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.

Nov 22, 2014


     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.

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.

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.

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.