Apr 10, 2010

Dale Beavers & Christian Beshore at the Raven Cafe

The child of a Honky Tonk bar owner and a Baptist preacher Arkansas born Dale "The Polecat" Beavers was raised knowing the differences between sin & redemption and has been dealing with the conflicts of it ever since. His musical travels have found him playing & recording with blues, soul and rock-n-roll legends such as Junior Kimbrough, Dale Hawkins and Nathaniel Mayer. He now calls Michigan home and recently was named best blues artist in Real Detroit Weekly.

Pennsylvania's Christian Beshore is a genre-bending One-Man-Band. Though the music is stripped down, with simple instrumentation, many don’t believe all that sound is coming from one person. You might call it Hound Dog Taylor meets Jack White. Or, Tom Waits’ and P.J. Harvey’s love child. With just his voice, a three string guitar, kick drum and hi-hat, his music stands firmly on its own.

For more info http://www.ravencafeph.com/

Mar 22, 2010

New Glarus Spotted Cow

Ahhh, summertime in the Great Lakes region. Fingers crossed it's going to actually arrive at a decent time this year and actually stick around for a bit (last summer was the biggest let down of a summer that I can even recall). Important things to enjoy the weather in this region during the then are beaches, bar-b-ques and of course beers. Finding a brew that is light and refreshing but still packed with flavor can be a tricky proposition at times. Spotted Cow is one of those kinda brews that fits the bill BUT is even trickier to find because they don't sell it outside of Wisconsin state lines. Luckily though, us here in Michigan based Smashin' Transistors have plenty of friends that live in the land of where the actual happy cows live (Pfft to those Cali poser cows) and Curly Lambeau so we're able to get a fix of them from time to time.
Bottle conditioned cloudy gold in color with a half inch head that melts fairly quickly but leaves a rim and a slight cap all the way through as well as a spotty lace. The scent is clean, all about a mild summerlike zest and slightly bready. The upfront flavors are similar to that of a Bell's Oberon with it's lemon peel and orange juice nuances but Spotted Cow definitely has it's own thing going on because of it's farmhouse ale leanings instead of a straight on summer wheat stylings. As it warms in the glass sweet cream characteristics come out more. The bubbly yet smoothness of it finishes with something tingly on the palate but not sticky.
This is the last bottle of have I have of this for the time being. I had to split it with my wife because I told her a month or so ago that there were none left and when she saw me pouring it she snagged the glass from me. Good thing we have a friend from Wisconsin visiting in a week or so from now. It's been made mandatory that he brings some of this (as well as some other of the brews New Glarus makes) with him.

Mar 20, 2010

Jordan B. Davis at the Raven Cafe in Port Huron

Jordan started making a racket while still in junior high school. One of the band he formed with some friend's were known as those noisy, blues, stoner punks from Green Bay, Wi-the Mystery Girls. They had a good run releasing albums for Trickknee and In The Red as well as a handful of singles on labels such as Cass and Bancroft. On Friday, April 9th at the Raven Cafe on in downtown Port Huron, Michigan he'll be showing his more Big Star/Gram Parsons singer/songwriter side with an acoustic performance. The plan is to turn the place into a hootenanny if only for one evening. It's all ages and no admission. Good drinks, decent eats and free Wi-Fi. What more could you ask for on an early Midwestern spring evening?
Check out some of Jordan's latest music here.

Mar 15, 2010

the READIES "Mink Dagger" 7inch

Though Dan Kroha was one third of one of the greatest rock-n-roll bands ever, The Gories, his contribution to the racket they made sometimes gets overlooked. Mick may have been the soul of the band but Danny the heart with the guitar blaaang and his "My voice still hasn't quite changed yet" scream & shout. With this, his latest combo, takes the proverbial bull by the horns with a straight up & stripped down rock-n-roll sound.
The band get's their best "Electric Warrior" Bolan if he wandered the cracked pavement streets of Detroit and had a serious "Coney Island Baby" eral Lou Reed jones boogie on with "Mink Dagger" (she got that sexy swagger that keeps all the boys in line). Full of glitter rock 'tude and serpentine string bending this gets you up and swaying like the way the Hollywood Brats "Tumble With Me" does. The only thing missing is "Woo-Oohs" in a chorus but Danny throws enough WOO! & YEAH! in it that you won't even notice any types of missing garnishments. It's a total groover that get's y'all geared up and loose limbed.
Now that any tense muscles have been shook a little loose with side one flip the record over and be prepared to kick a little ass or get your ass kicked in the process. "Medicine Cabinet" is the kinda of song the the Stooges faithful still wish Mr. Osterberg to do since "Raw Power". A loud, fast and blasting ROCK AND ROLLER sound that will never go out of style no matter how many rawk bands make it so boring. Dan Kroha knows without the attack the pose means nothing. I keep flipping this over and turning up it louder. YEAH!

Mar 9, 2010


Let's see now...A hayseed who looks like he should be working at the grain elevator/feed store banging on a Telecaster with such might his spirit makes up for any going out of tune the guitar may and probably will do. To his side a guy who looks like Ernie from Sesame Street's pervy older brother thumping on a bass that is almost as long as he is tall. Behind them both a hippie looking drummer who doesn't like to keep his shirt on for too long (but, yeah, that is a common trait for both hippies and drummers) bashes away doing his best to keep some order of timing.
To call this dork/nerd/reject rock is selling it short. Sure, it IS all those above but it's not like you're listening to the next Dead Milkmen or They Might Be Giants (though I have little doubt that's what they strive to be on more than just a rare occasion). You're not gonna find many kid friendly or 80's mall nostalgia sounds going on here. Instead it's short but not so sweet Crucifucks inspired/Garage-Punk induced geek freak outs about loser jobs, Dead Kennedys as interpreted by closed head injury patients spazz moments about jerks & bad people and other disturbed moments that some might imagine what Flipper would sound like if they did Cramps covers.
On stage their comic book store dwelling humor and put down between song banter can (and usually does) go on longer than the tunes themselves. It's like they thrive on bringing the hecklers out and, in the end, get the best of them. Obviously, listening to Crappy Dracula isn't going to make you smart or cool (but if you're punk rock why would you care about such things anyway?)

Mar 3, 2010

CHARLIE McALISTER "Carolina Bi-Product" 7inch EP

From what the handwritten note that came with this record and what to be gleaned from the internet if South Carolina's Charlie McAlister is nothing else he sure is prolific. He's released gobs of cassettes & records (according to the note over 70) but outside of whatever little world he gravitates in not much has been heard.
"Beachball Boogie" which answers the question "What if someone maintaining a meth lab next to a square dance hall". Charlie shout his words like they're over caffeinated dance step calls while wound too tight do-si-do music eggs him on. "I'm Freezing" is next sounding like the local banjo player discovered the aforementioned meth lab and Devo in the same week.
Side two starts with a shave & a haircut two bits old timey sounding bounce along til you realize the guy is telling a story about a lady who did him wrong in a really bitchy way. To these ears at first it was thought the accompaniment to the guitar, voice and rat-ta-tat drumbeat that is all over this record was a horn of some type. A trumpet perhaps but on closer listening realized it was something closer to one of those plastic organs that were big in the Sears Wish Book for a couple decades. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones with the brown plastic woodgrain and when you plugged them in the fan & wind that powered the sound was louder than the sound itself most of the time. The record closes with the Ben Wallers if he lived in the Carolinas, was in a good mood most and had a back porch to sit on and watch the sun go down every night "Memories In The Rain".

Feb 28, 2010

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA

For some reason it seems in a lot of beer circles Marshall, Michigan's Dark Horse does not get the attention it deserves. One of the reason's why we've heard around the Smashin' Transistors stomping grounds is because of something as silly as people thinking that their label designs look too cheap and people put them off simply for that.
That's a damn shame. Sure, we won't disagree that whoever the brewery has in charge of their label art needs to learn a few things about a little more color separations and layout design but that kinda stuff takes time and costs silly money. The people at Dark Horse know you can't judge a book by simply looking at it's cover and honestly they'd rather just spend their time making the best beer that they can.
Double Crooked is very dark & rich amber in color. A shade that is almost of maple syrup really. The one & a half inch heads holds on strong and even as it melts away it doesn't totally disappear leaving a 2mm cap on top all through the beer and a good amount of spotty lacing. Amongst the rich caramel and freshly squeezed orange juice aroma's there's a campfire of maple and oak smokiness in the scent as well. What I'm noticing the most though is not much of a note of alcohol which is somewhat surprising because this pushes almost a 14% abv.
First thing noticed on tasting is how creamy this is. A lot of the high test IPA's aren't usually highly carbonated anyway but there's something about this that sets itself in a different realm as far as the usually mouthfeel. It fills and coats the tongue but more like a soft blanket that gob of burr's you get of some other double IPA's. The malts here are full on rich & cocoa-ish and take on a slightly maple tinge (which seems to be a theme running through this brew with yours truly) and hold on tight all the way through each sip but the hops aren't neglected or overshadowed-especially towards the end when the citrus comes shining through. There is a bit of warmness in the finish from the alcohol but all the through is his percentage is well hidden.
For anyone out there passing up on Dark Horse just because of their lack of pretty labels and packaging you are missing out on something very well made. Correct that as soon as you can and enjoy.

Feb 27, 2010

CHARLIE & the MOONHEARTS "Real Hot Breakers" 7inch

To start this review off with a totally "Well, Duh!" statement a lot of moderne' trashy rock-n-roll bands borrow heavily from the sounds of the 1960's then they go and make it sound all trashy. See, I said it was a totally "Well, duh!" opening statement didn't I?
The thing is with Charlie and the Moonhearts though is that it's a exact opposite thing. They sound like a band from '67 who were fed on things the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones and CCR taught them and they're not too impressed with the Beatles using orchestral instruments, the Doors pretentious poetry & bullshit intellectualism and hippies they started to see influencing all the other kids in the neighborhood. They chose to have themselves frozen in time only to be thawed when rock-n-roll (and not just ROCK music) made a comeback. The rock-n-roll was in their heart & soul and it pained both to make them think they'd have to adapt by painting flowers on their cheeks and playing 20 minute psychedelic snooze jams.
The problem was though that the every once in awhile there was a hot & hopeful rumor that rock-n-roll was on it's way in some moron would along and mess it up. With so many false alarms and the price of cryogenics getting so costly the Moonhearts family had no choice to defrost the boys in the late 90's. Luckily the lab was right next to a record store that still stocked records (and by 2010 standards-even still in business) and their ears were filled with wild sounds of the day that shunned highfalutin recording techniques (some out of necessity-some for recognition) in lieu for a straight on one take blast of good/bad time celebrations.
Side one's "Real Hot Breakers" is a get up early and hit the waves call to arms that would fit totally on one of those Capitol Records Surf/Drag collections that came out back at those times with his harmony chocked vocals and wet echo but instead of a Gary Usher high-gloss sheen of a sound cruising to Muscle Beach in a metal flaked set of wheels built and expensively billed by George Barris they hit the waves in a rat ride with beer cans substituting as a plush dashboard cover. The flipside's "My Love Is Gone" stuffs the forlorn folk jangler formula then kicks it down a rocky and steep hill bouncing, bumping and banging it's way down til it comes to an abrupt halt.

Feb 26, 2010

the BASSHOLES " ...and without a name (Archive Series Vol. 7) " LP

When (and if) the book is wrote on the BluesPunk masters of the late 20th century & beyond Bassholes main man better have a whole chapter dedicated to him. Since the mid 80's, when he first started making a ruckus with the Gibson Brothers, he has been making a mark and leaving a stain. Though the last few years one of his other projects, the somewhat psych & artier (there's clarinets & keyboards in the songs for the devil's sake) end of cowtown stomp skronk of Wooden Tit, has been what his kept it name out there for the (actual) record buying public when the moon is right it's time for him to fill a jelly jar full of ice with corn liquor and wail them stories of desperation, depression and general pissed-offness.
If my count is correct this is their 12 album (and I didn't bother to count all the singles) and is one their most unhinged (even by Howland's usual bent brain standards) & unruly records ever.
"Little Boy Blues" kickstarts the album with the rattling of some spring reverb, followed by a drumroll which cues a maelstrom of blown out guitar splatter and some harmonica that sounds as if it was soaked in a can of gasoline all night. "Mother Goosed" follows it with something along the same pattern but sans harmonica and it's it place a voodoo beat that's sounds like it was recorded in the middle of a huge cavern. For contrast the tune after it, "(I Like) Smoke & Lightning", has a feeling of being in the bottom of a well as blood drips down from the light above.
Things quickly get back to the brain bashing and ear searing with the Cramps fighting to be heard of the sound of a jet engine turbine on "The Way I Came" while the tension building instrumental "Swannanoa River" is so epic it fades out on side one only to be continued on side two. A very smashed up version of Iggy Pop's "New Values" is next done in a way even Mr Osterberg wouldn't even have dreamed up in his most narco influenced dreams. "(Don't You) Look At Me" is the closest thing to a number most old white guys with thousands of dollars of guitar equipment would consider "the rockin' blues" but the twisted reverb and pure disgust towards such people and things that is conveyed what send them clamoring for shelter under the nearest Clapton gatefold seed they could find (and hopefully no pot seeds or shake weed found in it because then they'd have to explain to their children about the life they led before they joined the church of Ronald Reagan). The cover of Tommy Jay's (who also makes an appearance on the track beating on a tom tom) "Tough Luck, Roy" would keep them under their hiding too. In the end though all the audio violence finds peace with itself with the almost pretty guitar only figure "Funerarium"
It's been quite some time since Bassholes records have found them in close proximity to my turntable. This one has been close to it since the day it arrived in the mail. Their back catalog is now quickly following suit. Thanks to Columbus Discount Records for reminding us all what we've been forgetting and what our grimy souls crave.

Feb 25, 2010

Sunday Sonance 1 Year Anniversary

It's been one year since Franck & I have been doing something to give folks around town something to do on an otherwise dull Sunday night...well, one Sunday night a month at least. Join us at the Raven Cafe in downtown Port Huron on March 7th for cocktails, snacks and tunes. Bring balloons and gifts if you'd like.