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.