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/