Oct 27, 2015

Saugatuck Brewing's 2015 Barrel Aged Neapolitan Milk Stout

     A perfect way to describe Saugatuck's Neapolitan Stout is "fun." Like the ice cream it is styled after, in Saugatuck's regular version of this milk stout you can taste the different layers of flavors as the pass through the lips, across the palate and down the throat. It then finishes in a blend of them all the same way the ice cream does if it melts a little bit in the bowl before it is all finished. Best part though? No ice cream head burn if you sip too fast (I mean, unless you serve all beer at some supercold temperature like when the mountains turn blue on a Coors Light can. You realize that is done is because the colder a beer is, the less flavors come out, right? Yep, basically the big beers have figured out if it's as close as it can to freezing without actually doing so less people will notice how lame their product really is.)
     So, what would make this beer even more fun? Well, barrel aging it of course.
     The color is almost black with a slight ruby hue surrounding it. The head is minimal and fades almost immediately, leaving slight clouds and a rim ring behind. The scent of chocolate and strawberry waft out of the glass and can be smelled even at 5 feet away once the brew starts breathing. A touch of bourbon in the aroma become detectable at that time too.
     First thing on the lips and tongue noticed is that the beer is a bit sweeter than the regular version. The chocolate is the first thing that comes to the forefront. Very rich and, to an extent, resembling "The Original" Bosco syrup in it's sweetness in the front end of it's flavor but there's also a bit of baking chocolate bitters and smoke that linger underneath. The middle brings out some faint notes of oak and roasted malts.There's some vanilla are too but is a bit muted. That seemed odd because it's one of the flavors that usually comes to mind for me when tasting a barrel aged brew. The strawberries come out huge in the finish. Almost o an extent where they're trying to push everything else out of the way.
     I will go record saying that this, like it's non aged partner, is fun to drink but felt the barrel aging didn't really add too much to it either, other than a little darkness to the chocolate, amping up the fruit notes almost a little too much (unless that was something that was done at the brewery this year for this special batch in the first place. I haven't had a regular bottle this year to see if anything about its balance has changed from how it's tasted in the past.) It lacked a bit of the complexities and didn't really seem worth the couple dollars more a bottle price point to me.
www.saugatuckbrewing.com

Oct 24, 2015

Smashin' Podsistorscast: 6...66

     Things have been a bit crazy hectic on the work and transportation front in the Smashin' Transistors world the past month or so. It's kind of distracted me from sitting down and jotting observations & opinions on records and beer that have passed through the ears and lips. I did get a new edition of the podcast together for your digital devices this week though.
     With Halloween right around the corner I did think about doing a spoooky themed show. Problem is though I'm a bit ADD and would've got distracted or bored with doing such a thing halfway through. That and there's plenty of people out there who do such things much better than I could anyway. I just blasted a bunch of tunes instead. Let new things from noisemakers such as Frau, Wand, Spray Paint, Ghastly Spats, Black Time, Cheena, Destruction Unit and the Staches infect the part of your brain that sound goes. Have things of the past from Suicide, Dale Hawkins, The Velvet Underground, Strawberry Window and Honey Bane haunt your speakers. And, course, have other sounds on this go round make their way out of your speakers too.

Oct 16, 2015

PHYLUMS "Phylum Phyloid" LP

     People could toss around the alt-county blah blah blah Americana blah blah blah Roots Music blah blah blah a billion times when taking about Wisconsin's Phylums but I still don't think they'd ever be convince them to wear such a thing as a badge. The same thing would happen if you were to drop the garage rock dime on them too.
     Comprised of guys that were in the Goodnight Loving, Holy Shit and Head On Electric, three bands that we're all very different from each other sound and approach wise, the music takes you on trip through the heartland. Yes, there will be rolling hills and probably diary cows and pretty girls but this is more than a Sunday drive to go get breakfast at some place off the beaten path. The ride may end up a little bumpy though as is also the heartland of hangovers, stupid days, working weekends to pay the bills and the many ghosts that haunt the rustbelt.
     Along with Byrds-esque sparkling in a rainstorm guitar jangle running a thread through most of the songs is here is the voice of Andy Kavanaugh. He's always had that knack from sounding wide eyed and cynical at the time same time. Like chasing a honey slide with a slug of with a bottle of middle shelf bourbon, there's a sweet earthiness to it that is equally soothing but has a bite. With the jittery exuberance put forth by the band, Phylums simply straight up music rooted in the vast and varied history of rock-n-roll.
     Starting things off with a amalgamation of the 50s, hyperactivity and brittle fuzz, "Can't Get Through" tells the tale of getting turned away at the Canadian border while trying to cross through at Detroit and then more than touches on the trails and tribulations of being unknown band on tour. Then it lyrically takes turns into a take of the messed up state of things in general. In a lot of bands hands the dour could hang over like dark clouds. The ragged harmonies and an overall "well we can't do much about it, might as well laugh about" delivery here gives the listener the feeling that's more like sitting around having a beer with friends and listening to them getting wound up while telling a story about a day nothing at all went right.
     Traces of surf music wash across along the dirt on the psych speckled love song "Bottle Of Wine", the lonely soul psychedelic noir of "Route 66" and on the solo dropped right between the folk rock standing on a trash punk foundation that's the words of warning (because it is true you can’t let your guard down when you're living on the...) on "Crummy Side Of Town."
     That reverby wetness and concrete crunch also does one of its finest balancing acts on the entire record during the tremulous cadence that stomps directly underneaths the mossy "I Gotta Know." Bubblegummy organ swirl add a syrupy and woozy feeling to morning after a long night out tale of "Cold Coffee" while another story of weighing the option of a night on town, "Go Home", feels celebratory on the thoughts of staying in.
     With no lack of melody packed choruses and hooks abounds that are simple enough to get toddlers singing along (the Bow-Bow-Bow-Bow on the high strung "Time Capsule" for instance) but still appealing to so called grown ups , don't be surprised if you find all the songs on this record worming into your ear. That goes twice if your like a sense of dark humor with a side of down home cooking.
https://dirtnaprecords.bandcamp.com/album/phylums-phylum-phyloid     

Oct 11, 2015

Smashin Podistors: The ST5 "Jam Out The Kicks"

    
     The Smashin' Podsistorscast is now five deep. Have new things from sorts such as Obnox, Uranium Club, Protomartyr, Sewers, OBN IIIs and Screature sear your ear drums. We pulled some goodies off the back shelves from Wire, Bettye LaVette, the Feelies and Huggy Bear to reminisce about as well. And, as usual, plenty of clattering and blaring in between.

Oct 3, 2015

CENTURY PALM "White Light" and "Valley Cyan" 7inch

photo by Rico Moran
     With members of bands such as Dirty Beaches, the Ketamines and Tough Age among the ranks it is safe to assume that Toronto's Century Palm take on, for the sake of using an all-encompassing word, pop music is going to be a bit skewered.
     Taking two songs that first appeared on a cassette EP last year, "White Light" and "New Creation", as their first sounds to commit to having etched in polyvinyl chloride, serves well as the bands calling card.  The former, rooted by a rhythmic charge of guitar chords and layered vocals that give it a bit on anthemic qualities to it, is a zippy bit of post new wave. "Post" in a way where some, say CMJ chart darlings for instance, decide that emulating the Heaven 17 and A Flock Of Seagulls or whatever record they found at some ridiculous mark up (y'know be cause vinyl is back so those 3 dollar standards are now 10 dollar "scores") is actually a good idea to permanently erase rock and roll from pop music all together once and for all, Century Palm do their best to be faithful to the future of the past while separating the wheat from the chaff. That isn't to say that they band is doing some "rock the fuck out thing" as there is quite a bit of an art tempered happening going on here but even in that aspect there is a sway and vibe here that is missing from a large chunk of the things that are trying to mine the same territory that being pushed in the going for adds hype sheets that flood college radio programmers mail box each week.
     The latter delves a little deeper into the atmosphere with spacey and gurgling synth notes and treated guitars hooks that touch on early era Ultravox and mid period Wire but in more of inspirational way that a direct copy.
     "Valley Cyan" gels the elements of above together and, along guitars that relay between Spaghetti western meets Joe Meek heavily reverb and electrified stabs and swirly, cosmic keyboard lines, finds the band locating a dreamscape to call their own. This also makes the the b-side, "Accept", sound like it could be from a different band all together with a gothic fog rolling in after dark sound and sax honks that sound like they were needed after a long weird night of talking about free jazz and Roxy Music albums.
www.centurypalm.com