Dec 28, 2009


With people going around claiming the newest Flaming Lips being a "return to form" I looked forward to hearing it. When I did it had me figuring that return to form everyone was taking about was sadly sublime & the brooding/pretty pastorals) or it's follow up Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (which, save for 2 or maybe 3 songs, is nothing but a bunch of unfinished ideas and sound effects. Oh boy! There was talk of them making a Broadway musical out of it) and not, say,(two personal favorites) or those albums way back when they were on Restless that expanded my head and primed my brain when it was much younger and fiending for such things during it's waking hours. Not "You got to listen to the album start to end. It's the only way to feel it man!"
What? That's people used to me about listening to a to a Pink Floyd album. Dammit! I want Pink Floyd that bummed out all the "real music fans" in my high school. The freaking out and falling apart Syd Barrett Pink Floyd-not the conceptual jazz rock put your headphones and fall to sleep Pink Floyd.
Because of this it's good to have the hippie harshing, bad tripping, cranky and rat trap sounds of Psychedelic Horseshit around. Some would consider listening to them on headphones would be a test of endurance and if you fell asleep with them playing everyone would then find out if you can die in your dreams or not. Comparing Matt Horseshit to Lord Syd or St. Coyne might make some gasp and think that I don't really even listen to music anymore but once what I thought was an off handed observation, not to forget to mention on their Shitgaze Anthems rec there was a song titled, "We're Pink Floyd, Bitch" seems more sensical every day.
Songs that would be the basis of pastoral sound paintings in other hands though get shook of the walls and trampled underfoot like broken glass. When it's time for a loud and weird rock-n-roll unlike other bands who will gussy it up with prerecorded sound effects and electronic gadgets to twist the sound Psychedelic Horseshit would rather just have play a Shop-Vac as a set of bagpipes (or maybe that isn't a Shop-Vac and it isn't suppose to sound like bagpipes it's just the way the hiss and screech affects these eardrums) and have someone fire off a shotgun full of buckshot at a metal garbage can (figuratively and possibly literally). Anchored by Matt's half asleep/all the way smug & phlegmy vocals, shitbox "is that even in tune" guitar sound and chug-chug like Velvet Underground rhythms the 8 songs spread over 4 sides here don't drift far from the path they've stumbled through on their previous records but as also with each consecutive there seems to be a tendency more and more towards something that resembles, dare I say it, actual pop songs with discernible melodies. Something that resembles such but also far from it and just not right. With this band there shouldn't ever be any other way.
Smashin' Transistors interview with Psychedelic Horseshit from a couple years back

Dec 26, 2009

North Peak Diabolical IPA

Ya gotta really dig the whole retro throwback package that this brew presents. The label design is clean, simple & fun (after all, they've do have a jackalope on the label here) and the stubby bottles give off the feeling that you're drinking something from Michigan (in this case Traverse City) for Michigan , not national, brewery that your grandpa used to swear by before progress and commodification made it closed it's door for good. This looks a bit darker than usual compared most IPA's that get poured into the glass around the Smashin' Transistors digs.
Quite a dark amber shade to it. The head is light and study taking it's time to melt away leaving a thick and sticky lacing behind. The scent is very earthy with pepper with a burst of lemon peel.
A tart hop bite jumps out a bit in the first sip. Though it is definitely a Michigan take on the IPA style with it's grassy & pine notes nuances there are things about the particular bitters here that might remind some of an ESB. The malt backbone stands strong bringing a smokey & toffee meatiness to the affair. This medium body brew finishes with a nice mix of the flavors about. Bitter but not too sticky.
I've turned some of my fellow IPA pals onto this after stumbling across it last month and all of them have agreed that it's unique in it's approach with comments like "It's like they pushed it as far as they could without it being considered a DIPA" to "One of the best IPA's I've ever tasted."
I'm cool with turning them on to something that's new and brewed in this state but also worrying that now that others are discovering it'll be harder to find in this city where craft beers are already hard to find (well, except for Bells but you can find the even in the giant grocery stores now). The store where I initially found it at has been out of stock of it for a couple weeks now. I had to drive 45 miles to score this particular 6 pack. If it wasn't for that I'd already be considering this one of my "go to" IPA's.

Dec 23, 2009

Short's Uncle Steve's Irish Stout

Since they started bottling their beer earlier this year Bellaire, Michigan brewery Shorts has jumped into the ring and really started swinging. Earlier this month they introduced eight new bottle beers to a statewide market and POOF most of them were gone for shelves in days. Though us here at Smashin' Transistors thought we were being diligent with our beer hunting we missed out on a couple of them (if anyone has a line on the wet hopped Kind ale drop me a note please) but we're able to snag a few-Uncle Steve's Irish Stout being one of them.
Deep, rich mahogany in color. Holding it up to the light though dark ruby highlights shine though. A very healthy, rocky and reddish head hangs on for a quite a bit and leaves lots of thick lacing behind. The scent is roasted & biscuity but on the sweeter ends of things. Reminds me of brownies to some extent.
Dark rich malts and bakers chocolate flavors are the first to introduce themselves in the flavors. In the middle it takes on something akin to dark fruits and green apple. The finish is quite interesting with a cool balance between the malt and hops but still finishes with a dryness that is expected from any proper Irish stout. Short's nails it again with taking an age old recipe, putting their own twist on it but not tweaking or overdoing it too much.

Dec 17, 2009

Dale's Pale Ale

First off, let me get this out of the way because I see it in every blurb, article and piece on Oskar Blues beer brands I look it. A good beer in a can? We all know there is those certain connotations and stigmas that canned beer carry but when your going to the beach, fishing, going out in a canoe, sticking a sled in the back of the car to go bombs some newly snowed on hills, wanna throw a couple in your back pack before you hop on the back of your bike and ride somewhere and so on-cans work those situations much easier. Oskar Blues is fulfilling a need and service with their transport vessel of choice.
Out of the can it pours a fairly see through rich copper color and a study one inch head. As the foam fades a healthy amount of lacing is left along the glass. The color and consistency of it make it look a bit more full flavored and robust than some other brews that fall under the APA umbrella. Looking at it and thinking maybe it's an IPA just acting modest. It's a great looking beer. Earthy and citrus hops aromas are the first thing to the scent. It's followed by the scents of honey, biscuits & honey and caramel. Scent also gives off an IPA impression too. If it tastes half as good as it looks & smells it should be a real treat can or not.
First impression from tasting is how full and fluffy it feels. Not much in carbonation but still very lively. Nice sweet mix of a peppery hop bite and honey in the flavor upfront. The malt backbone takes the bite off with a sweet caramel flavor pulling the brew together for a warming feeling and a mellow somewhat wood aged spice.
You can't get these in my parts and my little sis sent some of these my way along with some of the Imperial stout, Ten Fiddy, that Oskar Blues makes and some other brews (Racer 5, Saint Arnolds, some winter warmers). I'll be keeping busy sampling some things I don't usually get to sip. My little sis RULES! A good beer in a can? Nope! A really, really good beer whether it came out of a can, a bottle or even at the end of a water spigot is what I'm thinking.

Dec 15, 2009

BARE WIRES "Let Down" 7inch

Sounding something like an Americanized Swell Maps or a less incorrigible version of the Fall (even in the Brix period) the Bare Wires take fuzzy/popish lo-fi bedroom punk and give a good "my parent won't be home til later" romp that a slew of the such ilk seem to be to shy to do.
"Let Down" is straight ahead with it's rolling riff of jangle, "tick, tick, boom" drum sound and the kinda reedy but honest and assertive voice that many of these kinda of records have had and have made them good for so many years. Throw in a tone overdriven needles pinned in the red nod to James Williamson guitar solo and you've got a song that you could possibly find yourself humming days later and thinking "What the hell song is that?"
Best described as a wolf in sheep's clothing side two's "Looking For Action" starts out sounding like some pretty psych-folk weeper. It lures you into a world of of pretty sound float away sound then it bares it's fangs and throws hot bacon grease at your ears with a RRRWWWRR of more of that hot mess guitar noise that leaves a welt.

Dec 12, 2009

SHARP ENDS "Crack Trap" 7inch

With a rumbling bassline and a choppy guitar side one from this Alberta band, "Crack Trap", resembles Joy Division who if they looked out their window didn't see the gray industrial decay that was their city but prairies, mountain and trees. Musical vistas that are more wide and rambling than fogged claustrophobia. It give the song a bit more of scruffy and well worn jean jacket comfortableness than a cumbersome stiff and bulky trench coat. Glacial but not foreboding.
"Loaded Hearts" is the flipside meaning more than just the song on the other side of the record. If the other side could be described as icy-here a blast of heat melts that away. It leaps out through the speakers with slashy guitar ala the first Generation X album while general feeling of the song is a lost teen angst 60's nugget blaster sharing it's bed with some late 70's DIY post-punker. The sound of the two tug & push for dominance making the scuffle an exercise in poisoned soul piss & vinegar and introspective recollections of spite & revenge.

Dec 10, 2009

New Holland Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever. After the the last day or two of actual Michigan winter weather rolling in the feeling that such an epidemic coming forth is expected so might as well treat it with some beer, huh?
Though this is a brown ale color wise it could be described as dark ruby in color. Very minimal head but a white rim that leaves a running lacing that slides right back down into the brew. A very sweet and warm aroma. Malts obviously along with roasted almonds, black cherry and butter cream come to mind when giving it a sniff.
The top of the flavor as well as the feeling in the mouth has an almost milk stout characteristic to it. Sorta thick and sweet is the first impression then it is followed up with something akin to raisin toast without all the cinnamon. It finishes with a slight hop tinge and even it being only 6% abv has a bit of alcohol warmness that fills the body. Such things are welcomed on cold, cold nights like the one I can see out my window as I sit and type this.
To these tastebuds a lot of brown ales have a gritty and well, browness, to them that I can only hang with for one of two glasses. With Cabin Fever I'm in the middle of my second bottle and considering having a third before I hit the hay.

Dec 3, 2009

LOVE CITY "EP" 7inch EP and LOVE COLLECTOR "My Baby Goes Waaah!" 7inch EP

There's plenty of dumb opening lines that could start off this review. A mention of there being a whole lotta love going on or saying something like "Looks we got a double shot of love here." The truth of the matter is though that since I was preoccupied with other things for months now that my review duties here have been neglected and I'm playing a lot of catch up. Gotta pare down the backlog some way or another so why not find some creative ways of combining some of the reviews together into one post. Two bands of LOVE seemed so obvious. While listening to both records back to back though it seems that a 2nd nuance with the theme starts to rise to the top as both bands show a love for the sounds of the 60's but neither of them showing much time for silly nostalgia.
Hailing from Philly, Pa., a town which both holds the distinction of being the called both "The City Of Brotherly Love" and "Hostile City", Love City do the haunting and possibly disturbed garage rock thing in a Lollipop Shoppe/13th Floor Elevators vein. They also lay down a lot of spine chilling organ sound through all 4 songs. They definitely have immersed themselves in the sights and sounds of the era but, thankfully, haven't thrown themselves completely head first into "Music died in '67" purist kind of way. Not restricting themselves to that gutter they end up being reminiscent of something like Love if they came along during the 90's trash rock 7inch explosion.
Hailing from Austin it sounds like Love Collector has spent their time listening to both some of the grimy Texas trash like the Motards (or hell even going back farther Huns and Bobby Soxx) AND 60's Brit RnB merchants the Downliner Sect. Guit/vox man Shaun Carpetbagger leads a spazz-snot charge into punk rock to pogo to, rock-n-roll to drive fast to and garage rock to fuel any night where at least a case of cheap and getting warm beer here. Those records are always the best to blast when the day is pissing you off. Put this on and knock lamps off endtables.

Nov 30, 2009

New Holland The Poet

In the winter time I tend to not get very excited about most Christmas ales and Winter Warmers. There's a few here and there but for the most part I end up feeling disappointed by them and wondering why I paid so much for them (esp. considering some run upwards to $15 a sixer or $10 or more for a bomber in some cases.) Nothing against them-I know it's a matter of taste. My diversions from my standard favorite style's in the cold months tend to lean towards a porter here and there, the occasional Scotch ale and all the different ways stouts are made.
Michigan is in really bad economic shape these days. Over 15% percent unemployment say most recent reports. In an attempt to keep as much money possible in this state I try to go for things made here first before I venture into other places wares. My first stout of this season was Mt. Pleasant's Steam Engine Stout. My second is this oatmeal stout out of city of Holland.
Very dark brown in color but when held up to the light auburn shades come through. Nice half inch head that dissipates fairly quickly leaving a spotty cloud on top and a lacing that builds more and more along side of the glass as the beer is drank. The aroma is very chocolaty malted up front with underlying notes of oatmeal and coffee. The chocolate characteristics are not over bearing and the oatmeal and coffee nuances work very nicely with it.
A very rich and roasted malt & coffee flavor is the backbone of it's taste. There a slight bit of smokiness in there that compliments a sweet dark chocolate and oat demeanor through the middle. It finishes with a slight hop tinge that brings the whole thing together with simple but nice complexity. The amount of carbonation here is nice too making the beer somewhat more effervescent than a lot of other oatmeal stouts but not enough to make it too fizzy. Because of this, and not too boozy 5 and a half percent abv, it's the kind of stout one could drink all day without getting too blown out while watching the snow fall outside.

Nov 21, 2009

R. Stevie Moore "U.R. True" 7inch EP

Most people who have heard of R. Stevie Moore probably first heard of him in the late 70's and on through the 80's in magazines like Trouser Press and Op. It was through those years that he became a major figure in DIY cassette culture world but his musical career started decades earlier when his voice was heard on a Jim Reeves song in 1959. Most folks of his vintage, if they're even still playing music these days, have relaxed into an box of oldies but goodies or go out there and fancy themselves as preaching the blues (as long as that blues is Clapton or SRV. Mention, say, Son House, Ma Rainey or even Leadbelly to a lot of those type of dudes and blank stares are usually expected rather than any lesson in American roots music). On the other hand Moore is still at making the type of sounds that have gotten him dubbed a "lo-fi legend" in places more hoity toity than the page you are reading right now.
It doesn't say on the record what year these songs were recorded but it doesn't really matter cuz Mr. Moore has always been a man out of his time. The ramshakle tape deck still rolls and out comes a conglomeration of things that he was doing over 25 years ago that today are pegged as Bedroom Pop & Weird Punk. Nervous new wave collides with Hawkwind on "U. R. True". It's followed by "How Many Moore" which is anchored by a lunkhead hard rock riff and the mental image of Lemmy Kilmister inviting you to join him in one of those inflatable bouncy castles.
"Advertising Agency Of Fucking" brings 60's melody wrapped in a blanket of peak limited tape hiss and "Oh Pat" finishing off the record resembling Syd Barrett if his sense of humor leaned more to slapstick than whimsy.

Nov 17, 2009

DONALD THOMPSON "Bite My Ass" 7inch EP

A few years ago I put a whole slew of late 90's/early 00's records up on eBay. Hellacopters, Turbonegro, Glucifer and so on. A friend of mine joked telling me that I was to ahead of the "Rawk" revival curve and that I should've hung on to those records a few more years to make a real killing off them. Listening to this record by Donald Thompson I'm wondering if they're way ahead or way behind the RAWK revival curve.
The name drop touchstones with these type of bands always end's up being Iggy and the Stooges "Raw Power" and Bon Scott era AC/DC. Both incredible rock-n-roll bands. The former rips your head off, sounds like it was recorded under the most messed up of situations and is about to blow up in a million pieces at any second. It either lures you into wanting try the most dangerous of illicit substances or scare you away from them forever. The latter took the templates of blues and the originators of rock-n-roll boiled it down to it's basics then souped it up with a Marshall stack swagger that the generations beforehand could only dream of. The rub is though is that a lot of the RAWK bands that have followed and used such things as their base pallet since seem to want to refine it taking out the impurities and grubbiness and replacing it with just flash (but not stoned out of their gourd make up applications) and baseball hats. Recklessness gets substituted with studying. Big dick swinging attitude bad assery finds itself switched out for cucumber stuff down the pants contrived arrogance. It fills a void the way a McDonalds hamburger fills hunger pangs. It's not exactly what you were craving but it'll have to fill the spot until something better is put in the gut. Donald Thompson do RAWK and maybe their hearts are in the right place and they have the best intentions but if they actually ROCK is a whole 'nother discussion.

Nov 14, 2009

MOON DUO "Killing Time" 12inch

If the Wooden Shjips are an earthy and organic pillar when it comes to drone out head music that you could groove to then the Moon Duo, a side project featuring the Shjips main man Ripley Johnson, are a clandestine rocketship sauntering towards the stars. Soundwise there are parallels between the two such as disjointed and reverbed almost to the point of incomprehensible infinity vocals and peas soup thick guitar fuzz but where the Wooden Shjips set adrift their sound washing over the ears and sparkling the Moon Duo are straight jettison full of glare.
A backbeat sounding like beach blanket Motorik sets the tone for this record on the opening title track. It's followed by "Speed" where a spiky organ sound possibly lifted from Deep Purple blares and guitar noise ungulates then is joined in towards the end by milky way bound blues harmonica.
Both songs on side two are all about a floating in space with feeling with "Dead West" sci-fi keyboard line and "Ripples" doing just that with a Spacemen 3 having a nice lazy day in the sun sound instrumental.
It's hard to find good modern head trip music. All the modern hippies try to prescribe something that ends all noodly so you can't really veg out too because it's too damn busy and the intellectual stoners want to play you something that sounds like the aural equivalent of watching paint dry. "Killing Time" is an antidote for both of them.

Nov 10, 2009

Mt. Pleasant Steam Engine Stout

After picking up a 6 six of this I went over to a friend's house who attended college in Mount Pleasant at CMU. They still go out there to visit several times a year and seemed surprise to learn that the city had it's own brew pub let alone one that was bottling it's beer and selling it around the rest of Michigan. We checked around on the web for a few before cracking the bottles open. We became a little hesitant because some of the opinions of the beer they weren't the most glowing. The more we looked around though we noticed that the more positive reviews were of more recent vintage so maybe they figured out whatever the problems were and rectified them.
Steam Engine Stout is very, very dark in color. Almost black actually if it wasn't for the slight bit of light that peeks around the edges giving the look a bit of a brown luminescent glow. A inch head melts away pretty quickly and leaves minimal lacing behind.
Chocolate and smoke can be detected in the scent but neither of them really jump out. It takes a couple of deep whiff's to detect them but while doing so there's also something akin to blackberries that comes out as well. There is a bit more going on in the flavor department though. Roasted malt is on the front end followed by dark chocolate and ends with a slight hoppiness.
The brew itself is a bit thinner than some of the other stouts I've been leaning towards in stouts but it's not wimpy and fizzy like a Guinness or anything which made go down pretty easy and quite sessionable.
If you're looking for a big and burly stout that'll grow hair on you knuckles thicker than a national forest this may not be one to reach for (which is maybe where some of the poo-poo'd reviews we read came from) but if you're looking for a solid winter stout that you can drink a few of at a time in these cold winter month this might just be one that hit's the spot.

Nov 6, 2009

SHANNON & the CLAMS "Hunk Hunt" 7inch EP

One thing that always holds strong in, the lack of a better pigeonhole at the moment, garage-punk scene is the sound of the classic girl groups. I think it a lot of it stems from hearing oldies radio in the parents/grandparents cars while growing up. Phil Spector, Shadow Morton and the sorts made songs to jump out of the speakers and get stuck in your head to never leave. Whatever else that was going on inside some of those heads and how it's been processed is a whole 'nother can of worms though.
Take the Ramones & the New York Dolls for example. They took and mutated it to a point where you could obviously cite it (and not just because they covered songs from the era) but it didn't really sound like that. Shannon & the Clams have the same kinda thing going on....sorta. Like the Ramones they also pay nods to sun & surf influences as well as the Ronettes et. al. After that though-the comparisons end.
The want for a "Wall Of Sound" here is sound bouncing all over the walls. Sometimes sounding like Supercharger running through the Beach Boys or the Shaggs if produced by the Ventures but mostly all of them mentioned playing at the same time making an overdriven and echoed out racket in a tin can they bring some kinda really fun party with pizza, hot dogs, lots of candy and 3 different people spiking the punch.

Nov 2, 2009

Pop. 1280 "Times Square" 7inch

Math and me don't see eye to eye. Sure, I can do roundabout multiplication and subtraction in my head but set some calculus in front of me and I'll most likely make a paper airplane out of the sheet of paper it was written on before I'd even comprehend any explanation on how to solve the written problem.
The first time Big Black entered my orbit was in high school. The same time calculus did. I threw away any notes I had concerning the math theory, which weren't that much cuz I DID never learn it no matter how hard I tried, and listened to Big Black all through the class. I tried to turn on a couple of the "cool nerds" on to the band but they'd always pull the headphones off quickly and say something like "Ewww" and mention the new Adrian Belew album or how the next RUSH album is suppose to display even more new wave influences. An average stint through college later I started running into the same people at shows with headliners like the Jesus Lizard. At first I thought it was kinda weird but as times went on and me thinking "The Jesus Lizard are cool and whatever" but what caught me about them in the first place was that it was they guy from Scratch Acid and they reminded me of the Birthday Party. I loved (and still do) the Birthday Party and went back to their well. I lost any interest in the Jesus Lizard after that. The math geeks love it cuz it reminded them of a more aggressive YES or Zappa "getting really mad."
About a year ago I started sifting through old CD's thinking about what I can dump off at a used store or might want to think about keeping as some kinda musical archive for my kids to have available. I kept to two vinyl pieces of Jesus Lizard I own. Everything else by them is waiting a credit slip once I make the trip (there isn't ONE place that buys/sells/trades within a 30 mile radius of where I live anymore). "Original pressing" CD's have some kinda weird cult all to themselves (irony never stops I guess) and with the band back out on their reunion tour maybe the buyer will see the quick $3 overturn flash before his eyes. Maybe then I can pull this Pop. 1280 record out and convince him that it's a ultra rare collaboration of the Jesus Lizard and Big Black on vinyl only. If he hem and haws and say he's never heard of it and the internet shows nothing about it I can say "Dude! It's that rare!!!!" and then throw in some other bullshit trivia that they use Chris Spencer's (ya know to throw more of that "aggressive rock" hubris at them) favorite floor tom on the record or some shit.
None of the math dorks I saw at "grunge shows" back then probably will be at the Jesus Lizard reunion shows. Nor are the most likely to be found sifting through vinyl bins at their local record store (if there were any). If they did though music to do calculus to would be playing loud out of their basement laboratories or safety orange painted Volvo's. If anyone asked "what is this" they could drop some trivia that the band took their name from a Jim Thompson story. Wait a minute though...Math geeks wouldn't do that though. They'd just jerk their heads around a lot to the martial beats and creep everyone out in the room instead.

Oct 17, 2009

Bell's Octoberfest

Märzen's can sure be tasty but it's probably also a good thing that they are traditionally seasonal because after a month or so of them, for me at least, they lose their charm. It would be like only having pumpkin pie available for dessert for months and months straight. It's belongs in it's own season specific time...any other time ya just gotta ask "Why?"
As I look at the glass before and then look out the window thinking of a clever way to describe the color of this autumn beer I think "That's it!" while looking at the maple tree in the backyard's leaves turn to a light rust color. A one & a half inch had tops off the glass and does it's best to hold on leaving a blotches of lace on the glass as it tones down.
It smells of maple, caramel and nutmeg mostly with a dint of yeast and alcohol. Yep, pretty much like the kitchen when it gets around baking sweets for autumn. The brew itself is of medium body. Not too heavy, not too light. There's a slight bit of pepper on the front end of this from the hops but it's quicky muted by flavors of caramel and something you can only find on vacation like maple nut honey butter on toasted bread. The finish keeps that sweetness but it's not sticky so any aftertaste doesn't hang around longer than wanted. It's very easy drinking and I'll enjoy a few of these while they're still available for the rest of this season. It's a good one to stick with instead of trying to be all on top of it and try all those (mostly disappointing) pumpkins beers that can be found in this neck of the woods.

Oct 13, 2009

the CHEATER SLICKS "Erotic Woman" 7inch

They're brash. They're surly. They may not be in tune sometimes. They're at an age where others younger than 'em have thrown in towel of the rock-n-roll dream. More than a handful of the garage punk youngsters owe them a big debt but sometimes room's clear when they hit the stage.
Do the Cheater Slicks care about all that though? Probably not-They just lumber ahead and knock down whoever sticks around and braves their sound. When they start firing on all 8-it's an unstoppable machine. A big, loud, oil leaking and fume making machine but a machine none the less.
"Erotic Woman" is primal screamer courtesy of Dana's blueball's howls and going totally of the rails punk rock.
One of the many things the band has always been good at is finding a song to cover that's so unknown only maybe ten other collectors of lost 60s 45's in the world could name off the the top of their head. Then they take it run it through the wringer and make it their own. "Can't You Hear (My Heartbeat)" is exactly one of those kinds of songs. Originally done by a band called Outcry (which I actually have heard before. It's on the "Scum Of the Earth" comp.) Tom wails over a jangler turned on it's a head as mangled feedback blues pushes it over the edge.

Oct 10, 2009

BR'ER "I'm A Kid Again" 7inch

The packaging of this record has got to be the most ambitious to come into the Smashin' Transistors mailbox in a long while. The outer sleeves are hand cut resembling a window pane on the front and a heart on the back. Inside it's line with vellum paper with the song titles hand inked on them. It also comes with inserts that appear to be cut put hand too. The colors used are hand painted watercolors and acrylics. Arty! Arty! Arty!
Both songs inside start out sparse and quiet with a wispy singer. As other instruments (including the use of harmoniums, toy pianos and organs just to name a few) come into the music starts to clatter and swell building up to something that can best be described as post lo-fi orchestral pop or the entire Elephant 6 collective getting one hand stuck in a garbage disposal while the other continues to make sound.

Oct 7, 2009

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Any brewer that names a beer "Hop (fill in the blank)" is going to get some of my money. You know, Hop Slam, Hop Wallop and so on (sorry, I don't have my check list handy to rattle off a litany of all the ones I've tried). Lagunitas makes some really good beers so of course there was no hesitation picking this up. Actually, I picked a bomber of this a week or so earlier but a friend stopped by we cracked it open and it disappeared pretty quick. I didn't take any notes that night so off to the store again to pick up another for this review.
Light amber rust in color. Thick head that melts in average time leaving a spotty & sticky lacing. Huge lemon and pine oil scents up front that jump right out of the glass with some honey & grassy notes.
A nice and lush juicy flavor here. Pineapple first comes to mind. A malt backbone is noticeable too but given this brews name it's not a really big part of the show. The 8% alcohol is hidden well in the flavor but does creep up on you as sips continue. Expected a bit stickier of a finish (we all know how the big hop brews can coat the throat) but this finishes fairly fresh and clean. Very drinkable and if it wasn't for the higher end of ABV I call it downright sessionable.

Oct 5, 2009

REACHAROUNDS "Rocks Off" 7inch EP

With CV's that include, for Wendy Norton Plexi 3 and the Flips and for Roy the Evolutions, M.C. Monkey & Ape With Attitude and Kryptonite Records, the Reacharounds were a project they had together at the start of this century. Splitting guitar, vocals and drum duties between the two of them the sound is all about trash-n-blast fed up sped up garage punk of the Nth degree. Wendy sounds like she's chewing gum and spitting on people at the same time in "3 Minute Intervals", "Synthetic Soul" & "Cut Out Bin and turns the tables all around on the Stones "Rocks Off" making it sound like Penetrators backing up a 13 year old Joan Jett fan.
Roy sounds like he's bursting veins and busting blood vessels in his eyes whether it's beating up a drum kit or guitar and teeters of giving himself an aneurysm when screaming the words to the Teenage Queers "Slave To Mind (Fuck Power Pop)"

Oct 1, 2009

Bell's The Oracle Ale

Being that this is a Bell's some beer dorks were already claiming they knew everything about it's taste, scent and feel before even popping a cap off one. It's expected-Bell's knows it's fanatical following so it's rare they miss any chance of pre-hype these days. With only 50 barrels made and sold in as single bottles just made it more rare and desired.
Early autumn cooper in with a substantial head that melts away to a heavy lace and a cap that sticks through to the end of the glass.
The aroma is quite fruity. Strawberries and peaches come to mind. Much different than the earthy pines and citrus scents that usually come from a DIPA.
The scents show up big time in the flavors in this full bodied ale. The strawberry nuances are in the introduction. Woodsy and sweet tart. The snap of peaches take over in the middle til towards the end when a black peppery bite from the hops take it to the finish. Quite complex and though an alcohol hotness does kick up in the end the 10.4% abv is masked pretty well.
The aftertaste is a bit sticky but doesn't hang around to the point where you're searching for a couple huge swallows of water to clean the palate and wash out the back of the throat after a glass full of it. Hearty and bold yet refreshing and crisp. Though I didn't flip out for it as much as I did the not only the best DIPA a Michigan brewer has to offer but one of the best on the planet-the much less hyped and very incredible Founders Double Trouble (which I am thinking Oracle is suppose to be Bells answer to)-it is quite an interesting and flavorful take on the DIPA. Was it worth the hype? Hmmm. Let's just say I was happy to get my hands on a couple of bottles before they were gone from the shelves.

Sep 28, 2009

MIKE REP "Donovan's Brain" 7inch EP

For some years now I have heard a legend that when Rick Rubin set out to resurrect legendary flower hippie singer Donovan's career he called on the somewhat legendary not quite so hippie Columbus weirdo Mike Rep to do the production work. The story goes that the results were so messed up Rubin locked them away and then proceeded to do a boring flower hippie record. Split into two parts on this 45 (just like Don McLean's "American Pie" back when Donovan's career was taking a slide down) and ecorded through what sounds like a condenser mic Mile, along with some help from Tommy Jay, spins a freakish campfire yarn of brain transplants gone awry and neurosurgeons that think they know it all but just end up making matters worse. The record ends with a quick acoustic bit on everyone's parents favorite dead 70's pop folkster Jim Croce (which in it's own way could be further interpreted as commentary of what Rubin's results were on the job he did on Donovan's "Sutra" album.

Sep 26, 2009

13th CHIME "The Singles 1981-1983" LP and the CULTURAL DECAY "Eight Ways to Start a Day (Singles and Demos)" 12inch EP

The first two releases in a possible continuous reissue program from NYC based label Sacred Bones unearthing some long lost records that are on want lists of very obscure 80's post-punk and pre-goth record collectors.
13th Chime hailed from Haverhill Suffolk, a city 60 miles from London of about 20,000 people with no train station that's probably best know for it's toothbrushes and who's most famous citizen is record label Some Bizarre's owner Stevo.
With a reference from Orwell's 1984 used for their band name and living in a place where you submit to being stuck or imagining ways of getting out-it's a damp and foggy affair. In their two year existence of 81-83 they released 3 singles and made a demo for IRS-all of which are comp'd on here. De rigueur sound from the era of raincoat wearing mope-rock. Scratchy and flanged guitar grind sounds reminiscent of Killing Joke and Siouxie & the Banshees and prominent counter-melody basslines in the Joy Division & Bauhaus vein (Opening track "Cuts Of Love" opens paraphrasing "Bela Lugosi's Dead" to these ears before it goes of into it's own dark places) while vocals emote in a dour croon. As where a lot of bands from that era have found their sound years later to be stuck in just that era though-there's something about the songs here that have an aggression to them to a point where if one was to told this is a new band taking those times at a jump of point it wouldn't be so hard to believe. Maybe it's because of the lack of string synth washes (or hell, the lack of synths all together).
The Cultural Decay were from Belgium who's career existed from 80-82. Their sound is that of the transitional period of when some post-punk bands were heading into what was dubbed "Cold Wave". The songs are dark and brooding with a recorded in a spooky alcove sound because it had the best creepy echo they could find. Though the band consisted of a traditional rock band line-up (two guitars, bass and drums) plenty of synth bloops appear and on such tunes like "Song Of Joy", a track that features a collage of overlapped singing and talking that may or may not be inspired by the Gang Of Four's "Anthrax" or a Can's use of tape loops, some saxophone skronks and squeals.
Not too long ago a college freshman that has just recently started embarking on a musical journey that has started taking him a little deeper than what the Warped tour and Alternative Press had to offer him said to me "I'm surprised Joy Division aren't more influential". I told him that they are more than he may realize and have been for quite a long while. The next time I see him I am going to point him in the direction of these two albums.

Sep 15, 2009

A Polecat Get's Set Loose In The Studio

Wednesday September 16th from 8-10pm Dale "Polecat" Beavers will be live on WSGR 91.3fm in Port Huron, Michigan. He's bringing in his guitar to do some playing and singing as well as telling us stories about playing with legends like Junior Kimbrough and Nathaniel Mayer as well as bass on the Compulsive Gamblers album "Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing" album. Check out Dale's music at his Myspace page.
At the present moment WSGR doesn't stream on the web but the show will be recorded and posted somewhere on the internet for those who missed it or are outside the station's broadcast area.

Sep 10, 2009

Lack of Action

I've gotten some emails from people concerned about the lack of posts here lately. I apologize for the lack of attention that some really good and interesting records I've received have gotten. There's been a lot of things going on that have kept me away/distracted me from regularly updating the blog. Hopefully, things are starting to smooth out a bit and things can start getting a little more busy around here. Be assured though that a huge majority of the things that have made it into the Smashin' Transistors post box have been put to good use as I host a weekly radio show on WSGR 91.3fm in Port Huron so not is all at a loss if you've promo'd me something the last few month. Keep an eye on this blog though cuz regular updates will (hopefully) return soon.
Now if you'll excuse me I have some records to pack up and ship out myself.


Aug 11, 2009

CHROME SPIDERS "Black Butterfly" 7inch

Through his musical career Thomas Jackson Potter has been a punk rock guitar grinder in Just Say No, the crazy man on his back porch armed with a sawed off flamethrower in Bantam Rooster, Mick Collin's most perfect comedic foil in the Dirtbombs, grandmaster of ceremonies in the white boy sweat funk combo the Detroit City Council and now here, along with the help from some dudes from the Menthols and the Real Bitters , as the rock-n-roll ringleader of the Chrome Spiders. "Black Butterfly" moves like an old Cadillac driven by Thin Lizzy with the Damned on the 8 track tape deck barreling down a neglected state highway. The farther it goes the more speed it picks up with Potter providing some of the best yelps in the business to push it even harder. "The Whip Hand" starts out with a blues-punk smolder creeping up on to some combustible material. The spark ignites which not only the cornfield on fire but burns the barn down too.

Aug 8, 2009

FIRST BASE "I've Got A Girl" 7inch

One of the most heeded rules in pop music is to write songs about girls. With both of these songs, "I've Got A Girl" and "Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me", having the word in the title-it's obvious that Toronto based First Base have learned that lesson well.
Neither of the tunes are adorned with ridiculous amounts of multitracking or trickery that come to mind when using the word "pop" in the contemporary sense of something that you hear on the radio or in a Applebee's though. It's the songs themselves. If it wasn't for the simple & clean bedroom-fi recording of "I've Got A Girl" it possibly could fit right in as a "pretty song" on a Pebbles comp. It jangles and harmonizes not stomps and wails. More Beatles than Stones though simpler than both. "Nobody Makes My Girl Cry But Me" shows the same kinda sideways love/tribute to the Beach Boys that folks like Nobunny and the Poppets slather over their sound so much.

Jul 12, 2009

DAVILLA 666 "Primero Muerta" 7inch

Making good time rock-n-roll with a stack of Velvet Underground and Crystals records under their arm Puerto Rico's Davila 666 throw a musical party where some are dancing like fools and the rest are bangin' on tambourines to set the beat for the dancing fools.
Side one's "Primero Muerta" idea might not having you thinking Uncle Reed & Cale or Phil Spector intimidating the shit out of girl group singer but maybe something like a tune lifted from the Kasenetz-Katz rulebook but the book got wet so some of the rules are smeared and can't be read properly. That's a good thing cuz it's reflected in the tune by blurred guitar lines and harmonies that float about & drift like an air mattress on a calm summer day out on the lake. The flipside's "Sabes que Querio" has the same kinda vibe but doubles the volume and the hip shakin' quotient.

Jul 8, 2009

Bancroft Records (that are still in print)

THE FLIPS "That Girl Stacy" 3song EP on pink vinyl

THE GOODNIGHT LOVING "Up North Girl" 3song 7inch EP on black vinyl

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

The Flips and/or the Goodnight Loving (please note which in the special instructions section of your Paypal order)

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

Jul 5, 2009

Short's Pandemonium Pale Ale and Huma Lupa Licious IPA and

Located in the far northern region of Michigan's lower peninsula Short's Brewing in Bellaire has become somewhat of a holy grail to Great Lake State beer lovers the last few years. People travel sometimes almost 400 miles (some folks even more) specifically just to taste the wares straight from the source because that was the only way a person could taste them unless someone brought a growler or such back home to them. Back in the spring or so it was announced that the brewery would start bottling and making their brews available to a wider audience. Beer geeks all across Michigan jumped for joy and for good reason too because they are one fine crafter of the hops & grains.

Pandemonium Pale Ale

Cloudy & rust orange in color with a 1" head that fades into bubbly cap and decent amount of thick lacing. The aroma is that of fresh baked bread upfront from the malts with the hop profile providing a crisp and lemony backbone. Nothing superstrong stands out in the scent but it is quite pleasant and crisp.
On first sip I'm convinced that I have found a new favorite pale ale. The malt complexities come out at first on the taste buds with roasted and caramel nuances. The grapefruit and grassy tasting hops follow up and a bring the exact kind of bitterness I look for in an American Pale Ale. The meshing of the malts & hops compliment each other perfectly balancing each other out and though the finish does hold on to a bitterness there is a crispness to this too that is all it's own. The only other pale ale that takes priority over it as my go to this summer has been the excellent Founders Pale Ale. We all now how great of a brew that is...and yes, Pandemonium is actually that good enough to keep such company. Anyone big fan of pale ale's out there looking to try one a bit different and great this is worth seeking out.

Huma Lupa Licious
Slight cloudy and rich gold in color. About a 3/4" head that melts away in due time leaving patchy lacing. A very clean and refreshing scent. Slightly sweet & lemony along with something rustic and relaxing on an up north summer day. Nothing jumps out too much on the nose but the aromas to blend nicely.
The hop profile comes out quite much more in the flavor with lemon peel, green apples but, like the scent, subtle courtesy of roasty, rich malts mellowing it out. The twist comes in the end where a hop bitterness comes out the most, sticking to the back of the mouth but not as oily as with some other IPA's. Very interesting and very good. Though the brew is pretty full bodied it's carbonated in a way to give it an pleasant sparkle.

Jul 1, 2009


With a previous album, 10 inch EP and a couple of singles under their beards now San Francisco based Wooden Shjips have made quite a name in the game that is drone zone rock.
4 note bass lines and snare snap heavy clipped beats create a hypnotic loop while organ blips, heavily reverbed ghostly vocals and roars & washes of distorted guitar toy around with neither regions of the mind.
Opener "Motorbike" is a few notes blurfest that takes biker rock and shoots it into space riding a tin can rocket. It's a rattly & bumpy ride but once ya land you'll want to go on the trip again. It's followed by "For So Long" a float through a gauzy nebula where all the soundwaves of film noir spy flicks and jams the Doors made up when Jim Morrison wasn't around end up. Side one end's with 10+ minute "Down By The Sea" which takes the above and submerses into the deep blue sea.
Side two is share by two tracks. "Aquarian Time" is full of fuzz guitar grind & organ blips for a good six minutes. The album ends with "Fallin'", a head on collision of UA era Hawkwind and the Modern Lovers. Put it on a loop and you have something fitting for daydreaming or a drive along the coast a 1am gazing out the sunroof and looking at the stars.

Jun 27, 2009


About a year ago this time (give or take a month or so) both these band's sounds started making the rounds outside of the select few in their town's and who decided to put their first singles out. The underground was all hot-headed about the Black Lips overexposure which actually accounted to little in the straight world. Both these bands hit that crest and they held the hipsters on the fence if such a thing could be liked anymore. Suspicions understandable by maybe just a bit too much cynical. Shit, I don't think even a couple of the Smith Westerns kids weren't even born until after Nirvana's Nevermind came out so it's hard to believe it was the new bandwagon sound for them to jump on.
Both bands have a certain BFTG slightly outta tune/off tempo jangle/slur. Not too sure when exactly the songs were recorded but on the Smith Westerns side it's a safe bet a little bit (but just a little bit) before they hit the Ice Cream Sundae Punk stride that they're showing off their recently released debut album (Which rules by the way. Review coming soon....but with the massive behind Smashin Transistors is that could be months. Instead of waiting go out and buy it now!!!). The song, "Tonight" is a glob of 60's jangle psych drowning in a pool of reverb that would make the Jesus & Mary Chain jealous and singing that would make even the most glam of 70's rock singers blush.
Dead Ghosts side is cut from the same cloth as far as the jangle & reverb is concerned but overall leaning more towards to the kinda thing the Oh Sees have hit paydirt with. Both tunes are quite solid and stretching their wings a bit and starting to get away from the Black Lips Jr. thing that has been pinned on them in the past.

Jun 20, 2009

King's Cherry Ale

Wasn't too sure if I was really in the mood for a fruit beer at the moment but the Great Lake State is considered the cherry growing capital of the world so a Michigan made beer (by a brewery I'm not familiar with) using cherries is worth giving a shot.
Cloudy copper color & a inch or so fluffy head that dissipated in a patchy manner. The aroma reminded me of something between a pale wheat, Laffy Taffy and a Labatt's Blue. The cherry scent is not very strong at first whiff but seems to appear more as it sits though it never comes to the forefront
The initial sip gave off grainy and malty flavor with the cherry taste hanging around the edges. Like the scent the fruit flavor is noticed more as it is sipped but never overstated. Hell, compared to a lot of fruit beers I've tried it's actually almost understated. "Almost" meaning they could perhaps amp it up a little bit more you can taste it none the less. There's a good amount of carbonation to this brew giving it a sparkling and somewhat clean finish with a mix of malt and (slight) cherry in the aftertaste. Nothing too complex but not bad at all.

Jun 17, 2009


If you lived in a place the is the butt of cultural wasteland you might be a little irritated by what people expect from first impressions. Ya don't want to come off like some strip mall raised and McDonald Happy Meal toy entertained mook. Ya wanna show you have, y'know, actual taste or something.
Tampa, Fla based Ghost Hospital probably wrestle this dilemma every day. While some bands today are happy with using, say, the same template the Black Lips based their sound off of (and nothing else) this band sound like they can't resist crossing wire of something like that hoping they'll either start a fire or blow a fuse.
The standard Nu-Garage thing gets spliced together with somewhat out whack folk rock and cracks a couple of really clever one liners over a din of squelch and feedback. "D+" plays into all three quite a bit with a little bit reverb which then leads into something that fans the hippie music Stephen Malkmus has been making for quite a bit might bop their head to. Y'know, it's happy trip. It then gives way to a torrential downpour of feedback throwing the mellow buzz into burning pit of static before sauntering back to bip-de-bop where the journey started. The flip's "Religious Bias In Nursery Rhymes" gives off a sound such as a crackly distant college radio of the 80's where the dj are stoned and like to experiment with playing Replacements and Jesus & Mary Chain demos loud and at the same time .

Jun 15, 2009

OUTRAGEOUS CHERRY "Universal Malcontents" LP

Yeah, yeah. We all know Brian Wilson didn't have it all that easy. We're not talking the aspects of his over the top father, his decay of hearing and Dr. Landry prescribing his descent into metal illness either. There's 1000's of printed pages and gigabytes of webspace dedicated to people talking about how Pet Sounds touched their lives and how they hope to attain such plateaus. Then they go a pro-tool the fuck out of it on their computer generated recording program to achieve it.
"Hey dude. Check it out! Doesn't it feel just like 'God Only Knows'?"
"Umm, No, not really?"
"What? Do you know how many hours it took for me to find the right digital effects to make my voice and that string section setting on my Casio to make it sound that orchestrated?"
Whatever man. You sat in your room on a Saturday afternoon and moved a mouse around. You didn't deal with tape, a hired string section wondering where the hell you were coming from or Van Dyke Parks sporting a some goofy mustache and fedora nodding at you like he knows what you're getting at but secretly thinking "What the hell did I get myself into and how can I explain it to my bosses at the record label". Then not to mention dealing with a couple of moody brothers (thanks to a complete nutjob dad) and whatever clown antics Mike Love had up his sleeve (Yes, I read the damage control Mike Love has been doing in the press the last year or so. I have a hard time buying it too but will cut him so slack because ya kinda have to. After all he co-wrote songs like "Do It Again"). Those guys baked really great cakes. A lot of these "tributes" to 'em today or more like microwaved brownies when they think adding some sparkles & sprinkles on top makes it the same kinda thing.
Outrageous Cherry understand what went through to make records like Pet Sounds. They also understand where Marc Bolan, the Velvet Underground, the Bay City Rollers and Cheap Trick were coming from too.
With songs such as rubbery new wave surrounded by T. Rex built walls of sound "Recognize Her", "It's Not Rock & Roll (But I like It)" & "This Song's For Everyone" Velvet Underground churn with a hard candy coating sing-a-longs, The Banana Splits getting dropped off in a burnt & decaying Detroit neighborhood blaster "Get Out While You Can" and the Eric Carmen discovers buzz & drone "Outsider" Outrageous Cherry, unlike some other bands that are trying to trick people in thinking they're the as closest a person will ever get to the epic & sometimes strange pop music of yore, pay homage but manage to not suffer from a identity crisis. They've been around long enough (15 years or so now) not to worry about such things and this is one the best records they've made.

May 13, 2009


Meeting the twain's of knuckle dragging punk anger and bong packed Camaro Rock one starts to wonder if Toronto's Dirty Chinese Thieves want to look for fights & slash tires or burn rubber & get laid.
Raw throated yelling that's half hardcore rage & half garage punk howling over riff pummels that are equally the Cosmic Psychos and the Jesus Lizard as they are the Misfits and Turbonegro. BIG (and I mean BIG) rock guitar solo flashes in every song.
Fight or fuck? Maybe these guys do them both at the same time.

May 10, 2009

Mishawaka Hop Head Ale

The labels of some craft brewed bottles are not the most artistic. Why spend what cash you don't have hiring an artist when you can tinker around a little bit in photoshop or get a nephew to whip up a quick something. The label that Hop Head sports would almost make it into that category. The colors are sorta dark making the presentation look a little murky. Murk makes me think of the river that runs right through the downtown where I live. I don't want to think of that water when drinking a beer. What saves it is the little hop guy on the label. He looks blazed. He's ready to party whether you're gonna hang or not.
Sunshine orange in color that is made almost opaque from the non-filtered processes floating all through the glass. Quarter inch cream colored head that faded fairly quick with Honeycomb looking lace. The scent has a pilsner like base. Sweet corn syrup and lighter malts. A large waft of lemon and pine oil circle around it. Balanced but a little understated.
A medium and slightly creamy body with buttery malt notes at first sip but watch out! A big bitter hop bite snaps hard on the inside of the mouth a couple seconds later. Something odd about them. They seem well....almost swampy or well, murky. Overgrown grass clippings is what's coming to mind if ya really want to know. The finish is large with hop resins sticking all over the roof of the mouth and lemony coating in the throat.
Though usually all RAH! RAH! RAH! about hopped out rustbelt made IPA's I don't see myself coming back to this one again. Sorry totally righteous bro hacky sack playing looking hop dude. This party just ain't my bag.

May 8, 2009


Hayseeds. It's not just an American phenomenon. Anyone who lives in areas away from the bigger cities have them. Ain't nothing wrong with being a hayseed. They wanna hoot & holler on a Saturday night just like anyone else. In the coastal towns of Norwich, England the hayseeds gotta lose their minds to Beast With A Gun. Dust gets kicked up, rotgut gets slammed back, bottles thrown, ladies get kissed and punches fly. Two songs of bendy twang and punk rock bang.
The Slim Limbs are perfect partners in crime when it comes to the type of mischief Beast With A Gun are looking for. Where Beast With A Gun are somewhat hyper and happy go lucky-Slim Limbs are broody and blunt. Their song "Queen Of The Mist is something like the Necessary Evils slowed down by a mudslide and accented with mariachi horns. They don't sound like the types you would want to put behind a late night drive through the woods though because they probably know some places where some very, very unfriendly farmers who use chainsaws for most of their work live.

May 5, 2009

TIMMY'S ORGANISM "Squeeze The Giant" 7inch EP

There's been talk of a remake of the 1966 film "Fantastic Voyage" for years. I've lost count how many times I've seen the original so I'm on the fence about it being redone. One thing that would get me behind the idea though is if they hired Tim Lampinen produce, direct and star in the film. His musical history, from the Epileptix to the Clone Defects to Human Eye to this project, has always had some type of preoccupation with biology in name if nothing else. His attention to details such as pulsing blood veins and festering microcosms would be enough to make it interesting to look at but he wouldn't be satisfied with just that. It would have to be more bizarre & dingy as well as clever, oddly hilarious and completely over the top.
Leading off the 5 songs that span over the 4 sides of this collection is "Squeeze The Giant". You see, Tim (along with some assistance from two of the Terrible Twos) wouldn't just want to explore the inside of just a regular human body in a shrunk down spaceship. That's been done. He'd know that going through a giant's innards would make things much more interesting. The rhythm lumbers like a giant kicking over the world's tallest buildings (ya gotta remember that with this giant the deepest sea only come up to his knees) & wah-wah guitar oozes like metallic lava under a tale that's part scary fairy tale & part Mad Magazine sci-fi. "Tree Thirsty Earthquake" finds Tim in a crooning mood. Jobriath wearing Leonard Cohen's overcoat with production courtesy of Helios Creed.
Record two starts with "Body Of Love", a garage stomp with dance club dreams on it's mind but that dance club is either 200 feet underground or 20,000 leagues under the sea. It's fits perfect with such locations reverberations. It's followed by the echo'd out organ subterreanean bachelor pad music "Toes In The Grass". Curl up in front of the glow of TV screen static.
"No Hassles" finishes the record by busting out the wah-wah even bigger than on aformentioned "Squeeze The Giant" with squishy solos and High Rise like sonic squalls.
Tim's work keeps getting stranger but in doing so matches (if not tops) previous brilliant moments of his decade plus career.

May 1, 2009


If band's like Tyvek are the bright & clever head of the class students in the modern of school of Wire Pink Flag teachings Milwaukee Wisconsin's Crappy Dracula are the freshmen who are always getting swirlies and being thrown head first into lockers. A barrage of bright & brittle Telecaster bursts, burping bass lines and marching band drums going way off the route of the parade snaps & bangs crash together in overmodulated 4 track glory. Many moments of angular goofing that culminates in what has to be accidental brilliance on their side's 2nd song "Application" (sandwiched between the nerd punk conniption fit of "Hospital Waste Management Facility Party Tonight" and a faithfully battered take on Guided By Voices "A Good Flying Bird") where it's a Pabst drunk Red Crayola before they changed the spelling of their name. Interestingly the band spells their name The Krappy Drakula on this record. I've been assured that it's just in coincidental and I shouldn't put so much thinking into trying to figure out if their are any cryptic messages/secret motives that the band may have because it's giving them too much credit.
Even if their sound is a tad more orchestrated and "together" than that of Crappy Dracula-Farms In Trouble share similar aesthetics and possibly the same tape machine too. "Employment History" starts off their side in a carnivalesque manner. Something like the Hollies or the Zombies-if those bands were the children of traveling carnival workers that is. It's then followed by some proto-robot-funk and finishes with a bit of Skip Spence/Syd Barrett whimsy/psychosis.

Apr 24, 2009

Abita Jockamo IPA

Is this an IPA? Well, It looks like one. Rusty orange and see through in color, decent head and an okay amount of lacing but then IPA characteristics seem to quickly diminish after that. Not much of scent really and what ya can smell is mostly malt. Not detecting much of a hop aroma at all which, for an IPA as far as this reporter is concerned, is something that is mandatory. Without it anywhere on the nose is there really much of a chance much of any on the tongue either? Most likely not and this is no exception to the rule.
Mostly metallic tinged malt taste with a bit of caramel coating in the mouth and just a slight (and I do mean slight) fruity hop bitterness. To say it's a little underwhelming in the flavor department is not an understatement. It's not gross tasting or anything but it sure is boring and lacks the things that make an IPA taste like an IPA let alone one to get excited about.

Apr 20, 2009

the HUSSY "Winter Daze" 7inch EP

"How can a band so small make a sound so big?" We've probably all seen it used how many a number of times by now when discussing a two piece band? Is it really all that puzzling? Ya turn it up and rock it out. The trick is though doing something more with it after that step to keep it from being tedious. Madison, Wisconsin's the Hussy have figured that part out.
Songs big on beats that make you want to clap along in a drunken head shake/hips sway rhythm. Bobby's bangs out '55 meets '77 rockin' guitar blang and calling out lines in a slight Sprechgesang way trading off with Heather's cheap wine soaked bad girl she-howls while she knocks hard out a beat. The energy is high through every song. Yes, they are loud...and yes, they are working from the garage punk playbook that many a band before them has done but there's a character here that makes the band burn bright with a particular charm and flair.

Apr 16, 2009

NICE FACE "Mnenomic Device" 7inch

First impressions. Is it sometimes smart just to go with them? First time through "Mnemonic Device" seemed something like the Human League with a whole lot of distortion piled on top of it and a bunch of dust on the needle. Hmmm. Is it. Second time around it doesn't sound as much like that but even something more, I dunno, Michael Sembello so some other 80's top 40 rock song that forsake anything rock-n-roll for synthetics that aerobics instructors would pump (if they hung out at goth clubs after work that is) but with whole lot of distortion piled on top of it and a bunch of dust on the needle. Started to worry what impressions a third time through would give off so time to flip it over and give "Situation is Facing Utter Annihilation" a listen. Things don't sound much like either Human League or Michael Sembello with whole lot of distortion piled on top of it and a bunch of dust on the needle. If the fat & fuzzy bass line didn't barrel a Dead Boys vibes headfirst into a Lost Sounds like dark place here the strangling the strings guitar solos surely do.

Apr 14, 2009

GUINEA WORMS "Lost and Found" and "I.K.W.W.F.L." 7inch

Sounding somewhere between a medicated street preacher and a philosophy professor giving a lecture that classmates are either inspired, confused or frustrated-Guinea Worms chief Will Foster has a lot on his mind. Things seem linear for minutes at a time but then the tangent shifts into a completely different direction. You never know where it's going next.
On the a-side of the Savage single "Lost and Found" asks the musical question of where to lost things go over a wrung out and spidery bit of Devo in a mudslide weirdness. The flipside's "Jeans and Heels" is akin to listening to a rave-up trying to get out of the gate but is staggering on it's feet due to a just received slow motion pummeling.
The "is it autobiographical or is parenthetical" musings of "I.K.W.W.F.L." (abbreviated form of I Know Where Will Foster Lives") is antsy and anchored by the JB's horn section if they were a 6th grade band class is side one of the latest installment of the Columbus Discount singles club. "C.H.U.D." is swamp boogie moved to a backyard of mud and a rusted out car or two.
Each record the Guinea Worms has put out has had something different to offer. It doesn't sound as if their genre hopping cuz everything they do has a particular peculiar squiggly touch that they're claiming their own. Wondering in what odd place they end up next.

Apr 11, 2009

Stone IPA

Though my beer loyalties, especially when it comes to IPA's, are with the one's made here in Michigan when it comes to ranking the top breweries in the country I never hesitate ranking San Diego Ca.'s brewery Stone way up high on the list. Hell, for making Arrogant Bastard (which, if ever in a bar with Agent L. Caution of the Black Time and they have it on tap ask him to order you one. If anyone can make the name of the beer any more full on than it already is it's his London accent) alone they deserve such honors. After that anything they brewed could be "Ehh, It's okay" and it still wouldn't discount them one bit. The thing is though that everything we've tasted in the Smashin' Transistors labs by them has been tops and being hop heads their IPA would eventually have to be discussed.
Pours a clean, clear gold in color with not a huge head but still a sticky lacing on the sides of the glass through the entire beer. Though usually a hop fiend where I have to notice a pungent floral scent jumping out at me right off the bat or I'll already start having my contentions about how good an IPA gonna be even before it's first there's something nice and different about the subdued character in the aroma of this. It smells of citrus and pine along with some malt and I'm thinking something along the lines of peach but laid back, sweet and nice instead of brassy, bold and upfront. It's deceiving though because on first sip there is definitely a sharp hop tang up front. Not all pucker power though but like the scent-crisp and citrusy with that peach thing I mentioned in the backbone. Malt shows up in the middle adding a nice balance to the the sweety tarty flavor that surrounds it. The finish is slightly dry and kinda spicy with a bit of alcohol burn but nothing that would make ya think that this is close to a 7% ABV. Lot of people who are way more schooled in the fine art of beer tasting and critiquing than myself say that this is one of the best all around IPA that American microbreweries have to offer. I'm not going to argue with them. It's considered a standard and there's a reason for that.

Apr 7, 2009

v/a "Shiftless Decay" LP

Not a week goes by where I don't have I'll be having a conversation about music and someone will wanna discuss the "Detroit scene". They'll start talking about whoever and eventually I have to interject with something like "You're hitting on things that happened almost 10 years ago now. There's different kinds of sounds happening now."
Trying to explain what those different sounds in way some such folks can comprehend isn't always the easiest thing to do. Pumping up old blues and soul riffs and revving up car motor's that was "built just up the road" are not much of a modus operandi here. As a matter of fact it's most likely the farthest thing that could be cited when the record plays.
Subtitled "New Sounds of Detroit" it's more about the sounds of pistons seizing, the crumbling of rust and playing in a wasteland of contaminated soil and strewn with broken glass and rusty nails. From the cement truck converted into a spaceship Hawkwind hiss of Human Eye, the antsy prog-thrash trash of the Terrible Twos and Heroes & Villains loaded with wobbly and unsafe undercurrents 60's pop psych to Tyvek's Pink Flag era Wire bathing in hydrocloric acid, Sesame Street on ritalin hardcore of the Mahonies and the Through the Looking Glass nightmares of belt sanders feeling from Little Claw-not only does the comp sum up the sounds within but also encapsulates an overall aura of today's Detroit. Disheveled, negleted and overgrown with ratted weeds and smelly fungus but still breathing, not afraid to fight and leaving impressions be them disturbing or oddly interesting that will stick long after the moment.

Apr 4, 2009


Sounding like an orphan who bounced between the foster homes of Billy Childish and Mark E. Smith before eventually stowing away on a ship that eventually docked in port port somewhere along the deep south in the US Dan Melchior has always found a way of doing a convincing balancing act between the abstract & arty and the down & dirty.
"Mr Oblivian" is an exercise in such an act and what a good one it is. His Medway Delta foghorn of a voice bellowing while Das Menace supply the likes of a New Orleans funeral band bent on bitterness and organ grinder music. Since there are no carnival instruments handy they emulate the sounds to the best of their ability with whatever beat up guitars and drums that were lying around. The flipside's "Piledriver Nightmare #2" slowed way down swamp rock can get some thinking the Cramps meets the Country Teasers but in the end there's a stamp (or is that STOMP...or maybe even stumble) that is Melchior's own.