Showing posts with label 12xu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 12xu. Show all posts

Dec 11, 2019

SPRAY PAINT Into The Country LP

The intention has been to sit down and disseminate impressions of the Spray Paint album for a bit of a spell now. Whenever attempted though, this reporter finds himself getting antsy, agitated and itchy. I do believe that has been an intention of the band since their inception and they've continued to achieve it quite well seven albums deep.

A difference with their latest, Into The Country, though is that it sounds as if they've almost found away to almost to use their spasmodic motions and sways for ways to have a bit of sick fun rather than just simply abetting in aberrant thoughts of a listener.

To an extent, that is.

The spring coiled and furious pulse of "Alcohol Surface" opens the record sounding like krautrock in a bouncy house. That someone died a violent death in.


And from there, things get more deviant.

"Keep On Googlin'" is like the reverberated sound glitch that rattles around inside a human brain that has stopped completely stopped deciphering what is fact and what is bogus, leaving all thought to be decided what comes of fits in some kook curated web search. "Death Bed" could very well resemble sounds of aggrieved calm some may hear before exited this plane.


If the taunting of impending doom by mocking it and laughing in its face hasn't become more pronounced as the record progresses, the sentiment seems more than obvious as the record ends with "Can't Help But Kill" and "Cleaning The Gun." The former with a chunk of hillbilly flesh being run through a grinder located deep in a cave guitar lick and a used car salesman meets crazy old biblical looking dude pontificating in front of the post office rant. The latter for first giving an impression of floating in some weightless netherworld and then decompression sickness kicking in.

Huff fumes at 12XU

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Oct 7, 2019

USA/Mexico Matamoros LP


Sometimes I entertain the idea of taking psychedelic mushrooms for the first time in decades. Then I start to wonder “but what if I take the trip and don’t end up returning.” As my thoughts keep pondering the subject I then ask myself "And what if it's a really bad trip on top of that."

In my youth, I often wondered this while listening to the Butthole Surfers. USA/Mexico's begetter of nepenthean beats is Butthole Surfers drummer King Coffey. Along with Shit and Shine’s Craig Clouse on guitar and vocals and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth's Nate Cross on bass, the noise/drone/destructo-psych pedigree is of momentous scale. Joined by Spray Paint's George Dishner on 2nd guitar for the album's opener/title track, the brain fry may seem immediate with squalls of guitar feedback being the first thing to rise from the wax, but it's the rumble akin to listening to an old skyscraper crumbling to the ground after detonation played at a really slow speed where the hallucinatory trepidity really sink in.


It's followed by a reflective and nostalgic moment of sorts with "Shoofly." The "of sorts" is that the song originally appeared on Cherubs debut album Icing which was released on King Coffey's label, Trance Syndicate, in 1992. Joined by Cherubs member Kevin Whitley, this almost three-decade later take of the song somehow almost manages to outsick the original, and making it just as creepy and menacing.

 

While any given track on the album would make my grandfather come into the room, asked me if I am listening "to the soundtrack for World War III" and tell me turn it down, it's the 17 minutes of blown out rumblings and snail pace thudding of the album's closer "Anxious Whitey" that, if he were still alive, that would make him storm in, rip the needle off the record and whip it out the nearest closest window (just like he did the first time I played Throbbing Gristle's "We Hate You (Little Girls)" single on his fancy assed high-end Marantz at full blast decades ago.)
Crumble the walls at 12XU

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Nov 10, 2018

MISSING PAGES "Long Way Down" 7inch


When first glancing at the cover of the Missing Pages 7inch, something about its design had me thinking of a large percentage of "Euro-garage" singles that came out in late 90's and early 00's. Many of them had a certain look to them.

Another similarity about a lot of those kinda records had to them was that the bands had the best intentions but there was always an element lacking in their rocking which kept them in the "Ehh, they're okay I guess. They mean well" pile.

Missing Pages are not from anywhere in Europe. They're from Austin, TX. Comprised of members of Sweet Talk, Church Shoes and others, they're set into other time shifts.

1985. Reagan's in for a 2nd term. It's dark times in America. Let's say it's a cold winter college town USA city. Darker music, mostly of an English flavor in the early forms of post-punk, made its mark on some bands that played the bar with the local favorite budget beer lighted sign outside.

1985. Sounds about right. Bobby Knight threw a chair and fucking New Coke. The country was slowly starting to get out of a recession it was in but unemployment were high all over the western world.

R.E.M. released an album they recorded in England. New Order released their last decent album. The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy, Bad Moon Rising by Sonic Youth and The Fall's This Nation's Saving Grace (to name a just few) came out that year too. Rhythm sections could be heads down pounding but also sway. Guitars made a sparkly roar....or a spindly spider crawl. The highest rung of the artistic bar was brooding with hooks.

David Lee Roth also left Van Halen in 1985. That was sure sign the good times were going to go dim.

My favorite year of music in my life time? Not quite but it is in my top seven or so. These are the types of things I hear on "Long Way Down." A rock solid bottom, a hook and melody that rings classic but wrinkled into a odd pattern. A catchy glide to get caught in a thunderstorm with. There's a tinge of "art" that plays on a subtle level here where the more it is absorbed, the way a standard rock band line-up can intertwine sound takes on a colorful weave.



Somewhere between my first impression and the prattle above was, of course, my second impression.

"It like the first two Psychedelic Furs re-envisioned by the Marked Men" I proclaimed (to one of my cats who was in the room.) I said it even louder when side two's "Highlighter Piss" started blaring outta the speakers.That makes more sense once it's realized that Jeff Burke mixed this candy coated chainsaw.


This record will not end up in the earlier mentioned "meant well" pile. It will stay in my listening to quite a bit stack for a good spell though.
Get found at 12XU

Oct 12, 2018

ROCKET 808 "Digital Billboards" 7inch


When it comes to rock-n-roll John Schooley has an old soul. It's been obvious since his barely outta high school hayseed punk band the Revelators bolted from the bucking chute in the late 90's.

It's continued with each musical thing he's been part of too. Just straight up back road hollerin', stripped raw blues burnin', punk rockin' bang-n-twang. No post-punk math assignments. No mustache pondering indie rock. No digital do-dads used as crutches to soil up the sound.

His latest project is named in tribute to what is contestability the first rock-n-roll song recorded. More servings of that fine cooking he whips up right?

Well, he's now using a drum machine!!! Before you go clutching for your pearls and beckoning for the smelling salts, it's a drum machine that sounds like it was snatched out of some Silvertone electric organ that had been sitting neglected in the corner of an old folks home for a few decades now.

With it setting a beat that's as slinky as it is cheezy,  a guitar rings and roars in hillbilly from hell handlin' a hollow body style. Strings bend and blare in reverb drench but never stray into shred territory like some of the surf and rockabilly assholes of the past couple of decades stray into much too often.


While "Digital Billboards" is like sauntering through the sleaziest part of town where neon reflects in pools of spilled whiskey on the sidewalks, "Mystery Train" takes the well worn Junior Parker song down into the sewers below in search of the slimiest echo.

Blast off at 12XU

Oct 15, 2017

OBNOX Niggative Approach LP


It probably took about ten minutes after Lamont Thomas landed the first 'Nox recording on folks ears before they started bandying the buzzwords SOUL & PUNK around.

The punk rock thing is a given. Lamont's background of being in brash and blaring 100% no bullshit rock-n-roll music bands goes back a couple decades now. Usual known for his way around a drumkit in those combos, him front and center on guitar, vox and mostly everything else at least occasionally in Obnox is a whole new kind of volume blasting monster. It's serrated and searing. It's the sound of jet engines being piped through a bong. It's heavy, it's hissy and it not also clobbers, it stings for days after making contact.

The soul end of comes from the street level words and blazed out attitude he always lays down on 'Nox records. It also comes from him being a guy that dissertate not only about the finest moments of many a 1990's garage punk band, but can also, for example, can extol about Art Blakey's finest moments or how Prince made music better for everyone for hours if the conversation calls for such a thing.

While this writer has had just as many first impressions of Obnox records as they've had releases now (and with eight LP's and nine singles under his belt in the past six years, there's been quite a few), this new one was instantly "It's like the Ohio Players getting dragged behind some really hardcore biker's hog." Another spot on description is one I saw on the web. My apologies to who said it because I can't find it right now to credit you for it but it was something to the effect of "It sounds like Curtis Mayfield but it's the sound of him committing suicide." It's funky but it isn't goofing around. It's got a groove but it has moves like the dancefloor is covered in broken glass and blood. It's the sound of America NOW! The sound that Trump tards don't want people to hear and the sound of the dolts who are going around saying "Punk Rock is gonna get better again now that Trump is president" probably won't hear because a) it's not going to have a big marketing budget or media buzz behind it selling it as some "revolutionary" and b) there's good punk rock coming out every day. If those folks knew THAT, they wouldn't even have made such a dumb statement in the first place.

The "soul" on this slab also is much bigger and perhaps even less obscured under the usual maelstrom of sonics that other Obnox offerings. Songs like "Carmen, I Love You" is practically a straight of love jam with the expected noise kept in tack and "Hardcore Matinee" is a love letter to the days of underage punk rocks told from someone who has a Roy Ayers Ubiquity track banging around in their brain.



The punk end of the game isn't neglected here though either. I mean, the record is kinds named in tribute after one of the unruliest and greatest American bands of all times (and even has the man John Brannon chiming in giving his blessing) and ear wax dislodgers like "Skywalker OG" attest to that.

If you're new to the Obnox game (which if you're a regular visitor to Smashin' Transistors I don't know if I should be more shocked than ashamed) Niggative Approach is a good place to start. For those already down but haven't grabbed this one yet, be ready for something a little more experimental (there are things here like "Afro Muffin" and "Audio Rot" that are in a Throbbing Gristle/Cabaret Voltaire region and million miles away from Garage Rock Land) and still have you brain smoked. Headphones optional but highly recommended.
Get it at 12XU

May 12, 2017

BORZOI Surrender The Farm 7inch EP

In a conversation I had with a friend recently we were thinking about which AmRep band we had each seen the most. For me, it was (the) Cows. I was then asked if remembered any of the bands they played with. I couldn't recall. Hell, I can't even recall any of the other things that happened on those evenings other than seeing the band. A Cows live show was like watching a gang of the criminally insane compose the soundtrack the Z-grade hayseed horror film where they do really messed up things in really weird smelling basement that is constantly playing in their heads.  It was always disturbing and mesmerizing. I think they did something to fry any other memories of the night out of the spectator's brains.

I have not seen ATX's Borzoi live so I cannot confirm if they have such powers on stage but on this record, they seem to have grazed through a same sort of hazardous waste meadow because they sound a similarly unsound. Thick bass slugs straight in the gut while guitar strings wrap around the throat. The drums, noticing the grasping and struggling, assist by kicking it all down the side of a mountain.

The EP's title track thrashes like a deadly barn stampede. Chickens get trampled. Goats bleed to death. At a little over a minute long though it's just a warning bell of the audio carnage ahead. The bandsaw on metal grating guitars on "Feeding The Pig-Dog" first create discomfort and tension. Just when you think it's about to drive you to the brink of mental capacities will never return, a jet engine hurricane of feedback blows through, with shards of glass and rusty nails flying around and stabbing everything in their path.

Don't think that just because they have a song called "Desert Rose" that it's going to be a pleasant and pretty picture either. It's more like some sub-human stomp that's like between something off the first Mordecai album and the noise that rings through a pile driver operator's head when deep into his work. "Millipede" is an apropos title as it is like a billion insect feet scattering over the psyche. Those insect feet aren't bare either. They're all wearing old metallic golf spikes.
Get it at 12xu.bigcartel.com

Apr 12, 2017

THIGH MASTER BBC 7inch

It's only been in the last month or so that I've been hipped to Australian band Thigh Master and their 2016 album Early Times. Ever since though the record has been a constant not only at Smashin' Transistors headquarters as well as my radio show, but everywhere else I roam.This brand new single on 12XU will now be joining on such travels too.

With Byrdsian guitar jangle transmogrified into something less hippie folk rock but a lot more aberrant, vocals that manage to sound lackadaisical and exuberant at the same time and bass & drum pair that can bash their way both loudly or discreet if the moment calls for it, thought of Flying Nun bands come to mind pretty much immediately. While I think the band would not be likely to deny such a comparison, they also aren't simply just doing some paint by numbers with sound here either.

Side one's "BBC" follows a path that a band like the Clean cut but the chiming of the six strings snakes it's way through leafy brambles often, then returns back with a pounce. There's a sense of frowning at the heavy weather hanging overhead in singer Matthew Ford's voice but it also seems as if he see's a break in clouds and sunshine ahead but, for now, he's just going to keep that all to himself.

Whereas that song strolls zig zaggedly through some dew misted greenery, the flip's "Park Road Clinical"  lunges through a late night/early morning walk down a grey strip of concrete while being guided by the twinkling of colored lights off in the distance.
Get it at 12xu.bigcartel.com

Dec 4, 2016

DD OWEN S/T 12inch EP

     When sitting down to type out some word about this record I was going to take the angle of something like "More often than not when an artist decides to record under has own name after being associated with others, they tend to do something a little more introspective and personal. Sick Thoughts/Chicken Chain/Gluebags dude DD Owen though has always wore his heart on his sleeve."
     After I read the one sheet to the record though I found that it was taking the same angle. That just leaves me to talk about the songs themselves.
     Yeah, that heart on his sleeve things I mentioned early? I forgot to add that the sleeve is encrusted with the dried blood the heart has spewed out as well as it being puke stained and stinking but it's worn there none the less.
     "I Should Have Been Aborted" launches things off like the Heartbeakers throwing an adenoidal conniption fits and from then on in, it's pretty much good time celebration of all kindsa things negative and depraved. Fizzy carbonated buzzsaw's like "Shattered" and "Degenerate" make a greasy mess like the Reatards hacking up the Ramones and putting them into a deep fryer, "Son Of The Devil" summons a bong packed with rat poison to be lit and Fonzie rockers may find themselves lured in by "Low Life Baby" 50's feeling only to find out their flies in a web and about to be eaten by the most repugnant spider ever. Spin this record once and feel an infection coming on. It'll be the first of many times to follow because the sickness becomes infectious.
http://12xu.net

Sep 8, 2016

JAMES ARTHUR'S MANHUNT Digital Clubbing LP

Photo by Ángel Delgado-Reyes
     Since the mid-90's I have seen every band that James Arthur has been in that rolled through Michigan. The first couple of times it was just coincidental. Then it came deliberate. Fireworks. A Feast Of Snakes. The Necessary Evils. Heck, even when he was in the Golden Boys. I was always around whooping it up at the show and then talking bourbon, bikes, backwoods and whatever else afterwards.
    Since the 2010's Manhunt LP on Melbourne's Aarght! and a couple of singles though the world hadn't heard much from James. He had his reasons to go missing (you can read all about that and more in an interview he did with Ryan Leach) but now, along Orville of the OBN IIIs on drums, Golden Boys Bryan Schmitz and bassist Sean Morales, he's back to plugging things in and making noise on them.
     Like those previous records with the Manhunt name on them, there is an ambient and soundtracky vibe on tracks like on Psilocybin mushroom heaped spaghetti westerns "Blowout" and "Butcher" but Digital Clubbing isn't just a bunch of mood pieces strung together with the more meandering parts clipped out. 
     "Blackbird" and "Come Down" take Davie Allan & the Arrows fuzz down some dangerous paths. The former into a burning building full of hoarse rhythm and blues growlers, the latter tying it to the from of a truck hauling dynamite and aiming straight for a brick wall. Beating the tar out of things beyond recognition might be a thing that runs through the record though as "Wired" has a riff that boogies like a, what else, totally wired classic rock station being spun out of control and then belt sanded down to a chunky pulp and by the time "Kill Zone" finishes, a dizzying space rock high still rings even though all that is left behind is ashes.
12xu.net

Aug 23, 2016

MUSK Musk 2: The Second Scumming LP

Photo by Corey Arnold
      There's the blues. There's also blues-rock, blues-rawk, blues-punk and, of course, the blooze. Then there's something that is much more sinister, foreboding and scary as hell. Something that may have the blues as a steady part of their diet but like water, it is just the base ingredient. Bands like the Birthday Party, the Laughing Hyenas and Chrome Cranks huffed and guzzled such concoctions in the past and California's Musk have figured out the formula for themselves too.
     After what sounds like a circus being run of out town and over a cliff by spaceships on opener "The Hidden Cost" a murder spree starts with "Wet Brain." Full of serrated guitars alternate between recklessly sawing away at tendons or blowing up a dam full of blood while a man possessed howls something that sounds somewhere between Lux Interior screaming for dear life and a snake charming preacher drunk on a serpents venom, the song is where all kinds of creepy dreams begin.
     Fuzz coated and mildew laden freak fest like "Raw Night" and the drunks fist flying boogie of "Hip Pain" come barreling out like a runaway train loaded with a raw sewage payload, smashing everything in its path. Meanwhile, a panicky "Catch And Release" kicks rockabilly music in the head with a work boot and tangles your worthless soul into a slimy and sticky web of spidery guitar lines.
     When it seems the band might play it a bit straight things are still messed up. "Weathervane" may remind some ears of Neil Young and Crazy Horse but after a minute or so in it's more like them being tied together at the ankles and then dragged alive behind the hearse that Neil wrote "Long May You Run" about. When they do a take on the Paul Anka song "Crazy Love" it sounds more like a murderer making a non remorseful but disturbing confession and their version of The Savages "The World Ain't Round (It's Square)" takes the teenage snot and rage of the 1960's original and drops into the even more brutal and bitter modern world.
     The first Musk album blew my head off. For this second go round they have decided to stomp on the grey matter and kick the bloody parts all over the walls and window.
12xu.net

Nov 6, 2015

OBN IIIs "Worth A Lot Of Money" LP

     The OBN IIIs have always brought the rock. And not just any rock either. It's a bit like the kind of rock that was heard blasting out of high school auto shop in the late 70s/early 80s. It's a bit like the kind of rock that was heard in a small town downtown on a Friday night blasting out of the cars the high schoolers were working on in said auto shop.
     It's a fist in the air, anthemic kind of rock. It's also tends to be more smart assed and clever than just straight up lunkheaded and proud about it than what a lot of people would think when describing the type of rock that it is.  Sure, it's cocky and the attitude is one of folks that don't really care if you think they play to loud and smell like bourbon sweat and cigarette butts.
     While previous records by the band hinted a little bit here and there that they weren't perhaps ashamed of rockin' out to hard rock heroes who's best songs haven't gotten played on classic rock radio in years there was always punk rock goo all over them that was fit for dingy, dank basements and humidity stricken back yard barbeques. Here, with the production of assistance of a cat who has twiddled the knobs for the likes of the ...And You Will Know Us By Our Trail Of Dead, Heartless Bastards, Spoon and Lee Ann Womack (?!?!), Mike McCarthy, some of the murk has been buffed away, exposing a bit more color than expected while still keeping the grit intact.
     The swagger on tracks like the slow burning "What Happened To You", "Let The Music", which sounds like a soundtrack for good ol' fashioned fight where guitars are flashed like switchblades, the way "The Stalker" gallops into a wall of a fire and swerving chug on the night's not over but hangover gonna be hell in the morning on "You Can Never Let Me Down" sound like the ghost of Phil Lynott are in the room. Not just in the way singer Orville Neely channels the tough guy with a tarnished heart of gold delivery but also from the doubled up guitar harmonies that peel off notes and chords like riding through peaks and valleys of Thin Lizzy badassery and the way the rhythm blast holes through any obstacles that are blocking the way for them to meet their destination.
     The rock doesn't stop just there though. "New Money", a checklist on how to blow cash fun and recklessly is like AC/DC discovering a couple new chords after falling into a fountain of youth behind the back of grease covered rib joint joint, the album's opener "New Trash" and the street level boogie on "Standing" and "I'm Done" resemble ZZ Top's Tres Hombres spun at twice the speed and illuminated by exploding flash pots.
     It's a been a common statement for years now that rock is dead. That's usually followed by a "Rock Is Back" declaration. It sounds like the OBN IIIs don't give a damn either way. They just know it feels good. 
http://12xu.net

Sep 18, 2015

SNOOTY GARBAGEMEN s/t LP

     As if being a string bender for the OBN IIIs and one of the noise bringers on the Blaxxx project wasn't already enough to satiate Texan Tom Triplett's need for loud rock-n-roll action, he also fronts up purveyors of bad attitude sounds, the Snooty Garbagemen, too.
     Unlike the shake your hips while punching you in the gut Stones/Dolls boogie slime happenings of the former or the barbed wire wrapped distortodelic funk of the latter; this gang is much more elemental with its intentions. A power trio in a most primal sense, the songs here are locked in to swift and constant rhythm pummeling, all on a conquest for the constant taste of red meat and letting most of the human race they can fuck right off.
     After introducing themselves with a flurry of psych blues slime guitar racket and the bass & drums determined to cause destruction on the instrumental "Sad Sack" the band then pushes the listener into a garage. Not one of those new sparkly garages that it seems chirpy, smiling kids with a penchant for digital reverb want people to think they bob their heads in unison all day these days but a dingy, dirty one where a bare lightbulb hangs to lights your way so you don't get tetanus from backing into some random rusty piece of oil soaked, soot coated jagged metal scattered all over the place.
     When Tom's virulent voice one ups Johnny Paycheck stupid job sentiments by ten on the Motorhead/Tad infected "I Quit" it's obvious he's had enough and doesn't know but still doesn't care how he'll pay his bills. Most likely though he and the band would just find more time to be shit kicking punk rock down the street like they do on songs like the thunderous "I Can't Find My Keys", dancing on graves to the spazzed out beat of "Apart At The Seams", trying different sized drill bits on heshers eardrums like they do on "Heavy Metal Brains" or bumming out hippies acid trips the way "Answer Your Phone" has the power to do.
     Yeah, the Snooty Garbagemen can scoff your trash. They have no need for it. They're doing just fine building a fetid, obnoxious heap of their own.
http://12xu.net

Jun 19, 2015

UNIFORM "Perfect World" EP

     As a little kid where you afraid of thunder? To help you get over the fear did your folks tell you not to worry as it was just the gods bowling and the sound was simply balls rolling down the alley?
     Well, if that's the case the rolling rumbles down the alley here are that of Zeus and Thor are a two man team throwing perfect games while leaving cracks and divots all over the alley.
     Comprised of The Men's Ben Greenberg and Michael Berdan or Drunkdriver, Uniform deal in, despite the record's optimistic title, a doom laden metallic industrial sound that's akin to the clamor of Cabaret Voltaire's The Mix Up and Big Black's nail gun to the cranium than it is the Motorhead goes disco workouts that Ministry filled dance floors with.
    Opening with the title track, a reverberating electronic throb pushes to the brink of pent up tension. A bass drum thump joins in which is quickly followed by dense guitar slashes that repeat chords that are like opening salvo of a fist in the air 80s heavy metal anthem and audio demonstration on how to perform a death on something by a thousand tiny cuts. When Berdan's echo laden and dripping with contempt verbal bawl appear the floor drains are already clogged and gurgling back bubbles of blood.
     The intensity doesn't wane on the next two tracks, "Indifference" and "Footnote", with the former sounding like a hatchet murder of a shoegaze band in a House of Mirrors and the latter like watching a slow motion loop of the evidence of said murder scene being destroyed by dynamite. Speaking of explosions, "Buyer's Remorse" follow and it detonates into a post hardcore blast that repeatedly slams its head against the wall in a rapid fire succession which refuses to let up for close to six minutes.
     With all this darkness going on one must wonder if a little light is ever going to be let in. "Lost Cause", a collaboration with Coil's Drew McDowell, does manage to let some in but it's a harsh white light that illuminates an autopsy room rather than sunshine to bask in. "Learning To Forget" closes out the record by moving like an iron armored caterpillar inching it's way through a maze of ice. 
12xu.net

Apr 8, 2015

OBNOX "Boogalou Reed" LP and Blaxxx "For No Apparent Reason" 12inch EP

Obnox photo by Dale Merrill
     "So how ya doing?"
     That was a questioned posed at the party at the Smashin' Transistors commorancy to Obnox's Lamont "Bim" Thomas following the gig they played here in town last summer concerning the rave reviews the band's records had been getting.
     "You mean am I getting rich?" Lamont laughed then added "I'm just trying to get as much music out there as I can before I die."
     With a couple decades of making music with a bunch of different combos under his belt such as the Bassholes and the Puffy Areolas one may figure he's already achieved leaving an indelible mark on the punk rock scene but with him being in the drivers seat with Obnox he's making sure of it.
     Like the two full lengths that have preceded it, Boogalou Reed, the first of three 'Nox albums planned for 2015 (and who knows how many EP's and singles along the way) is bursting at the seams with tumult but also again manages to cover different ground instead throwing rocks through windows of the same places over and over again.
     Rolling in like a venomous sludge, the album opens with "Wonder Weed." The song's (credited to Stevie Wonder but unknown to this writer where it has appeared on any of his records) caterpillar that weighs a ton guitar crawl and cosmic organ that obscure Bim's voice in the mix act as an roller ascending effect for the album. Slowly leading the head to the top of a peak and building anticipation for slamming on the g-forces and whatever unexpected twist and turn that are to follow.
      Equipped with a super rock riff that's made air guitar thrashing and beat swings jazz cat showing every hardcore rat-ta-tat-tat drummer what's up those g-forces first kick in on the next track "Cynthia Piper At The Gates Of Dawn." Fifties rock gets spun in to a dizzying three chord blur on the celebration of Saturday Night (and perhaps jab at the squares that don't "get" what Obnox is getting at) "Too Punk Shakur."
     While the album is full of plaster cracking action like hesher rockin' and name droppin' Johnny Cash & Jimi Hendrix jam "Slaughter Culture", the warp speed space truckin' with no seat belts on rides of "Marinol", "I Climbed A Mountain" and "Protopipe", the fist in the air ode to the ones with good taste on the decks "All Hail the DJ" and a cover of CSN&Y's "Ohio" who's torrential downpour of guitar noise conveys a sense of unrest and disorientation that Neil Young was probably attempting to get across but them damn hippies he was working with were just to mellow, the album is not all about getting the feeling of plummeting into the earth at 90 miles per hour.
     The album's title track takes trip-hop on a whole trip with a washes of feedback and reverb, a tumbling rhythm that has a bass drum and snare that thumps at the temples and Bim singing like he's kicked back on a big red velvet couch. Along the same lines is the shoegazing if pasty Brits had better hip-hop beats "Empire." The centerpiece of the tracks that have that sorta vibe going on though is "Situation". Intergalactic funk finds a cloud (consisting of sativa smoke, of course) to float on while wiggly guitars squiggle groovy squawks that would have Ernie Isley nodding in approval and a  psychotropic beat reverberates the room.  

     While down Texas way to play at 2014's SXSW, Lamont found a diversion to keep his needing to make up a new song mid occupied when not playing on stage. Making contact with OBN III's Tom Triplett and Orville Neeley, the trio went ended up in Neeley's practice spot where there was a "four-track up and gear in place, not to mention a gang of joints and a bottle of Wild Turkey."
     With Lamont behind the kit and a mic in his face and Tom and Orville armed with guitars to split skulls open, the trio crank out four massive blocks of pinned in the red noise. Opening track "Blaxxx" rumbles and roars in a way to make sure everything is on its way to be reduced to rubble and "Cut 'Em Down" sounds like Blue Cheer and Funkadelic dueling each other in a garage disposal. Side two starts with Lamont giving a quick sermon about the bullshit music business before the band fires up sonic bulldozers to slowly plow such bullshit. "Get A Hold Of Your Life" serves up finishing moves that makes the Stooges Metallica KO sound like Frampton's Comes Alive in the best, most funked out punk rock way possible.
12xu.net

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 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

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

Sep 1, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Another Summer in Port Huron


     Even though there will, hopefully, some nice weather for a day at the beach and so on, Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer as far as most people feel. Here in Port Huron we decided to send out with some bang, hiss and rock-n-roll at the Roche Bar.
     This past Friday, two Wisconsin bands played their first shows out of home state but, for members of both bands, not their first time playing this town and, in particularly, this bar.

Silent Drape Runners at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill

Silent Drape Runners at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
    Mike, frontman for Silent Drape Runners, drummer Gus and bassist Phil were a band that very few people around here knew anything about but knew the guys in the band. Mike played bass (and later drums) in the Mystery Girls, Gus in Hue Blanc's Joyless ones and Phil in Death and Taxes, all of which had rocked the Roche before. The combination of the three made us curious as to what they would deliver. 
     Sounding something like well oiled 90's garage punk band who formed after spending a weekend together listening to Grand Funk Railroad's On Time blasting through some dry rotted and mildewy car speakers, the band got the room jumpin' and the beer flowing. Did they deliver? Hell yeah! They delivered it hot! Don't take my work for it though; Jon Heibler (he currently Sugar Stems fame and once of the Catholic Boys) was part of the Wisco contingent that was tagging along for evening took to his Instagram page after their set to to declare them his new favorite band.
Space Raft at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
Space Raft at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
Space Raft at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
Space Raft at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
Space Raft at the Roche Bar August 29th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
     I believe that I have made it very well known that I dig Space Raft's debut album from earlier this very much.  Having worked with the band's main man Jordan in the past from the Mystery Girls up til the last band he had, the Fairweather Friends, I was naturally all over the idea of getting them to come here to play. Then, factor in folks who had seen them live already telling me how great they are of a live band (not that I had any doubts of that) I was all over the idea of having them make their out of state live debut here in the mitten and, in particular, the hamlet which I reside.
     On stage, the band was locked in to each others vibe playing very tight but still having an organic looseness in their with soaring harmonies and iridescencent instrumental passages to make things a little scruffy, wiggly and oh so real. After they finished I made the statement that "I no longer need my Badfinger records any more. I got Space Raft!!!" It was only meant it to be slightly hyperbolic. I mean, I doubt Space Raft would turn down an helping hand from a former Beatle but they don't one. They are doing just fine own their own. I knew they would be good live but they went way beyond that.

     After some relaxing and kicking back on Saturday afternoon, the Roche's foundation was ready to get rocked again for the evening and man, oh man! Did it ever get rocked!

Radio Burns at the Roche Bar August 30th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
Radio Burns at the Roche Bar August 30th 2014 Photo by Dale Merrill
     Though being Hamtramck based, Radio Burns are no strangers to the city where Lake Huron starts and it's not just because their drummer, Nick Lloyd, was a member of the town's most beloved and legendary scourge, The Dirtys.
     This night was their 3rd time playing around these parts in the last few months. Their sound, which has a stomp from 70's big rocks like Slade and a hyperactive melodic buzz like sorts such as the Marked Men, won people over immediately the first time they played in town and each time since then they continue to turn up a notch a blowing away show-goers. This evening's show was a bit of a bittersweet affair for the guys on stage and many in the crowd. A good soul from Port Huron, Denny Brown, who was a superhuge fan of the band, shuffled off this mortal coil the previous weekend from a heart attack. Radio Burns dedicated their set to him and sounds set him off on his next journey in style.

Obnox at the Roche Bar August 30th Photo by Dale Merrill
Obnox at the Roche Bar August 30th Photo by Dale Merrill
Obnox at the Roche Bar August 30th Photo by Dale Merrill
Obnox at the Roche Bar August 30th Photo by Dale Merrill
Obnox at the Roche Bar August 30th Photo by Dale Merrill
     Though it was the first time for Obnox to roll through this town people were already down and excited for what they have going on. The college radio station here, WSGR, has been showing the Ohio band mad love and support since their first singles and the most recent album, Louder Space, spent a good few weeks at number one on their charts. Even with all it still didn't prepare the crowd for torrential downpour of sound the duo was about the throw down.
     With a guitar growl resembling Poison Ivy Rorschach's swampy six string gruel if it was powered by a rock crusher and a voice that balances the fine line between a guttural howl, a funky foghorn and a very blazed out store front preacher whoop, 'Nox's creator Lamont "Bim" Thomas string slinging and pontificating commands attention. It delivers a one-two punch with the first one aiming to rattle brains and the second getting people to shake their hips. When a song come to an end, his crowd banter shows that if he ever gives up playing the rock-n-roll (which this writer hopes is not for a long time coming) he will still rule any stage he steps on as a stand up comedian.
     Lamont's probably best known for his drumming gig in the Bassholes so he not gonna settle for just anyone behind the kit an with drummer Rose Safos he has a secret weapon. Her beat keeping is pummeling but not plodding and all about keeping the swing intact and driving the songs home. Those who stand to close to her when she's playing will probably get a concussion just from watching while the rest of the onlookers simply wonder who the drum set hasn't been reduced to splinters by the end of the set.

     Carla from across the river in Canada made it over for the Obnox show and got a few things on video from it. Check 'em out.







     It's always a drag to see summer go (even if weather wise it was a pretty lame one in this part of the world) but having a send off like this and the 100% fun it all was will give us something around here to look back on and say "Awww yeah! We need to do that again!" when the mean ol' winter and the pain in the ass things it brings become commonplace in the next few months.