Feb 28, 2009

LOST CONTROLS "American Action" 7inch EP

Hoosier transplants (including Cody of the Horribly Wrongs in their ranks) take the Greyhound to Austin Texas to see what kinds of mess they can make.
"American Action" sounds all Midwest punk rock no matter if these guys are now living in a place where they actually get to see the sun on most winter days. Globs of Gimzos goofiness, a mudcake of Toxic Reason's attitude (well, the stuff they did where didn't try to sound too British that is) and some of that meathead in a Camaro rock that know matter how hard ya tried to avoid it still seeped into the blood system from the massive saturation of it hanging out on a small town Saturday night. "When I Die" is like Wreckless Eric being dragged through a musty record store that stocks only Killed By Death comps and "TABC" is a loud, loutish and drunk rocker dedicated to who else but the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commision and the ways they are the Man trying to keep 'em down.

Feb 25, 2009


As a cartoon craving kid back in the days of just 3 TV networks a majority of the animated fun was found on the local independent stations. They weren't all that high budgeted stations and may have lacked a full book of advertisers because of it. To fill space they would run public service announcements and spots for non-profit agency. One of the one's that seem to be ran all the time were for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. With clips of kids my age at the time with cancer and other catastrophic diseases they always freaked me out. You never saw any adults in the any of the scenes (except for maybe a nurse and at the end Danny Thomas talking). I, like most kids, didn't really dig going to see a doctor in his office let alone a hospital. I was afraid that if you went to a hospital if was because you were probably gonna die and because of those they wouldn't let your parents visit you. All you had was maybe a nurse and Danny Thomas. Seriously, I had nightmares about it.
Now here it is many years later and a part of the A-Frames/Intelligence contingent release a record that rouse the impressions again.
Though this record dabbles in ambient figures the album's opener "Roots", lightly strummed bass knob turned up muted guitar pattern and a whispery female voice floating about, is the closet thing to unsettling. Next is the spidery guitar slashes sounds like they fell out of the sky straight from Manchester 1978 and beats that are covered in cobwebs called "Unseen". Some tracks like "Preschool Of Atonement" and "Word of the Prophet" could be off to dreamland with lullaby voices and floating in space keyboards and washes of sound but there's blurts, crackles in static that is it's going on while in deep sleep you awaken in a bothered and strange mood the rest of the day. Others like "If You Find Me I'm Here" and "Blue/Green Algae" a sear your eardrums whirls of distortion and clangy rhythms akin to listening Chrome's Half Machine Lip Moves and Voice of America by Cabaret Voltaire at the same time with volumes fluxuating from barley noticeable to piercing. More than a few times does an icy isolation send shudders up the spine.
So how will the sleep tonight be?

Feb 23, 2009

Great Divide Titan IPA and Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

Maybe I'm a little behind sometimes. I hadn't even heard of Great Divide until I saw them on the shelf of my favorite local beer seller but apparently they're pretty respected and make a great product. Because of my deep liking towards IPA's it's the style I always go for first (if available that is) when it comes to trying any brewery I haven't sampled before. I figure that if I dig the way they make one other styles the brewery has to offer will be worth trying in the future. If the IPA doesn't appeal to me it makes me not in much of a hurry to try whatever else they have to offer.

Titan IPA
Slightly cloudy and copper in color with a pinky finger thick and quickly fading head it looks like what anyone expects and IPA too look like. Looks nice-no surprises. The scent is a quite well balanced mix of grapefruit & floral Centennial hops and a sweet & butter biscuity malts. Neither of them dominate the nose and though maybe a little understated compliment each other nicely.
On first sip the hop profile is more pronounced and right up from. A nice citrus bite that could be compared to that of blood oranges and lemon peel. It's not super bitter though because the malt backbone mellows a lot of that out but pulls both characteristics together in the finish of this silky textured brew.
A fine balanced, easy drinking and good solid tasting IPA.

Hercules Double IPA
Being a DIPA the Hercules is, obviously, much bolder in it's approach. An easy pour brings out a a thick and hearty cream colored rocky head on top of the brews clear rusty amber color that hangs on tight and leaves quite a bit of thick lacing when it fades. The scent is that of bright lemons, a bit of pine oils and pinch of alcohol.
When the brew first hits your tongue there's a tart sweetness similar to peach or apricots quickly followed by a dry and bitter bite. The malt profile takes some of the edge of with a candied sweetness. As it warms some in the glass these two main characteristics seem to meld together a bit more which still give keep the tongue prickling hop bite but smooth it out some with some creaminess. It finishes with a peppery hotness but the 9% alcohol is still well hidden. Nice characteristics and balance all around.
Great Divide has piqued my interest and I will be trying other of their beers down the road for sure.

Feb 20, 2009

BRIDEZ "Rolling Stoned" 7inch

Titling their opening salvo in tribute to THE most recognizable name of those who wrote the book on Rock-n-Roll decadence and a back alley chic blond with bangs singer guessing Bridez stumbling through gutters that Royal Trux dug is pretty much the name of the game. The quotes in the one-sheet encourage such thinking too.
So is this a tribute to couple who both had H as the first letter in their last name?
Well maybe but those such junkie rock tendencies don't glare that super bright much on here. It's somewhat disjointed but there's more of a full on EPIC rock-n-roll chug throughout the two songs here. Instead of waiting for it to fall apart sounding like it's close to nodding out on a bed with a lit cigarette in it's hand Bridez are ready and riled as they flick a hotboxed and burning cigarette at your face and throw a house party where couches get trashed from people jumping around on them but not dozing off with the aforementioned cigarettes. Brash & battered but something like girl group nod buried deep below the blare. And what a blare it is. It's sounds as if they set gas powered lawnmowers with the throttles open wide iup on the stage cuz the distortion and roar from any guitar pedal just ain't enough.

Feb 17, 2009

SANDWICH “Assisted Living” 7inch

What's up with Columbus and it's group of old coots that can still have something more interesting musically going on than a great portion of musical instrument wielding groups half their age? There's Jeff Evans (Yeah, I know he's Memphis based now but wasn't always), Mike Rep and Ron House who is heading up the sounds going on on this particular, which just happens to be one of the most recent installments of Columbus Discount's Single of the month series, record.
A soaking wet Morricone meets space/psych/surf reverb twang but don't expect to ride out some tasty waves and bask in the warm sunshine as the song progresses. Those swells may seem sweet but there is something unknown and disturbing that lurk underneath and take little time to surface. Then the serpents, both imagined & real, tug at your senses and flail at your body. The sounds starts to batter around in every which way. Creepy keyboard blurts and Ron's nasally voice alternating between disturbed barking and downright crooning just add to the weird palatial mood thrown into a tizzy.

Feb 11, 2009

Dark Horse "Too" Cream Stout and their "Tres" Blueberry Stout as well

Well, here we are in the middle of February. Make it through this month then see whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at the Great Lakes region in March. Hopefully, nothing to extreme (especially after the record snowfalls and antarctic temps more than usual we've had to endure this season) and spring will be in complete force by April. All one can do is keep their finger's crossed and sip on some stouts til then.

The 2nd of Dark Horse's winter stout series, "Too", is their cream stout. It pours pitch black in color with a modest reddish tinted head the dissipates fairly quickly leaving a slight ring around the edges and minimal lacing. The aroma is fairly sweet with the scent of baker's chocolate and cream up front and the smell of very dark roasted & slightly bitter coffee in the background. The flavor has a very roasted malt taste up front with a slight bit of dark fruits, unsweetened chocolate and coffee laying underneath. A little hint of bitterness is there but is quickly mellowed out by a sweet cream base. It's not supercrazy in it's complexities but the flavors balance each other well. The finish is a bit lighter than your average stout but not in that weak ass watery Guinness way. Quite flavorful but nothing overbearing which makes it more sessionable than a majority of this style can have.

Fruit infused beers always seem to be a hard bargain with this reporter. It seems a lot of the time for me the "fruit" in them tastes like an extract, syrup or, even worse, something artificial like Kool Aid flavoring. Oh sure, there's a here & there fruit beer I like but it's rare. Dark Horse Tres, the 3rd (natch) in their winter stout series, is one of those rarities.
Very dark brown in color but a very slight bit of light can be spotted glinting around the edges. The modest head is a warm dark tan color that leaves a thin cap and spotty lacing. The scent is all about blueberries. Not a fake one either. Like whiffing a bowl of them. Sweet and natural. It does jump out of the a little almost like there's blueberry muffins baking in the oven but none of those "something may not be right" thought that I've experienced plenty of times in the past.
A creamy warm roasted malt is the base of it's flavor. Dark coffee and chocolate abounds til the blueberry envelopes them in a stately but not overstated manner. The finish is a nice balance of all the flavors that leave enough time to savior but not staying around too long.
Quite lively and robust and not too heavy. My better half, who cowers a lot when I bring a stout home took an initial sip then a few more and said "Now this is a dark beer I could drink on a regular basis". So there you gentleman. Trying to introduce a lady friend to the world of beer geekery but she curls her nose at them-try this. It's dude real beer tasting yet still enough fru-fru for her. Like Dark Horse's Raspberry Ale (one of the other rare fruit beers I actually like) Tres has the flavors but still tastes like a beer and not one of those dumb malt beverage experiments gone awry or someone dumped some extract in your beer.

Feb 7, 2009

the GET OFFS "Airplane Fight" 7inch

Based off their name alone if you were to think of the oodles of bands that appeared during the 90's garage punk boom who (self) released one or two singles that placed in a fair amount of MRR's writers monthly top 10 lists it's understandable . It's just one of those kind of names. If the name doesn't do it though the sleeve's artwork with it's not quite straight lined CHARTPAK® rub off lettering might make ya think it anyway. No problem with me really cuz some of my still favorite records from the time were of that exact ilk.
Side one's "Airplane Fight" though only reminds me a little of that era though. Sure, it's has basement budget production values with just a couple of catchy chords and has the requisite snotty/bored singing but there's something about the lower impact volume approach here that makes it sound even more addled than the hyperactive chainsaw 2 minutes-n-out workouts from those days of yore. Somewhat awkward and not trying to pretend they're any cooler than they actually are. It's got it's charm. A night out drinking with them one of them might even tell you that the b-side's "Drunk" stemmed from the idea of the Television Personalities being played by KISS if they sounded more like the Kinks and you'd have no reason not to believe him.

Feb 2, 2009

MIKE REP & the QUOTAS "Songs the Grackles Liked" 12inch EP

Oh, those grackles. Hardly is there any bird that's abundant in this part of the country that people either dig 'em or can't stand 'em more. There is no middle ground when it comes to them it seems.
Some will talk about their shiny colors, the ability to (sorta) mimic the human vote and how they eat all the bugs. Others will complain and all the noise they make and how one of them notices you got a garden growing a bunch other will show up and trash the place in hardly no time flat.
Mike Rep musical legacy gets a similar rap. There's people that can recite his entire catalog and discuss at length the genius behind them. Then there's others that just shrug, don't get it and write him off as your garden variety musical weirdo that every city of an average size has. I've personally watch someone eject people from a party for not seeing the brilliance of "War of the Worlds" and "Rocket To Nowhere". No, I wasn't the ejector not the ejectee but that may give you an idea of the twain's never meeting.
With this record though it's possible those twain's could decide to switch positions. The overt strangeness on some of Rep's more noted records has shifted to a couple of cases of beer and off to the garage to jam root rock in a salvia haze experiment. Nope, you're not going to get the blatantly bizarre Rep sounds of the past-which is easily understandable considering some of them date back to the mid 70's-over 30 years waling this planet probably has had a slight normalizing effect. Only one of the four songs on this EP, the Cheater Slicks drinking from Crazy Horse's well "Lemuria", is penned by Mr. Hummel and on the surface one might thing it's a kinder/gentler and maybe even more "responsible" Quotas offering but even if this is their stab at Americana it still off-kilter & socially uncomfortable enough where the "next big thing since Whiskeytown" isn't going to be asking them to go on tour with them. Think of this as an extention of the Harrisburg Players EP, most of them make up the band for this go-round, that Columbus Discount put out a couple of month ago and it'll help put you in the mindset of what's going on here.
Oh, those Grackles. They're so misunderstood.