Dec 29, 2014

Smashin' Transistors Fave Albums of 2014

     Another year, another list. Never definitive but still throwing the hate in the ring for the sake of opinion. Some I got around to write about. Others I didn't. None the less here's the 20 albums, listed in alphabetical order, that seemed to be listened to and enjoyed the most around Smashin' Transistors Ground Zero in 2014.  
-Dale


The Achtungs Full Of Hate (Going Underground) Take standout tracks from the European band KBD/Bloodstains comps and put the blender on puree. Record it all (including the sound the blender makes.)
goingunderground.storenvy.com

Apache Dropout Heavy Window (Magnetic South) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Brain Flannel Empty Set (Grave Mistake) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

DeGreaser Rougher Squalor (Ever/Never) Towering and dissonant psych. Not the flowers and sunshine psych but the kind that dwells in the darkest parts of the mind.
degreaser1.bandcamp.com

Gino and the Goons Shake It (Slovenly) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Good Throb Fuck Off (Sabermetric) Soaked in venom and full of disdain.The sound of smashing the Poison Girls albums to bits and then reassembling it's jagged shards back together in a choppy (non) fashion.
goodthrob.tumblr.com

The Gotobeds Poor People Are Revolting (12XU) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Honey Radar Chain Smoking On Easter (Third Uncle) Syd Barrett's ghost, Flying Saucer Attack's melancholy and Television Personalities whimsy leave magnetic tape dust all over the recording heads of this battered bit of 4-track know how.
honeyradar.com

Iceage Plowing Into The Field Of Love (Matador) J.G. Ballard writes a romance novel with the Bad Seeds The First Born Is Dead and a lot of heavy breathing in mind as an aural soundtrack. Then Gun Club steal the manuscript under the cover of night.
iceagecopenhagen.eu
Martyr Privates s/t (Fire) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Meatbodies s/t (In The Red) Psychedelic pop that has one foot wiggling it's toes in the sand a sunny day at the beach and the other doing kicking at neon glowing brain monsters.
www.facebook.com/Meatbodies

Mordecai Neil's Generator (TestosterTunes) The disarrayed clatter that made the messes on Mordecai's first two albums has been swept into neat piles here. The fidelity is still blown and the music still ramshackle but the concept of obvious melodies now more digestible.
paperhose.tumblr.com

Musk s/t (Holy Mountain) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

No Bails Epyx Shredder (Pelican Pow Wow) Michigan scientists conducted a test on the effects a diet of 80s basic cable, food from greasy college town eateries, cases of Keystone Light and Cosmic Psychos records would have on a person. This album is their findings.
No Bails on Facebook

Obnox Louder Space (12XU) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

PYPY Pagan Day (Slovenly) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Space Raft s/t (Dusty Medical) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

The Sugar Stems Only Come Out At Night (Dirtnap) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Vacation Club Heaven Is Too High (Magnetic South) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

The Yolks Kings Of Awesome (Randy) Read Smashin' Transistors review here.

Dec 28, 2014

Founders Black Rye Ale

     Originally introduced in 2006 and brewed for less than a year, it's been a long while since anyone has seen Founders Black Rye around. So much so, where even though the beer had developed a devoted who swapped legends of it and very few actually got to taste it, that Founders co-founder Dave Engbers has noted “Most people drinking craft beer and even Founders beer today have never tried Black Rye. Officially, this beer is a re-introduction. But for most, it’s a new Founders beer.”
     Being a Founder devotee for quite a long time now I am one of the many first timers when it comes to spending any amount of time with this brew.
     As far as it's color the expression "none more black" can be bandied around at first look. Held up to the light though it gives off a dark ruby hue. The tan colored head is a modest one finger, melts fairly fast leaving a constant cap that leaves a thick lace behind with each sip. A smell of dark roasted coffee is big the front followed by scents of pumpernickel bread and notes of chocolate.
     A mix of black coffee and pine resin come out first in the flavor. The hops are quite present but work well with the roasted malt nuances.  Those begin to intermingle with tobacco, baker's chocolate and a good amount of wild rye throughout the middle. It finishes with an equal amount of charred wood, grapefruit peel and just a hint of purple grapes.
     Interesting in it's complexity all the way through. Founders will be brewing this to March of 2015. If you are looking for something on the darker end of the beer spectrum but for something different than a stout or porter consider this as a choice to put on your list.
foundersbrewing.com     

Dec 27, 2014

The CONEHEADS "Canadian Cone" Cassette

     For years we've been hearing the words of warning about how technology will eventually decimate all human life. It's probably not gonna play out the way movies portray it where machines go on a killing spree though.
     What is gonna happen is most likely already happening. Phones that are way too smart. Cars that drive themselves. Hamburger being grown in a lab. EDM becoming the latest trend in country music. Never a need to think ever again. The machines have won. They're not going to destroy us with mechanical claws, balls of fire and gigantic meat grinding teeth. They'll just feed us synthetic thoughts til we're all "that kind" of Wal-Mart shoppers.
     There are hacks that came be done. Something that fools the machines into not figuring out that there are some short circuits. Indiana's Coneheads may know the code.
   Tightly wound bass blurt runs, squiggly guitar chopping and automatic rifle fire drums spit out reports of weirdos from Nowhere, America such as Dow Jones and the Industrials and Devo. A nasally voice robotically translates the data alien English. The information comes in at a ridiculously speed. Blink and you'll miss "Big City Baby" and "1982" f'r instance. Songs such as "Violence" and "I Used To Be A Cheesepuff" break the one minute point rival the Urinals in getting their disturbed point across in such a quick sliver of time. Not to mention that usually any band that covers a Talking Heads song will send me heading in another direction just to get away, the take on "Psycho Killer" here is as if the Tubeway Army got a hold of it (and 10 cups of coffee to to get the mood right.)
    Practicing curtness addled with a hyperactivity that may lead things to self destruct, these rumored to be still high school kids have cracks in their video screens. What leaks through those cracks is poison to most but serves as fuel for the Coneheads.
The Conehead releases are very hard to locate but you can cop a download of the Canadian Cone tape here

Dec 26, 2014

GINO and the GOONS "Shake It" LP

     Back in the days when variety shows were a staple on television there would be some dancer type that would come out on occasion and do some scene where their moves looked all clumsy and/or drunk. They were some pretty grand moves and were done for laughs. Watching at home there would always be a grandma who would state the obvious to everyone else who was gathered around the TV by saying something like "It is just an act but only a great dancer like himself can do moves like that to make us believe he is half in the bag and has two left feet."
     The last couple of years or so there has been a new wave of lunkhead themed punk rock bands. Simple and straight-ahead two or three chords (and a the rare fourth if the songs reaches past the two and a half minute point) and lyrics that intentionally border on being a parody of your standard punk rock song topics.
     The thing is though to pull it off and make songs that are worth repeated listens, a band has to be a quite a bit  more clever than they are letting on.
     On the surface, Florida's Gino and the Goons distilling the high points of the mid 90s to early 00s brain rattled by Chuck Berry/Ramones/Little Richard/Stones garage punk is some of the most valiant being belligerent enough to be kicked out of every in town kind of rock-n-roll since, well, the mid 90s and early 00s, fit right into that.
     The thing is though scratch at the big dummy veneer and it's learned that this isn't just another trio of lamebrains. The band totally knows what they are doing.
     Three big blasts of a power chord on the record's opener "Got The Skinny" drop you onto beer stinky  floor that makes your knees go one way and your hips go the other. Gino's raspy swagger bellowing about some of shifty folks he's met and what the world's got him doing ("not eating cuz' I'm so damn depressed") sounds celebratory in a still being able to wake up in the morning and make it through the day kinda way. His guitar blast and the Goons set down a serious beat & rhythm and drop gang harmonies and woos wherever warranted.
     Tracks like "Baby Doll", "Can't Get Away With Murder" and "Check This Out" show that the band attended multiple weekly services of the Church of Thunders at some point in their life. The first former, a way less blurry eyed and much more determined Heartbreakers blaster, takes the "my girl so fine" cliches and uses the again but they're rearranged in a cunning way that makes ya think "Damn, she must REALLY be a fine one" and a laugh to boot. The two latter are trash blues grinds that answers the question "What if someone combined the the New York Dolls with the Oblivians? And they did it right?!"
     It's should be noted that the calling out "KICK DRUM" for a break on "I Don't" has lead me to shouting the same thing anytime someone tells me a cool rock-n-roll story. The album closers with firecrackers getting thrown into a bucket of slime "Sex, Drugs & Paranoia". You'll think about it next time you're at the ATM.
www.slovenly.com

Dec 22, 2014

Odd Side Merry Elf Ale

     After a long day of making toys elves like to unwind like the rest of us working stiffs. They want kick up the heels of their curly toed shoes and enjoy a brew. It is also nice to think that they aren't just settling for some kind of elfin' macrobrew that looks and tastes like something akin to arctic fox or caribou wizz, right?
     Pouring a clouded chestnut with ruby highlights in color with minimum head from a soft pour the aromas from the candy sugar used in this brew give the malts an overall scent of caramel at first. The smell of fresh baked wheat bread, figs and orange zest (obviously from the orange peel used in the brewing process) make their rounds on the nose too as the beer starts to breath a little more in the glass.
     Both the look and scent seem to have an overall Belgian Dubbel characteristic to them. This also rings true in the flavor. A sweet malt backbone plays host to candied dark fruits that predominate in the first impression of tasting. It is followed by notes of banana bread and chocolate in the middle. The orange peel is fairly hidden til the end where it adds a little twist of sweet and tartness to an earthy and herbal finish.
     Sure, leave milk and cookies out for Santa when he is out making his deliveries this week. Back at the workshop though, the elves are knocking these back.
www.oddsideales.com

Dec 19, 2014

Your Radio Has Not Been Smashed Lately

     If one of your reasons for stopping by here is to see if I have uploaded a recent edition of my radio show on WSGR 91.3fm I apologize for there being the lack of one posted for over a month. There's been a few bugs in the wires that fouled up the works. Now with the holidays the station is on flying in autopilot mode til the new year. When the station goes back live I will start posting the occasional radio show again. Who knows, maybe the suits that call the shots as far as our budget is concerned will stop pinching pennies so hard that they're making Abraham Lincoln cry and we will finally get green lighted to start streaming.

Dec 15, 2014

FLESH LIGHTS "Free Yourself" LP

     Referring to a bands sound even remotely as power-pop can garner many different reactions and opinions from music zealots. And a lot of those reactions and opinions do not fall on the pro side of the fence. Those types will bitch about the stereotypical trappings of what they think the pigeonhole sports even though they're going off something they read somewhere or basing it off scoffs they made once at the cover of a record while thumbing through a dollar bin.
     Sometimes, as a bonus, you will get the anti-Beatles rant by someone who hates the Beatles because it's a cool thing to do. They will know everything about what a band that gets offhandedly described as "having a bit of a power-pop thing happening" sound like without even hearing them.
     Whatever.
     Loud guitars, catchy melodies and choruses that'll lure the ears in is where Austin's Flesh Lights is where the power and the pop lies and those types are missing out on what was being got at, I guess.
     With no skinny ties, sugary whines or white horned rim glasses this record is about turning the volume up and having the songs get stuck in that place in your head where a bright gloss and punk rock grit compliment each other instead of fighting for the front seat. The beat battering of drummer Elissa and bass player Jeremy's full steam ahead thump lay a solid bedrock of rhythm for Max to hammer jubilant guitar blare and keep it study.
     Opening the record with a foot stomping cadency, "Just About Due" fires off without nary a warning of the need to hang on before it jettisons into a perfect piece of making air guitar windmill moves for the listener. Sounding like they were fed doses of the Ramones and the Saints since birth they don't have the time to candy coat what their thinking either. Be it calling out the oldsters who are trying to hard to look hip to prove that they (may be) still cool on "Middle Age" or mocking the rockers who tell the same story over and over again about the time they almost hit rock stardom on the hot footed Flaming Groovies like blaster "Big Break" pretty much lets everyone know they aren't about to don candy coats anytime soon. They also aren't afraid of bringing the rock action when it's called for uncoiling tasty guitar solos all over on tunes like the Cheap Trick down at the dive bar "You Might Know"and the over speed limit pace of the album's title track.
http://12xu.net

Dec 12, 2014

EX-LEGIONNAIRES "Don't Care For Crying" 7inch EP

      Most likely best known for being the one behind the incongruous pop sounds of Denton, TX based Maaster Gaiden close to a decade ago, D. A. Anguiano has kept himself busy with several projects since. His latest thing, Ex-Legionnaires, is the first one us here at the good ship Smashin' Transistors have laid our ears on since the split single Maaster Gaiden did with the Points in 2007.
     Hooking up with some Austin cats for his newest combo things get fired up cooking with bacon grease.
     Rifling around the herbs and spice racks of the Devil Dogs and whatever the Misfits used to give Walk Among Us its particular bite (a vampire pun only partially intended right there), these guys, realizing that it would be dumb to serve up a straight replication, the took bits and pieces from each of the recipe books, subtracting this (f'r instance there is luckily a lack of "Whoa-Oh-Oh" abuse that the latter practically turned into a genre of it's very own), adding that (like the amusement park organ that pumps behind the record's closer "Labor Of My Love") before tossing it on the grill to sear.
     When served these helpings of rock-n-roll, such as the blaring guitar party of the record's title track and fittingly titled "Vigorous Head Shakin'", are crispy and crunchy on the outside with a right amount of rareness found when cutting into the middle.
http://exlegionnaires.tumblr.com
       

Dec 8, 2014

Yvonne Vernee "Just Like You Did Me"

     After being a member of the Correct-Tone label group the Donays, whose only single had the Richard Dee penned b-side“Devil In His Heart” which the Beatles covered on their second album With The Beatles,  Detroit gal Yvonne Symington got the itch to record as a solo artist. Correct-Tone owner Wilbert Golden declared that no one would remember her name so he changed her last name to Vernee and put Sonny Saunders & Robert Bateman, who were in charge Correct-Tone subsidiary SonBert, to make her a star.
     Released in 1965 “Just Like You Did Me” was Yvonne’s 2nd single for the label and her 3rd (main label Correct-Tone released “Does He Love Me Anymore” in 1964) since becoming a solo artist in 1963.
     Backed by Motown musicians at after hour session at Correct-Tone’s studio on Detroit’s 12th St, this Tony Clark written and Sonny Sanders arranged track gets cooking allowing Yvonne’s voice put the point across of what it really feels like to be heartbroken.
     Sadly, the song never became a hit but is a very sought out single with original copies selling up to the $3,000 range when they come up in auction.
After the release of this record Yvonne stepped out of the spotlight and took a day job. In 1971 she was asked to join the Elgins. She still performs with them to this day.

Dec 3, 2014

MAD DOCTORS "Snake Oil Superscience" LP

     Mashing the sounds of the post Brit Invasion/pre-hippie 60's with more than a passing fancy for the Z-grade horror and sci-fi flicks that lowest budget of UHF channels used to run on Saturday afternoons, these practitioners of trash are well prepared to crash any basement party that has revelers craving for ladles of a slimy stew of garage gruel to be flung at them.
     With the voice of guitarist Dr. Seth Applebaum, sounding something like cross between a local circuit pro-wrestling announcer and a leisure suited lounge lizard after a 4 day bender, pontificating and bellowing over top a brawling & blusey core of garage fuzz, blurred escapades are spun.
     They shoot the curl across an echo lavished Milky Way and use comets like pinball table bumpers on the album's opener "Space Woman" and wiggly "Surfboard From Hell." They spike rhythm-n-blues whiskey gets with something freaky, making the stomp and wiggle on tracks such as "Transmission Impossible" take a kaleidoscopic detour and treat the boogie on a tune like "Braindead Boogie" like IT IS a bunch of brains, which they then run lawnmower over, splattering bits all over the yard and the side of house. 
     Wrecked and wooly like a coyote fur coat dragged behind a car down a couple of alleys where the back entrances of burger joints and dive bars stand is something that New York City's Mad Doctors would proudly wear it in all it's moth eaten and weird smelling glory.
www.facebook.com/TheMadDoctors

Nov 23, 2014

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's Dernière Volonté Belgian IPA

     Many of my beer pals from "the other side of the water" aka what we call Canada in Michigan's Thumb have told me about how the craft brewing thing is finally starting to take hold in their country. They then suggest beers from over there I should try. The thing is though we have the same problem they have when it comes to what we can get our hands on. A lot of things they've got turned on to here aren't seen over there and not much from what's over there is making it here. We do keep our eye out for one another though so if there is something that is the rave on either side we put one aside for the next time a visit is made.
     Quebec's Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel was getting talked up a lot. Their Dernière Volonté in particular was scoring high points. It also happened to be a beer the brewery only made occasionally so I figured it would only be one I would hear legends about but never taste to find out for myself. My luck changed though when my friend Peter (host of the Avant Garage on Calgary's CJSW) would be back in the area for a few days and he was bringing me one over.
     Pouring cloudy and colored like an Indian Summer sun with a fluffy 3 finger head that took its time fading into a cloudy lacing and a strong cloudy cap that hung all all the way through the sipping. The banana like esters that come with a Belgian yeast were natural the first to great the nose with aromas of clementine and peaches providing back up.
     Many more things come out in the flavor itself with banana bread backbone plays host to tropical fruits, vanilla, coconut and caramel characteristics that come from it first hits the palate to mid way though a creamy but light touched texture. A mixture of grapefruit peel and white pepper nudge there way in towards the finish. Grassy hops and a bit of guarded til now alcohol hotness take their bow at the end. As the beer adjusts and breathes though the fruits take up more of the spotlight. Very interesting levels all the way through that seem to take on a bit more soothing quality which each sip.
     Making a mental note right now (and most likely firing off a group message in a few minutes) to hint to my Canadian friends that "Wow! I really liked that one Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel I have tried. What else have the got available" in an attempt to remind them to bring other things they make on their next visit over here.
micro.dieuduciel.com

Nov 22, 2014

MUSK s/t LP

     There should be some kind of flammable material warning sticker on the front of this record because as soon as the music starts, with a song that shares it name with the band, it sounds like everything is exploding and bursting into flames.
MUSK photo by Mark Murrmann
     A thick wave guitar feedback courtesy of Chris Owen (he of Killer Kiss fame) oscillates, throwing off hot sparks and shards of something like flying circular saw teeth into faces. The rhythm section enters adding punctuations to the sound. It all slowly wakes a burly gigantic beast from slumber and the guttural growl that former Tractor Sex Fatality howler Rob Fletcher lets out notifies the ears know that they are not embarking on a pleasure cruise.
     Going to places that are swampier and more cursed than even the Scientists Mk II ever fathomed with a voice resembling Greg Oblivian raised next to a tire fire by wolves songs like nail gun to the nail temple pound of "Grandier", the "I'll show what being a pyscho is really all about you beauty parlor ninnies" psychobilly murder spree of  "Funny Feeling" and "Knuckle Dust" along with "Combat Shock II" resembling the tasty waves of surf music, if those waves were made of napalm, detonate like the band is barreling through a minefield drunk on Everclear (the 190 proof rectified spirit that has prohibited for sale in 13 states. Not the band that plays its hits from the 90's at state fairs and small market summer festivals) and adrenaline.
     The jangle on "Slow Bummer" may start off feeling like a drive through the hilly farmlands of the county but the sight of of shotgun bullet riddled road signs quickly note that the hayseeds are restless and, with twilight rolling in hoping the car doesn't break down. The last ride the record takes you on is "Black Ice." As the fuzz and hammering beat decays into darkness don't be surprised if the final stop is plunging into molten lava.
 A word to the wise is to keep a fire extinguisher close to your stereo when this album is on. 
www.holymountain.com

Nov 14, 2014

Smashin Radio Transistors for November 13th 2014

     It's been a few weeks since I last shared one of my radio shows with the world outside of the station's broadcast range so I guess one is due. Give a listen to what went down last night on WSGR 91.3fm in Port Huron here.

Nov 10, 2014

SHEER MAG "What You Want" 7inch EP

     Based off this Philly band's name and especially logo one could be a little wary. Did a cheesy group that one their high school's battle of the bands contests back in the mid 80's finally get around to releasing their original songs (which basically sounded like Styx songs altered just enough to keep any possible lawsuits away) that they recorded with the free studio time they won as said contest winners? Or is the RAWK sound that Gearhead and Hit List ballyhooed about at one time rearing it's head in the "punk rock" world?
      Though the opening guitar run on this slab's lead off/title track may get people thinking they should get ready to all pile in an IROC-Z, swig some Southern Comfort with Mountain Dew chaser and yell "Hey, your got an doobers, brah" at random passersby while Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion gets turned up louder and louder, there's a whole 'nother kinda 70's/80's inspired action happening here.
     It's the kind of action that makes you wonder why so many powerpop bands of yore never realized that though a band like Cheap Trick may have had cleverly crafted songs they also rocked them out. Maybe it never occurred to those bands though as because they were too busy learning perfect hair feathering, practicing adjusting the skinny tie just right and finding some producer who would bullshit them into thinking that the frosting he would pile on their sound make them the sensation where others failed.
     The cats in Sheer Mag look like their in need of a shower, probably don't have a tie even if they gotta go to a funeral and sound like the only thing like stacked is toppings on a pizza and tall guitar cabinets.  Be it the southern rock twang tinge on "Sit & Cry", sounding like a Nikki & the Corvettes song being deep fried on "Point Break" or the choppy pogo dancing party downstrokes of "Hard Lovin'" the band brings it straight up and unadorned. Punky rock-n-roll that easily rings the bell of some great forgotten single on Sympathy.
sheermag.bandcamp.com

Nov 7, 2014

FRAU "Punk Is My Boyfriend" 7inch EP

     London's Burning again...WITH PUNK ROCK! Perhaps the flames never completely died out and we just didn't know but the last year or so the sound has been burning hot there again.
     Bands like Good Throb, Shopping and the Lowest Form are just 3 examples of bands from the Smoke who are approaching the ruckus at different angles and coming out with something that stakes its own claim.
     Frau is another band that can be added to the list.
     Sharing a member of the aforementioned Good Throb, Frau's sound is a long the same lines as far as it's stance and gender politics are concerned  but as where the former is a bit more straightforward with the noise it makes, Frau's 3 songs in under 4 minutes here take a more jagged path.
     The nervous bassline of the record's title track is reminiscent of many a '78 or so era DIY punk rock song would but the barrage of yelps and guitar blasts bring an outburst of causticness of the almost four decades of bullshit the world has dealt with since. "Snakeskin" sounds like Essential Logic's Aerosol Burns single stripped of the avant jazzbo leanings and then recorded in a bombed out airplane hanger.
     Clocking in at barely two minutes "Orca" is a whirling maelstrom out bent guitar figures and drums that resemble a never heard of the Tea Party Mo Tucker practicing war whoop beats. About a minute in the panic attack seems like it's about to subside but that's just the eye of the storm as the shrieks then become more hoarse and chilling.
staticshockrecords.blogspot.com

Nov 6, 2014

Steve Mancha "Monday Through Thursday"

   
     Originally from South Carolina, Steve Mancha (real name is Clyde Wilson) and his family moved to Detroit around 1954. By the early 60s he had recorded for Harvey Fuqua's HPC and had Barry Gordy showing interest in him his career wasn't taking off.
     In 1965, producer Don Davis signed him to his Wheelsville label. His first record for the label was "Did My Baby Call?" It didn't see much airplay action but in '66, with Edwin Star and JJ Barnes, recording the under the name the Holidays (a name which Davis owned and though there was an actual group he had by that name none of the members appeared on the record) scored a top 40 hit with "I'll Love You, Forever" on Golden World records.
     When Davis started back up the label he originally had going in 1963, Groovesville, in 1966, Mancha was the first one to have something released on the label, "You're Still In My Heart" in May of that year. He would record five singles for the label over the next year including this Friday themed one, "Monday Through Saturday" (incidentally the A-side of this particular record is called "Friday Night". I could have picked either side to spotlight on as their both great but this is I heard first years ago so that's why I went for it.) None of them did much outside of Detroit but are still big faves with the Northern Soul crowd.
     Mancha did find later success though as lead singer in 100 Proof Aged In Soul. He would also become a big part of the Detroit gospel scene up until his death in January of 2011.

Nov 2, 2014

The YOLKS "Kings Of Awesome" LP

     My girl and I wanted to go out on Halloween. We checked the options around town and it seemed the entire city was overrun by EDM laptop jockeys (with turntable strictly for show) or a couple of bands who have been covering the same Scorpions and Foreigner songs since they graduated high school in the 80's. And no, they don't do them ironically either. We quickly discovered that finding a rock-n-roll party where we could dance and act the fools to something get down groovy were dashed.
    In a way I blame myself for nothing worth venturing out for. I knew I should've put some kind of show together to combat the invasion of soulessness.
     Since I don't have a time machine, hiring the B-52s circa '79 was not an option. I do have a phone though so I should've been placing calls to Chicago and telling whoever answered phone at Yolks central "PEOPLE WANT TO DANCE AND YOU'RE THE ONLY HOPE!"
     Sounding like a 60's frat rock band after making it with some black chicks, the Yolks have been bringing the party (on record at least) since 2007. On their latest LP, Kings Of Awesome, the party is in the basement. The floors are already sticky from a few spilled beer and the walls are the damp from condensation even before the band plugs in. With a heartfelt croon, some science fiction reverb on the guitar and keyboard line that sounds like something from a Velvet Underground song filtered through a Friday night fish fry "There She Goes" kicks the scene into a high gear. Then, with the Television "Prove It"/1950's tinged "I Want Your Number", they take the party for a romantic walk to get some chili dogs.
     After the innuendo that's so transparent I dunno why I am even referring it an innuendo of the bacon grease blistered and having nothing to do with Freddie King or Bruce Springsteen song "I'm Going Down", the streetwise Sweet Jane feeling of  "True Love" and the smoochy acoustic touches of "Best Friend" the tubes powering the volume are burning hot. Just in time for the organ to take the spotlight and blare on the possibly weed baked soul-jazz blasted instro "Bud Heavy", taking "What'd I Say" back to a sweaty jukejoint where it always sounds best making it's 5 minute length seem half as much. It could go on twice as long as it does too cuz the room would keep shakin' their asses to it.
     The crowd is drenched in sweat but far from spent. Calling out for one more the band treats the request with the fuzzed out & funky "Stewed Tomatoes."
     Gonna tie a string around my finger to remind myself to find out what these cats are up to next Halloween.
randyrecords.bigcartel.com

Oct 29, 2014

MARTYR PRIVATES s/t LP

     In case you haven't noticed there's been a lot of talk of the cool music scene happening in Australia right now. Not like there hasn't been one happening for ages but it's a thing again to talk about. From the circles I run or, well, at least some of the things I read, a lot of it is based around particular collection of cats in the Melbourne area.
     But what is happening elsewhere in the land down under?
     A twenty hour drive up the coast on the Pacific Highway from Melbourne is the Gold Coast city of Brisbane. Most likely known to your average American, if they know anything of the city at all really, as the place Steve Irwin's zoo is at, Brisbane was also the home of the Saints, the Fun Things and the Go-Betweens as well as it being the place where the Bee Gees lived during their adolescent years.
     It is also where the Martyr Privates dwell.
     With the barbed guitar and hazy voice of Slug Guts Cameron Hawes leading the way this album travels through tunnels illuminated by glowering sodium lights warmth. Embarking with a slow and rumbling groove "Someone's Head" doesn't necessarily pick up but does gain moment as it moves along.
     That song, along with the blasting through wiggly wormholes humidity of "You Can't Stop Progress" along with it's fraternal twin "Something To Sell", the narcotized bounce of a new take of "Bless" from their debut single in 2012 and the way the album's closer "Sore" drills through the cranium, set the mind to wonder how the seeking some sort of salvation melodies in vocals sprout from a bed so muddied from torrential guitar downpour.
     The crepuscular sway that looms large in tracks like "Gold Chew" and "Toe The Plank" wring drops of the Stooges Funhouse and the filter through Loop's Fade Out while "Rope & Tarp" provides a come down soundtrack for watching the sun rise.
www.firerecords.com

Oct 23, 2014

Smashin Radio Transistors for October 23rd 2014

Above is what I played on my radio show on WSGR 91.3fm in Port Huron last night. You can give it's recorded right off the analog signal (no, that static, hiss and "snow" was not added later for some authentic effect-it's the real stuff, man) a listen right here.

Oct 21, 2014

The GOTOBEDS "Poor People Are Revolting" LP

     Taking their name from a member of Wire has probably made it easier for some of today's rock critics to pen some words about Pittsburgh's Gotobeds. They just gotta glean some lines from some decades old reviews, find some parallels while listening to the album once (because, well, who really needs to spend more time with a record than than that if you've already have your reference points in order and a one sheet in front of you) and hit send.
    Anyone who reviews this record like that though is gonna look the lazy fool as well as missing out sounds the band is actually making.
     With a snare drum roll, "Fast Trash" barrels the album right out the gate with a electric shock chug that's spent more than just a night Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and a melodic six string splatter which no one would doubt if it said it had the Fall circa Brix on its speed dial setting. A serpentine guitar melody wiggles it way through the song while singer/guitarist Eli Kasan voice bounce between a heartfelt bawl and a contemptuous bark. It's a formula that works well for the band and then, when adding twists like the overly antsy garage blues riff on "Rollin' Benny", the woozy tempo shifts of "To & Fromme" and the "A-ha! See! You can cite Wire's Pink Flag right there!" choppy chords moments of "Affection" and "Wimpy Garcia (Brotherfucker)", hit the euphoric smart guy punk rock/nervy pop conglomeration right on target.
     Though the raucous but clever of the songs about could find themselves worming into music part of the frontal lobe the big pick to click (if such things still exist) is "New York's Alright (If You Like Sex and Phones)", a re-recording of a song from a previous single that not only serves as a tribute/diss to some of the bands of a current ilk that the Gotobeds may find themselves lumped in with but also wrings a few Swell Maps songs of their twisted hooks for something that intoxicatingly toxic.
     The ten minute finishes with "Secs Tape" that builds up to slashing storm before descending into a collapse. Exhausted, and in need of a pick me up, starting the record over again will do the trick.
www.12xu.net

Oct 20, 2014

Founders Mosaic Promise IPA

   
     Brewed to benefit ArtPrize, the world's largest art completion that happens in Founders home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mosaic Promise is brewed with one single malt, Golden Promise, and with just one hop, Mosaic.
     This is the 2nd year their 5 year contract for creating a unique beer for the competition. Last year they brewed the pretty dang great Inspired Artist Black IPA so what they would come up with this year, like everything Founders makes, was something to look forward to giving a taste.
     Pours a rich golden slightly bordering on orange in color. It was a soft pour brought a one finger head that faded fairly quick but made a ring that left enough for spotty lacing behind through its drinking.
     Very crisp scents of grapefruit peel, lemon zest, some green bud and fresh ground pepper all intermingled on the nose in the top. The malt hold it all up in the background providing some honey and warm biscuits to the smell. There's quite a few levels of complexities actually which is interesting due to the fact that there only being one singular hop and malt used. Founders are masters at pulling every nuance out of a variety of hops they use and so far, as the smell goes at least, it they've done all kinds of magic again.
     The flavor is similar to the aroma. Lots of citrus and tropical fruit such as mango and pineapple along with a sour candy such as Spree's impart at first. Some pine qualities along with some grassy (as both in some lawn AND some primo weed), green grapes and blueberry notes then begin to waft through in the middle. If this was all the tastes the beer had to offer it would be enough to compare it to a super great harvest ale but, as a TV pitchman would put it, "Wait! There's more" as the malts come out in the end weaving things together with some fresh out of the oven wheat bread thing happening. The finish is peppery and piney but in a way that is very refreshing and not sticky.
     Of course this is a limited run and stock is running low on how much is left. I've picked up a couple six packs of it now and will continue to do so when I spot it around at stores til it's all gone. I'm not going to hoard it all though because I enjoy sharing beers with friends. Yes, this beer is for aficionados but is also a very flavorful and palatable one to turn on a neophyte to as well.
www.foundersbrewing.com

Oct 16, 2014

Smashin Radio Transistors for October 16th 2014

     Recorded live from the analog signal from a receiver that should have had its reception doublechecked before tape started rolling. With just enough good ol' FM hiss, a couple of glitches and a lot of awesome bands here is my radio show from last night.

Oct 14, 2014

FEATURE/SLOWCOACHES "Tourists" split EP

     Two UK trios united in a frayed and gauzy take on fried fidelity, a mutual admiration for Wire's Pink Flag and having a band member in common, take a side each to slather the ears in a exuberant DIY buzz.
     From London, Feature's (who include Sauna Youth's Jen Calleja in it's line up) two originals here, "Wisdom Teeth" and "Tourism Fiction", have my brain wanting to cite something like giving Slowdive a couple sticks of dynamite to rid them over the overdone and unneeded orchestral adornments and make things way more straight forward. The former is a down-stroked grungy grinder that finds an overall white knuckled darkness being pushed away from melodies allowing some sunlight to come through and the latter is choppy shoegazed tinged punk and loaded with head swimming harmonies. 
     Their take on on Wire's "Mannequin" stays somewhat faithful to the original's intention but at the same time gives it a different breathing space as well as tweaking the perception of the songs initial intent was for some.
     Though Leeds via Nottingham's Slowcoaches are the other side of a same sort of coin, they come at you at a much more panicked feeling. Topped off by bassist Heather Perkins (who is also in Feature) just the right discontention for punk rock vocals, the band's "Surface Observations" set off from a basement launch pad launch with high strung dose of rat poison noise pop meets Burger Records indie rock, give it a good kicking (such as the drummer pushing it all to go faster.) "Raw Dealing" keeps this manic feeling going.
     For their take on a Wire song they try "Ex-Lion Tamer" on for size and after giving a few alterations they find that it's a great fit.
www.slowcoachessux.tumblr.com

Oct 13, 2014

SICK THOUGHTS "Coming Over" 7inch

     On what seem to be their 100th release in the last year Sick Thoughts show no sign of slowing down soon. Masterminded by Baltimore, MD teenage Drew Owen, their songs explode with a lo-fi scuzz that splatters gooey filth over the high school halls. To cover up their tracks and keep from getting the blame of the malicious destruction the band plots a way of burning the building down.
     Because of the blown out sound and the age of the brain that is behind the bedlam the first couple of Reatards records gets bandied around often as a reference point. And sure, the adolescent ranting & raving and snotball rockin' does land them in the same camp but the late Jay isn't the only thing these malcontents have used to treat their burning itch.
     "Coming Over" blasts out of the speakers all overdriven and with enough scum to set a fire in the guts of the world's GG Allin fan. The guitar solo that sounds like it bound by barbed wire and then thrown down a hill of broken glass then comes along to aggrandize the point.
     Things then get spun up even more with "I Didn't Know" The song makes it point in less than a minute which is a good thing because it it went on any longer turntables may detonate. This record then wraps up with it's longest track, the almost two minute long "Remember", that answers the question "What if the Pagans made a single for Rip Off Records."
www.goingunderground.storenvy.com

Oct 11, 2014

APACHE DROPOUT "Heavy Window" LP

     The sound of being moonstruck on a very humid night.  Over the course of three albums in the past three years, a few singles during that same period of time and a cassette from 2008) it's statement that Indiana's Apache Dropout could put on their business card and no one would even bother to question it.
     While their records vibrate with a wiggly racket of wolf call yelps, dingy fuzz guitar and a ramshackle rhythm section that likes to stomp and kick as much as it can but will also lay low and sneak up on it's prey when needed, Apache Dropout have a sound that nods the Cramps soaked in echo psychotics and the blood drenched swampiness of the Scientists, yet has become distinctively their own.
     "Sitting Around" starts the record off sounding something akin to a deranged hillbilly sitting in the passenger seat of a badly beaten pick up truck and chanting and ranting things while turning the ignition. It growls, it grinds, it spews the smell of old burnt oil. Once running the pedal is kept to the floor to hear the rotted out header pipes make a rumbled roar.
     Sounding something like getting the bed spins while waiting for a 36 hour LSD trip to wear off while people in the other room watch b-movies and play surf records at a distorted levels the album's woozy title track is next, piling up the grit and grime higher.
     Though all the songs here cram the recording tape with enough fuzz to make even a forest full of cottonwood trees during the late spring shedding season stand back and say "DAMN!", it's not all just distorto-caveman stomp going on.
     "Movie Magic" and "Crystal Ball" respectively elbow candy coated psychedelia and blue collar new wave into the nervy rattle-shakin', "Little Georgie" and "Radio Double Agent" sound like they're booming out of dive bar jukeboxes on Mars, blasted on some blown out speakers "Detective" could get dropped between a Cheap Trick and Slade song and most people would be none the wiser and the album's closer, "Space Age", takes the sound of a 50s teenage ballad and gives it a sense of pent up desperation that those oldies they heard on an uncle's console stereo when they were kids could only hint at.
www.magneticsouthrecordings.org

Oct 7, 2014

Bettye LaVette "What Condition My Condition Is In"

In 1968 Bettye LaVette went into the studio to record a second set of sides with Detroit producer Ollie McLaughlin for his label Karen Record. Backed by Dennis Coffey, Ray Monette and Bob Babbitt they cut the Popcorn Wylie and Tony Hester song "Get Away" with it's intention of it being the hit side of an upcoming release on McLaughin's Karen label.

For the b-side they recorded "What Condition My Condition Is In." Written by Mickey Newbury, the song, which was actually titled "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" was a country hit for Jerry Lee Lewis in 1967 as a honky tonk oddity. A year later the song went into the Billboard top 10 as a bubblegum psychedelic tune by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.

McLaughlin was confident in Bettye's ability to turn the song into a smoldering and funky Rhythm and Blues track and claim the song her own. Detroit radio DJ's must've thought so too because though the a-side was ignored, "What Condition My Condition Is In" hit the top 10 on the charts of the legendary Detroit R&B station WCHB in February of 1969.

Oct 3, 2014

Smashin' Radio Transistors for October 2nd 2014

     It's been since the end of August that I last got around to uploading one of the weekly radio shows I do in Port Huron on WSGR 91.3fm. We are still not streaming so unless you are in our 20 mile range (on a good car stereo or the right amount of copper wire as an antenna made on a stereo receiver made before the early 90's) this is the only way it can be heard. Give it a listen.

Sep 23, 2014

The #1s s/t LP

     The year is 1979. The violence of The Troubles in Ireland is closing in on it's second decade. Along with a very poorly managed of the economy it could be very well expected that the youth of the country would scoff at any positive proverb their grandparents may try to lay on them.
     That is not to say the kids didn't find away to get away, if only for a few hours, from the gloom around.
     In dingy youth halls and dilapidated hotel ballrooms a sound of cheerful exuberance and escape blasted from battered guitars giving those in the room, if not at least a glimmer of hope, at least a reason to flirt, chat, dance and escape from all the bullshit going down.
     Aside from The Troubles being long over and the year is 2014 not '79, Dublin's #1s sound like they could be one of those bands playing on such an evening.
     Putting loud and snarling guitars over a classic AM pop radio song structure that's is rockin' enough for the boys but catchy enough for the girls (or vice versa depending on the crowd you run with) is nothing new. The trick is though doing it right.
     Instead of relying on the Rod Stewart haircuts and skinny leather ties that have cursed the post-powerpop-whatever for ages to carry them through a plodding of lackluster songs, the #1s have paid close attention to the sounds that were being made a couple hours north on the Good Vibrations label and learning the craft on how to make tunes that may too boppy and melodic for the bottle throwing set but also a bit much rowdy for those who want their hooks homogenized.
     Including the previously released singles "I Wish I Was Lonely" and "Sharon Shouldn’t" (the former a choppy guitar and harmony laden recorded on bargain basement budget blaster that John Peel would have possibly played more than once on his show, the latter a speedy number that resembles the Undertones exuding much higher levels of testosterone) the music is reeling with ragged but right power pop gems. New songs such the candy coated very sour apple "Heartsmash" and especially "Favorite Game" harkens much gruff Exploding Hearts while "Boy" and "Anything" will have you double checking the sleeve as well as your calendar to make sure what year you are actually in.
www.facebook.com/thenumberonesdublin

Sep 20, 2014

Odd Side Ale IPA and Grapefruit Wheat

 
     Odd Side's Pineapple IPA pours a rich and luminous amber in color with a minimal head that melts fairly quickly. The pineapple comes out even before the nose is near the glass. Not not overbearing and is not unlike the smell when I slice up a fresh one on a summer morning. Giving it a more investigative whiff aromas of orange peel and caramel notes of the malt sit on top of a piney hop character.
As I sit here and write this it is one of the warmest days of the year here. I also just so happens, even though most people write it all off after Labor Day, that summer ends and fall starts in two days. Seems a good time as any to compile my notes on the last strays of these two I have had on the stash for later shelf in my fridge.

     A mix of tropical fruits such as tangerine, papaya and mango come into play first in the flavor along with the pineapple which though, based off the the scent, is not as dominant as expected at first. That is followed by some toasty grains and slightly sweet malts. A hop bitterness finds itself getting comfy with some refreshing fruit juices in the finish.
     As the beer breathes and adjusts to room temperature the pineapple seems to step up it's roll as the star of the show but still doesn't hop the limelight. Due to a bit of stickiness I don't know if I would have classified this as a beach beer but, then again, the weather kinda jacked most beach days this past summer. Either way I enjoyed my share of them for the season and it worked well while out in my backyard today while doing some end of the summer work and surveying the things I gotta do before the snow starts to fly.
     Though I have been a serious IPA head for many years and plenty of times over the last year it seemed that I have gotten a little jaded on the style. I like them getting ridiculous but there's been a few where I'm like "Calm down dude" in more recent times. This is a cool twist on the style though. It's different and in no way doing it over the top just for the sake of doing so. Looking forward to having some more of these when they come around again next summer.

     Slightly cloudy and gold in color Odd Side's Grapefruit Wheat produces a small foam cap as a head which slowly melts away. The smell of grapefruit is very faint on the nose but the bready and banana like characteristics that come with along for the ride when it usually comes to wheat beers is there. Giving it a little time to breathe some fruit scents come out but it seems to me more along the lines of white grapes along with a dint of earthy raw honey.
     The taste is dominant of that of a standard wheat beer. Light and easy summer drinking in that respect. The grapefruit flavor comes out much, much more in the flavor than it does in the smell but also leans more towards the rind of it than the juice. The finish has an odd sticky bitterness that doesn't seem to work right to these taste buds though..  
     Everything I've tried by Odd Side I have enjoyed immensely but there is something missing. Not saying it struck out when it went up to bat but never got past 2nd base for me either. Worth giving a shot if somebody offers one but no worries passing on investing 10+ bucks on a six pack of it.
www.oddsideales.com

Sep 16, 2014

RAT COLUMNS "Leaf" LP

     As a member of Total Control and indietronic stars Lace Curtain there are many that would expect a project that Aussie David West is involved in to not shy away from having a dominant synth bent to them.  
     On the other hand his band Rat Column did have a bit of six string sounds going on on their debut album, 2012's Spectre Hole. The thing with that record though it also leaned towards an ambient vibe. It was nice for music to have going on the background or zoning out but, for the most part, it wasn't really something that was made to played at crank it up volumes.
     The jittery guitar line which then gives way to an almost mod ala the Creation or the Jam slashing chords on "Straight To Hell" that opens up Leaf though makes one wonder in what direction this record is going to head. It seems that the C86 thing along with the Clean and the Chills, especially in the ringing blare and twisted take on the Byrds jangle on "Another Day" for instance, are serving as the jumping off point here. After landing the songs then take off in a jagged direction which eventually gets them back to where the leapt off.
     If Orange Juice had decided to not let their love for Chic show through as much as they chose to on their You Can't Hide Your Love Forever album and replaced it with getting baked even before they rubbed the sleep out of their eyes on a dewy morning it may not take much to convince people that "Pink Mist" and "Walking Back" were taken from it while "Alone" starts off as twangy vibrato surf music which then rides straight to a torrential downpour.
   The sound of cathedral bells covered in fuzz guitar chug and buzzing wheezy organ rasp that continue to build tension as a song progresses and launched a million Velvet Underground acolytes marks it territory on "Fooling Around" and if these guys were to tell people that they weren't thinking about Can (Ege Bamyasi the most but even Landed at the least) on the album's title track probably no one would believe them.
http://ratcolumns.tumblr.com 

Sep 11, 2014

VACATION CLUB "Heaven Is Too High" LP

     Sun kissed and misted with with something tipsy, Indiana's Vacation Club have been tooling flower bright pink and phlegm green colored bit of disturbed jangle for a few years now. The singles they've had released have given off the ol' angel on one shoulder/the devil on the other vibe resulting in a sound that fed the ears with something that felt like a confectionery fluff.
     It seems all airy, light and sweet. Then the burning sensation and blistering sets in.
      On this, the band's first long player, as soon as teeth sink into a sounding like something on Budda Records circa '68 going on a fuzz binge candy coated outer shell the fortified with splinted glass oozy filling starts seeping into the saliva glands and then bloodstream.
    Backed up by splattery guitars that blast off from an echo chamber of dampness where a ne'er do well rhythm section hold down a fort, Vacation Club's Samuel James vocals resemble, depending on the song, something like childlike stupefaction and snotty teenage degeneration.
     While the sound here is working within the framework of juvenile delinquent garage rock of nearly five decades ago with the lips smacking bubblegum sound of a few years later factored in, Vacation Club bring a bit of Midwest/Corn Belt out of stepness that sets itself away from a recent crop of drowning in reverb bands who sound like spent a week listening to the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Black Lips then sent a demo to Burger Records. A martian robot march makes the album's opener "Gas Station" and "In My Eyes" guitar sludge landslide sound something akin to Wire's Pink Flag on a steady diet of chili fries, "Hound" and "Chip Taylor Nightmare" ring of King Tuff's first album if heard coming through a sewer pipe. Along with that, the songs that would sound like high school desperation bloooze stompers in the hands of a lot of other bands, like "Pyramid Culture", "Oh, Patty" and "Rats As Rats" wring out twisted melodies that make one wonder if the Jolly Rancher they've been sucking on has been laced with something illicit.
www.magneticsouthrecordings.org