Dec 29, 2013

Smashin'Transistors Fave Albums of 2013

I know there wasn't a whole lot of WRITING about records in this place again this year. I can put the blame on distractions, a major change on the domestic front and life in general getting in the way. I did LISTEN to bunches of music both new and old this past year though. After mulling over the tunes that passed through my ears in 2013 here's a list of the most enjoyed and often played albums at home, in my car and on my radio show for the year (in alphabetical order.)

-Dale


BAD NOIDS "Everything From Soup To Dessert" (Katorga Works) Ragin' and retardo, ugly and nasty. Old school sick kid hardcore. There's some toxic things still along the Lake Erie coastline!
Bad Noids on Facebook


BARDO POND "Peace On Venus" (Fire) Guitars that sound like electrical storms cutting through a dense damp fog while voices teeter between the ethereal bliss & indecorous pain. Flutes get pushed through whirling effects while the rhythm section thumps some swing into a sludge beat.
Bardo Pond on the web


BLIND SHAKE "Key to a False Door" (Castle Face) A musical head space where weirdly tuned silt punk goes out on dates with surf music to watch people go-go dance into a chasm of barbed wire and broken glass.
Blind Shake's website


CATHOLIC SPRAY "Earth Slime" (Born Bad) Freaky frogs doing  LSD fried and cheap beer sauteed post-whatever VU boot lickin' garage punk. Wig out while stomping daisies in a black light room.
Catholic Spray on Bandcamp



COUNTER INTUITS s/t aka "Sheets Of Hits" (Pyramid Scheme) A king of atonal rock woe, Ron House sets up camp around a tape machine with a prince of tin sheeting put to a belt grinder pop, Jared Phillips of Times New Viking. The results are like fetching a Swell Maps record out of a running garbage disposal with your bare hand. 
An interview with the Counter Intuits


MIKAL CRONIN "MCII" (Merge) Introspective singer-songwriter coyness, brash guitar fuzz freak outs and things like strings and woodwinds making appearances are all parts of the recipe here. The result is some of the most glimmering pop songs to sugarcoat ears this year.
Mikal Cronin on Bandcamp


The FEELING OF LOVE "Reward Your Grace" (Born Bad) Shoegazing gets tribal. Psychedelia gets stripped bare then chrome plated. Monochromatic drones intertwine themselves with technicolor swirls. Taste the strychnine rainbow.
Feeling of Love on Facebook


The GO "Fiesta" (Burger) If late 60's era Beach Boys moved to Michigan, spent all summer in a resort town riding bicycles, hanging out at the arcade, trying to find someone to buy them beer (or sell them doobies) and striking out when talking to chicks. Then spent cooped up in a Michigan winter to write songs about it
The Go on Bandcamp


The GOSPEL TRUTH "A Lonely Man Does Foolish Things" (12XU) In some universe a swamp country soul band detours into Birthday Party territory and play at the most surly pig roasts for miles around every weekend. If that universe doesn't exist yet-the Gospel Truth are at working on it.
The Gospel Truth on 12XU


The HUSSY "Pagan Hiss" (Southpaw) Heather singing like a girl group gone bad and bashing the drums like a ton of bricks. Bobby making tantrums of psych-punk noise on guitar and blurting things in a nasal tone. Their best record yet.
The Hussy on Bandcamp


HUMAN EYE "4: Into Unknown" (Goner) Laser guns get put into some mischievous hands after a space punk UFO crash lands into ruins and rustbelt rock-n-roll. Feel the ultraviolet slime ooze out of the speakers. 
Goner Records


MORDECAI "College Rock" (Richie) Mangled and out of sync trash rock/art punk that somehow locks into a groove of cohesive chaos. The most glorious and loudest wreck to come of out Butte, Montana since a six hour loop of Evel Knievel greatest wipe outs.
Mordecai on Tumblr


OBNOX "Corrupt Free Enterprise"(12XU) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


OBLIVIANS "Desperation" (In The Red) Reunion albums by legendary bands are normally a big letdown. With tunes that go well at a backyard BBQ/Dance Party or cruising the streets looking for trouble and possibly a knife fight though Desperation isn't! Older, wiser but still packing plenty rock-n-roll firecrackers.
The Oblivians Facebook page.


OOGA BOOGAS s/t (Aarght!) This is like one of those "everything but the kitchen sink (for the lack of a better coin) "New Wave" fun party records of the mid 80's. Downstroked & elastic guitar rock-n-roll chuggers peppered with horn sections. Pub rock slathered in cheezy synths. Sing-a-long anthems with all of the above.
Ooga Boogas Bandcamp page 



PAMPERS s/t (In The Red) Blues punk (or at least a Scientists/Cramps/"Dial M" era Pussy Galore) gets spun like a top before being severely beaten by deviant art misanthropes swinging red hot tire irons. It's then set on fire and placed by some gas station pumps. The explosions are deafening.
Pampers page on Bandcamp


PSYCHIC ILLS "One Track Mind" (Sacred Bones) Chill out boogie for bikers? Spacemen 3 cruising in a brand new Cadillac through the a wildflower filled countryside? Music to burn a j while sitting under under a big shade tree at the beach? Yep, Something like that.
Psychic Ills place on the web


PURLING HISS "Water On Mars" (Drag City) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


SATANIC ROCKERS "Fu Kung" (Alberts Basement) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.


WHITE FENCE "Cyclops Reap" (Castle Face) Syd-esque crumbling apart folkie rock gets a bunch of glitter dust tossed at it. Be the songs sound like acid country rock, glam pop played on household items or a heavily medicated Creation playing Byrds songs (or vise-verse) wiggly acoustic strums and big fuzz wails get their equal amounts of attention.
White Fence on Facebook

And with that-let's kick 2013 to the curb. On to 2014!

Nov 20, 2013

November 27th: Turntable Jives at the Port Huron's Roche Bar

     I normally pass on going out on Thanksgiving Eve. It's one of the busiest bar nights of the year which usually equals amateur night, herd mentality douchebags, drunks all over the roads and cops everywhere looking for those drunks. For me, these factors lead me to choose to be warm & toasty in my own digs and enjoy a tipple if a chose with people that I choose.
     Due to a change in my social & financial statuses (aka: getting divorced) though-I will be spinning my first Thanksgiving Eve set in who remembers how long it's been. It gives me a reason to kick out the jams for a bit as well as putting some much needed change in my pocket.
     Join me, Franck, Day-V and KVN for an Thanksgiving Eve of grooves, growlers, shakers and stompers at the Roche Bar located at 405 Quay St. in Downtown Port Huron.
Find out the more minute details here.

Nov 8, 2013

Saugatuck Brewing Company's Black Pearl Necklace

   
    Today is National Stout Day. Now that there is a chill in the air and some people have already got their Christmas lights and decorations up (even though it's only been a week since Halloween and we've still got 3 weeks before it's even Thanksgiving) stouts always seem appropriate so why not celebrate their dark, rich, maybe coffee, maybe chocolate goodness.
     I was about to head to the store to pick some sorta stout out, set on finding one that I had not tried before so I could tap out a few notes on it on the keyboard and then pass it off here as one of my beer "reviews." Then I remembered a month and a half or so ago I picked up one by the Saugatuck Brewing Company that had been sitting on a shelf in my fridge.
     An imperial stout aged in an oak bourbon barrel is always a fancy thing. This one reminds you of that by a bit of showboating with the wax seal. I mean, it's does give the bottle an air of sophistication which is nice when paying 15 bucks for a bottle of beer but also seems kinda silly when it is peeled all off to reveal not a cork but an every day bottle cap. I just want to get down to tasting the brew, not dealing with with some superfluous bells and whistles y'know.
     The beer pours darkand thick. No light getting through my glass at all. The two finger head is full and frothy with a color that resembles the top of a chocolate malted. Coffee and cocoa are the dominate scents backed up with a tartness of black cherry along with hints of vanilla and charred wood.
     On the front end there's a bit of a cola sweetness. A bit of bite and burn in it so that cola is a bit more like Coca-Cola in a can than a Pepsi out of a plastic bottle. That is followed by the tart sweetness that was detected in the aroma. I am still thinking black cherries along with a few raspberries and black berries thrown in for good measure. That gives way to a flavor of sweet malts, dark roasted coffee and chocolate powders.
     Nice and interesting but I after a couple of sips I really started to think to myself "where are the bourbon notes???"  After all, it was close to $20 bucks spent on this bottle and, dammit, it I want them.
     My cat was knocking at the window making his cat presence known that his furry cat ass wanted to come in because he has been outdoors for about an hour which, of course, builds up a huge cat hunger so I let him. My phone started ringing so I the call.
     All the while the beer was in the glass getting more time to breath. Taking a sip after getting back to it was "Ahhh, there's the bourbon aging thing now." Then ten or so minutes it spent getting some air really made a huge difference. Mossy oak, vanilla and coconut was now enveloping around the aforementioned flavors, tying it all together while still keeping the 8% abv very well hidden and giving the brew that little extra "oomph" it needed to make it home run.
www.saugatuckbrewing.com

Nov 6, 2013

SATANIC ROCKERS "Fu Kung" LP

     Seeking that particular record to wake up to in the morning and help rub the sleep out of your eyes? Well, keep looking.
     Seeking a record to wake up to in the morning and rolling over with the sleep still in your eyes to take a couple of bong hits then going back to sleep til well past noon having really seedy, monochromatic dreams all the while? Well, then you need Melbourne, Austraila based Satanic Rockers in your Stygian life.
     Sounding like Black Sabbath falling asleep, a 70's Saturday Morning Cartoon version drone metal and the most lackadaisical late 80's slacker rock dudes laying on a cold slab of cement quacked out on whatever pills he found while riffling through his mom's purse-the songs here start as a gurgle that turn into something festering.
     Beats that sound like they are rhythm box jacked from a broken down Wurlizter organ are buried deep in the mix of murky, grumbling guitars plugged into powered by 6 AA batteries amps do their damnedest to rumble like a lawnmower idling in the thunderstorm and squall like Canadian geese being strangled with barbed wire.
     Above those noises that may entertain the idea of reaching a mid tempo squirm before topping out and staying at a slug bait slither are dispassionate voice rambles off in a smart ass tone about being the hatred that permeates through small towns, homely siblings, boring jobs (and the jackass bosses that go with them) and the joys of war (or at least the thrill of blasting someone away with a machine gun).
      Dark humor and lost weekend booze bender doom chugging that serves as a perfect sound when thinking about getting revenge dealing with day to day dickheads.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Satanic-Rockers/175538152528809

Oct 30, 2013

North Peak Hooligan

     Traverse City's North Peak Brewing makes simple, yet solid beers. They aren't all about frou-frou-ing them with unusual ingredients or a piling on a ridiculous bevy of spices.    
     A very liberal use of hops though?  Yeah! They are all over that tip though.
     When I spotted this, labeled as a Hoppy Pumpkin Ale, of course I was curious. My gal-pal, a foodie and wine fan with still a bit of a neophyte when it comes to all the great brews out there and after having feelings of pleasant to total disappointment on some of the pumpkin beers she's tried on her own in the past, asked me to keep and eye out for ones she hadn't tried so we could give 'em a shot. Hmmm. Beer and drinking it with girls? You don't have to twist my arm.
     The brew pours a transparent and bright pumpkin copper orange. The head was very minimal save for some spotty clouds and a few bubbles around the rim. Very little lacing because of this.
      On the nose there's good chunk pumpkin meat, a large bit of white pepper and fresh mowed grass from the hops and a little flourishes of graham crackers. Different from a from a huge number of other pumpkin beers that smell like all the spices that go into a pumpkin pie but stray away from the actual pumpkin itself not to mention still being a beer. 
      The hops jump right out front in flavor. At first it seems more about being an IPA (North Peak's Diabolical in particular) with a distinctive citrus and earthy bitters along with a counter balance of sweet malts. Fresh pumpkin flavors then start to emerge adding an interesting twist in the middle. As the brew breaths and warms slightly the pumpkin comes more to the forefront, mellowing out the very big (and good) hop forward slant along with some slight nuances of nutmeg and cinnamon. The finish is slightly dry and piney like one would expect from any beer that says "Hoppy" right on it's label.
     One of the most interesting things about this beer is that, as I mentioned before, the spice is something to add some character to the taste but not the main thing about the flavor. This one depends more on the hops to give it an oomph and bite. to give a short one line description of this would be a pumpkin juice infused Michigan styled IPA. Quite interesting and much different from the many sweet spiced ones that are can be found all around this time of the year.
www.northpeak.net

Oct 29, 2013

Beat Time this Saturday at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Join Franck, Benny and yours truly at the Roche Bar, located at 405 Quay St. in downtown Port Huron, this Saturday for an evening of all kinds of boss tunes, bad ass jams and totally groovin' tunes. They roll the clocks back an hour so there's an extra hour of rockin', drinkin' and carousing too.

Oct 28, 2013

the PITY FUCKS "Oaks Park" 7inch EP

     Right off the bat the swirly organ sound that the sound from the needle picks up here reminds me of wandering around while being quite boozy at a run down amusement park during summer vacation up north of my youth. One of those places were sounds of things hiding the noises of mechanical things squeaking, creaking and coming to a abrupt and grinding halt were people yelling "Fuckin' Ay, Brah" between telling random passersby that they had doobies (double paper rolled and still loose pin joints if they were to actually speak the truth) for sale for "two bones, brah. Best connection in this place" (they weren't) and Foghat's "Fool For The City", "Smokin'" by Boston and Molly Hatchet's "Flirting With Disaster" (it may have been the 80's but the whoever was in charge of the place did their best to keep them alive and the customer satisfied. I even heard they fired the dj of the Himalaya ride for playing "too much punk stuff like Rocky Burnette's 'Tired Of Towing The Line') over loud speakers that spent too many Michigan seasons exposed to the elements.
     Well, that and the weirdly out of tune and always wobbly sounding pipe organ sounds coming from the carousel where half the paint chipped horse didn't even go up and down anymore Add the sound of screams of children (not ones of joy. Ones ranging from disappointment and be really creeped out) and parents arguing with that mean old cheap vodka stinking milkshake in the box office. I can hear the crusty old Electrolarynx voice spitting out curse words the sounded like retared Cylons all over again along with the Van Halen tank top dudes that still hadn't grown a full mustache the summer before mentioning "It's like 'I am Iron Man', brah."
     Coincidentally, the lead off track here, "Oaks Park", with the swirly organ is about an amusement park. Along with keys, the trashy but tough choppy & fuzzed out guitars and Matto's voice sounding like a King Louie Bankston going all pro-wrestler announcer voice would definitely piss off the grits hanging around the band shell waiting for local bar band legends Nyght Fyre (or was it Mid Nyght Maniakz that one particular year) to take the stage because they do all the "good songs. You know like 'Lovin', Touchin' Squeezin' and they sound almost like the real thing". I close my eyes and can see the styrofoam cups filled with Southern Comfort and Mountain Dew flying now. I can hear someone yelling "We are here to rock out. Not punk rock fag out." Then someone would comment "At least if they're gonna play punk rock can't they play some good punk like something from the Cars or the Police?"
     It's followed with "She Ain't All There". If you've ever wondered what happens when you take a Hound Dog Taylor boogie, give it shaken baby syndrome shower it in the sickly sweet and boozy Four Loko til it almost drowns then drink a couple glasses of milk before hollering about it-this could very well be the result.
     The flip is hyperactive take on Bo Diddley's "Hong Kong, Mississippi" that would either make ol' Elias McDaniel put these guys on the back or make him write new lyrics to that "Just Say No" rap thing he would throw in the middle of his sets in the 80's & 90's to throw a complete wrench into the middle of his sets (all the while thinking he was being hip and contemporary and doing something the "kids" could get into) and make them listen to it as some kind of sage advice.
Hit Up Matto at Facebook to score a copy.

Oct 22, 2013

Gettin' Down Halloween Style at Port Huron's Roche Bar

I will be one spinning the records with loud & actual guitars at the annual Halloween soiree in the first city on Lake Huron southeastern shoreline this Saturday night.

Oct 13, 2013

Founders Inspired Artist Black IPA

    
     Though this had been floating around a little bit in the past as a rare experimental beer that a lucky few got a sample of here in there it was officially introduced earlier this summer. It's name is in tribute to ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition held annually in Founders home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan and it's limited batch run that was sold in the Mitten State only proceeds are going to benefit ArtPrize's future competitions.
    The brew pours almost black in color but when held up to the light shows off a dark crimson in color. The medium soft pour brought out a minimal head but what is there leaves a pretty solid cap and ring that holds tight and leaves drifts of lacing all the way through the drinking session.
    Roasty malts, a bit of maple wood smoke, bakers chocolate and more than a touch of the aroma that is standard for Founders other IPA's come out on the nose. None of the scents are aggressive and have a muted but pleasant relationship going on.
     The taste is right along the lines of the smell but all much more pronounced. The first thing in medium & creamy weight in mouth feeling beer is the flavor is something of a less sugary Nutella. You know what I am talking about. Hazelnuts & cocoa happening. Since I am not one to ever turn down some Nutella-I am already charmed as soon as it hits the taste buds. That is followed by a hint of charred wood which then gives way to some grapefruit tang. It finishes with a mix of dark coffee bitters and lingering citrus with the 7.5% alcohol being pretty well hidden.
     My experience with some other black IPA's have been hit or miss but this one hits it not only out of the park but the ball is found 3 blocks away from the park when it finally lands.
     Been hoping that I could find another six pack somewhere (because sometimes there is that rare stroke of luck locating a stash in a out of the way store that doesn't realize what it has) but all I got from clerks were a chuckle and a "Yeah, good luck with that, Bub" in a scoffing tone.
     I don't know if Founders plans on releasing this every year but one can wish so wish I do.
http://foundersbrewing.com

Oct 2, 2013

OBNOX "Corrupt Free Enterprise" LP

     Whatever happened to the brutha as a rock-n-rolla?
     I'm not talking the calculated bullshit "I don't care what people think as long as every move I make gets me the gossip headlines and trending on Twitter" things that Kanye West does so he can declare himself a rock star in those very same gossip rags.
     Declaring yourself a rock star doesn't not equate a rock-n-rolla.
     I am talking about a brutha that actually does not give a fuck but other than rocking out when it is called for. One that isn't doing what he does in hopes that Entertainment Weekly will declare a genius because everything else they had to review for the week was albums from TV talent show winners or adult contemporary artists disguised as a modern county entertainers. One that is out to blow out eardrums as well as minds. One that is actually playing something that is loud, obnoxious and, yep, punk rock music instead of just wearing some goofy shades so the pop press can mention a nod to "punk rock style" the dude is sporting while walking down the red carpet at an awards show.
     Being declared a rock-n-rolla is something that is bestowed on someone. Described in a recent article/interview in Consequence Of Sound as "the only black 41-year-old single father DIY garage rock drummer/singer from Cleveland" the brutha behind Obnox, Lamont "Bim" Thomas, is a #1 Rock-n-Rolla, and has been for many years with his time behind the drum kit in bands such as Bassholes and This Moment In Black History.
     While those bands had him working within what others may have had in mind-Obnox is his own deal. A loud, thick, abrasive thing of beauty deal the mashes many different worlds of sound but doesn't sound like some mutli-culti NPR bullshit at that.
     Like Chrome's Half Machine Lip Moves wound way to tight riding a spaceship through some urban wasteland inhabited Spector Wall of Sound zombies and the best weed punk rockers can never afford growing wild through sidewalk cracks-the album wastes no time taking a hammer to the eardrum and making blood rush to the head with opener "By Myself". This initial blast off helps propel other feasts of burning noise filled with dangerous fumes such as it's follow up, the sex jam in the middle of a fire-fight basher "(I Want To) Fuck You Like A Puma".
      Cop era Swans discover the blues after meeting some street preachin' rapper who's so underground his address is a sewer who's idea of a beat is a locked groove is the best to describe hypnotically woozy rhythm that Bim busts some rhymes over on the lolloping glitched soul of "Deep In The Dusk" and the mangled street beat/shout out to the hometown harsh out hip-hop that's "Being Cleveland". The latter is not the only bit of local pride/contempt either as Obnox also out noises the Cheater Slicks at their own game on his take on their "Ghost" and his revisiting his past with a version of the Bassholes "Swimming Bues".
     The magic of hypnotism through bleats of guitar feedback get worked over on the soul falsetto being abused by dentist drills on the take of Tom Waits "Way Down In A Hole" and pleading for love (or most likely and, simply a piece of pussy) "Home".  The pleading is given the same treatment again and then run through the ringer once more on the rudest take one will probably ever hear of the Eddie Floyd song "Good Love/Bad Love".
     It's highly doubtful that TMZ will ever be falling over themselves to document ever off the wall ass thing Bim might ever blather when paparazzi and press corps are around and it's hardly unlikely that MTV will be calling saving a seat at their stupid awards shows (especially after they hear about him lighting up a joint at a college radio station and then getting kicked out of the studio) but he is a for real Rock-n-Roll brutha and Corrupt Free Enterprise is all the proof one needs.    
http://12xu.net/

Sep 16, 2013

RICHARD and the YOUNG LIONS: "Open Up Your Door": Song Stuck In My Head Today (Part 1)

Though the band was outta New Jersey and the song only went to #99 on the national charts it did hit #1 in Detroit on this very week in 1966.
The song has had a bit of staying power in Michigan too. In 1983, the Romantics included it on their biggest selling (and cheesiest sounding) album In Heat and the Demolition Dollrods played it regularly in live sets in the 90's.

There's a documentary on the band called
Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story that I have not seen but may be worth checking out on stay inside cold days that will be happening in this part of the world over the next 6 months or so. A copy of that can be found here if you're so inclined to order one.

Sep 6, 2013

Friday Night Crate Dig at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Well, since everybody went nuts and filled the floor over and over again when Franck and I went digging deep into our record collections dropping raw funk, deep soul, true ska, trashy punk and straight up raunchy rock-n-roll at the Roche Bar in Downtown Port Huron-We're gonna do it again tonight!

More details here.

Aug 31, 2013

Saturday Night Crate Dig at the Roche Bar

     Shakers, Groovers and Movers courtesy of yours truly and Franck at the Roche Bar in Downtown Port Huron TONIGHT!!!

Event page thingy can be found here.

Aug 19, 2013

Right Brain Dead Kettle IPA

    India Pale Ale. I've tasted well more than my share in the many years now I have been drinking beer. They are usually my go to when trying a brewery I have never tasted before too.This especially rings true for any Michigan beer maker with me. The state seems to have set it's own standard or style for the way they are made and the way they taste.      
     Though Traverse City's Right Brain has been around for awhile and has been bottling things for a bit now-their stuff is not normally seen in my little portion of the state. I have had a little sip of some of the things they have made that were not an IPA courtesy of some friend here and there but my first time to pick a bottle of the stuff for me to sit down, examine and do the beer geek thing didn't happen til this weekend when I was an other part of the state and scanning the shelves. 
     Naturally I went for the IPA.     
     Dead Kettle pours a color between egg yolk orange and new penny copper. It's off white head grows a little at first the slowly melts to a 3mm head that stays constant throughout the sipping. The aroma is split down the middle between buttery & caramel malts and lime tinged hops. Neither seems dominate and they work well together.
     On the first sip the thing that sticks out in my mind is the texture of the brew. Though bubbles are floating all around in the glass it seems slightly thick fluff feeling in the mouth. A citrus zest, aforementioned the lime along with MICHIGAN peaches (because, yes, we do grow peaches here and they do have their own distinctive sweet-tart thing going on) and something that gets me thinking raspberry candy) is the first thing to strike the palate. A lot of Michigan IPA's tend to have an overly aggressive hop forward attitude that can beat up the tastebuds in the most awesome way possible but this one it's a obviously flirty but not mauling the tongue and mouth. It's followed by flavors of toasted wheat bread with honey and caramel covered Granny Smith apples. The finish is somewhat dry with a linger of white pepper and orange peel. 

     Due to these days where it seems like everybody and their brother, mother and dad are dabbling in making the IPA to give them their flagship distinctiveness I declared myself bored of the saturation of them and have told my beer drinking cohorts "Anything but an IPA for the next 6 months." 
     Obviously that hasn't happened and it's ones like Right Brain's Dead Kettle IPA that reel me right back in no matter how many times I declare my personal moratorium on the style. It's near perfect in it's balance and, with a lighter abv than some of the other Michigan IPA's (5.5%), one that could be a weekend long session without getting tired of it.
www.rightbrainbrewery.com

Jul 14, 2013

the HOT LZ's "Bringdown-Comedown-Putdown" 7inch EP

     Since the mid 90's as the guitar slinger in forgotten but rockin' meat and potatoes punkers the Halfways, Hot LZ's head slimeball Mark Death has never hidden away his reverence for Mr. John Anthony Genzale, Jr. In a way where he probably actually refers to him as Mr John Anthony Genzale, Jr. instead calling him by the name most know him as-Johnny Thunders.
     Hell, so much as where most people would get a LAMF tattoo-Mark's says LIKE A MOTHER FUCKER underneath it just so everyone knows what it exactly means. Such things do need to be clarified at time.
     The recording here sounds like it was made on a beer can deposit budget. The sleeve design, save for the weird waxy substance the cover is slathered in to make it glow in the dark, looks even lower budget.
      Death's half slurred/half prop-er-ly e-nun-ci-ated vocal cadences on these four songs sound like something scraped off the bottom of Cuban heels and as wishing to be as New York City as a drunken love child of Thunders and coked up Ace Frehley with lyrics to match while his guitar solos blurt and blare that thing that launched a billion punk rock guitar heroes who will admit to only a very chosen few that they tried to nick from Keith Richards but they couldn't figure out to play them right.
      The Hot LZ's are not gonna blow any minds or knock down any walls by taking punk rock somewhere it hasn't been before. I don't think they really care either. They probably do dream of playing for 1000's of rowdy fans where girls will throw their panties at them but will settle for payments of free booze, gas money and a handjob in the parking lot.   
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hot-LZs/200543476647653

Jul 9, 2013

Arcadia Ales Cocoa Loco Stout

Smashin' Transistors unpaid intern, The Ripper, investigates this brew before it was tasted.
     Sure, it is summer. And, yes, I am usually one of those kind of people that believes stouts are only suppose to be drank in autumn and winter. It's, y'know, one of those "things". Like not wearing white pants before Easter and after Labor Day or something.
     Sometimes though you gotta break the rules. And if you're gonna break the stout rule might as go full bore. No boring ol' Guinness is gonna do. Now, a triple chocolate stout with some molasses and lactose included in the brewing process? Yep! That'll work.
     A moderate soft pour of this almost black in color pour leaves just a slight cap of froth on the top. That froth does hang all most of the way through the glass and leaves spots of drifting lace all the through. The cocoa does stand tall in the aroma with notes of espresso with double shots of milk sugar and cream. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the nose too but not any more than one would expect from a 7% abv.
     Baker's chocolate and the slightly burnt coffee from only gas station for miles bitterness is the first thing pronounced in the flavor. It's a little bit of a punchy opening along with some smokey bits but then the sugars from the lactose come along to soften the blow with just a enough sweetness to take the edge off while giving the beer a bit of creaminess in texture that was not noticed at first.
     As the beer breathes and adjusts to room temperature-the molasses becomes more noticeable adding another level of subtle complexity. The finish leaves a large does of dark chocolate coating mixed with sasparilla soda fizziness behind in the mouth.
     I don't think I could know back more than a couple of the current Michigan summer climate of thick humidity and shoulder frying heat. They are very chewy and quite warming. When the cold wind start blowing again (and they will-they always do) though I could spend a few hours sipping on these.
http://www.arcadiaales.com/

Jun 29, 2013

Tang Soliel "Mirror Maze" 7inch

     What do members of band's that had records on the In The Red label do when their groups call it a day? Well, if it's Matt of the Mystery Girls and the Demon's Claws Ysael (along with a couple Romanian malcontents and occasional contributions of another In The Red alumni, Greg from the Strange Boys) it's put a new combo together.
     A boozy, backwoods pace that is equally some twisted folk rock jangle, a day at the beach pop music and absolutely frayed around the edges garage rock thing that both the 'Girls and 'Claws did so well when they were nailing live is what it's about here.
     Sounding a bit like later period Byrds with not all the facial hair and a less dour disposition meets the Velvet Underground's 3rd album wrapped in flannel (not because they are waiting for grunge to return but are simply hayseeds) and barefoot, "Mirror Maze" is like an ice cream cone on a hot day. Cool and creamy but all sticky as it melts all over your hand. Boozy back up vocals and few seconds of sax blurt dropped in as a solo toward the end complete the slacking off on a summer day feeling.
     The flipside's "Beth's PA" features the sax making Canadian goose honks at the start along with dripping wet with moisture guitar licks snake in and out over a foundation of what sounds like a stoned country rock band standing on the verge of doing a freakbeat rave up.
     Kevin from Dusty Medical Records mentioned to me that he has already put this on a couple mixtapes then noting he doesn't ever really even make mixtapes anymore. I still do from time to time (and if you want to count the radio show I do I guess technically I make one every week) and both of these songs are going to go on all of them throughout this upcoming July and August.
http://tangsoleil.angelfire.com/

Jun 26, 2013

July 27th: The Mud City Manglers Crank It Up at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Saturday, July 27th at the Roche Bar! It's Pittsburgh's beer swilling, Marshall amp cranking, motorbike revving, cussing and swearing purveyors of bad ass rockin' The Mud City Manglers will be crawling from the gutter and rockin' the murky river banks of downtown Port Huron!
      Along for the noisy ride are the Failures which is Al and Sal of local bad attitude and butt kicking rockers Smackmadam's new band.
      Detroit's Axe Ripper will be coming up to tear the city down too.
      Maybe even some punk rock records spun between sets by yours truly and whoever else I can get to drop a needle on some records.
Yeah, Yeah! Here's a Facebook Event Page too.

Jun 20, 2013

HOT LUNCH s/t LP

     Back in my 1980's high school days I could not stand Deep Purple. Maybe it was because the grits, with their teenage teeth already ravaged Mountain Dew and Marlboro Lights world get excited one of their songs would come on in shop class, yell "It's Blackmore, bro!" and then crank the crappy classroom stereo up to where even if I thought the tune was good it ended up just be a mass of "BLLLUUURRRPPPP!!!" instead of banshee wails and bong as an echo chamber organs.
     As the time went on, and while looking for different (musical) kicks and working in record stores eventually my paths with "THE PURP, maaaan!" would cross again. Punk rock had gotten slower, what people ended up calling Grunge started bubbling to the surface and there were always a few copies of In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head in the dollar bin. After spending a weekend with them I realized, that for of all Blackmore's mystical and then blatant AOR bullcrap he was always pulling off in the 80's with Rainbow, those three albums kicked all kinds of ass with it's lunk-headed lyrics and blown out boogie.
     It sounds as if these San Fransisco dudes have spent their time listening to that holy triad of Deep Purple records too along with massive doses of the necessary Black Sabbath (because you can't actually do any bong rattling rockin' without it no matter how many ice cubes you have in it without spending many a toasted afternoon Masters Of Reality and Paranoid cranking out), Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power, Ace Frehley's  KISS solo album, Thin Lizzy here and there and other things skateboard rats listened to while gobbling down a handful of White Crosses and Yellow Jackets before punk rock came along.
     Tracks like "Handy Denny", "Killer Smile" and "Tragedy Prevention" are hard driving/Head out to the highway jams full of fuzz bass, distorto butt shaking/hair flipping guitar licks, and a drummer that knows how to pound the kit yet still swing all topped with a brown weed toking bellow.
     It's not all drinking warm beer and watching some California sunset though a windshield of a muscle car affair though as "Lady Of The Lake" and "Gold Lyre" brings out the darker side of late period psychedelia and "Ripped At The Seams" finds that sweet spot between proto-doom and Black Flag's Loose Nut. http://whocanyoutrustrec.wordpress.com/

Jun 13, 2013

SWEET TALK "Pickup Lines" LP

     Whenever I put on a record that has a bit of a "fizzy pop" thing to it and particular friends are hanging out they will make some comment about me playing some "pussy getting music" and then scoff. Then I get all analytical of if things that can get tagged power-pop or whatever people want to call it ever succeeded for many at landing a bunch of tail.
     Sure, most of those bands were singing about girls, cruising around town looking for girls, wanting to walk in the park or go to the amusement park with girls and wanting to talk to the girl that works behind the counter at the record shop or convenience store but are too shy. It seemed for the most part it was not music that was guaranteed to get young, horny guys into some nubile lasses tight jeans as much as it was about how much they wish they could.
     There were others though, such as Cheap Trick, who could take the bright, big and glittery sound of power chord hooks, pen words about unsavory things and wrap them into a melody that kids on the junior high school bus could sing along to (well, on the bus I rode we did at least. And a good chunk of years before "The Flame" and Elvis covers.)
     Then I discovered punk rock (or at least what I thought was punk rock) and a lot of the skinny ties and poofy hair sugary coatings gave way for something a bit more bitter, hot and not wrapped in plastic as far as my musical tastebuds were concerned.
     With members ranging from speedy hook merchants Mind Spiders along with cats of more raw weirdo punk combos such as the Wiccans and VIDEO, Austin's Sweet Talk should come with a label bragging that this record contains no high fructose corn syrup.
     Anchored by dual loud guitars throwing down sheets of chords this record roars even on the tinniest of transistors speakers. More in it's bag of trick than jubilant power (pop) chords-the six strings also careen, chop and bob at the right moments. Solos are hit-n-run affairs here. Quick & to the point then straight back the churning the motor. Vocals are an earnest cocky whine that when it sneers and yearns is sincere and not just for a video shoot.
      The records opening shot, "Put You Right Back", starts off like something Thin Lizzy with no exposure to Irish folk chords and not a chance being declared  the next Van Morrison or Springsteen, then builds into the kind of rock songs the alleged alternative rock stations should play for the boys who want to turn it up loud and play air guitar too while the girls shake their hair loose. Sadly it wont happen because it would make some of them realize that 30 Seconds To Mars kinda suck and it would also cut in the amount of time those stations can play the Lumineers and "classics" like "Enter Sandman" by Metallica before another 20 minute non interrupted block of commercials. 
      A early 70's glam boogie under the carnival ride lights rubbing itself all over later in the same decade small town America worshippers of the Buzzcocks feeling is all songs like "Find You", "No Vacancies", "Live To Die" and the title track.
     Tunes like "Stop In Line" and "Who Are You" would be anthems in a more perfect world and not just because they sound really BIG. Also, "Danger" shows that when poppy rock boys get some action they have just as much swagger as David Lee Roth claimed to have cornered the market on.
     Though this record came out in mid spring this year-it is gonna find a lot of time being blasted out of my car speakers this summer.
http://www.12xu.net/        
     

Jun 6, 2013

Cental City Red Racer IPA

     At one time Canadian brew was a right of passage for any young beer swiller who grew tired of of swiping whatever cheap stuff friends would pool their cash on or following in the footsteps of whatever they saw their folks drinking. It was always thought be stronger, better and more wicked. And, at the time compared to whatever swill we were usually downing around a bonfire or at the beach.
     One time I was talking to a guy who was in Johnny Paycheck's band (the last tour before he croaked...and I am not talking about the way he sang. Johnny Paycheck sounded like a frog more often than not that night and that was even when he's would ask the audience to sing the chorus) and he was telling me a story about the time he was touring with Jerry Reed. He told me a story that Jerry had his tour bus equipped with special secret compartments for when he toured the Great White North so he could smuggle things back across the border when the shows were over.
     What was Jerry sneaking back?
     Not illegal drugs.
     Not back bacon.
     Yep, that's right. He was smuggling back CANADIAN BEER! (And I must add that the cat who was telling me the story noted, with a big laugh, that Jerry did "stay well drunk the whole dang way!")
     As we have all learned the last couple of decades or so, Canadian macrobeers (or their foreign counterparts like Beck's, Heineken and St. Pauli Girl) were not the end all of brews. It also makes one wonder if Jerry ever had a chance to check out many craft beers before he died and, if he did, still insisted the Canadian ones are the best, which one would be his favorite? And would have found a way to run a pipeline of it to his house. Maybe if would've even been this brew out of Surrey, British Columbia. I would like to think he would dig the can design if nothing else.
     Very nice and clear dark copper in color. The eggshell white head is moderate and fades quickly but a good dusting of chunky white lace sticks to the side of the glass all we way down. The aromas are big and bright green smelling. Pine, a just squeezed lime and perhaps a bit of that BC bud come to mind while giving it a whiff. None of them come out punching hard on the nose but do give off a nice tease as to what the flavor may entail.
     First sip is a mix of the strong sub-tropical fruit notes of Citra hops that gives it a bit of bitterness which is then tempered by a malt sweetness that gives off and honey & maple flavor in the mix. A nice balance of simple complexities to start off with. The medium carbonation serves as a buffer in the middle giving the taste buds a little break before a sharp bite of citrus and grassiness start to appear toward the finish. There is a bit of stickiness in the end but is subtle and smoothed out by a carmel malt sweetness compared to the aggressiveness of a lot of hop bombs out there that find a home in my glass from time to time.
     All in all this is really great take on a traditional British IPA meeting it's more flavorful and complex west coast cousin.
http://centralcitybrewing.com/

May 28, 2013

DANIEL KROHA "The Folk Blues Stylings Of..." One Sided LP

     Does Danny K. really need any introduction to the Smashin' Transistors visitors? The cat that anchored the Gories sound before it would get completely lost at sea. Fashion Icon for a special breed of Tijuana showgirls while a member of the Demolition Dollrods. Rocket 455 axe man. Driver of a rust hole ridden and lots of exhaust making yet always durable/absolutely rad early 60's Dodge station wagon.
    The past half decade or so here has been part of the bands the Readies and, his latest thing the Darleens, but he's also been out there doing gigs as a sit down in a chair solo act. With his home made diddley bow, an ancient mail order looking guitar that may be kept together with wood glue, horseshoe nails and sheer good luck, a kazoo and whatever else he may bring in a small suitcase smelling musty and of mothballs-Dan pulls up a chair, introduces himself, perhaps tries to crack a joke and then spins his take on the old, weird, scary and righteous world of music that made "America".
     Consisting of songs that have long fallen into the public domain and, according the the liner notes on the back sleeve of this one-sided 12inch, recorded on a cell phone (which, in it's way, is the modern ages cassette deck with a condenser mic)-the seven tracks here take the oodles of primitiveness, unplug from electricity and strip back to simple instrumentation and, in once case, no instruments at all other than the human voice.
     Two of the five tracks are instrumental. The first one, "Rolling &Tumblin'" starts of the slab with something that sounds like the kind of blues snake charmers would play amid some major chaos at an Egyptian street market. Unearthly yet totally natural and of the earth. The other non-vocal track on this record is a faithful take of the country blues standard "K.C. Blues" with Dan doing top ace guitar picking abounds.
     "Angels Watching Over Me" finds him unaccompanied; his voice alternating between a lady at church feeling the gospel in a belting vibrato spirit and grunts & shouts like a carnival barker. His take Kid Bailey's (or Willie Brown with Charlie Patton on 2nd guitar as many a pre-war blues habituĂ© believe) song of never settling down, "Rowdy Blues", is all about gnarled fingers banjo picking and sitting on the back porch on a humid night like tonight and letting the neighbors know that the evening is just getting underway.
     Something sounding like a ghostly sitar adds something quite sinister feeling to his take on the Appalachian standard "Pretty Little Pink" and we get taken back to church circa somewhere between the Dustbowl, the Great Depression and the Delta to think about death and redemption with "Before This Time Next Year."
     The record closes with "Run Little Children" which works up a whirling dervish of bizarre snaky slider guitar notes, Ozark harp and murmuring chants.

     I am sure that if I was to play this to a particular crowd of honky "blues" musicians and jam band folkies around this town they would probably say it is not the blues because there's no SRV sustained note jacking off or that Jerry Garcia would have recorded it better. To me that means that Kroha hits the real thing straight on target.
http://socialmusicrecords.com/
    

May 16, 2013

NO BAILS "Soundproof Room" 7inch EP

     With a bucket of mud, a bucket of scuzz and a bucket of chicken-Kalamazoo, Michigan's No Bails ooze a thick BBBUUURRZZZAHHH of distorto-chug-chug punk that'll clog the earhole and, for those who get a particular sense of "Yeah, were in a rock band but will probably never be rock stars" humor, puts a smart ass smile on the face.
     Sounding a bit like a more jovial and quicker on their feet Flipper, the Aussie punk muck bathing in whatever the cheap American equivalent of the beer they drink, and the guy who never seems able to hold down a job for two weeks that lives in their mom's basement down the road who and tries all day to get his guitar to sound like Tommy Iommi. He can't afford the right kind of equipment though because, well, he can't hold down a job for more than two weeks and lives in his mom's basement.
     "Soundproof Room" hits on a Radio Birdman vibe, minus the street surfing guitar leads but with a whole lotta greased stained wah-wah put in it's place, and lyrics that pretty much tell the college boys that think shit like Sublime is reggae that live all around in their town to get lost because they are gonna play as loud as the want.
     The b-side opener "Werther's Original" is THE most punk rock ever about the bag of candies that are found in a grandparent's kitchen (and, yes, maybe grandpa is a war criminal). "Skate or Die" three chord thud rock finishes things up with a dose of teenage boredom and the videos games that love them.
http://orgonetoilet.angelfire.com/index.html  (yes, Angelfire still actually exists and that is the label's actual website)

May 10, 2013

Odd Side Ale Citra Pale Ale

     Out of Grand Haven, Odd Side Ales is another of those Michigan breweries that has had those lucky enough to try their beers singing all kinds of praises. Like all raves of beers from the Mitten State-Yes, there is a bit of bravado and Michigan pride going but, like all Michigan beers that get such hype, what's in the bottle backs it up.
     Pours hazy golden in color. A one finger head is fizzy, melts moderately and leaves a snow drift looking haze behind. The scent smells like a tropical fruit salad. Very crisp & bright and booming with grapefruit, pineapple and mango.  
     Those scents carries through in the flavor as tangy orange peels, drops of lemon and pineapple juice come out all over the citra hops on top of the first few sips. "Quite juicy" is the simplest way I can put it actually as far as a first impression goes. A lighter malt provides a background of cheesecake crust and honey that accent the citrus top end quite well. The ending is slightly oily so it hangs around for a little bit but also keeps it from being super-sticky and giving the sides of the mouth and back of the throat the impression that it has been chewing on grapefruit peels for the last hour. The very end is clean giving the beer a sessionable quality and allowing it to go well with a backyard barbeque or something to hit the spot after mowing the lawn. Some might say I am going out on a limb for saying this but it is one of the most perfect pale ales I have not tried before in a few years.
     From what I have been told Odd Side is bottling select beers in limited qualities, featuring a different one every couple of months. Last time I was in the store I picked this up at it was the getting down to the last case. Needless to say I picked up the rest that was there and keeping my fingers crossed this will see a regular bottling schedule eventually because I could see it becoming a go to brew for many times to come.
http://www.oddsideales.com/

Apr 26, 2013

May 4th, 2013 at Port Huron's Roche Bar: "Punk Rock from the West Coast (of Michigan)"

     Kalamazoo's mighty No Bails are bringing their groovin' sludge to the Roche Bar on Saturday May 4th. Powered by cheap pizza, cheaper beer, punk rock records of the Aussie kind (think Cosmic Psychos, feedtime and et cetera) and getting the wrong impression from ABC After School Specials-this trio will rumble your guts.
     Along for the ride from the land of Bell's beer and Broncos are the wild, wiggly and woozy hyperactivity that is Terror!...Terror!...Oh My! 

Check out a tune from No Bails here.
Get an earful of Terror!...Terror!...Oh My by clicking here.

Yours truly along with some special guests will most likely be spinning tunes before between and after the bands too.

Facebook event thingy here.

Apr 16, 2013

COP CITY/CHILL PILLARS "Hosed" LP

     Spongy! That's it.
     Weird squishy things soaking up weird squishy things.Things that give a person bad dreams. The kind of thing people wish don't swim up by them. Trailed by an ooze that looks used motor oil. With clumps of hair and cucumber peels floating in.
     Wobbly too! Very wobbly. The squishiness brings on a seasick feeling. Out of phase guitar line wiggle flanged out scrawls of gurgling lost somewhere between some flick from long ago where they would tell the viewer "Welcome To The Future" and the scene that plays in the head in high school when it is found out that those 4 really weird guys with bacon greased chin and forehead zits, hunched backs and constant large stains on every piece of clothing that the own have a band.
     Those old Sci-Fl films were just guessing what robot making music would sound like. It was all analog. The had no idea about midi and the perfect timed mechanical beat. They assumed we'd all be living on Mars. They thought robots would sound like trained monkeys running on car batteries or atomic power. The 4 really weird guys practiced really hard at learning tunes by Rainbow and even though they thought they sounded really spot on-everyone else was wondering if they were intentionally trying to sound like the Residents with sincere but inept rock chops.
     Cop City/Chill Pillars sound like the spent a lot of time listening to both of the above along with the band Parcheesi (y'know the band who shipped platinum with "I Didn't Know She Was A Midget" from The Men Who Make The Music. Rob the Man from Big Entertainment said they were hot.) Either that or they're just trying to make world music but it comes out all unworldly. Repetitious chants, blurting saxes, mucous laden synth lines. It may disturb some and make others feel queasy. These Orlando, Fla weirdos wouldn't have it any other way. 
www.floridasdying.com

Apr 6, 2013

DEAD GHOSTS "I Sleep Alone" 7inch

     A few years ago it seemed that most major metropolitan areas have had their own Junior Black Lips. Whether it was intentional or not to cop that sound; stealing beer, puking in the bushes and doing some shambling latchkey kid take on the Pebbles and Back From The Grave canon and sounding like the way the B'Lips seem to become de rigueur. In Vancouver, BC the job has been that of Dead Ghosts.
     In the more recent past the band has started to cut their own path out of that sound, but these recordings date back 4 and 5 years ago. It sounds as if back in those days a copy of We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow was ever very far from their stereo (and most likely wasn't).
     Drenched is glassy reverb, guitar jangle swimming in cough syrup and nasally singing that sounds agitated from be just woken up are the main calling cards here.
     "I Sleep Alone" (recorded summer 2009) sounds like it some folks trying to get a gig in some total small town dive country & western bar. On of those dive country bars where Happy Hour starts at the 7am opening time so all the old guys who were out fishing hours earlier and the 3rd shifters just getting out of work can go get sloshed before sleeping a good part of the afternoon away. The selections of import beer consists of Labatt Blue and maybe Guinness but no one ever drinks them because they cost an extra 50 cents. It's the only place in town the band hasn't played so they haven't been unplugged and shown the door yet. It may be the band's attempt to work up something that will make the folks think of Porter Wagoner (or some "Damn punk rock kids" trying to sound like the Stones trying to sound like Porter Wagoner but on rattier equipment and way low rent stimulants) but the slurry slide guitar lines just gets those old cranks scowling. When the messed up organ solo towards the end of the song starts the coots yell at them "You are stoned on something beyond bourbon. You are on them hippie drugs" before showing them shotguns and the door.
      Flip it over and "Spot A Trend" (from 2008) is all frantic fuzz fueled by unhealthy living and, well, whatever songs the Black Lips taught them how to play. Trashed out live to tape recording that sounds like everything is about to fall apart. Drink too much, bang into people and wait to get thrown out of another party.
http://randyrecords.blogspot.com/

Mar 27, 2013

Brewery Vivant Solitude

     From that magical land on the opposite side of the mitten from where I am sitting called Grand Rapids comes Brewery Vivant. Unlike a many of Michigan's top notch breweries that are very high hopped driven-Vivant prides itself being much more Belgo-centric and paying tribute to some brews that have been around since the first crusades. Their use of yeasts from Belgian Abbey breweries give their beers a traditional base of flavor without excess spices. Then good ol' American microbrewing experimentation follows.
     The beer pours chestnut with some ruby highlights from a 16 ounce can. Head is off tan in color. Fluffy and strong that melts into some spotty lacing. The aroma is understated at first but as it breaths nutmeg, green apples, vanilla and raisins.
     Plum is the initial thing that pops into my mind upfront. Very earthly and tart. White tea and pepper make and appearance in the middle. Interesting counter balance between the sweet and the savory. Things wrap up with a mix of grapes, toffee and a hint of baker's chocolate. A slight tang linger in the mouth for just a right time for the finish.
     Because it is on the average age of the alcohol content (6% abv) and a fresh sweet and sour flavor this beer has I can see it becoming one I might grab for after being out working in the yard, heading to the beach or going with whatever may be cooking over the wood fire.
www.breweryvivant.com

Mar 21, 2013

PURLING HISS "Water On Mars" LP

     Previous Purling Hiss offerings sound like they were recorded at a biker club.
     Scratch that, they actually sounded like they were recorded in the dirt parking lot of a biker club. While straight drag pipes rumble and dust is kicking up everywhere. All captured on one microphone.
     Loud. Blaring. Everything cranked as loud as it will go in some battle of trying to drown each others roar out. Dirt hanging in the air. Sound and vision muddied as angry boogie and disturbed ambiance is blown forth in a mass of distortion and grit filling all the senses with the smell of exhaust, perspiration and contempt for the subtle. Nuances and detail in the sound be damned-this is a go for it moment before chains start swinging, bottles start flying and blood starts spilling.
     On Water On Mars, their first album for Drag City, the smoke and muck has cleared.
     Well, somewhat at least.
     On the album's opener "Lolita" tracks such tracks as "Face Down" and the title song all the factors of the Hiss are there. Overdriven, hit the highway and drive recklessly fuzz riffs, vocals split the difference between basement apartment dwelling psychedelic warlord growl, punk rock cynicism and old fashion pothead yearning.
     The difference is though that instead of sounding like Blue Cheer, jam band era Black Flag and and those bad trip tales from the guy up the street who will tell you how he used to roadie for Molly Hatchet crammed into the trunk of a car to suffocate instead is a lot of breathing room here. You can actually hear what the rhythm section is doing for instance. Actual production values have allowed the sound to show off much more variety and colors.
     It's something like Dinosaur Jr orchestrating a feel good sunshine pop for Black Sabbath on "Rat Race". Neil Young and Crazy Horse raiding a pharmacy before heading off to the beach an look at the stars for "Mercury Retrograde". Indie slackers attempting the blues but not in a snarky or ironic way for "The Harrowing Wind." Where Purling Hiss releases of the past where all about burning everything to a crisp and frying eardrums there is much more sizzle and appreciating for spice and simmering. All of their records still find their way to my turntable but the do tend to cause fatigue. Now they have made one that can be played over and over again all day long without feeling woozy and and envisioning things so monochromatic.
     Some bands lose their "thing" when they get away from the trash can lo-fi rattling. Water On Mars has successfully made the transition like a champ.
www.dragcity.com

Mar 12, 2013

RATSAK "20th Century Bricolage" 7inch EP

     Taking their name from a popular brand of rodent poison in the land down under seems pretty obvious without even giving the record a listen that this Aussie band isn't gonna sound like the aural version of a warm and cuddly teddy bear. Especially when it is taken in consideration that it features members of thrash-n-burn Bloody Hammer and Circle Pit.
     Blown gasket 80's hardcore (which means without the, thank goodness, fat bald guy with a goatee palm mutes) is given a good work over of with bits flying of the rails garage punk wiggliness in the guitars, an unhealthy dose of the Confederacy of Scum dirtbagging (like there is a healthy dose of it) minus the that joke wears thin fairly quickly "we're redneck and proud" antics in the rhythm section, some twisted pieces of 70's hard rock and a singer who sounds like he eats a roll of pink insulation when he wakes up and then spends the rest of the day body slamming cows, buses and old folks that get in his way.
     Four songs in eight minutes so it's a perfect record to play when plotting throwing bricks through windows and speeding off for no other reason than general thrill and juvenile delinquency.
www.12xu.net

Mar 7, 2013

CRAPPY DRACULA "....Presents 'DEER JOHN' or Concerns of the Moderne Womb Wiggler" 7inEP

     Some months back I got involved with Facebook discussion amongst some Wisconsin music acquaintances  concerning the merits of Crappy Dracula. A huge basis of the conversation seemed to be questioning if the band even took making making music seriously yet themselves. First off, with a name like Crappy Dracula it would seem kind of obvious that the band isn't striving to be some deep thinking prog rock or something but it was like that part was lost on some in the debate.
     Having only seen the band once (so far) when they came through Michigan it was a set of laughs and just as much bewilderment. On stage a little guy who looks like Ernie the Muppet wearing glasses and a guitar played who's brother may be a star on the basketball team but for himself is most likely declared the king of of the AV club if not for any other reason he has over 1000 hours of 80's porn VHS's the he has been uploading to all the free sites and won the contest of making the loudest fart sound underneath BOTH armpits. Behind them a hippie/hesher drummer who hopes someone at the show will smoke a joint with him afterwards but knows the chances are slim as he it is his job to single the other two when the songs are suppose to start and end even though they never really pay attention to him. Their set seemed more about returning the heckles they invite from the crowd (and they are really funny at it) if simply for the reason to chew up time and not have to play as many songs. It really irks those who are in the crowd there to rock out or to bop their head while taking in some musical godhead experience.
      A lot of people leave thinking "Crappy Dracula really live up to their name. Ugh!" C'mon though-what did they really expect. It is also what makes them the best at the dumbness they do.
      Short songs about the ghost from Three Men and Baby (????) and Bill Cosby's ghost from Ghost Dad coming to get you, taking the stairway to heaven (which is only 29 steps) because the escalator is full and giving step by step of instructions of how to build muscles by guys who probably had towels snapped on every part of their body during gym class showers done in a way that makes the Dead Milkmen sound like deep thinkers who were striving to emulate Yes.
     Crappy Dracula's musical indulgences are not about transcending the mind to some higher plane through notes and sound. They also don't seem to be deliberately trying to deconstruct modern music by reducing it to a clumsy thud as they put that across in a way that seems effortless.
     I wear a Crappy Dracula button on my leather jacket with pride. When people ask what they are all about I respond "You probably would get it." I am not saying it in a snobbish or elitist way either.
Crappy Dracula on Facebook

Feb 27, 2013

Razor Blazers "I'm Sick" 7inch

     From the name of the band, the song titles and the handmade sleeve one may expect some total loud punk rock with hate and ire. One must learn though that you can't judge a book, or a record in this case, by it's cover, name or song titles. Think about it. The band name could be some reference to chopping up cocaine or a nod to a group of cutters or something.
     Playing in the modern psychedelia playground where Thirteen Floor Elevators can sway to Portishead and dark shades can be donned by all. A nebulous organ line intones impending darkness over a baked Madchester beat to lead off "I'm Sick". The song builds up into a blooong of foggy goth meets musty garage rock guitar buzz. Slightly distorted female come in adding a sultry/does she moon light as a cocktail singer during to the week thing to the building mystery of the tune while the tempo stays locked in a slumberous state.
     Back in the olden day folks had the specific records they would consider late night jazz that fit the mood of street lights reflecting off rain washed streets in a city that never sleep vibe while sipping some something ice cold and warm the body with a slow burn. "I'm Sick" fits right in the middle.
     While that song mushes the trippy meets swanky thing of the past four and a half decades into a potential trance inducing concoction-the b-side's "Linear Rerun" sounds as if it landed right in the middle of the 90's. A time when gals sported dark eyeliner & pixie cuts and would make mixtapes heavy on tunes from Garbage and would give them to boys in the mall who they thought were cute.
http://razorblazers.bandcamp.com