have? They'd have been out swaggered, out posed and out fruited.
Anchored by a stadium stamping & hip shakin' beat ala something that's really tough to do unless you're someone like the Sweet or Gary
Glitter and a post bubblegum/pre-punk guitar sounds that sounds like it made be pushed through an speaker made of lighter fluid soaked cardboard a party starts (courtesy of his Punx???) that gonna make you giggle & digging a good time, feel uncomfortable & split for the door or wanting to claw some other queen's eyes out. Hunx reedy and nasally voice taunts all the girls who's boyfriends getting stolen as he sashays in the most flamboyant of ways through a land where the Beach Boys Wilson's and Brothers Mael collaborated on a new national anthem (heavy on the girly backing vocals) and the speech the president read announced the news was written by the country's most recently named poet laureate Rip Taylor.