Nov 19, 2012

SPIDER BAGS "Shake My Head" CD

     I don't think there is much dispute the Creedence Clearwater Revival are one of the top 5 greatest AMERICAN rock-n-roll bands of all times. When it came to being a square peg in a round whole at their time-they seemed to do it best. 
     I mean, there they were in San Francisco doing their thing along with everyone else of the era but they never seemed to fit in. While some bands around them were taking a hold of forms of blues and country and trying to load in an LSD and kale & bean sprout fueled rocket to outerspace-CCR wanted to keep it on the ground, covered in dust and smelling like fresh mowed grass, cold lager and burgers on the grill instead of greasy patchouli oil, weird bathtub wine and unwashed feet. While others were donning frocks, capes, ruffles and color combinations that looked like a rainbow had just vomited all over the place-those guys stayed dressed in flannel and denim. They weren't the sound of college kids and college dropouts trying to avoid going to war or, gasp, trying to avoid a job. They were the sound of regular working people be it in the swamps of the south or the farms of the Midwest.
     Because of that is probably the reason why on classic rock radio stations, who have successfully convinced the average music fan that bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane recorded 3 or 4 maybe for songs tops that are deemed classic worthy enough to be overplayed everyday for as long as classic rock radio exists while Creedence has like 10.
     Just a speculation here but it is a fair guess to think that Chapel Hill, North Carolina's Spider Bags have more CCR records on their shelves at home than by any other band.
     That is not to say giving this, or any of their previous records (this is their 3rd album), a spin is going to make one think The Son of Cosmo's Factory or anything but there is a "what we do is simple but we do it well" vibe that always looms large on the Spider Bags sound. The sound of guys who would not only loan you a shovel but would help you dig a hole and then when done could exchange a philosophical conversation with but in simple common man terms and not a bunch of mystic mumbo-jumbo or many misquotes.
    The band's main man, Dan McGee, words land more in the short story category than sing along song lyrics but save themselves from the singer-songwriter pretensions and the sounds themselves steer clear of of getting lumped into the way overused Alt-country or hokey Roots Rock tags.
    The band is essentially a Rock-n-Roll band grabbing from here and there and pieced together into something that becomes their own.
     Be it sounding like Phil Spector's Ramones shucking corn in a chicken coop on the last loser in town anthem "Friday Night",  blurry eyed and staring at the sun Byrds on a bender hayseed drone of "Daymare", "The Moon Was a Schoolgirl" epic ball of want and frustration, The Jack Oblivian-like "Shape I Was In" to having Mr. Jack O himself adding a bit of Motown bassline on the should I dance with the girls at the bar or stumble home before one of their boyfriends want to punch me theremin fringed "Simona La Ramona"-the Spider Bags sound at home both playing in front of a barn full of people dressed up in their Saturday evening best or downtown hipsters looking for a dive bar to slum at.

Nov 14, 2012

Wednesday Photo by Dale: Bloodshot Bill at the Roche in Port Huron 10/20/12

     It's been a good long while since I declared myself "so over the one man band thing." Though some of their individual set ups maybe in interesting and I am not one to know clever ingenuity there have been so many for so many years now where they seem all seem to blur together. A little bit of of country and a little bit of rock-n-roll.  
     "Yeah, sure dude. I like dig the sound too but you all are starting to sound the same. Someone has gotta kick it in the face and make it sound all battered, bloody and LOUD y'know. Wearing overalls and straw hat does not equate that. And all stop doing the same damn Johnny Cash cover too" is what I want to tell most of them (though I know they probably wouldn't listen as I have a rep for being a not easily entertained smart ass when it comes to getting out of the house, going on down to the bar, spending money on beer and watching a band).
     It seems that Montreal, Quebec's Bloodshot Bill may think the same thing!

     Save for one track I had heard in passing by the Tandoori Nights, a project was in with King Khan, I wasn't really familiar with any of Bloodshot Bill's music. Joining him and area boozy bluesy blues cat, Dale Beavers, for a bite to eat at Port Huron's Fuel Woodfire Grill the afternoon of the show, still didn't give me a hint as to what was in store for the evening either. Bill was soft spoken, personable and usually smiling. Not to forget to mention he has great hair too.

     When a barefooted Bloodshot Bill sat down at his kit, a potted plant pilfered from the outdoor smoking area behind the Roche to hold it in place, plugged in his guitar and greeted the people, some dressed in Zombie gear as it was Port Huron's annual Zombie Pub Crawl that evening, I still wasn't expecting much other than some rote Rock-a-Billy riffs and songs about '57 Chevy's with Dodge motors in them (Heh, That particular tale being another story for another day though).
     I learned that my expectations were way off!

    Within moments of starting his set his hair was flying and sweat was dripping. Hootin' and Hollering! Bashin' and Bangin'! Sure it was that 50's based thing but it was like the 50's if the aliens actually did invade and blobs of nuclear mutations were terrorizing random generic Midwestern towns and only the wild-eyed and crazy would survive.
Bill wailed like Gene, grunted like Hasil and sounded as lecherous as Lux! Sometimes all in the same breath!
     People danced. People fell down. People had a good time. Rock-n-roll in this small town I call home can sure be a blast and this was one of them. Bloodshot Bill may have not sold me on diving back into the miles and miles of One Man Band projects that flood the internet and the dive bars of this country-but I will never doubt his prowess of knocking the crap out it and making it spit fireballs.

Nov 10, 2012

Liberty Street Steamy Windows California Common Style Ale

     The only other California Common/Steam Beer I have had any experience with is Anchor Steam which is the grandaddy of the style as well as, along with Sierra Nevada and the Bell's line were my gateways to the land of GOOD American beers many years ago now, so it would be the only thing I would be able to compare it too. It's been a long time though since I have had an Anchor Steam though. Not because I wouldn't drink one but shelf space is at premium at the places that sell GOOD beer in these parts so it has seemed to be bump out by all the many others that are always becoming available.
     Since this is a case of me not having an Anchor Steam fresh enough in my mind to make a mental comparison I can only judge this just recently started bottling Michigan brewery ale on it's own merits.
     Pours a slightly hazy amber in color with a light smooth head that melts fairly quickly with a slight bit of lace let behind. The aroma is light but notes of buttered biscuits and honey do waft their way to the nose.
     A noticeable bit of lemon peel is the first thing to come out in the flavor. A bit tart but not a stinger. Nice though. That gives way to bit of apple crispness in the middle. It finishes with a bit of peppercorn tying everything together.
     All-n-all this reminded me of something that could fit in lighter end of the pale ale scale. Not overtly complex but enough of it's got enough interesting characteristics to hold it's own and would fit with many different food pairing as well as quite sessionable on it's own.

Nov 7, 2012

the FLIP-TOPS "Are Still A Band" LP

     It's been ten years since Portland, Oregon's Flip-Tops released a full length album. Sure, there were a handful of singles that came out between long players but when this album landed in my hands I thought the same thing the album title states-"These guys are still around?"
     Their decade ago debut was released on Rip Off records and it had all the things expected from a band on that label. A simple loud recording with straight ahead and head down tempos, snotty singing and guitar that spit, slobbered and sounded like a bee stuck in your ear but had an underlying penchant for a catchy hook that made the ass move (or fists fly) no matter they sneered and sounded like they had a thirst for only blood and free booze. A record here and there on the label may have added other flavors (maybe bacon grease and sugar instead of beef tallow perhaps) in the ingredients but that was always the base recipe for what was served up.
     The Flip-Tops know the fixins' well and still bake a loud, snotty cake.
     Knocking on the door of the class of '78 punk, who weren't afraid to admit that they liked a catchy guitar hook (which those came before them had as well but found the buzzsaw roar more about pissing off people that would go on for hours about the amazingness of Steve "The Hippie Crypt Keeper" Howe and the so called blues of Eric Clapton more than it was something to hum along too) were less concerned about the world as a whole and proving that one may be viewed a misfit but had read intellectual tomes, the Flip-Tops left the place with a box full of battered tricks.
     Why sing about the woes of the world when there's things going down in the neighborhood like loose girls, shitty bosses and shitty customers at a shitty paying job and cheeseburgers to eat.
     Why use big words that the listener has to look up in the dictionary when superhero comic books concerns like radiation clicks in the mind of every brat standing by the magazine rack at the 7-11.
     It's been mused over that Rock-n-Roll can change the world but it doesn't really. It simply provides the soundtrack for a changing world. I mean, the MC5 sang about revolution but at the end of the day it was learned all they really wanted was to own some muscle cars and bang some chicks. The Flip-Tops don't give a fuck about making the world a better place or declaring a call to arms. All they want to do is have a good time. Spinning this record does just that.