Dec 21, 2011

Wendesday Photo By Dale: Greasy Santa

      There's this greasy spoon restaurant that has been downtown since the 50's (as all greasy spoon grill joints should be). It's located between the two watering holes I usually frequent. Every Christmas season they put this plastic Santa up by the glasses and cups by the grill. It's been the same Santa that has been put up there since I was a little kid and would eat there with my grandma. In the day time he doesn't look so ragged and greasy but at night he really turns on the charm.

Dec 14, 2011

Atwater Lager

     Lager. Because of all the bastardized and bland rice/cornwater that brewing monoliths have pushed on the people for so many years now-trying to convince your usual beer geek to try one out is the same as trying to convince a serious foodie that a drive though restaurant chain that advertising every at least every 20 minutes on every TV and radio station is making a top of the line gourmet burger.
     It's totally understandable too. I wear my beer geek badge proudly and as a somewhat foodie too-every time I've tried some new meat sandwich a burger chain is trotting out to the buying public always has me saying "It's like a weak processed version of the one I had at (fill in blank of a locally owned place that makes a far stellar burger...and makes them with care and one at time). So, when a new lager is introduced, even it's by a little guy brewer, it may get overlooked or purchased as a novelty or gag gift.
      Personally, I have never been impressed with anything from Detroit's based Atwater Brewing Company before. Drinking a few at their brewpub is decent but anytime I've tried anything they've made out of a bottle something is serious awry be it the taste or some ridiculous carbonation where each and every bottle fizzed like mad and half the beer is wasted even before it is even tasted. The latter happened every time I gave an Atwater "another chance" over five or six times over a year so it just wasn't a one time occurrence.
     A few weeks ago though I was getting together some friends to see what kind of noise we could make together on our instruments in a basement. The three of us are beer snobs but being on a very tight budget personally and slamming & quaffing brews straight from it's vessel is always more conducive in jam session situations than pouring it into a glass and sipping. Besides, we're playing at loud volume, and though breaking glass is punk rock, it was figured there would be less clean up mess if any cans rattled off the top of the amps from vibration and crashed to the floor than glass. The store, which is one of the main places I go in town for both selection AND price, had some 12 packs of cans of Atwater's Lager on the shelf. I liked the way the designed looked in it's white, gold, black and red colors. Reminded me of the old Stroh's design (back when it was still brewed in Detroit) or one of the other "old guys" beers me and friends of mine would sneak out of our grandparent's garage fridges back when we were teenagers. It's price point was nice too as it was cheaper than Bud and what have you. Seemed like though even if wasn't the most awesome, ultimate choice it would at least serve the purpose and had to at least have some more flavor than Busch or some other cheap swag.
     It ended up being a hit. Enough so where we went and bought more of it because the first 12 went down really fast. I ended up hiding one can in my guitar case so I could take it home to pour on into a glass and give it a little more thorough of an investigation.
     Translucent and gold in color as always expected from any lager but a bit more shiny and bright in it's color than most macro's of the same sort. A strong two fingered snow white head holds on tight with a good bit of retention before it finally melts away leaving a faint bit of lace behind. Sweet malts come to forefront on the nose followed by a touch of fresh baked bread and a little bit of honey too. Not one touch of boiled corn or rice either like almost every other lager that some one hands me usually has. Nice.
      On the tongue and in the mouth the first thing that is noticed is a crisp, bubbly thing that is light and effervescent but not all thin and watery. A strong but not bulky caramel like backbone carries the weight for the tinges of lemon, pepper and grassy hop nuances to make their appearances giving the beer an overall pilsner thing to it. It finishes clean and refreshing leaving just a slight tang behind.
     Needless to say, it has slightly changed my opinion of, at least of a couple things, Atwater beers. A person could session on these all day. 
     The store I got them on has been put on notice to now keep these in stock regularly as now they are not the go-to beer for band practice but something I like to have on hand for those mood where I just want a beer while cooking dinner, sit down to do a bit of writing or when some friends come over and will just knock back whatever is on hand (as long as it's mine most of the time it seems).

Dec 8, 2011

the CHOCOLATE ROBOTS "Pizza Face" LP

     "Wiggly Indie-Rock that is quite astute to the craft of constructing a great pop song."
     It's not uncommon to see something of the same effect as above in the blogosphere describing a myriad of bands out there. They release a clever and catchy debut that ear worms many and has them anticipating future sounds by the band in question. Problem is though a lot of those bands put their eggs all in one basket or shoot their entire load the first time around to as where their follow up seem just a revisiting of everything that they've already done with no expansion or they change their idea/approach so much that they lose what charmed listeners in the first place.
     Sarnia, Ontario based trio of the brothers Giresi (Mike, Matt and Marcus), The Chocolate Robots, recently released their second full length, Pizza Face, and with it have cast any worried of the dreaded sophomore slump aside. Their first album, Purr Quality, seemed geared for both the head as well as the dancefloor (the mechanical rock of Brainiac, Girls Against Boys and Servotron rubbing up against those late period T. Rex albums and 60's bubblegum came to mind at moments). This new one aims an brightly colored arrow straight for the heart and lands a direct bullseye.
     Recorded in their basement on (mostly) analog equipment that was left over from their dad's days of recording Canadian-Italiano pop music in the 70's-Pizza Face, an homage/dedication to their straight gig of working at their family's pizzeria (and because, well, we all know how pizza and rock music go hand in hand not to mention the only pizza place I know who uses songs by Personal and the Pizzas for their on hold music), is like ordering like a pie with the supreme toppings. Where the results could be overwhelming in some other hands though all the little nuances from sweet to spicy and textures from crispy to gooey come out and enthuse the flavor receptors here.
     The warm, fuzzy and, thankfully. lacking too much pro-tooled post production tricks that turns a lot of like-minded projects into a piece of plastic coated mush recording cradles sleepy eyed but smiling singing, rubbery and twinkling guitars, door knock and disco beat drums, thick bass and more squiggly & elastic keyboard sounds that should sound very out of place but somehow work since the last time Devo made a really good record.  
     The heyday of AM radio sunshine sound and Brian Eno's pop star phase (Y'know Here Comes The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and so on) meld into the modern post whatever they call in now melodicism of bands such as the Pixies and the Strokes shine brightly not only on the should be an international sensation (which technically it is if you're take in the Port Huron and Sarnia are international neighbors) "Young Love" but also on songs such as the robots are playing slide whistle squiggliness of "Impossible Princess", "Line" with it's "I can't dance all that good but I sure try" feeling, the sugarbuzz pusher at the small town summer parade "Cotton Candy" and the long walk to think about stuff because it's a nice day mood of "Soul Shoes".
     A childlike whimsy runs though the record and like children they aren't afraid to get all noisy as the Creation frolic with Phil Spector's tape machine "Funny Feeling" and "Ratical Power" which sounds like Hawkwind if they were picked to do an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba prove.  
     Round out the album with a couple of citrus soda neo-psychedelia tracks like the Brian Wilson if he was asked to produce Roxy Music (they we go again with that Eno thing I guess) mood that is going on with "Dumb Angel" and you have a POP album your much cooler than thou pals won't scoff if they see it sitting out in the front of the record stack.
http://www.chocolaterobots.com/

Dec 7, 2011

Wednesday Photo by Dale: Bell's Brewery

Mmmmm. Beer. Here's a few shots from inside the Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.

     And there ya go. Some behind the scene's look of one of Michigan's most well known craft brewers. Beer! Beer! Glorious Beer! http://www.bellsbeer.com/

Dec 2, 2011

VACATION CLUB "Gettin' Man" 7inch EP

     Another High School year was coming to an end. I had plans of going to away for the summer as a Counselor In Training at a Y-Camp up north but plans fell through.
     I just wanted to get out of town. I had my lifeguard certificate but didn't want to work at any of the local beaches or pools because all the female lifeguards in town were all stuck up and seemed kinda dumb and the guy ones all looked like Ted  McGinley and fancied themselves as being David Lee Roth types (but without the charm or jokes).
     A girl that I fancied suggest I apply to this "vacation club" her family frequented a couple counties up the coastline.
     "They've got a pool, an in-land lake, tennis courts, horses and a place to live all summer. I know they need a lifeguard this summer. My dad's on the board of directors. Let me talk to him."
      Seemed like a deal to me. A week later there I was. Little did I know until the second day there that it's was some kind of Jesus Vacation Club. Not just any regular Jesus vacation either. It was one of those weird and creepy Baptist Jesus Vacation Clubs!      
     Glossolalia abounds (and this outside of it going on at the three church service we were expected to attend everyday) and guys in the bunk house trying to initiate circle jerks. 
     I decided I was no longer smitten with that girl and maybe working in my town for the summer wasn't such a bad idea so I snuck out the third night and started to hitchhike my way back down home. It was only around 100 miles. Took my just a day to get back home. My parents friends rang for weeks after with messages for me saying Jesus loves me.
     Whenever I hear any reference to a vacation club ever since it, needless to say, doesn't bring up the best of memories. My hands were sorta trembling when I put this platter on the turntable. I mean, what if it was those crazy Jesus and they found me after all these years and this was just some clever trap?
     "Gettin' Man" is a suburban teen jangle blowout/hillbilly footstomper with squeaky/nasally soul shouting vocals that lands the song somewhere between the Black Lips at their flowery punkest and/or the Strange Boys smoking weed and getting lost in a cornfield. The flip kicks it out with the hyperactive "Feeling Bad" oiled all up in blasty treble and blown out low end. It is followed by the drink in my hand/toes in the sand/lemonade spiked with something glass in my hand/Nothing to do but daydream all day long, man feeling of "Beach Flowers".

     I sure hope this isn't some creepy trap put together by those creepy Jesus vacation camp freaks of you're cuz if they keep doing records they may find me wanting to find out how well the once smitten with girl has aged.
http://vacationclubforboys.tumblr.com/

Nov 30, 2011

Wednesday Photo by Dale: Port Huron

     Here's the 3 photos I contributed to a calendar contest to raise money for a summer party the citizens of town love to throw in conjunction with the annual Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race, one of the longest fresh water yacht race courses in the world, each summer.

     This one is of the "Super Moon" that appeared in March of this year. It was around 10pm and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.

     This is pretty much taken from the exact same spot as the one of above. The difference is that this one was taken in July of this year. It was the morning of the annual yacht race. The party people had all gone to sleep and the racers were just starting to wake as the sun was just starting to make it's morning presence known.

     Another early morning shot. This one from August of this year. While the other two show Black River, which leads into to the St. Clair River, this is a few miles north of those two showing Lake Huron in a relaxing, quiet summer mood.

     All entrants were allowed to enter 3 pictures. There were a lot of great pictures and photographers in the contest. Of course only twelve pictures could win. The people voted and the first two pictures above two of the biggest vote-getters. I was the only photographer two land two pics in the contest. Pretty cool.

     The calendars are now out at local merchants around town as well being available to order online. More info on that at http://www.bluewaterfestival.com

Nov 27, 2011

CRUDDY "Negative World"

    As people get older their musical tastes, like most other things, tend to get set in their ways. I have one particular friend who is a prime example of that but perhaps not in the usual way.
      Y'see, with him, it seems that he is flipping out a little bit that he is not getting any younger. He's always listened to a wide variety of music but over the last couple years or so he's worried that if he gets caught listening to something that could be considered mellow or toe-tapping catchy he's gonna called out on it and sent to pasture.
     Whenever he stops by my house to hang out in my basement he wants me to play him the latest and most "punk" rock thing I've listened to lately. Usually, what I land on him is "way not punk rock enough" and then talks about the days of when we "listened to Black Flag and Crass and smashed stuff" (I listened to lots of Black Flag...Crass-not so much, and I only smashed stuff on a very rare occasion. He feels the need to romanticize it all though I guess. Maybe he was off smashing stuff and listening to Crass when he wasn't hanging out with the rest of us). There are those rare occasions with him now though that I'll put something on that makes him act a fool, knock over his drink (usually breaking the glass on the basement floor) and waking up my wife and kids who are two flights up by turning the stereo up as loud as it will go when I turn my head for a second.
     Big on Black Flag disgust for almost everything, Germs glorious ineptitude and Urinals minimalistic jitter skronk this Texas trio's slab of two minute or less rusty steak knife stabs sound as if they're about to fly off the rails but at the last minute grabs on tight and scream bloody murder. Strangulated vocals that sounds like it eats pieces of roll insulation for breakfast, guitars that buzz like a hornets nest at times, slither like agitated snakes at others and drums that play straight on and simple bash & thrash beat. It's all right up and in your face and doesn't give itself or you a chance to ever catch your breath. Along with their own blasts of rage they give the Suicide Commandos "Burn It Down" a well deserved roughing up too.
     This IS HARDCORE! Y'know, like the old "I'm a reject and I don't need your stupid world" hardcore before all the meathead jocks and palm muting metal dudes starting coming around and stinking up everything.
     Since the first time I listened to this album a couple weeks back I have thought about calling him up, inviting him over and watch him loose his mind. First though I think I should probably move everything breakable out of the room (and out of his sight) because I believe it will make really want to smash some stuff. I mean, I don't want to deny the guy going through his 2nd childhood or anything but I'd rather have him smash his own stuff and, besides, I'm the one that is going to end up having to sweep broken glass of the floor when he send his drink tumbling to the floor anyway.
     He wanted punk rock. This punk rock is going to kick him in the face. If it doesn't-I'm gonna call his "I just want to be punk rock again" thing just bullshit talk.
http://www.12xu.net/

Nov 26, 2011

FUNGI GIRLS "Some Easy Magic" LP

     In nature, fungi is used as a reference to mosses, molds and mushrooms. They thrive off moisture and a lot of times develop in darker hours of the day.
     Describing the overall sound of this album by this Texas combo description phrases like music for dusk and words earthy, grassy and wet come to mind so their chosen band name seems apropo.
     Wrapped in reverb, bathed in full moonlight and swaddled in a misty early morning haze the Fungi Girls, who aren't even of age to drive a car without a parent or legal guardian in the vehicle in most states, sound like old souls with young hearts that have the brightest color of red table wine pumping through their veins.
     Sad eyed shoegazing gets battered and washed ashore by fractured surf music ripples on songs like "Honey Face". "Hevrole" and "All Night Blues".
     Worshipping of clever and cannabis enhanced 80's "college rock" bands like the Feelies and Rain Parade is given the once over twice before rinsed in algae clouded water, put through the ringer and set out to dry in the sunshine on the album's basement-psych title track, "Doldrums" jangle boogie and the pretty flowers growing in the middle of landfill feeling of "Lucie".
     "Velvet Days" pricks the ears like the Cramps living in a snow capped mountain village instead of dwelling in that neighborhood of Hell where all the best jukeboxes and cocktail lounges are and sunshine pop shines on a swamp on the album's closer "Little Miss Flora".
      Music for both early morning wake up motivation and late evening cemetery walking.
http://losfungigirls.blogspot.com/

Nov 25, 2011

My first attempt at stop action animation

     One of my regular gigs is being a jack of all trades at the local college station 91.3fm WSGR in Port Huron. My title is program director but this is a small town so such a position means much more than making a schedule and being responsible for the overall sound of the station but heading the music department, searching for underwriters, making sure everybody at the station is keeping everything legal, doing publicity stunts and so on.
     On Monday of this week I was given a "what if" scenario. It was "what if there was a local TV station that we could advertise on" and given a 72 hour deadline to come up with some basic ideas and do a rough visual draft of what the ad may look like and post it on Youtube. I've wanted to do some sort of stop action animation for awhile so figured this assignment would be as good as a project as any to give it a first time try. This is what I came up with.



     To say it's was done and the most minimal of budgets is not just bragging and claiming "Lo-Fi". The pictures were shot on a 4 year old Nikon Coolpix L15 point-n-shoot as I did not have one of my better cameras with me at that particular moment (I keep that camera in my car for just in case situations such as this). I thought there was some kind of movie maker program in my computer at home but when I went to look realized I had none. I ended up downloading some minimal basic free one from the internet. The audio was recorded on a Sansa Fuze MP3 player, edited and sweetened a touch in Audacity then synced as best as I could with in such a short time with the video.
     All-n-all. It was fun to do and I want to make some more. Now that I've had a first go at it future ones can only get better, right?
https://www.facebook.com/WSGR91.3fm

Nov 23, 2011

Wednesday Photo by Dale: M.O.T.O at the Roche



      I'm pretty sure to most readers of this Smashin' Transistors thing that M.O.T.O. aka Mr. Paul Caporino needs no introduction. If he does though I believe his Wikipedia page will fill in all the blanks. It's rare that this sleepy city has a bona fide genius of a pop song writer (who's songs never get played on "pop" radio or covered by so called "pop stars") but in June of this year we had one when Paul and his drummer rocked the Roche Bar. He treated the crowd to over two hours of his classics, dropped a bunch of one liners are flirted with all the girls in the crowd. He would've played even more but the last call lights got switched on. Everyone went home with smiles on their faces and a sway in their hips.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/MOTO/108047032562126

Nov 22, 2011

CRISIS HOTLINES "(Don't Wanna Go To) No Jail" 7inch EP

     Austin, Texas has given the world some pretty bad ass music through the years. When a group of those bad ass music makers form a gang things get even more bad ass.
     Crisis Hotlines are a prime example of that.
     With members of Love Collector and the Horribly Wrong (who weren't an Austin band but a member or two ended up down there and formed totally rockin' Lost Controls) this band sure does know how to whip up a racket.
     The dumb fun and sick kicks of KBD punk and leaning heavily against the walls that bands like the Dicks and the Ramones kicked holes in-this grimy wax sliver takes punk rock back to a place that should be remembered by the kids today but instead is passed over the eyeliner and bottled water endorsements the offer up for playing the Warped tour.
      Four tracks of quick, to the point, REAL punk rock with oafish, pissed off singing, lots of razor blade guitar sounds but no time for frills like solos and middle eights. Listen to this and be prepared to get kicked out of all the popular kids parties.
http://crisishotlines.bandcamp.com/album/dont-wanna-go-to-no-jail 

Nov 16, 2011

Wednesday Photo By Dale: The Overnight Lows

Though I am no pro I've been taking pictures for a lot of years now. A lot of them have been lost due to many moves I made over the years, some have been given to friends and family, others tossed away and a whole bunch sitting in boxes where one day I will eventually go through them.
     Some are of the bands and other thing things that have I've traveled to see, others of bands that have traveled through this little hamlet to rock out and some are of things in this little hamlet itself. The last couple of years I've been sharing some of the ones I took of a more recent vintage with my Facebook pals. Family and friends (both of the real and cyberspace world) have suggested that I should let a more general audience have a peek at some of them and not just the pictures of beer of have shot.
     Finally, I have decided "Hmmmm. you know what? They are right" so each Wednesday from now to who knows when I will share SOME of them with the Smashin' Transistors readers (too see all of them you'll have to make it through the maze that is finding them on my personal Facebook page. I wish you luck with that. I suppose if you find me there and make a friend's request I may oblige.)

     The first installment series is of Jackson, Mississippi band the Overnight Lows. In 2010 they released the very rockin' album "The City Of Rotten Eyes" and in early 2011 embarked on a US tour. They needed help filling a night up here Michigan way and I gladly obliged them with an evening at the Roche Bar here in Port Huron. Here's some moments my camera caught (click the pics to see them larger).









    

One thing a bunch of us take seriously in this town is our homestate pride for the beer that is made here. Marsh and Daphne Overnight Lows were interested in trying some. Here the two make a toast with some Shorts brewing company stuff. Daphne has the Soft Parade and I believe Marsh is having a Pandemonium if my memory serves correctly.

More info the Overnight Lows can be found at Goner Records and the band's Facebook page.

Nov 15, 2011

BLASTED CANYONS s/t LP

     Surrounded by black mold encrusted strangeness, jagged garage punk YEEEOWWW and a penchant for thunder in a tin shed drum rat-ta-tat-tat-n-boom-this album conjures up the feeling of the simple thrills of watching something burn and the fear of possible repercussion of what my happen for disturbing a grave.
     On tunes like the guitar splattered, shout along twists of "Blood On The Wall", the Casio keyboard adorned "Fries Yr Eyes" Psychedelic Horseshit digging on spaceman bubblegum vibe, the minute-n-change drunk on cheap wine/buzzed on cranked wide open gain knob Chrome clatter of "Lasers VS. Lizards" and the rattling locomotive pace of "I Know A Dude" it's as if they're an art punk band with all the filler banished making an album for Rip Off Records.
     Though the glorifying of overloaded/red lined sound of magnetic tape pushed to it's limits is de rigueur here the punk rock blast shoots into some sinister space-trip more with "Death and A Half" resembling Syd's Pink Floyd riding meteors of fiery grime and using rocket fuel fumes as oxygen and the twisted B-Movie of alien witch cults and the blood thirsty voodoo hippies who die in the process scree of "Ice Cream Man".  
     Rounding out the album are three brain rattlers (save for the outro piece) the Spaceman 3 discovers grindcore epic "The Artist Formally", another trip into space but this time to play a dance party of "Pentagon Gone" and "Consider Drowning" road music for driving through another urban wasteland. 
     Cranked to the max, sick lo-fi bliss!
http://www.myspace.com/blastedcanyons

Nov 7, 2011

Dogfish Head Burton Baton 2011

     There are some rare "occasionals" the breweries whip that make me say "Woo!" Then there are SOME that make me say "WOO! HOO!" and punctuate with the feeling of total beer geek bliss and flavor nirvana with a "HOT DAMN! YES!"
     Dogfish Head's Burton Baton is one that always goes into the latter camp.
     The first impression of any beer is how it looks and the hazy, slightly burnt orange color of this, topped with a one finger sized fizzy, cream colored head that melts away at a moderate pace to a constant cap that sticks by all the way through. It's pretty much announcing that there's gonna be a good number of complexities to take in through the sipping so get yourself ready now.
     Aromas of orange peel, vanilla, caramel all wrapped by a woodsy oak cask project itself boldly out of the glass. There's a dint of alcohol in the smell too but not overwhelming considering the brew's 10% abv potency. DAMN! It's been well over a year since I've last tasted one of these (and this only the 2nd beer I have revisited ever in this blog so far) so enough of these pleasantries and let's get down to some sipping.
     The sweet/buttery/malty meets the citrus pucker power of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA is here in spades on the initial sip. It's followed by a bit of honey then a bit of woodsy, whiskey nuances in the middle. The finish starts with a bit of an orange tartness but is mellowed out again with something that I can only describe as a smokey vanilla thing. At the very tail end of it all the more top end of the alcohol spectrum comes out but still subtle enough to not realize how potent this brew is.
     A very, very limited amount of these hit this area (word was two cases for the entire county) and the beer merchant I picked them up at had their allowance of them reserved for those of us who have professed our love to them. I have two bottles left out of my 4 pack. I'm gonna hide those down in my beer cellar for at least a few months and see what happens.
http://www.dogfish.com/

Nov 5, 2011

MONDO RAY "Hynotized" 7inch

     To call this Munich, Germany band "Euro garage with a flair for the power pop thing" would be simple enough to do and then call it a day but it would be selling what is going on in the two songs of this little slab of plastic a bit too short.
     First off, the description of "Euro-garage" is, usually, at most, a backhanded compliment and most times a nice way of saying "Their hearts are in the right place but they just don't have IT enough to be convincing."
     Secondly, "the power pop thing, leaves it open as to what kind of power pop. After all, some of the music coined that sounds like its running on a couple of triple A batteries while others actually have some get up and go to them.
      Mondo Ray sound convincingly revved up. "Hypnotized" could almost be passed off a unreleased track from the Saints Eternally Yours for it's amped up dirty white boy take on soul power rock (minus the horns though but twice the noise as the guitars and distorted organ sounds lock gang up tightly with the rhythm section and throw down a pummel that last throughout the song).
     The B-side's "Nothing" plays it a bit more straitlaced and cleaner, hence where the blessed or dreaded, depending on which side of the fence you are, power pop badge comes in to play, but the band inject an enthusiasm into it that sounds honest and direct. The fat bass tones and spikey blasts of twanged out guitar all over the song show that these guys aren't afraid to walk on on stage with wrinkles in their shirts.
http://www.windianrecords.com/  

Nov 2, 2011

DIRTY BEACHES "Badlands" LP

     "Dark! Seductive! Disturbing!"
     It could be printed in bold across a old exploitation poster from the 50's. It could also be used to describe the overall mood that this record puts across.
     A very mysterious film noir type of air hangs over the entire proceedings from the use of darkness, shadow and smoke that appear in the cover shot of the band's mastermind, Alex Zhang Hungtai, to the use of the same and the making the best of a B-movie budget and equipment that goes with it of the music within.
     On tracks such as the ballads like the treated and looped piano laded "God Only Knows", which on a recent radio show of mine I declared "the darkest make out song in quite awhile" (when hearing it one might wonder if it's written for an imaginary David Lynch movie where it plays during a seduction scene and then again while someone lies bleeding and dying) and the 50's weeper (down to the falsettos) gone goth "True Blue", it's as if Leonard Cohen gave up wine for tall glasses of codeine cough syrup then sent Martin Rev a telegram stating that he had some demons he needs to free.
      The Suicide references (the band not the act-though there is a very dark and depressive place nature looming like an entire year of dark clouds all over the album) don't just stop there as it even exists on the more "upbeat" songs.
     The echoey metallic clang of "Speedway King" is like the story of Frankie Teardrop if he was a hot rod racer if he had had a preference for the OVH 390 cu in Cadillac engine and the plot line of the story was left a bit more open ended.  That same clang makes a lot of showings in "A Hundred Highway", which sounds like something between a gravedigger humming Little Peggy March's "I Will Follow Him"on a rainy night at work and a track that didn't make it to the Godz (the New York freak band of the 60's-not the Ohio hard rock band of the 70's) 2nd album for being just too minimal.
     "Horses" has a beat that sounds like it was created by the undead soul of the world's gloomiest rockabilly drummer collaborating with Lux Interior and John Cale for the title track of an unreleased Russ Meyers horror flick and if there's such a thing as surfer goths they prowl the coldest and lonely spots for tasty waves and confused girls in their hearse converted into a woody while listening to "Sweet 17".
     Round it out with two atmospheric "noise" tracks and watch pyschobilly dudes leave the room pissed, make them admit that they do that they still have their Nitzer Ebb and Nine Inch Nails cassettes (and listen to them when no one is looking) or realize that most of that psychobilly stuff they listen to isn't really psycho at all and is in reality just cartoon cock rock.
http://dirtybeaches.bandcamp.com/ 

Oct 25, 2011

JACK OBLIVIAN "Rat City" LP

     Each time Jackie O'Yarber releases a record it's like hanging out in a used record store that doubles as a greasy spoon eatery. So not only selling music they serve up cooked in beef tallow french fries, the juiciest burgers for miles around and when you ask for a Coca-Cola they don't tell you "We carry Pepsi products". Instead inform that you've got the choice of RC Cola or a Boilermaker.
     Unlike a lot of record stores too that have their selection somewhat divided up into genres-Jack's used record emporium and grill sometimes don't even bother having them filed in alphabetical order. Forgotten Memphis soul sides of the 60's find themselves leaning next international cheeky pop hits of the 70's, million sellers classic rock standards sandwiched between basement rock and garage punk bands that pressed 300 copies of their only record before fading into obscurity and all but forgotten save for a few collectors of such things and pure country & western slabs find themselves neighboring with synth laden/funny hair driven new wave 12 inches.
     This has resulted in Memphis Jack Oblivian living by the adage of what Pablo Picasso (or was it someone like David Lee Roth) said that "Good artists borrow, great artists steal" and his latest album, Rat City, is no different. Jack processes all of the sounds that has passed through his brain through the years, be it a lick here, a lyric there, and assimilates them into his own brand of musical barbecue sauce. Listening to it can raise some interesting and mostly likely ridiculous conversation amongst collectors of arcane and fans of music that's not so popular with regular everyday people these days.
     For instance would the ghosts of Lightnin' Hopkins and Hound Dog Taylor give Jack the keys to a phantom Cadillac for keeping their boogie alive on the record's full of fuzz title track and the cracked ribs barroom dance beat bottom'd "Old Folks Boogie" or would the pissed and pull out a gun for him not giving them co-writing credit as well doing adding a bit of punk rock mess to the proceedings? A similar question could be raised with the Stax foundation that it sounds "Caboose Jump", a tune about it beinga long time but, baby, she's still looking fine, that would instantly fill dance floors in a more perfect world, is built upon.
    Is the opening line "Yeah, What are you gonna now' of the Jonathan Richman if he wasn't afraid to fight country rock charmer "Girl With The Bruises" inspired after hearing Clash's "Clampdown"? And what happens if you take another country rock charmer, grafted it with some of the vibes that Stiv Bators Disconnected was going for could you get much better results than "Dark Eyes"? I'm thinking mostly likely not. Consult your own Magic 8-Ball if you feel the need though.
     Does Jack hide his copy of the Talking Heads Remain In Light album when company is over because he doesn't want to get cracked on for liking that goofy new york art disco but now is letting the secret out for the goofy new york art disco gets soaked overnight in butter and black pepper with "Crime of Love".
     If Tom Petty heard "Girl On The Beach" and "Jealous Heart" (which opening line has gotta be a subtle nod to Alex Chilton with it's "I'm free to do what I want" and where the songs protagonist goes from working in a gas station in the bad part of town to getting a gig as a late night radio disk jockey. Talk about total American rock! You can't get it much more than that) would he think "I remember when I wrote songs like this. And people still like him" then call Jeff Lynne to curse him for all those plastic coated production jobs he's been doing forever?
    Is it a good thing that Jack doesn't have some disgruntled ex-manager that would try to take him to court over the reasoning that "Mass Confusion" sounds like the dirty funky blues that he's been doing since the Oblivians (but with an, ahem, "more studio rock session guys" rhythm section.)
     With all that said not only are Jack's records a fun time listen but can be a fun game of playing Spot The Difference. Party record of the year!
http://biglegalmessrecords.com

Oct 13, 2011

Spend a Sunday evening at SEX CHURCH

     With a band name like Sex Church some people might be expecting some blatant nudie girl worship thing going on. You know, something silly with a logo that has a wanna porn chick dressed up as a hot zombie nun straddling a cross and a sound band members themselves would consider "Industrial Dance Metal with a White Trash-A-Billy twist" and would tell you so with a straight face.
     Instead of sounding like they have daily dalliances with undead disco dollies though the music of Sex Church is wrought with desperation, depression and daydreams of a handful of downers. The guitars sometimes blare with a wet BLLAAANNGGG of the Cramps living in the dingiest of of windowless basements, at others work up a choir of drone up to the dark skies like Spacemen 3 on a thunderstorming weekend and occasionally howl a Stooges grind. Above it a voice, disconnected and discontented, brays soliloquies of not the best of times. This clamor of celebration of what is electricity electricity is solidified by thudding bass notes & boom-boom drums locked into a throb-n-nod rhythm that nods to the ticking of the motorik heartbeat as well as wiped out surf swinging.
     Featuring Wisconsin expat NickG (Catholic Boys and Strong Come Ons) and Levon (of Ladies Night and some other ridiculousness I can't recall at the moment) Vancouver B.C.'s Sex Church have previously released records on the Hozac and Sweet Rot labels. Their new full length LP, Growing Over, came out on the venerable LOAD records in the past couple of weeks and the band is taking their death trip on the road. They'll be holding an special early Sunday evening sermon/eardrum sacrifice here in Port Huron on October 23rd at the SchwonkSoundStead. Paint may peel, minds may blow, punk rockers may break into hippie dancing.
http://soundcloud.com/sexchurch

Oct 1, 2011

HEAD ON ELECTRIC "Ghost Hunter" 7inch

     Once upon a time it was considered a compliment to say a band sounded like they were influenced by Nirvana. That was many years ago before douchebags like Creed and Nickelback took the basic sound, wiped out all the subtleties, dynamics and nuances out of it, launching a still non-stop parade of other douchebags unimaginatively following in their steps, flooding the ears with a soundtrack appropriate for shopping for a new black t-shirt at Walmart (You know-for "church & shit"), being lame and, when turning it up loud so the neighbors can hear, showing the rest of the world that the average music "fan" not only minds the taste of baloney that has sat on the kitchen counter for three days-they savor it.
    Milwaukee's Head On Electric takes us back to the days when being compared to Nirvana meant something good.
     Full of tension building soft to loud dynamics held together by thick hooks that bring to mind some of the thick and terse moments of In Utero (Nirvana's best album in this writers opinion) and the bad dream daze haunting's of Sonic Youth's EVOL. Much, much more tasty than the wading in a river of mud and Corona Light effect pedal setting that a lot of radio rock bands who THINK they are touching on the same sounds have.
    It's not just the approach they take with the guitar sounds and so on that make them sound like they could've come out of the golden period of "Alternative Rock" in the "years before punk broke". With bands who dream of being heard on the local modern rock station sandwiched between something off Metallica's "Black" album and Theory Of A Deadman-the vocals tend to sound like Emo Phillips with constipation. Head On Electric's are that of a disjointed, moody croon wrapped loosely in a blanket floating in & out around the music instead of a whiny grunt autotuned to high hell and right in your face.
     I suppose it's not really fair to even make such comparisons between what Head On Electric and what some bozo's with a PRS Guitar and Line 6 endorsment deals are doing but all it takes is that ONE SONG to get a band from lugging/plugging it in and out in local dive bars to headlining rock festivals all over the world. This one sided 7inch only hosts one song (they make up for it with some pretty fancy handmade packaging though. There's also a trippy video that goes along with the tune) but it's the first time in a long time where I've said "They remind me of Nirvana" about a band and wasn't ripping on them.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Head-On-Electric/182335031791838     

Sep 9, 2011

WOMEN IN PRISON "Strange Waves" 7inch EP

     I was at the mall earlier today. It was not by choice but I needed something and in this two cow city where the downtown shopping district is pretty much knick knack & trinket shops, a handful of eateries/drinkeries and empty storefronts I had no other choice.
     As we all know the mall is a good place to people to watch. It's also a good place to find something to vent about.
     "YOU KIDS NOT PUNK ROCK AT ALL! YOU ARE ALL BOUGHT AND SOLD! YOU ARE ALL BRING LIED TO! THE PERSON THAT SOLD YOU THAT DEAD KENNEDYS T-SHIRT AT HOT TOPIC DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU! HELL, THE DEAD KENNEDYS DON'T EVEN GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU! THEY JUST WANT THE MONEY YOUR PARENTS ARE LETTING YOU SPEND!" and so on goes through my mind on a regular basis on the rare times I set foot in the place seeing all "the kids" walking around like zombies with their tattoos (how rebellious and individualistic are they anymore when insurance salesmen sport full sleeves of ink and grandma's have tramp stamps? You aren't bikers, rock stars or longshoremen. You live in a Pulte built home on a cul-de-sac.), piercings that make the dude from Skid Row's lip to nose chain thing look less like a jackass and filling their faces with Taco Bell (which apparently is more "punk rock" than Hot Dog On A Stick, the Flaming Wok or Burger King judging judging by the fat asses wearing Anarchy t-shirts standing in line, asking for extra sour cream and the largest cup for Mountain Dew Baja Blast available "and we get free refills, right?" Free refills are punk! Long live anarchy!).
     Listening to this Women In Prison single I like to believe that whenever band members have to go to the mall though they are armed with butcher knives and flamethrowers with the intention of doing much more than just thinking vitriol and venting to themselves. And, yeah, they do sport tattoos (a lot of them as a matter of fact) but they're bona fide dirtbags not just weekend rebels.
     The sound is that of jackhammer to a cesspool this Austin based band take the template of things like '81 era Black Flag and splatter it like brains all over the windshield in a car crash with the falling into a vat of battery acid search and destroy punk rock of Chicago's Functional Blackouts. The latter makes sense though as Women In Prison are fronted one time FB's snarly throatman Brian Nervous (now operating under the name of John Bondage). All three tracks here pummel the ears to a pulp with chainsaw violence punk rock that are glazed with echo that doesn't sound like it's some studio trickery as it does like it was recorded in a cave filled with bat shit and coyote carcasses.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/WOMEN-IN-PRISON/34957120381

Sep 3, 2011

Creemore Springs Premium Lager

    Located about just a little bit south from Georgian Bay (the Lake Huron region, not the city itself-that's about an hour and half to the northeast) in quaint little town Creemore, Ontario sits the Creemore Spring brewery which, according to what info I could glean from the internet, is the largest employer in that particular area.
     It's color is nice amber shade accented with a right amount of carbonation to give a bit of a sparkle when drinking it out of glass in the afternoon sun. It's not too big but not too small head is a bit on the tan side filled with bubbles that when it fades leaves a light lace around. Looks good and that's always a good start. The aroma is strong but does have a nice bouquet of caramel, a bit of nuttiness and some citrus and grassy notes to top it off.
     Tastewise it's pretty interesting. It starts off with a bit of a creamy sweetness from the malts, followed by a little bit of hop and then finishes clean. It's light and refreshing but also full bodied and well rounded all the way through.
     I shared a couple of the cans (I was only able to score a sixer from a Canadian friend and fellow beer and music geek who brought them over for me to check out) with my wife and a friend of of ours while sitting out and enjoying the sun on an 85° afternoon this past August. All three of us almost at the same time "It's too bad this isn't available in Michigan because I could easier see this being something I would want to drink all through the summer." Summer is fleeting though but I think even through the autumn months (and probably even into the winter) these would still hit the spot.
http://www.creemoresprings.com/

Aug 25, 2011

the MIDWEST BEAT "Gone Not Lost" LP and "Back To Mono" 7inch EP

     What exactly is the beat of the Midwest?
     Is it the sound of flannel shirts sitting around a bonfire sipping on cans of beer that may not be exactly cold?
     Is it about trying to find the happy medium between being blasted with two to ten foot snowfalls in sub arctic temperature winters and scorching, humid, sweat drenched summers?
      Is it the sound of rust belt wonders revving up outside the corner store mixed in with sound of freighters chugging across the Great Lakes and their can be heard for miles horns?
     Is it the sound one hears while humming to their self at their favorite fishing hole or the songs going through their head being accompanied by the clang of factory noise of the third shift one has to do to make ends meat in these tough times?
     Is it the sound of sound of the country music that rural elders and first cousins listen too which is then filtered through growing up on parents and grandparents favorite songs on the oldies station and "weird" records friends and family acquired during their college years which they then brought home to have them neglected until one decided to look for some kind of new inspiration and give them a spin?
     Is it a sound that could be of naivety of what the world is trying to tell you what is cool and hip but a determination of what it's in the heart and mind musically is more important than some new flavor that'll be discarded in a year or so?
     Who knows for sure but the band the Midwest Beat sound as if they've got a bit of everything from the above rolled up into one nice package.
      Budget beer basement bash find it's way to a Wall Of Sound where harmonies soar like unwashed angels over a musical bed of what sounds like a perfect summer day. The album kicks off with the hyper jangle and squeaky wail of "Ain't It Strange" and then swerves around in plenty of different places. Stoned country rock lounging around listening to the Ohio Express looms large on tracks like "Too Late To Care" and "All Night Long", while others, such as "When She Came To Town" suggest the Walker Brothers raised on hot dogs and Hamm's beer taking a 3 day weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula. They also don't shy away from doing a campfire sing-a-long with the likes of Miss Besty from the Sugar Stems ("Crawling Back"), fiddling with a 50's rock ballad structure ("Firefly") and just wanting to make people dance ("Spent Love" and "Sister Mary Katherine").
     The "Back To Mono" single is exactly that. Tight and concise pieces of guitar pop bliss recorded (side one by Kyle of the Motorz, the flip taped by the band themselves) without any extra adornments or an overindulgence of flourishes. All four tracks on it are just as good as anything they've released in the past, but even if they weren't, the single would be worth the price of admission for their peaches and cream take on the Hussy's rough and tumble "Sexi Lady".
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Midwest-Beat/15907127759

Aug 24, 2011

DAY CREEPER "Problem At Hand" 7inch EP

     At first impression here, if Columbus, Ohio based Day Creeper wanted to, they could be sporting girls pants, Rod Stewart haircuts and killing it in front of power-pop festival audiences all over the world. Loud, catchy and kinda toe tapping kinda stuff is what the first think the ear tells the brain it's hearing.It's the following though where both the ear and brain notice something a little more than standard songs about cars and girls structures going on. It sounds like if the band would ever want to play for throngs of popsters, who are waiting for all the original members of the Spongetones or whoever to take the stage, it would be to confuse or frustrate them.
     The reason why is because instead of spending weeks practicing harmonies that would make the Beatles blush from such idolizing or taking a guitar solo the way Rick Neilsen does this is much more plug in, see what happens and go for broke here. What results is something much more rag-tag, comfortable and broken in on the four songs here than studied and starched.
     The sound is that of the Midwest where 70's punk rock buzzsaw downstrokes the same rust belt environs of 60's teenage jangle and where handclaps and snotty singing are commonplace. Think if during the recording of their album Hootenanny the Replacements spent time wanting to be a machine bent of perpetual motion instead of wanting to sounding like poetic wino's with their hearts wrapped in flannel or bands like the Yolks and Home Blitz laying sloppy kisses all over the Gizmos and you're in the same bar that has Black Label for a dollar a can that Day Creeper call a home away from home. 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Day-Creeper/119929404710560

Aug 8, 2011

CONSPIRACY OF OWLS s/t LP

     At a first and somewhat casual listen I was thinking about counting how many records over the past couple years have been declared Pet Sounds for the modern age. After running out of fingers but before taking off my shoes to keep the tabulation straight I put the album on again. It made me realize that if I was going to start the review off on some kind of "You're not Brian Wilson" rant I would be off base and would look the fool (not that it would be the first time that's happened...but still). All Beach Boys references that can be made about this album would be from some of the things they made after that always touted holy grail of pop music. Y'know, like 20/20 and Sunflower. Even some people that consider themselves "big Beach Boys fans" those are albums that don't really ever come up much in conversation. It was a period when Brian Wilson's influence and musical vision on the band had become diminished due to his brain teetering on the edge of a cliff which left the others scrambling to keep something somewhat cohesive in the sound they had established with their fans. The problem with that though was pop music at the time was growing by leaps and bounds. The band did their best to stay loyal to their original sound while also attempting to keep up to minute. That's not to say those records didn't have their good moments but there were also a lot of things that just fell flat or were trying to hard.
     Taking a wild stab in the dark it sounds as if members of Detroit's Conspiracy Of Owls (which includes cats who've done time in the Go, Rocket 455 and Human Eye just to rattle off a small bit of their lineage) must all own copies of both albums (and at least a couple of them having copies of Wild Honey and Friends in their record collection) and have had them on their turntables on a regular basis.
     Making these comparisons aren't just because the Conspiracy Of Owls, dressed in cut off shorts, tank tops or unbuttoned shirts, hair that looks it needs to be washed with beards to match look like that era of the Beach Boys either. Two songs out of more than a few on the record that particularly show more than a nod to that wilderness period of the Wilson family and friends here are"Tower Of Diamonds" and "The New Me". The former, a song about the days of yore, except in this case not being about malt shops it's about things like when K-Mart was the main discount retail chain and they had a Frozen Coke machine always close to the front door, Sir Graves Ghastly was still on Saturday afternoon TV and video arcade we're located inside bowling alleys and roller rinks, has a cheerful about being melancholy Carl Wilson vibe. The latter about reawakening but without all that creepy Mike Love transcendental meditation hooey and his later rubbing shoulders with the Reagan's and money grab tricks.
     To say that the brain into only clicks into just Beach Boys deep cut referencing while to Conspiracy Of Owls, though it does loom large over the entire album, would be short selling it. For example, the record's lead off track, "Puzzle People" would not sound out of place on  Hawkwind's Quark, Strangeness and Charm while other tracks such as "Raving Mad" nods to Syd Barrett, mid-70's AM radio and "The Lesson" is a fine Flaming Lips from Soft Bulletin that the Flaming Lips didn't write.
     Going in to this record expecting some crazy, wild and loud "Detroit Rock" record based on the members lineage could bum out to downright pissing off some listeners but for those looking for well crafted, harmony laden and clever psych-pop-this record is one that will make them smile.
https://www.facebook.com/conspiracyofowls

Aug 7, 2011

APACHE DROPOUT s/t LP

     Album of the year?
     Is it too early to declare such things?
     So far, it's been a pretty decent year for releases. A lot of things have found themselves on my turntable and in my portable Mp3 playing device when I'm in the car, riding the bike, mowing the lawn, going for a walk, hanging out the beach and so on. Then there are those that find themselves staying there for a much longer time.
     This Indiana trio, who took their name from the classic Edgar Broughton band song, and feature a former member of soul punks John Wilkes Booze (who's song "Whiskey and Pills" is still a standard I whip out on dj nights), have released a debut album that definitely falls into the later category.
     It's a sound of after being cooped up in a humid, claustrophobic cinder block box finally getting out and ready to do a swamp shimmy and hoot & holler. Why are their clothes all bloodstained in the morning though? The don't know and everyone that watch what went down would rather pretend they didn't see what happened.
     Part murder blues finds a back woods baptism, part post Oblivians/Gories slobbering over the bible that the Velvet Underground wrote bonk and all pressure cooker ready to burst tension.
     Sounding like the Good Earth era Feelies battling the Cheater Slicks in a loser the leave town match that ends in static-the album's opener, "I'm So Glad", throws the ears into a world of nervy, dripping in cold sweat sound that works for both shaking the hip or drowning sorrows in poison. Carnival organ accentuates a train chug on the, in a more perfect world, angst anthem "Teenager" and the super-agitated Cramps throwing the distortion into the deep red line of "Nothing In My Hand."
     Legendary records label proprietors and obscure record collector/even more obscure music historians get named checked too. The former with the acid boogie of "Sam Phillips Rising", the latter with a the caffeinated rooster rhythm of "God Bless You Johan Kugelberg".     
     I could go on about each and every track extolling it's execution and at moments sounding CCR covered in used motor oil while practicing fuzz-fest voodoo or some other attempt at rock-crit lit wit but I'd rather just listen to the record again and again as much as I have been these past few months.
Album of the year? So far I am thinking so.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apache-Dropout/124872621463     

Jul 17, 2011

PEOPLE'S TEMPLE "Sons Of Stone" LP

     I'll never forget the first time I heard the Grateful Dead. It was my first year of my first go 'round of college. I was getting heavy into the Paisley Underground thing, it's forefathers (especially the Byrds and the Velvet Underground), some Euro Neo-psych stuff like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes (if neo-psych was even what they were considered, the Nuggets and Pebbles comps (Back From The Grave hadn't entered my orbit yet), the 13th Floor Elevators, the dark part of the mind drifting vibes of Spacemen 3 and the stoned sun baked lackadaisical sound of the Meat Puppets Up On The Sun.
     Having worked at my high school high school radio station and a bit of summer stringer work at a commercial one I fell right into a gig at the one at my college. For the most part the people at the college station were pretty straight laced. They wanted to play Eddie Money, Pat Benatar and Journey but had to begrudgingly let any weirdos do shows and especially those that had come from the high school program. Basically "the weirdos" were anyone who didn't want to play Eddie Money, Pate Benatar and Journey.
     It also so happened that the "weirdos" were usually the ones that were the partiers or, GASP!, the stoners.
     Well, hanging out at the beach or around a bonfire drinking and smoking always appealed to me more than associating with a bunch of Eddie Money, Journey and Pate Benatar fans who's idea of fun dressing up in theme costumes because it was time for a TV party because one of them had all the episodes of M.A.S.H. on videotape. One night while hanging out with the crowd I chose I was asked to put a tape in. It had a bunch of the things mentioned above on it. One guy, everyone called him Redman but I never found out why because he wasn't Native American, a ginger nor did he chew the tobacco of the same names, listens intently to the first few songs and asks me "You ever listen to the Grateful Dead."
     "I've seen the name so many times but I don't think I ever have"
     "Here, man" he says first handing me a joint and then a cassette copy of Terrapin Station "Smoke this and then put this in next. It's a lot along the lines of what you're in to. It's gonna blow your mind."
     I did. And you know what?
     It blew something but it wasn't my mind. IT SUCKED.
     It sounded like some overplaying jazzbo's trying to invent a genre they were going to call prog-country. In ways what the Meat Puppets were doing at the time could be considered the same kind of thing (save for the jazzbo part) but it was like a really overplayed, overblown, longwinded and, well, really crappy version of that sound even if it did come out 10 years earlier. It didn't blow my mind it just blew. It also sounded so far from being right up my alley that it was at the other side of the county.
       Listening to Lansing via Perry, Michigan based People's Temple debut album (after a handful of singles for various labels), Sons Of Stone, I would like to think they would react the same way in the same situation. There are elements of the bands that are mentioned in the first paragraph on this record mixed and matched that fit the band just right.
     Since we've covered that though there is no reason to reiterate it so let's describe the People's Temple sound in colors.
     They would be green, silver, black and burning red. The green of the rolling hill vistas of up-north Michigan summer vacations and high grade weed, the silver and black from laying on your back during the same summer trip while staring up at the night sky and red from an intensity that fires up when they crank the distortion or just simply all get into a zone where they're not a much thinking about the music they are playing as the music has taken them over and they are locked in to a zone. It's a zone that doesn't wander off into noodleland land though. It's a zone that is straight focused. It's likes to take a scenic route but doesn't find taking every side road and cow path just because it can. It knows when and where it's destination should wind up so they don't waste time looking for each thing no matter how boring it may be to everyone else that has hopped along for the ride. The People's temple may be jangly and folky at times but never longwinded, showing off jazz chops or thinking they're transcending space and time with some 15 minute drum solo or a million other unnecessary bits. They are first and foremost a rock-n-roll band and they know that's really all that matters.
Check out Smashin' Transistors interview with People's Temple here.

Jul 10, 2011

Frog Island Castle Bravo IPA

     Named after the bomb a thousand times more powerful than the one's the US dropped on Japan in World War II this double IPA from Ann Arbor's Frog Island brewing claims on the side that it's "the taste the frightened Eisenhower". Now, I consider myself somewhat of a 20th century US history buff. I know our country's 34th president used to smoke four packs of cigarettes a day but I don't recall ever reading anything about his take of craft brews, let alone double IPA's, so we'll just leave that claim to bravado for now and get down to the eyeing, sniffing and sipping.
     A cloudy maple syrup in color with a two finger fluffy head that melts fairly face leaving a consistent lace all the way down the glass. It's aromas are a bit earthy with some sweet malt, rolled oats and a dint of lemon peel.
     The first thing announced in the flavor is something woodsy. Almost an oak aged thing is what reminds be of with a touch of of malty almost brown sugar sweetness that flirts slightly with something akin to a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Next this chewy but fluffy/soft but full textured brew takes on a little bit more caramel flavors that still don't really give a hint that it's hitting at an 11% abv. It finishes with a burst of citrus With the average amount of stickiness one would expect from a DIPA. Not more and not less. Just right down the middle.
     Castle Bravo is the first Frog Island beer I have tasted and though my mind (or tastebuds, as the case may be) weren't exactly blown away making me declare "This is one of the best DIPA I've had ever" it was still quite decent (much better than what the first takes on Beer Advocate have been on it at least) and has now piqued my interest on trying some of the other things they have to offer.
http://www.frogislandbeer.com/       

Jul 5, 2011

The Hussy, No Bails and Sros Lords-Saturday, August 6th at Roche Bar in Port Huron


The Hussy-A two piece rock-n-roll band from Wisconsin that you can both drink and dance to.


Featuring Dutch from the Menthols and Mr & Mrs UFO Dictator-No Bails like beer and punk rock.


The Sros Lords claim they're from Detroit but sound like they are from outer space.


I'll most likely be spinning records between bands too. Things start around 10pm or so. The Roche Bar is located at 405 Quay St in downtown Port Huron, Michigan.

Here's the Facebook event page thingy too.

Jul 2, 2011

SPIDER FEVER "Whatcha Gonna Do?!" 7inch

     In a recent installment here we went over what was meant to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD and what was Punk "Fucking" Rock.As we learned in that lesson-the two are not necessarily components of each other.
     This San Diego four piece, featuring former Team Alva skater and drummer from bands such as Earthless, the Sultans and, most recently OFF!, Mario Rubalcaba on guitar/vox and John Ries's little brother, Dean, who Mario did a stint with in the Sultans, on bass do PUNK ROCK that is made to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD.
     "But, other than it made to be played at some ridiculously high volume, what kind of punk rock is it?" you may be asking.
     Basically one of those good old kind of punk rock going on here. A-side's "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" scrambles Radio Birdman's eggs in cast iron pan that the Weirdoes found in the dumpster, scorches them til their all black and crusty then throws it in the face of anyone who says it's too loud. The guitars sound is more than just amplified by electricity. It sounds as if the guitar strings are made of power lines and when the songs goes over the cliff with a blood curdling scream to end-everything been zapped to a crisp.
     Flip it over for "Party Girl" and the beast rises from the ashes left from side one as a pop band. Pop in the way Sonic's Rendezvous Band, the Zeros and the Gears could be considered pop. Thick guitars that chug like a locomotive at top speed and a chorus that even the tone deaf can shout along with. 
http://www.facebook.com/pages/SPIDER-FEVER/129516360409286    

Jun 24, 2011

Sunday Sonance at the Raven in downtown Port Huron July 3rd

Join Franck and yours truly, Dale, for a night of tunes, drink, eats and conversation. Each July edition happens close to my birthday. This one is two days shy of it. You are welcomed to bring gifts.
http://www.ravencafeph.com/

Jun 22, 2011

OBN IIIs "Running On Fumes" 7inch EP

     There are some records that are made to be played loud. Then there are records that need to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD!
     There are also records that are punk rock and then there are those that are Punk "Fucking'" Rock.
     The thing is though that a record that is made to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD will always live up to such a declaration. Records considered Punk "Fucking" Rock have tend to have some problems though when it still comes to living up to that claim times later. There's many times where records dubbed that sound, well, kinda like a yoke some years down the road (if they weren't donned with the title as one to begin with).
     These Austin, Texas gruel mixers have no problem with the former and have no problem with the later either. If this is punk rock of any sort it's the best kind. You know the kind. The bottles flying/girls crying barroom rock-n-roll kind.
     Stones swagger. Stooges sickness. Dolls decadence. Dead Boys drunk and disorderly. It's all balled up and thrown into a pot of chicken grease and bad attitude juice here and boiled on high til the entire town smells of it. This isn't the not the macho, thrust the chest out so the can see this is a VINTAGE AC/DC t-shirt, Leather booted on the monitor for the 8th guitar solo in the last 5 minutes RAWK or Heavy Metal Fonzies stuff that you couldn't throw a Les Paul copy without hitting ten of them that overran the landscape a decade or so ago. Four juicy cuts of meat eating, stinking of beer sweat, slob celebrating ROCK-N-ROLL. Play this record SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD and be prepared to have it kick your ass all over the place.
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Jun 21, 2011

TRENT FOX & the TENANTS "Mess Around" 7inch EP

     If this just showed up as a random unsolicited record in my mail box and I took one look at the cover I wouldn't give it much more thought other than to put it in the pile of the "maybe I'll get around to listening to it someday" pile and there it would sit for quite a long time. C'mon, Sepia toned color, old timey Wild West lettering and a dude sporting a sombrero? First impressions would be "Oh, man. Not another jackass cow-punk band."
That's right, not a good cow-punk band (which do happen from time to time) but one of those jack ass ones. And oh, there are so many. Throw in the edges of the sleeve burned for a little more character and it could be another band playing songs about how they want to be smoking weed with the Supersuckers while listening to Hank III and talking about the devil.
     "Sorry, man. I doubt ya do it good" and there in that pile the record would sit.
     That's not the case here though because this slab is courtesy of Kind Turkey records in Wisconsin. The label is headed up by Bobby of the always loud, always a blast beer drunk garage duo the Hussy. He's a rockin' dude and to my knowledge has never written a song about smoking pot with the Supersuckers while listen to Hank III. I trust his tastes. If he decided these guys were cool enough to put a record out by 'em I know it's gonna garner some listens here at the Chez Transistorsmash.
Once the needle hits the groove here any worries of Trent Fox & the Tenants doing songs about smoking pot with the Supersuckers while listening to Hank III and talking about the devil are quelled. Instead, spry rock-n-roll with one foot planted in a bucket of "Good Times! Great Oldies" goo, the other in a catbox of 90's garage punk mess is the call to (rock) action here.
     The Beach Blanket Blowout beat of "Mess Around", a not so cautionary tale of boy telling girl she better behave while he's gone or there will be trouble, kicks this 5 song EP with a hip moving beat, splattery guitar twang, maniacal laughs and more sing along "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"'s than I thought was even allowed anymore.
     With such a high revved up opener some records drop the energy a bit in the next couple songs but these Wisco-revelers keep it going with the hyped on caffeine and pizza Country-Soul turned up to 12 "Outta Mind" and side closer, the three chorded soon to be party favorite "Jokes".
The songs on side two, "Old Lady" and "Sounds Fine To Me" were recorded 10 months later. They show a little bit of "maturity" in the song writing but it's not like it's comparing the Seger System's Mongrel to ol' grandpa Bob's Fire Inside or something as the band is still spun up and at punch weight. Both tracks remind me of the night at a party when the Deadly Snakes convinced some Black Lips they you could snort No-Doz and challenged them do it. Now, if they only would've went in to a studio that night (sans horn players) and cut two on fire tributes to the Replacements and the Real Kids.
http://www.kindturkeyrecords.com/