Dec 28, 2010

STEP DADS "Deja Vu" 7inch EP

Bad attitudes and totally obnoxious. They're both ingredients that should be included in all punk rock recipes. Some try to skimp on them though (which means they're not really punk rock at all) but not this band. It sounds like they even had a little extra so made a big mess in the kitchen. The band itself is based in the catchy buzzsaw punk rock-n-roll vein (Sex Pistols, The Zeros etc) which is all fine and dandy but it wasn't enough for them. Cue gravel throated ill-tempered belter railing off about power sluts and the Grim Reaper here. Crank the distortion to make his sandpaper grunt even more blown out and pile on an amount of ridiculous echo and it cooks something to break teeth on.
Deep South USA white trash cousins of German beer bottle breakers the Moorat Fingers or Bathory pounding some nails into power pop? Well, that's for you do decide.

Dec 26, 2010

Sunday Sonance For January 2011

Well, The speculations that the first Sunday of every Month gig Franck and myself have been doing for close to two years now at the Raven Cafe were going to come to an end ending up being just rumors. Join us the night after New Years Day for eats, drinks and, of course, tunes.
More info at

Dec 22, 2010

Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale

From the solar powered Northern California beer maker Anderson Valley Brewing Company come this series of "Big Beers". They are the people behind one of the best Oatmeal stout's on the planet (Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout to be exact) so I was anxious to give one of them a taste. As luck would have I was visiting one of my usual beer cellar haunts and the man behind the counter said "Dale, I have a gift for you."
"Free Beer? Yes!" It must've been my lucky day it seemed.
A slight bit darker than some Tripel Abbey ales I've seen and drank in the past. It's almost brown in it's shade even when held up to the light. The head was modest and faded out fairly quickly but a good bit of lacing all the way down. Notes of caramel apples along with a big blast of alcohol show up in the scent. There are the banana, spices and hint of honey thing in the flavor that are common for the style but they seem to get bossed around by too much of a grainy malt. As it warms the malts do step away somewhat but what seems to be left is something slightly lacking as far as a complexity as well as a little thin as far as the body is concerned too. One thing I did find interesting is that though the alcohol comes on quite strong in the scent it is hidden very well in the taste til you get almost to the very end. "Almost" because there is a hotness that comes out right at the tail that will bite you if you're not ready for it.
Since this was gifted to me I can't really complain much about it but considering some of the goodness AVBC can serve up I was somewhat disappointed.

Dec 16, 2010

BRAINCAR "Rock-n-Roll Bologna" 7inch EP

WHAT A BUNCH OF BALONEY! No, I'm serious. The front cover come with a piece of bologna with the words ROCK-N-ROLL cut into it in a zip lock bag glued to the cover. And, well since we're always way behind here when it comes around to giving records to be reviewed a listen that piece lunchmeat has taken on looking like a science experiment of lunchmeat grease and mold.
"Lunchmeat grease and mold". I kinda like that because it fits the sounds that is going down on this record. Five slimey and sick tardcore dirt-fi punk tracks that are over almost as soon as they start. Reference points as far as classics are concerned for this reviewer would be Drunks With Guns and Flipper while comparisons of more modern things are along the lines of The Mahonies and Holy Shit. This is not a record to have in your collection that will gain you friends. Just like serving up a rancid piece of balogna wouldn't either. But if you want to bogue out or annoy people out-show them the sleeve to this (especially if it's taken on it's particular life of microcosms as the copy I have sitting here) and play it loud and often.

Dec 13, 2010

Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager

Ahhh, the Christmas season. A time for peace on earth. good will toward man, stressing out, being depressed and dealing with hustle and bustle to the point where you want to burn down everything within a couple miles of the shopping epicenters of the area you live by. It's also a time to give a try to a seasonal ale or two that maybe you haven't before. Moylan's just started being available in these parts I live in and since I have tried a couple of other things they brew that I found pretty decent I figured it was worth giving a shot.
Gold with reddish highlights in color and somewhat bubbly with a modest but fluffy head that leaves a snowdrift like lace behind. The nose is predominantly lager yeasts and malt along with bit of hay. There some are spice characteristics to it but with the variety of ones used (orange zest, mace, cinnamon, coriander and white pepper) none stand out from the others-they all blur into each other.
The spices, primarily the coriander and some dints of the orange spice up front and some slight pepper taste in the finish, do come out in the flavor but as in the scent none of them really stand out. The spices seem like they were added an afterthought than something infused to compliment the flavors. It's not bad (especially compared to some stinkers in the Christmas/Winter ale style that have hit my tastebuds in the past) but it just lacks that "something special".

Dec 10, 2010


This band's bed of damaged pop is sturdy which is a good thing because when they invite odd bedfellows of sonic attraction to romp, jump and roll around-it would probably collapse elsewise. "Working On Something" opens the album up sounding like You're Living Me All Over Me era Dinosaur Jr posing as a Buzzcocks tribute band. An instant hit for those who appreciate instant hits because of their whir-n-fire and not because of some overblown recording techniques. From there tracks like "Here Those Bells" and "Prison Mind" pick an under the influence of low budget opiate high fights with the last couple of Black Lips albums, swim through a swamp of cough syrup and Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure on "When You Wish", mix glass chips with Strawberry Bubblicious for "There You Go", get beat up and thrown out of country bar because some dickwipe in a Kid Rock t-shirt told them they weren't really country and to which they replied "Neither is that shit you listen to" on "I'm Gone" and bum out peace and love hippies the way Hawkwind did (and surely would again if the tape machine they were recording on sounded like it was being held together by electrical tape while the record knob was kept in it's position by the cardboard flap from a crush proof pack of cigarettes) with "I Don't Believe You/X-Tina". "Hey Little Girl" also takes notes from those kinda space rock and motoriks then pulls it out behind the garage to have their way with it.

Dec 6, 2010

the TOUCH ME NOTS "Keep Talking Like That" 7inch

Some people say "Don't mess with success". Ya know if something works say with the formula and don't tweak it. Damn, that can get boring though. Doing the same thing over and over no matter how good you are at it and all that. Sometimes you gotta shake it up and change things around here and there. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?
For the last half decade or so Andrew and Kelly put out a solid collection of singles, 10 inches and LPs of 1950's tinged, hayseed steeped and garage tainted rock-n-roll. Stripped down to the essentials of voice, guitar and drums worked well for them but they still couldn't resist throwing the occasional curveball at the listener like, say, taking a stab at a Broadway show tune for instance. This go round they supplement the bottom end with the addition of Clark from Killer's Kiss on bass and Greg Ashley putting down some bits organ as well as doing the knob twiddling and it really adds something to their spartan but splendid sound. Both "Keep Talking Like That" and "Hard To Forget" have a certain small town rootsy feeling to them that the band had flirted with in the past and completely score this time around. Country-rock (but not in an Eagles or fake affected nasal twang college crowd/trust fund thing that seems to be on eight out of every ten "alt/country" released someone tries to push as the "real deal" way) songs about love's fire coming close to going out but there's still some glowing red embers. Reminds me of being a kid and listening to the radio in my dad's car. Back then they'd play Waylon Jennings and the Bay City Rollers right after each other. Not that I am hearing that when I listen to this but there is a certain dust filled room meets a shiny soda pop machine vibe...And that's always good to me. COUNTRY-ROCK SINGLE OF THE YEAR!
Classic Bar
An ages old interview Smashin' Transistors did with the Touch Me Nots
Andrew's Food Blog

Dec 1, 2010

WHEELS ON FIRE "Liar, Liar" CD and "Cherry Bomb" 7inch EP

I'm taking a wild guess here but it's more than likely these Athens, Ohio boys and girl sound is the product of a couple "weird/cool" uncles that played them a bunch of records growing up. The older of the two uncles played them things from the early Stiff Records roster and telling them "None of these bands would've amounted to nothing if it wasn't for Nick Lowe AND THAT GOES DOUBLY FOR ELVIS COSTELLO!"
The younger uncle was all about 90's garage punk. He regaled them with stories about how many times he saw the New Bomb Turks and so on, but the band he drilled into their head was the Oblivians simply for the reason "Beneath the scum there's some classic pop song moves there. One day the rest of the world will figure that fact out."
It seemed to make an impression on the band especially in the both Nick Lowe and the Oblivians took standard "rock" foundations, in former's case country music and 60's radio pop and the latter with primal blues and teenage garage gunk, and they've manage to meld all of it into the tunes that rock all over both these releases. A snappy backbeat and sticky organ provide the foundation for the two guitars to switch between bashin', janglin' and throwin' out hooks that dig into your back and pull you up & move you around while Jack O'Yarberesque vox of the brothers Chaney sing/shout tales of young lust and all the things go with it.
The album, Liar, Liar, is jammed full of loud pop gems like the beach ball bouncy "Bad Lie" and "Losin'", bubblegum found in a box of dirt sounds of "Looking At You" and "Sarah" and the Modern Lovers tinged "Stick Around" and "I Wanna Know." The single on Kind Turkey is more of the same but a just little bit more scruffy with some soul music infection and some doo-wop nods thrown in for good measure.

Nov 30, 2010

The Holiday Sonance

The first Sunday of every month Mr. Franck and yours truly drop the needle on some tracks at the Raven Cafe in downtown Port Huron. People come in to listen and enjoy the food, drinks and folks while they are there. Conversations, fun and games always happen. Our next one is on December 5th. If you're in the area stop on by and say "Hi"
More info at

Nov 15, 2010

Hue Blanc's Joyless One "Live On WSGR" (10/26/10)

A few weeks back Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones came through Port Huron and did a live set on WSGR. Here is all it's glorious red lining glory. I did absolutely nothing to sweeten or trash the recording. This is how it sounded going over the air. Two mics in a room about the size of a walk-in closet.

Nov 5, 2010

Dogfish Head Olde School

Ohhhh man. Barley wine! They're a rare treat around here in Smashin' Transistors land. One reason is that they're not something you see just at any random store. Another reason is that they're usually an occasional or season thing for most breweries. Usually packed with sweetness and a high alcohol count they can be thick and syrupy laying down some major hurt the next day. Moderation is the key as usual but doubly when it comes to them.
When it comes to suggesting a barley wine to a first timer Olde School from Dogfish Head is always at the top of my list. It is sweet but not way to syrup like, packs a 15% abv and sports one of Jon Langford's country music art pieces on it's label (which makes it 100% more bad ass than any other barley wine out there just based on it's cool factor alone). We're talking on of the kings of the style here.
Deep and clear amber color and a fizzy head and some serious lacing clinging to the side of the glass all the way through. Quite a few levels in the aroma. Apricot, green apple, toffee, sweet malts, some piney hops and, yes, many an alcohol fume on the nose. Reminds me some really fancy brandy or something like that.
The thing that jumps out the most on an initial sip is a bittersweet sting and a whole lotta warmth that doesn't seem to come from the alcohol but from the blast of flavor that comes out all the way through the glass. When it's cooler malt, caramel and sour fruits lays it down heavy then as it warms it takes on more of a dark fruit and spicy, hinting at a Belgian Quad ale or almost a cognac, flavor. It's finishes full and bold but it's stickiness doesn't coat the tongue and the back of the throat too thickly. We had a slight bit of snow flying around this evening. I'm looking out the window, sipping this and smiling because even if the heat wasn't turned on this is keeping me warm.

Nov 1, 2010

the MENTHOLS "Michigan Works" LP

Space rock? Nah, that doesn't sound right. Saying space rock makes people think things that is, well, spacey. Floating off and all that. Hmmm. Space Punk? Yeah! That's might be a little more fitting to describe what these Kalamazoosters are up to here. It doesn't go drifting through a weird galaxy much as it does swirling through some non gravity place lit by balls of fire in whatever the space version of a oil leaking, exhaust spewing battered but still (somewhat) reliable mid 80's Econoline is. It's not a jet age smooth ride. It can be somewhat bumpy but when as it picks up to wanted cruising speed it's a lumbering might that gets things to move out of it's way.
If Lemmy would've forced Dave Brock out of Hawkwind (instead of vice-versa), brought in a couple dirtbags with a penchant for a chug-chug-chug velocity instead of navel gazing wandering, burned the Michael Moorcock books and replaced them with written works Stan Lee, baseball card stats and Penthouse Forum for lyrical themes-the Menthols would have all the albums in their collection.
Cuts like the smeared with a "Land Of A Thousand Dances" flammable goo opener "B-OK", the mutated borrowings of 70's FM Rock riffs (think ZZ Top jamming-as in around the time Deg├╝ello came out NOT something like "Rough Boy"- with Evol era Sonic Youth)"Long Time Coming" or in a sorta same but different thing "Loose Lips" sounding like the Wooden Shjips gone full tilt chooglin' and "Between The Dots" and the album's final track, the ring modulation orgy called "Fire, Fire, Fire" fade in and then take off to weird parts of the head. Others, such as "That's All You Got" and "Don't Give Up Yours" hammer out things like Feedtime hanging in a cold & damp Michigan basement where they depend on Little Caesars $5 Hot-n-Ready Pizzas and cans of Four Loko for nutrition.

Oct 31, 2010

North Peak Siren Amber Ale

Pretty sure I've gone off to some extent before about how I am on the fence with most amber ales. There's usually something about them that just doesn't strike my fancy with them. Either they're just bland or take the other end of the spectrum and end up to spicy or something. I guess it's one of those curses of macrobrew making something to get the mainstream beer audience to think they're purchasing something fancy or craft brewers flexing their know how and righting some wrongs. One of the things Traverse City's based North Peak Brewery seems to be shooting for is something traditional and true to the original pre-adjunct grains days-making something good but not going over the top with tweeking and experimentation.
Nice, reddish gold transparent color with a very minimal head from a medium pour. A slight ring of foam forms around the top of the glass leaving a spotty lace pretty much through the bottom of the glass. On the nose the malt is quite robust and earthy with some green apple and smokey notes. Slightly sour apple characteristics come out all through the flavor mixing well with the malt on the front of the tongue. It finishes up with a flourish of hop tinge. Not sticky but not buried either.
If you are looking for some amber that will blow your mind or filled with levels of flavor complexity this probably isn't going to be the one but if you are looking for a simple and solid one that is quite sessionable it's worth giving a try. Besides, with those stubby bottles and retro label design that have become a North Peak trademark you can invite an old-timer over and share a couple with them. It may get them telling some stories of the good old days.

Oct 28, 2010

November's Sunday Sonance Shenanigans

The first Sunday of every month Mr. Franck and yours truly drop the needle on some tracks at the Raven Cafe in downtown Port Huron. People come in to listen and enjoy the food, drinks and folks while they are there. Conversations, fun and games always happen. Our next one is on November 7th. If you're in the area stop on by and say "Hi"
More info at

Oct 23, 2010

Short's Bloody Beer

Just in time for Halloween. Nope, not pumpkin beer. I just had to pass on all those this year because I've had more than my share in the past but figured something called Bloody would work well for the seasonal theme and mention instead. What you have here is those crazy beer makers up in Bellaire, Michigan combining the ingredients that go into a Bloody Mary which in this case is Roma tomatoes, tellicherry peppercorns, celery seed, fresh horseradish and dill, brewing it up and bottling it. I'm all about a Bloody Mary almost as much as I am about great beer and judging from the ingredients it seems that they know what goes into a superb Bloody Mary so I was pretty curious about trying this.
There's an obvious red tint in the color from the tomatoes. No head to speak of but there is a somewhat of a runny and spotty lace that doesn't stick around much.
The scent of dill is really strong on the nose along with some slight notes of ground pepper and tomato juice. There is a slight thickness in the beer but hey-WE ARE talking about tomatoes here. The thing is though the flavor of tomato in the brew itself seems a little overrun by the domination of the dill that is all over the place. Letting it breath and adjust to room temp does take a slight edge off that, bringing some of the peppercorn and horseradish hot end but not by much. Dill everywhere.
Now, I can munch on some pickles while enjoying some suds but something here just ain't working for me. I do admire Short's for all their crazy experiments they do with beer. They deserve much credit for their ideas and innovations and but sometimes their things seem to fall into a novelty category. They have many things that get up and throw a no hitter-to these taste buds though, this is not one of their best days on the mound.

Oct 22, 2010

JOE KILE "Southern Beauty Queen" LP

Getting pinned as a "singer-songwriter" can be either a blessing or a curse. To most people means denim shirt wearing Mr. Softee's like James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg. It's a pleasant and pretty and doesn't scare off grandmothers and little kids. And of YOU KNOW they're singing from their heart because you can hear their voice that doesn't ever crack clearly in the big soft comforter production. Of course those in that camp music is a remedy to fall asleep that is just effective as a couple shots of NyQuil PM with Wild Turkey chaser. But that's besides the point. After all "Just listen to their self confessional sensitivity'.
Then there's the other camp. The one that has Townes Van Zandt, Gene Clark, Daniel Johnston (well, in his "True Love Will Find You In The End" period at least) and Uncle Lou Reed during the last couple Velvet Underground albums. While all the first camp sounds like they're wearing cable knit sweaters in front of some cozy fireplace in a Colorado mountain cabin or staring at a mountain of blow in some Laurel Canyon hideaway and, in either setting, a blonde with with ironed straight hair-the second sounds dressed in faded and frayed clothes and playing for tips in some broken down coffee house or a dive bar that's usual clientele is there not to hear some songs but because the place has the cheapest cheap draft beer and well whiskey prices in town. They'll listen to the sorrow as they drown their own. The person giving the six string accompanied confessionals love probably works behind the bar but she isn't there tonight and isn't answering her phone either. That's the camp New Orleans based Joe Kile has set up tent in.
Owning a voice that sounds like old wax paper, a surface that is smooth but sports some discoloration from age and somewhat brittle & will crackle Joe Kile's songs sounds as if they were recorded at 4am and as hushed as he could be as to not wake the others dwelling around a pay by the week efficiency apartment and to be listened by those nursing a very melancholy Sunday morning hangover. Accompanied mostly by a weather beaten guitar save for the occasional second guitar, some pump organ sounding wheezes and a couple drinking buddies supplying a few seconds of call and response the songs touches on loves losts, lusts wanted, bad luck and many mentions of winter. They all sound as if they could fade off into distance at any given moment so they're songs that are made to be listened close as they could just disappear. When doing so there's slight rays of light trying to fight their ways out of the overcast.

Oct 21, 2010


"Four chords, One finger, All feeling...." That was the consensus of my friend Brian when I showed them the video of these two Australian gals tune "Golden Town". Another friend Lon said something to the extent of "Wow! They make a lot of sound with such a limited set up" when seeing the same video. For both of them it was their first introduction to the band. I told them nothing other than a note saying "Check this out" and link. Both of their comments could pretty much sum this album into a nutshell but since I gave them both credit now I guess I just can't plagiarize what they said and call it a day on this review now can I? Besides, the record has been spending plenty of time on my turntable since it arrived I have a few things I would like to add to what they had to say anyway.
With just the right amount of drone complimenting the melody in the guitar lines, a voice that that sounds like sweet and soothing honey that was then aged in a gun powder keg and then rolled in talcum powder with their mixture of sweetness and volatile swings and a drummer that isn't afraid to bash the hell out of the kit (and I don't mean "...for a chick" either. I mean if the drums were a living creature they'd be without hardly a drop of blood left in them after the pummeling. I mean she's no Keith Moon or anything but she also and pussyfooting either) Super Wild Horses make every other band dubbed in every other blog page as "the next Vivian Girls but better" sorta pointless. It seems a lot of those bands that have been called that were looking for that exact description as where this band sound like they have much better things on their mind.
Bits of late 70's DIY-punk, perhaps an idea or two gleaned from a scratchy hand me down Jesus and Mary Chain record (but without the total over the top ridiculous reverb on everything sound that a lot of the apparent modern day JAMC apers go all ga-ga on), one string melody buzz that stick in the brain like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich does to the roof of the mouth if there's no glass of milk around to wash it down make for a listen here that asked to played flipped over again and again as each side end.

Oct 15, 2010

BadAss American Lager

Michigan Brewing Company out of Webberville gets in cahoots with Kid Rock. He tested and approved this beer. Tastes like a fresher Bud Light.

Oct 12, 2010

MMOSS "i" cassette

With a sound that hits more on London's UFO club circa 1967 than probably what is usually coming out of whatever rock dives they haunt in their home base of modern day New Hampshire USA-Mmoss make psychedelic music that smears that fine line of where a "normal pop sensibility" ends and the "what are these hippies experimenting with" questions begin.
With the basic guitar, bass and drum foundation being adorned by the band members multi-instrument know how of flutes, organs, cellos, glockenspiels, dul-sitars and ship bells (to name just a handful listed in the tape cover's j-card) the songs & sounds here can range from sublime and scenic to downright peculiar and stormy.
While some songs like "Grown Down", "So Below" and "Hedge Creeper" lean towards a Britania meet the Byrds in Syd Barrett's garden there's also the tinkering with Krautrock/Drone Trip on tracks like "And I Do Set My Bow In The Clouds" and "Epistle To Shon" as well as speculating on what it would it would sound like Big Star 3rd came out in '66 and had a seriously influence on the Small Faces on things like "Kitty Sorrow".
For those that find themselves playing some of the modern psych bands like the Black Angels and Sleepy Sun will be doing themselves a favor if they were to check their father's basement or thrift store for a functioning cassette player (or hell, even the junkyard so you can have one in your car) and then score a copy of this tape.

Oct 10, 2010

Founders Nemesis 2010

As a music fan and working in various degrees of the business involved around it for years I used to get a laugh out of the obsessive collectors. You know the type, The ones that have to have every single released format variation of their favorite artist. Never satisfied with having the music in one form they'd have to have the 12inch, the 7inch, the import 7inch on colored vinyl, the picture disc 7inch, the 12inch with a different color variation than the other 12 inch, the CD single because the mix is slightly different than the one on the import 7inch of colored vinyl and on and on. They would haunt record stores, distributors, trade lists etc on a daily (and in some cases an hourly) basis scaring up copies. It would get to a point where you'd see them, make eye contact and just give them a nod of the head to let them "No, we don't have it yet" and save the breath of telling them so.
Nowadays, things are different. With the internet and a paypal account they can usually end up finding whatever record you're looking for and, if price is no object, possess their very own copy to add to the shrine. I was always like "Hey man, I just want it for the music. What's the big damn deal." Then I became a beer geek.....
With almost all of Founders specialty brews I scoured the county for at least one bottle of this years Nemesis. My trusted beer sellers were just as frustrated as I was about not being able to get any (because they love GOOD beer too) and then would make comments about the local distributor of Founders only being good at keeping up on things that come in cans and are advertised on the Super Bowl. I ended up scouring the next county over and following an anonymous tip rolled into a particular store. Lo-and-behold there was one lowly bottle sitting on the shelf. She's been sitting in my fridge ever since taunting me. Until tonight.
Brown/almost black in color while sitting in the glass and a deep mahogany when held up to the light I'm a little taken back because I'm am more used to barley wines looking a bit more of an amber color than this. I know they style can variate in color and all that but I guess I've just haven't seen many this dark. Very minimal head but a millimeter or so size ring hangs tight all through the glass leaving some spotty and running lacing behind.
Lots of chocolate come out first in the scent followed by aromas of date nut bread, cherries that have been soaking in bourbon for a couple of months and some slight coconut. Not much notice of alcohol to this nose which is surprise because of it hitting a 12% abv. The taste has a very interesting complexity to it. A dark like licorice and tart like grapefruit hop bite comes out that then is wrapped cozy by coffee, maple and bourbon flavors. With each sip it's the same experience-here comes this bite then it's surrounded and softened up. The finish gives the hops some hang time again with some coffee hanging in the background. Founders always does a good job covering up their higher end alcohol content and here is no exception. Very mellow. It's different than the Nemesis of the past but each year tweak has never been a sidestep. If you see one on the shelf-snatch it, sip it and savor it. It's gonna be another year til they're spotted again.

Oct 3, 2010

Short's Key Lime Pie

It seems that every week now there's a new limited "weird beer" (Smashin' Transistors blanket term for all the odd and interesting experimental brews that use ingredients outside of you usual hop, malts and so on) made by up-north Michigan brewery Shorts. Almost too many. It's hard for this humble reporter to even keep up at times. On the label of this one it informs the potential drinker that it's brewed with mashmallow and lactose with lime and graham crackers added. Definitely not something the average beer drinker would think is "normal" wouldn't you say?
Burnt orange in color (not lime green but then again that might just be a little too weird) and clear with average sized off white fizzy head that fades somewhat quickly but leaves fair amount of spotty lacing. Lime peel and sweet bready notes (the graham crackers perhaps?) in stick out quite a bit scent. The taste first gives off a sweet milk cream flavor up from followed by a sour candy. There is a creamy texture all the way through the sips of the brew giving it a very soft feeling in the mouth. The lime flavor is noticeable but seems to stick out a little more towards finish even though it gets enveloped again by the sweeter cream flavors. There also seems to be a slight rye tinge in the aftertaste too.
Is this one of my most favorite "weird beers" from Shorts that I have tried? Not really. My vote still goes with their Soft Parade, Nicie Spicie (which is their summer wheat which I have to say kicks Bell's Oberon butt) and Strawberry Shortcake. Is it interesting and drinkable? Yes, for a couple of bottles it is at least. Give it a shot and share it with friends if you see some around. It'll make for some interesting conversation.

Sep 29, 2010

Dogfish Head Burton Baton

Ahhh, those occasional/rare brews that some of this nation's fine microbreweries produce. As a beer dork you have to get them when you see them sitting on the shelves without hesitation because who knows when they'll be spotted again. This double oak aged IPA from Dogfish Head is one of those one's where, at least in these parts, multiple 4 packs of them are purchased at once so they can cherished and sipped on while others are saying "I didn't even get to try those this year."
Cloudy amber in color and a good sized head that hangs on for quite a long while leaving a thick lace all the way though. Caramel scented malts is the first thing that tingles the nose followed by citrus, campfire smokiness and a dint of booze (but at 11% abv not as much as expected).
The mouthfeel of the brew is chewy but creamy and the flavor is packed with a whole bunch of complexities. The sweet warmth of the candied dark fruit flavored malts and tart grapefruit bite of the 90 Minute IPA are the first thing most, if they are familiar with that Dogfish Head flagship, will notice. The oak aging gives it a twist of vanilla and spices as well as a slight smokey twist. As it breathes the bitters do mellow a bit and you find yourself not believing, or at least surprised the higher end alcohol content this has....that unless you've sat down having a few and try to stand up a little to quickly.
One of the best brews of it's type and always worth waiting for it to come available again.

Sep 27, 2010

BLACK MOUNTAIN "Wilderness Heart" LP

Radio, for the most part, sucks. Yeah, it's not some great statement of any kind and it sure ain't no secret to people (or at least I hope it's not) but having not only having a LP copy of this for home and when out on DJ night missions there has been a CD copy of this album in my car for a couple of weeks now. It been getting played an awful lot when I'm out driving. Every time it comes to and end I eject it while looking for something else to pop in. Usually one of the commercial rock stations (be it the one that plays what they claim is "alternative/modern", "hard" rock or "just the best" rock). The keyword is ROCK. Downtuned and autotuned ROCK which knowledge and history of groove, feeling and structure may go back a few decades but stops at anything before Nirvana and sounds like all the other fake angst ridden douchebags that have appropriated that sound then "improved" upon it by making it more strip club and sports bar friendly. Yep, it's ROCK but it has no ROLL.
"Dammit" I yell at the radio. It's all I can do really because there's little sense in calling the station to rant on the dj because more than likely it's prerecorded voice tracked or satellite fed and even if there is someone live in the studio it's not their job to have any discerning taste or pick what to play as it is to pretend they actually enjoy playing shit with names like Hinder, Breaking Benjamin, Crossfade and on and on. I would like to think though that if they did have a choice though they would play ROCK that has some ROLL and Black Mountain would be jamming all over the nation's ROCK (and roll) radio airwaves.
A 3 way marriage of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Hawkwind happens on tracks like the album's lead single "Old Fangs" with it's hotboxed organ sound and total joyriding the country roads guitar riff (and who's title may or may not be a play on a Them Crooked Vultures tune from a year or so ago called "New Fang"), the psych-boogie of the album's title track and take the slamming pace of the Purp's "Highway Star" and headbang against some boulders on "Let Spirits Ride" (which also features some of the most sinister sounding singing co-singers Amber Weber and guitarist Stephen McBean have laid down to date in the band's 5 year career).
Other tracks like the folky but funky (as in grooving-not stinky) "Hair Song", "Way To Gone" and the campfire country finds a psychedelic orchestra tinged "Buried By The Blues" could make the an otherwise super annoying hippie party tolerable for their 4 or so minute run times. "Radiant Hearts" and "The Space Of Your Mind" have a more than a slight "Yes, Roger Waters is the brains behind Pink Floyd but I am the star" thought process that David Gilmour probably still has going though his head but greet the ear with a warm and friendly embrace than cold and overblown isolation.
Nope, Rock radio will probably not add any of the songs. Not because they don't ROCK but because they not only ROCK AND ROLL but show a whole lot more personality and ideas than what they choose to spin these days. That might challenge the listening audience...and radio programmers don't want to do that at all, do they?

Sep 26, 2010

SUNDAY SONANCE October 3rd at the Raven Cafe in Downtown Port Huron

Join yours truly and Franck Nowak for an evening of all kinds of grooves for your listening pleasure. We had to skip last month due to the Labor Day weekend but we are back 100% vinyl spinning for 3 hours.

Sep 24, 2010

HUE BLANC'S JOYLESS ONES "LIVE" at the Roche Bar in Port Huron Tuesday Oct 26th

Twisted and gnarled sound blasts of two guitars and two drummers from Algoma, Wisconsin (population 3,357).

Check this interview with them

Read a review of their album from a couple years back on Victim Of Time

Listen to some of their music here

Sep 14, 2010


Somewhere in the magical and mystical world called HARD ROCK LAND there's a road only marked by a weird and twisty oak tree that the largest crows ever seem like to populate. While walking up it look for the trail of crushed Milwaukee's Best Ice and Hamm's cans and chicken wing bones. They will lead you down a path populated with a crossbred plants of Venus Fly Traps and Poison Ivy. Soon the screeches and caws of the buzzards and crows is drowned out by a crunch and squall and squeal and squelch as you get closer to a cave. At first those sounds may resemble 70's FM boogie rock but only for the first few seconds. Then it starts to sound all stretched out and mangled. Sorta like they have a picture of Black Sabbath on a wad of Silly Putty and are doing all kinds of distorted things to it. It's quickly deduced that you have Drugs Dragons lair. The people of HARD ROCK LAND have run them out of town for taking butt boogie, swerving it all over the road and laughing each and every time they put it in the ditch. They have been declared pariah's for their disrespect and this is where they must dwell. The musty and damp environment is a perfect match to their sound where old AC/DC records are put through a meat grinder and cooked up on a grill by the fires of Feedtime. The Butthole Surfers stopped taking LSD years ago and the Drugs Dragons have decided they would have the acid flashbacks for them.
One of the key components in the Drugs Dragons sound is the mutilated blues licks (if "licks" is even the proper way to describe the string bending that is going on) of Mr. Tony Sagger. Here, in a very one man band (and one sided single) setting he bares heartache on the sparse "Lies" (sample lyric: "I hope you fucking die!"), does a way drunk but waits to fall apart until the very end version of the 13th Floors Elevators "You're Gonna Miss Me" and closes it out with the garage-rock having absolutely disturbed cough syrup buzzed hallucinations "I Love You".
Check out a Tony Sagger One Man Band gig here.
Find out more about the Drug Dragons over at their Myspace page.

Sep 10, 2010

Short's Hangin' Frank IPA

Short's developed this IPA for the City Park Grill in Petoskey, Michigan. The place serves some good grub but is most famous for it being a place Ernest Hemingway like to hang out/hide out at and it being haunted by a ghost named Frank who hanged himself in the cellar of the place about 100 years ago.
Short's has already made a name for itself for it's superpacked with hops flavor of their Huma Lupa Licious. In contrast to that this is a more mellow take on the style. The brew color is a nice burnt orange in color and sports a moderately sized off white head that holds on pretty tight all the way down the glass leaving a lace all over the place. Pine like hops are noticeable in the aroma but there's also a lot of fruit nuances such as pineapple and peaches that come out. It's all anchored by a sweet biscuit like smell of crystal malt.
The hops aren't as aggressive and have more of a sweet fruit flavor than that pucker up sting Huma is known for. That's not to say this lacks the bright-n-green bitters that other Short's more than hop friendly brews but this has a friendly pinch to the tastebuds more than an angry bite.
For anyone who has been considering delving into the craft beer world and doesn't know where to start (and no Leinenkugel, Blue Moon and those specialty Michelob's don't count no matter what the commercials say, how bartenders repeat what the beer salesman told them and what the guy behind me at the beer store who was behind me line was saying while I was purchasing this) here's a great place to begin your discovery.

Sep 9, 2010

ALICJA-POP! "Shining Apple" 7inch

Alicja Trout has done "pop" before. To name off a bit of her musical background there's the Lost Sounds, Mouserocket and the River City Tanlines for starters. Sure, the "pop" elements may have been disguised in those projects from time to time but she's always known her way around writing something that sticks and really isn't that the basis of all good "pop" music anyway?
On this record the "POP!" on a side one's "Shining Apple" is 80's DIY pop such as the Young Marble Giants equipped with a better tape machine so they can layer some girl group harmonies while getting sidetracked by some motorik hypnotics.
Some years ago I recall reading an interview with Daniel Johnston where he was asked what his influences were and how he would describe his music to someone who may not have heard it before. His reply mentions some a contemporary bands at the time as well as him discussing his love for the Beach Boys. One thing I've learned by knowing quite a few real deal outsider musician's like him is that in their heads that is what they hear but it usually takes someone else to cover a song wrote by them to bring those kind of sounds to the forefront. Here, on the b-side's cover of Johnston's "Walking The Cow", Alicja brings them out with a 60's sunshine feel rubbing shoulders with melodic beep-beep-boop synth bits.

Aug 31, 2010

TIMMY'S ORGANISM "I'm A Nice Guy Now" 7inch

Every time my 10 (going on 11) year old son Nolan hears Timmy's Organism's "I'm A Nice Guy Now" come on the stereo or the radio (cuz yes-this town lacks A LOT of things but we've got a decent college radio station at least AND I'm not just saying that because of my involvement with it) he asks for it to be turned up so he can sing along. He says it, along with a couple songs off the Personal and the Pizzas "Raw Pie" album, are "Some of the best songs I've ever heard in my entire life."
Now, the song itself concerns me with it's lyrics of "I used to steal from the thrift store/Now I donate", "I used to punch old ladies/now I help them cross the street" and "I used to dig Rock and Roll/Now I like classical." No, not because I am concerned of how it may warp out my son's mind. Hell, have you seen some of the cartoon's that the cable stations gear towards kids the last decade of so? Nah, my concern is that since Mr. Timmy himself won the fancy-pants Kresge Foundation Fellowship Award he's gotten all soft. You know, doing things like drinking tea out of those little cups and raising his pinky while doing so, waking up before noon and wearing shirts with collars. Yikes, say it ain't so!
Judging from the thick guitar fuzz and the gutteral Howlin' Wolf/Beefheart/Pro Wrestler grunt and groan that Tim splatters over the top of the Organism's bare bones accompaniment on the song though-it doesn't sound as if success and rubbing shoulders with the check writing echelon is gonna make him change his mission of weirdness one bit. No, it's more like he's inviting all the bourgeoisie frou-frou's to step into his world of strange with a firm handshake and a chipped tooth smile.
For the single's other song, "Cold Pizza", we get what sounds like Timmy sitting out in his backyard with a guitar plugged into a practice amp in hand and a single mic hung over a tree limb capturing the sound of him bearing his tattered soul in a love/hate letter about some gal who jacked him around for the last time. The only thing missing from the ambiance of the song is the outside sounds of cicadas and crickets. Maybe they were all quiet and listening intently even though it is one of those songs where Tim doesn't actually mention a bug of some sort or another in the lyrics.

Aug 29, 2010

Iron Springs Pub's Casey Jones Imperial IPA

Here's another brew courtesy of a care package from Chris Owen. I mentioned my constant crush on IPA's to him and he slipped some California style ones. This one, from Fairfax brewpub Iron Springs, is one I've never heard of before and from the way he made it sound is pretty much just regional to his immediate area. I'm all about checking out the local flavor so bring it on.
The color is dark orange at first glace. It appears opaque when sitting on the table but since I'm in the backyard I hold it up to the sunlight and a golden haze can be seen glowing around the edges. The head was modest but leaves a good cap behind that laces all the way though. On the nose the hops aren't the kind that punch at it but do have a nice fresh zing to them while the malts give the aroma a pleasant sweetness. Sorta reminds me of sourdough bread sprinkled with some lemon zest and a fresh sack of apples.
On the lips and tongue the brew itself has a nice and creamy feel to it. At first sip a rich molasses flavor is noticed then pepper and pine hop bite takes over the proceedings hanging on almost to the end but the malts smooth step in again it with warmth and sweetness. The finish features a dint of hotness from the 9.5% abv which is, for the most part, masked up until then.
Not really into sparking another one of those "What defines East Coast/West Coast/Michigan IPA" debates again but if I was to go into this one blind I think I would still define it as a solid west coast (double) IPA and there ain't nothing wrong with that.

Aug 21, 2010


The letter that came with this record informs me that this Jackson, Ms. band are old guys that like beer. Not being as young as I once and having an obvious affinity to beer I can totally related. It also mentions that their sound is sloppy, poppy rock-n-roll.
Sounds like it's right up my alley but there is more to my duty than to just reiterate what a press sheet says. Hey, I know that seems to be novelty judging from some other blogs I've eyed on the Info Highway but, hey, I'm an old guy and prefer to do some things the old school way so let's give it an actual listen, shall we?
"UFO" opens the record up with a rolling folk-punk jangle that builds up touching on the sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators and Dead Moon but with a gruff dirt weed and a cooler full of sale price that can't be beat canned beer growl vocal instead of a Roky or Fred screech and scream. "Destructo" up's the jangle and blare hitting on something like a drunken Superchunk doing tunes from the Embarrassment and R.E.M's Chronic Town EP. The chorus hook line of "Blame it on me and that's what you get" has been lodged in my head for a good part of the day now too. Side two's lead off track "Guanajuato" (which mean's Hill of Frogs for those that don't speak obscure dialects from Mexico) is along the same lines as well but builds it off the Chuck Berry foundation that generations of rock-n-rollers first learned to stand on and, if they have any sense, should revisit on a regular basis.
The record wraps with the jumpy mid 60's garage beater shaking hands with some nervy late 70's quirk pop. Yeah, with all the young 'un's out there these days thinking they're doing rock-n-roll a favor by sitting in at their laptops trying to recreate their grandparent's Burt Bacharach and Carpenters album for modern day mustache wearers so some one sheet or blog blurb can tell me how's it essential it is to have on my iPod I'll take beer drinking old guys with guitars any day of the week.

Aug 20, 2010

the PINK NOISE "Birdland" LP

Seems there's a new band every week being declared the next wave of synth music. Something new, fresh and exciting. Then checking the hyped group out one can't help but think "Yeah, I suppose this is possibly new, fresh and exciting if you're 21, have an ironic mustache, get up to the second updates from Pitchfork Media to your iPhone and never heard of Howard Jones and the Thompson Twins." I mean, c'mon, are there actually THAT many people honestly digging things like the Passion Pit and the Junior Boys or just acting like they do because they think their friends do. Hey, I'm all for a nostalgia/revisiting trip as much as the next guy but fey 80's Europop redo's ain't no tourist trap I really want to visit.
When using the term "Synth Band" to describe this Montreal combo though the sound of peppy doot-doot-dah-doot's, plastic neon colored belts & ear rings and triangular haircuts don't come to mind. Floating through a outerspacescape where weird being taunt you on tracks such as "Crystal Ball, Crystal Skull" and "In Modern Colors" but no doot-doot-dah-doots. A band saw slicing up sheets of metal in a murky swamp only illuminated by are bare 40 watt light bulb and Red Mecca era Cabaret Voltaire on an Adderall sound of "Get High (Love Is The Drug)" and "Rube For You" maybe but nothing brightly colored. A simplistic and "vintage" drum machine getting it's dance beat mangled while re-imagining Chrome in 1976 San Francisco being clumsily dropped into 1981 Hermosa Beach so they can pick fights with Black Flag (though not at all sounding like them) on "Step Into A New Skin", "Blinded By The Arcade Lights" (which also has some creepy ass synthetic church bell loops threaded through it) and "Do The Slither Shimmer" but not really any sign of triangular haircuts. This is synth music for mopping blood off the floor and not dancing on one.

Aug 6, 2010

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Oh, the American IPA. Most craft breweries have their take on it nowadays but there are some that set the precedent or are the benchmarks. Vista, Ca. based brewery Green Flash is one of those. Unfortunately they are also one of those beers that doesn't distribute to Michigan so it's a rare treat whenever one comes my way in a beer trade or a gift. Many thanks go to Chris Owen, he of Killer's Kiss and the Hook Or Crook record label fame, for sending one my way. Now, as I sip on it (Yes, sipping and savoring because who knows when the next time one will come my way) let me share my notes about it with you.
Dark copper color and a light orange color tinged creamy head that melts a bit but still hangs tough and leaves a snowdrift effect like lacing all the way though the sipping. The label tells you that this is extravagantly hopped and if you didn't believe them the aromas that come out just from simply pouring it and letting it breathe in the glass for a few are enough to tell you they aren't lying. Big citrus scents, grapefruit along with some lime, stick out most but there are some underlying sweet caramel and bready malts that seem to set a foundation.
The flavor is one of those examples of what a stellar American IPA (be it west coast, east coast, Michigan or what ever other sub genres the style claim) is all about. Bright and bold floral hops packed with a grapefruit bite and a slight pineapple sweetness upfront that tingle and tantalize, a malt backbone taming a bit of the hop sting and nuances of almonds and fresh biscuits. The brew itself is of creamy medium body that's not too fizzy or too thick. It's finishes dry and though somewhat sticky doesn't hang for way too long like some other hop bombs of this caliber can.

Aug 4, 2010

The MOJOMATICS "Love Wild Fever" 7inch

While some previous records by these Italian mojodudes touched these ears as Brian Wilson adoration stripped down and geared towards a cramped and sweaty dive bar instead of an orchestra pit the two songs here toss Brian Wilson thing to the side and make that cramped dive bar even more sweaty with some hyped up howl.
Loud harmonica wails upfront loud and proud set a rowdy mood for side one's touching on a young Pretty Things RnB stomper meets a county fair shit kicker "Love Wild Fever". Flip it over for "A Heavy Dose Of Sympathy", which has nothing to do with Long Gone John's late and lamented record label, and the mouth harp is gone but in it's place is the sound of some total farmer tanned hayseeds setting fire to a garage and the rock-n-roll that goes on it.
It not known if these guys mojo is from the hand or kept in a bag but however they're shaking it here can get a party started.

Jul 26, 2010

GOREVETTE "Lustfully Yours" CDEP

"Damn generation gap. Do I really have to explain who Nikki Corvette is?" I think to myself. It seems that yes, I do. Of course I do have to realize that not everyone grew up in the days of having a subscription to CREEM magazine and got the Bomp! newsletter/mail order list in the mail (you know, actual mail delivered by a mailman) when they were in junior high but even some of the the decade or two younger than me rock-n-roll fans who can sing the lyrics to the Donnas "Gimme My Radio" (which Nikki gets name checked in) think she's a fictional character that just happened to rhyme with "cheeba cigarettes". Little do they know that she held a pivotal role in Nikki and the Corvettes by not only as a lady not only fronting a rock-n-roll band in the dawn of the 80's but writing her own songs as well paving the way for bands from the Go-Go's through the Donnas and beyond.
After taking a long while out of the spotlight Nikki returned to the rock-n-roll world in the early 00's after Bomp! reissued the long out of print Nikki and the Corvettes album to not only a devoted slew of original fans but a generation of new ears too. She eventually returned to her hometown of Detroit, became friends of Amy of the Gore Gore Girls and as a result formed the band Gorevette and released the EP that we have here.
While a couple songs here are reminiscent of the Nikki (and the) Corvette(s) of yore such as the bouncy & bubbly "Baby, Let's Rock" and the nod to the Shangri-La's (check out the talking part in the song to hear for yourself if you don't believe me) "Honey, Please Don't Go" others like the full of fuzz box guitar blare "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me" and big beat backend groover of the title track stay loyal to the good things that are rock-n-roll but souped them up to these days of the post jet age. Welcome home Nikki. It's great to have you back!

Jul 24, 2010

Short's Spruce Pilsner

Here's a situation I'm sure many a craft beer aficionado understands. You're at a party and someone spots you with something that isn't a Bud Light, Corona, PBR etc in your hand. The start to engage you in conversation by saying "Oh, drinking one of them weird beers I see." Now, since it is a party it's highly likely you aren't bringing some ultra limited double casked Imperial something or other but most likely something that can be found at any decent grocery store like a Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Bell's or what have you. No matter how you go about telling them that what you are drinking is fairly normal/not weird at all they'd rather not listen and then just tell you how they can get a 12 or 18 pack or whatever and "get hammered all night". In those cases all you can do is shrug and say "Oh cool" and slink away.
In the case of Short's Spruce Pilsner and in that situation though I would have to say "Yep, It's a pretty weird beer." Clear golden in color with a modest head that leaves some interesting looking lacing behind. Let it breathe for less than a minute and you'll seriously find yourself looking around to see who dragged a Christmas tree into the house. Well, I did at least. Beneath the northern Michigan pine forest on a breezy early spring day scent are some citrus hops peeking out.
My initial thought on the flavor was some high end gin with ginger nuances. The pine flavor is really stands out on the first sip and is there all the way from start to finish. And when I say pine I'm not talking the pine qualities a lot of hops have in IPA's or Double/Imperial pilsners. I'm talking "Yep, they aren't kidding when they say on the bottle that it's brewed with Michigan spring blue spruce tips." Nope, not extracts or oils from them but the actual tips of the trees.
Letting it breathe and warm up in the glass slightly the spruce pulls back a bit and the bright and tangy lemon/lime like hops come out a bit more. The finish packs the pine back in tasting somewhat minty in the end. You'll feel warmth all over your body as each sip goes down but not a burn that you might think with what was used to brew it not to mention it's 10% abv. Surprisingly, though the brew does have a lot of body and a semi-fat mouthfeel it's slightly (but only slightly) less oily feeling than I expected and very sticky none the less. Definitely a sipper here. I don't think I could ever sit down and have a 6 pack session with them because the flavor is way over the top but I do plan to pick up another six of these before they're gone and pop the cap on one when the mood for something quite interesting and way different hits me.

Jul 22, 2010

The Sugar Stems Thursday July 29th at the Roche Bar in Port Huron

The Sugar Stems feature Drew of the LegHounds/Jetty Boys fame, Betsy and Stephanie of the Flips and JonE from bands such as the Catholic Boys, Teenage Rejects, Tuff Bananas etc. Check out more about them at their Myspace page.

Sort of a last minute show announcement here but it'll be a good one. Many thanks to Johnny and Suzie of the Roche Bar for always providing a place where band's doing their own music can play in this otherwise podunk town called Port Huron.

Jul 19, 2010

MISSING MONUMENTS "Black Rainbow" 7inch

No matter what style of music King Louie Bankston decides to delve in be it southern fried rock with his Loose Diamonds, the full on garage trash like he did when he joined forces with Eric Oblivian and Jay Reatard (who passing they pay tribute to on the insert with a pic of the band dumping out beers in his honor) in the Bad Times, dirtbag power-pop in the Black Rose Band and a list that can go on and from his rural blues one band man to the Exploding Hearts to scum metal (and pretty much everything in between....except for maybe cool jazz and some techno thing-but who knows maybe he even has projects like those in the works or at least in his head too) it never sounds like genre hopping. Mainly because when Louie sets out to do something he does it in his own Louie way putting his stamp (and usually his stomp too) all over it.
For the Missing Monuments it's sounds like Louie and crew have time traveled Collegetown USA 1985 and got jobs at the record store where they argue the merits of the Feelies "Crazy Rhythms" vs. "The Good Earth" (Ya know-the downtown NYC oddballs vs. the rustic tin shed dwellers), scoff at people who buy Monkees records out of the 25cent bin (while being silently pissed they didn't find them first) and telling the Replacements new found jock audience how Tommy Ramone's production on "Tim" makes them sound more like the Jefferson Starship than America's next best Rock-n-Roll band (to which the jocks reply "Starship rocks" and then threaten to kick their punk new wave faggot asses if they ever see them at a kegger party).
Recorded on what sounds like a budget of $200 bucks (and half of it spent on whatever the popular regional cheap beer was) you get two ragged but right songs here full of frayed and cotton pilled flannel jangle and cigarette burned twang, copped from 1960's Top 40 soul hit basslines, hoarse & boozy choruses and wondering what would've happened if they went on to be produced by Nick Lowe or Mitch Easter.

Jul 17, 2010

Dark Horse Boffo Brown Ale

Yeah, yeah. I know. It was just a little over a week ago where we went off here about getting away from the heavier and darker ales because it's summer and now we are getting ready to discuss a brown ale. Well, It's an offering from Dark Horse, a Michigan brewery that makes some really solid beers but don't seem have as much of a high profile as some of the breweries in the state, and just showed up in my neck of the Mitten State woods this part week (after being around in other part of the state in bottles for a couple month now this release season. Chalk another one up to the slow on the draw distro's that controls this part of the state) so it just could not wait til cooler day.
Dark brown in color. Looks a bit cola really. Since it's a Dark Horse brew there's not much, if any, filtering of any sort going on so the floaties of grain hanging around the sides of the glass look sorta like soda bubbles. The was a tan in color and a modest half inch think that fade down fairly quickly. The scent borders on a cola too with the roasted malts taking on a caramel, coffee and molasses aromas.
First flavor to come out is that of sweet (but not overtly sugary) cream. The mouthfeel of the brew also has a light cream to it as well now that I'm mentioning it. Right behind it is caramel malts, brown sugar and a bit of nuttiness. The finish has something of a porter taste to it with a slight touch of bitters and baker's chocolate. There's some brown ales out there, to me at least, that have too much of a grit or dirt flavor going on. Boffo isn't like those. Nice level of complexities, very well rounded and quite flavorful. Definitely another good job from those malt, grain and hops outlaws over there in Marshall, Michigan

Jul 15, 2010

JJ and the REAL JERKS "The Future Is Now...(and it stinks)" 7inch

I guess if a discussion of what kind of jerks some people can be these guys have already put their bid in for what kind of jerks they are. Nope, not total jerks. Not big jerks. Not complete jerks nor absolute jerks either. Only REAL jerks will do.
Also, If you were to get into a discussion about what decade it is with J.J. and the Real Jerks about what decade it is they'd probably tell you that they wish it was the late end of the 70's. And where would they want to be living if it was that era? Well, though these (real) jerks reside in sunny California the two tracks here bear more of a Motor City High Energy & Hard Rawkin' vibe that Scandinavian's were all over 10 years back and NYC's more than completely seed trashcan chic of the Heartbreakers (Johnny's not Tom's) that may go out of favor but never out of style. Hell, there's even a saxophone blurting in-n-out of the concrete boogie din. If that ain't a staple instrument for the eastern side of the USA trad. punk-rock-n-roll style I don't know what is.

Jul 13, 2010

the PEOPLE'S TEMPLE "Make You Understand" 7inch EP

Damn, it's a sweatbox here room right now. Freakin' Michigan summer humidity. As they say though in these parts though "If you don't like it give it 15 minutes. It'll change." The thing is though is that if Michigan's weather was to be described as a mental condition it could be politely refereed to Bi-Polar or more bluntly as schizophrenic. For all I know by the time you are done reading this the weather might have gone from a heat index making it feel like 105°F and 89% humidity to a freaking ice storm knocking down trees and power lines courtesy of a north Great Lakes wind. Kinda like this 3rd 7inch offering in a year from Lansing, Mi based post teen combo the People's Temple.
Lead off track here, "Make You Understand", has the feeling of loud noise in a small basement room where the walls sweat and you can see steam rising off the cement foundation. Primal venting of desperation with a beat that knock you head against the ciderblocks and guitar noise covering the rest of your body with a corrosive sticky fuzz. It's as if these guys found a battered copy of the book the MC5 wrote. There's some pages missing from it though those pages are the one's about getting sometimes a little excessive with the long jammy groove parts. Those pages shouldn't be read by most bands anyway so it's all good. It's followed by "Machine", a way later in the evening thing where the temperature has dropped a good 20 degrees and you're walking heavy lidded down the street watching a fog rise up that is thick enough to make the street lights at the end of the block hardly noticeable. And dude, yes, you may be tripping hard but that isn't animated paisley on your buddy's shirt. They are really colorful maggots.
Side two's "Jim Jones" is where the weather takes a really strange shift. What could have turned out to be pastoral walk through a meadow turns into a chilling stroll. That's not some hippie singer like Donovan with flowers in his hand. He's holding a machete and it ain't to cut a new trail through the long grass for ya. Somewhere (in Hell or wherever religious cult leaders go when the die) the song's namesake is smiling after trading in his cop/Elvis/Blu-Blocker shades for a pair of John Cale wraparounds.

Jul 9, 2010

Great Divide Colette Farmhouse Ale

It can get a little tricky being a beer snob when the weather is as hot as it's been the past week or so. Big bold brews, no matter how amazing and perfect they can be, sometimes just don't hit the spot right when the mercury is hitting 95°F. It leaves the choices of readjusting the tastebuds and guts to something that's a "killer deal for a 30 pack of cans", usually has the word "Light" in it's handle and who's name is emblazoned on banners that say "Welcome Boaters" that are always hanging in front of tourist town town party stores or finding something good that fits the season.
After a few false starts for myself when it came to Saison and Farmhouse ales I've found that this summer, so far at least, they've been one of the things that has been doing the trick on sweltering days. This one by Denver Colorado's Great Diving Brewing especially has been.
With a cloudy yellow that resembles the summer sun right before it starts to set and a fluffy head that hangs on strong and leaves a serious lace all through the glass it's already made known in presentation alone that Collette is a girl that doesn't dilly-dally. Aromas of citrus zest, tall grass after a rain, white pepper and banana esters fill the nose-all of them fragrant, refined and working in harmony with not one of them overtaking the proceedings.
Citrus, particularly lemon zest and orange peel, and some sour apple head off the flavors. Bready yeasts and coriander take over the middle setting their own distinction from what is first tasted. A third level of complexity is brought into the finish where a couple of dashes of banana shakes hands with peppery spices. There is the slightest of alcohol warmness at the end but is hidden very well to the point where one might not realize they're sipping on something in the 7.5% abv range. The brew is very fizzy and effervescent all the way through the glass and though all of the above flavors do linger a bit on the sides of the mouth and the back of the throat after each sip they are light and air-not sticky. Isn't that just what yr looking for on a hot summer day?
Not only does Great Divide make some really incredible beers they also have some of the best looking and simplistic label designs going. All of their styles also feature a little character in the graphics to go along with the beer. For instance: Their Denver Pale Ale has a mountain goat, their Titan IPA a gladiator, their stout called Yeti has, what else, a yeti and so on. This one has the silhouette of a short dress (I'm guessing it's gingham) wearing farmer's daughter out in the field with a pitchfork and spiked heels on her feet. Where is that country girl at?

Jul 6, 2010

STICKS-n-STONES "Red Light" 7inch

Pauly and Jon.E (of Teenage Rejects, Catholic Boys and Tuff Bananas fame) and Natalie (The Tears, Tuff Bananas, The Flips) newest thing here. Now, usually when mentioning a band's previous projects like above, it's to give you the reader just a bit to grab your interest and keep reading on. That's part of the intention here too but on these two songs it's like they combined the sounds those band made and created yet another entirely new animal.
A dint of garage punk bash-n-burn gets wound a bit tight and could totally start throwing a spazz fit at any moment if it wasn't for the piece of pink lemonade bubblegum they are chewing on didn't keep them all in check. A-side's "Red Light" has the basic ingredients of bare lightbulb guitar glare and knock about backbeat topped with Saturday morning cartoon melody. Flip it over for "Time Change" and you might think it's a demo from the first Boys album with it's rough & shiny edges, doubled up vocals and an undeniable catchiness. As a matter of fact us here at Smashin' Transistors are throwing down a challenge. Daring ya to deny BOTH of these song are damn catchy.
Scrungy malcontents with greasy hair and mustard stained t-shirts are shoulder to shoulder next to the kids who have a keen and classic fashion sense that keeps them from being dubbed trendy save for the completely clueless. Does a fight break out? Nope! But dancing does.

Jun 25, 2010

TIMMY'S ORGANISM "I'm On A Hunt" 7inch

If you've just heard the whispers on the street and are wondering if they're true-YES! This is Timmy V.Lamp Vulgar doing something along the lines of something somewhat normal Rock-n-Roll. What you need to realize though is that "normal Rock-n-Roll" in the always churning and always oddly colored mind that is Mr. Timmy isn't necessarily what someone like Dick Clark or some dick on the FM rock station think when they hear such a description.
With the basic butt shaking boogie groove that has launched a billion songs about since Chuck Berry scored his first hit about girls at least a decade younger than himself over half almost three quarters a century ago being pummeled and battered to match the surrounds Tim walks through on a daily basis-"I'm On A Hunt" is on a scent that'll eventually soothe the savage beast. The beat takes on the job of a lumbering machine that creaks from years of rust but stand out of it's way while moving because it will take off any limb that it catches while Guitars lines randomly spill & splatter blood and battery acid in every direction and Timmy howls about a search fueled by desperation and lust.
Side two's "Don't Forget Your Pretty Stare" is a heartfelt ballad that Bowie wishes he would wrote after he was done tapping Iggy's well for ideas on The Idiot if only either of them had the hindsight as well as the weird look into the backwards future that Timmy possesses.

Jun 21, 2010

the PIZAZZ "Get Out Of My House" cassette

All bands out there who consider themselves "pure pop" should quiet down for a minute and take some notes from Detroit's Pizazz. They know that you don't need layers of pro-tooled trickery and piles of overdub frosting. Sure, all that stuff makes everything all glossy & sparkly and we all know how shiny objects can entertain the simplest of minds but if the basic ingredients aren't of high quality all the doo-dads and added fluff that mask what is lacking. There has to be solid SONGS or all that stuff is just a dog and pony show.
Recorded on what sounds an 80's Tascam cassette 4 track machine (tape hiss, guitars occasionally cracking up in treble regions, the bass gnawing the entire low-end for seconds at a time) by Bobby Harlow of the Go (who pulled off the same kind of almost perfect loud "pure pop" record a couple years back with Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride) the twelve songs here are not any audiophiles dream but they don't need to be. It isn't one of those "Let's be deliberately lo-fi and pinned deep past the red line" affairs. The recording do have that "Let's set up in the bedroom/basement/family room" quality to them but it sounds like they made the best of attempts to get the top quality out of situation regardless. The hooks are catchy, the harmonies soar and the songs are solid.
Commingling (mostly) the Nuggets boxsets (the Euro and more recent L.A. one than US and San Fran ones to get a little more specific) and the Beach Boys with Britpop and the Byrds-the Pizazz serve up the Move baroque pop moves song like "Benjamin Woodruff" and "Plan B", provide the soundtrack for summer daydreaming on tracks like "Ocean Liner", "Jenny Says" and "Dolphin Patrol", make up a batch of backyard psych on "Living Like Animals" and get all loud sounding like the prime moments from Ride's first couple EP's on "Heartaches and Heart Attacks."
I have a feeling I could end up wearing out this cassette pretty fast. Anyone put this stuff out on vinyl? If not-someone should.

Jun 20, 2010

Gorevette, The Pleasure Kills and The McFlys-Saturday July 24th at the Roche Bar in Port Huron

Gorevette: Featuring the legendary Nikki Corvette and Amy of the Gore Gore Girls

From sunny California The Pleasure Kills play New Wave/Power Pop. Good times and dancing will happen!

Also on the bill-the Blue Water Area's best at "1!2!3!4! Fun Punk" The McFlys.

Jun 14, 2010

Short's Black Licorice Lager

It's always interesting to see what up north Michigan brewery Short's has up it's sleeve. If being a black lager alone wasn't interesting enough on it's own (after all, it's not all that common of a style in the first place) the ingredients that have gone into it, which include Anise seed, Vanilla beans from Madagascar and chocolate mint leaves, are enough to make one think "Damn! What kinda crazy beer scientists are the up there" even more.
The color is an obvious black and when held to the light some dark red highlights can be seen. The pinky finger sized head had a coffee with double cream color to it that melted away fairly quickly but spotty lace continues all the way through the glass.
The smell is quite interesting. At first sniff it seemed all about the chocolate. Letting it breath for a little bit more time though different levels of aroma complexities came out. The chocolate still takes the lead but mellows out a bit giving room for the vanilla and mint properties to come out. Though the brew is over 8% abv the alcohol, in the scent at least, is hardly detectable.
Those multi levels of complexities really come out in the flavor. Dark Swiss chocolate flavors starts off in the sip. It then takes a quick turn to black licorice/anise with a hint of mint & herbs in the middle. It's got quite a bite up to this point but then takes another sharp turn where the vanilla softens up the finish. Just when you think that's it you get a warm feeling from the alcohol content that comes sneaking up.
The brew itself is not all that thick as one would expect. The mouth feel here is in the medium range with just the right amount of carbonation something like this should have which would make it fairly easy to slam back if someone is into that kinda thing but it's best to savor it in small sips to take in all the things the flavors have going on.