May 17, 2010

LES HULKS "Pussy Cola" 7inch

Sick, loud and lumbering France's Les Hulks are here to drop a load of lead on your head. Praise the Fatals and pass the Tussin here cuz guitars screech, drums bash and vocal chord shred but unlike those zinester dolls of Christmas past (and one of the loudest band I've seen in my life. I never feared for the welfare of my trusty old Music Man HD 130 amp ever except for a couple nights in America where I let them use it), who wanted to do it all at whiplash paces and sound like the Oblivians from hell actually IN HELL, these frogs nod to the grunge before grunge was even cool days and move more all thick and gurgling at mudslide speed.

May 15, 2010

the TUNNELS "No Love" 7inch

To use the much hackneyed cliche "Everything's bigger in Texas". Even when it comes Methaqualone comforted fuzzy pop like the Austin's Tunnels do. It's just the way things are done in the Lone Star State.
Even when it comes copping feels from the Velvet Underground. Most bands of the last 20 years or so doing that thing are three or four piece bands. The Tunnels have five in their line up.
"No Love" sports the same sleepy and bloodshot eye'd dreamstate jangle that Galaxie 500 mined from Grandpa Lou and his cronies. Unlike Galaxie 500, who always sounded like they to shy to crack a smile and, if forced, would greet you with a cold, clammy and not too firm handshake, this songs embraces you with a big hug of mellow hazy smoke and organ bits that fill the emptiness the former had like a warm fuzzy sweater.
Pulling you in deeper to the vibe is "Pretty Thing", which twists Spacemen 3's Velvets twisting into something taught at the church of Roky. It's not in a hurry to reach it's destination but the route it takes is quite scenic with it's washes of color.

May 10, 2010

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2009

There's a couple of California's North Coast brews that I would put up against any other beer in the same styles and would be confident that if they didn't come out on top-they'd still make a major impressive showing. This is my first go round with this, their old ale (a style I'm still bit of a neophyte about), though and expecting goodness.
Nice dark rust in color that reminds me a bit of apple cider fresh from the mill. Minimal head but a constant ring around the top of the brew all the way through leaving a thick, runny lacing all the way down the glass. A firm but not overbearing aroma of grapes and caramel stand out in the scent. There is a dent of alcohol that comes out on the nose too but no as strongly as one would expect with it's high abv (11.5% to be exact). A woodsy nuance comes out too where one would almost think it is barrel aged but there's nothing on the label stating such. A very warming and friendly smell all around.
First sip and there's already a lot of different levels of flavors coming out. A smooth buttery caramel steps up first softening up the tastebuds. Next comes a finely aged quality port wine likeness that is just as quickly followed by either something that reminds me of cherries or green apples. It's hard pinpointing which exactly. I had my better half take a sip as to see if she could tell which and she's torn between the two as well. The finish has a little bit of hotness from the high alcohol count but is mellowed out by vanilla and more of that caramel taste that it had in the beginning. As the brew comes closer to room temperature the more of all the above things come out even more. Without a doubt here's a lot of craftsmanship that goes into this and they're no denying they know what they're doing.
Between the high test booze level and the many different tastes that come out of it this is definitely a sipper. To compare it to another beer just for reference points flavor (but not necessarily style) wise-calling it a big brother (or older cousin) to Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA wouldn't be far off. Just what I was looking for tonight.

May 7, 2010

Tap Room No 21's Moe's Backroom Pale Ale

So I am Kroger the other day picking up some groceries needed to get through the weekend. I don't usually peruse the beer aisle there normally though but they do carry a few things (some Bell's, Great Lakes, Sierra Nevada, the occasional New Holland) that strike my fancy especially when they're on sale. None of the above were any of the featured deals but this pale ale was. I'd never heard of it so I was instantly suspicious of it being another megabrewery stab at trying to appear like a little upstart that somehow fought it's way on the the giant grocery store chain shelves. The bottle didn't give me any clue at all but, with being on quite a budget these days thanks to Michigan's completely tanked economy, the price was right so I figured it was worth giving it a shot either way.
Light amber in color with quite a bit of visible carbonation in the glass. The head was fizzy, had absolutely no firmness and depleted very quickly. I could've swirled the brew around in the glass for minutes on end and there'd still be no lacing also (Yes, I tried to make it happen too by doing just that). Not off to a good start at all. The aroma showed something wrong too. At it's best it reminded me of Abita's Christmas Ale (which out of all the Christmas Ale's/Winter Warmers I tried that past season stuck out in my mind to never bother trying again). That's at it's best and me being nice about it though. It actually smelled closer to a stale Labatt's Blue that some one tried to fancy up by adding a handful brown sugar to it and then filtering it through a box of corrugated cardboard.
The taste is mostly metallic, aluminum foil to be exact, with a trace of sickly sweet malt. There is a little puff of something for a second in the back end that may be hops but they taste almost artificially enhanced and disappear as soon as they appear. The aftertaste was what it smelled like.
I did some checking around on this and though the label says it's brewed in Rochester, NY the parent company is City Brewing of La Crosse, Wisconsin. I hate to bag on Wisconsin because as any reader of this blog knows some of my favorite people, music and things come from that state. I started to make a joke that maybe City Brewing was a microbrewery version of former La Crosse mass contract cheap beer brewing company G. Heileman only to find out that City Brewing IS the company that purchased the original G. Heileman brewery a couple years back.
There are some in the beer geek world that say the big breweries shouldn't be knocked for trying to make "craft style" beers because it may introduce folks to something better than they usually drink leading them to be more adventurous and trying some of the actual honest to goodness real microbrews out there. I'm cool and fine & dandy with that but if this was someone's introduction to what else is out there other than macro adjunct lagers I would not blame them if they just wanted to stick with what they can find at any given mini-mart. I've toughed my way through some beers that I didn't care for eventually finishing the 6 pack over a few weeks. This is the first time in a long time I've dumped 4 uncapped beers (Yeah, Two is all I could stand. Seeing them in my fridge kept making me shudder) down the drain. If I ever see this Moe guy in his backroom I am going to make him give back my $7.49 plus tax and deposit.

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

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".