Jun 11, 2010


You can call James Arthur lots of things: Triumph motorcycle aficionado, D'Lana's old man, A Texan who can drink some large amount of bourbon etc. One thing a person would never expect to call the one time member of the Fireworks/Necessary Evils/A Feast Of Snakes/Golden Boys though is "Space Rock Music Maker".
Recorded in "shacks in Texas" over 2009 with James playing almost every instrument on it (he credited with bass, guit, drums, organs, bongos) with a few guests like Golden Boys Nathan providing organ on a couple songs, Bruce Saltmarsh of '68 Comeback fame supplying some drum bits and Bantam Rooster's Tom Potter doing a guitar bit, you could pin this as something like a Hillbilly Hawkwind or Krautrock wearing some mud caked bluejeans.
With that all said don't be expecting this record to set you off floating aimlessly into a warm and squishy galaxy at an instant. To leave the planet is always a loud, dirty and lots of fire and fuel vapor situation such as the Mr. Potter on the burns from bacon grease splattered lead guitar trash blues stomp opener, "The Cougar", the JAMC marinated in hot pepper jelly then raked over the coals of "Black Cop" and the walking blues surfer sound excursion that blows into tiny sharp shards of "Strong Back" prove.
When the music does elevate itself past towards outerspace it isn't a floating above the clouds soundtrack by Tangerine Dream type of snooze either. It's a fight against static storms that set the mechanical parts all awry such as the distortion, unearthy pitch shifting & delay noises and space rocks hurled against the side of the rocketship sounds that "The Gurgler" and "My God #4" and 1970's era Cabaret Voltaire robots wired wrong clanging of "Black Angus" are riddled with. On the other hand though tracks like "Crows" WOULD border on the line of ethereal if there wasn't an obvious menacing under current to them.

Jun 9, 2010

ZOLA JESUS "Stridulum" 12inch EP

"Oh, don't tell me let me guess" says the voice on the phone.
"Ummm. Okay...."
"It's not some weird Cocteau Twins demos you found on the internet is it?"
"Ummmmm. No....."
"Good! Good! Because I get Google alerts. Do you do those?"
"I do for....."
He interrupts before I can finish "Cool. I get what you're saying". The voice then tells me about his day, how his co-workers are always wanting to bully him around and how he needs to talk to someone before he "stabs them with a sawblade or scissors".
"Do you know if Kate Bush has a daughter that is really mad at her?"
"Ummmm." I was a bit thrown off by this one. I was thinking maybe all the previous calls by this fellow were just some grand scheme for a set up and here would finally come the punchline.
Before you start wondering I don't work at a record store anymore. Nor a Suicide prevention line, phone sex, FIA, Social Security, one of those 900 party lines like basic cable advertised in the late 80's or a homeless shelter hotline.
Nope! I'm just a guy doing a radio show on a very hayseed city's college radio station. The caller has been dubbed "Of Montreal" because no matter what a dj is playing and how many times it's explained that they have their own specialty thing going on and he says "Cool Bro. I respect that. I understand that but...." then goes on how his co-workers tied him up, wrapped him in a blanket and threw him in the river or something about "a girl I thought was cool but stole all my money and set fire to my bathroom last night." He then will tell whoever is on the phone that he wants to hear something rowdy/mellow/angry/laid back/punk/techno/aggressive/background music (it doesn't really matter what you tell him you're playing because he just picks up on the keyword you tell him) and Of Montreal is usually always the band he'd request that fit his bill for all the above.
As for this particular call though I had no idea where he was coming from. "Dude. I AM NOT PLAYING ANY OF MONTREAL TONIGHT....or EVER now that I think about it! They sound like they're the people who do the music for the Outback Steakhouse commercials."
"Oh, I can respect that. I don't like them anymore either. I hear you bro! I was just trying to ask you what is was you are playing right now?"
I'm irritated. I pause. I inhale deep. Then exhale deep. I let the pause hang again. I think "I wish we could get caller ID in the place". I hesitate again before I reply.
"I really want to punch you in the face!" Well, that's what I'm thinking at least. My (somewhat) rationality and "nice guy" image takes over. "This is Zola Jesus"
"Right on bro. I hear what you're saying. Is she from England?"
"Nope. Wisconsin"
"I can respect that. She's probably not from England then."
"She's probably not Kate Bush's angry daughter then."
"I'm guessing not."
"Do yo think she would set my bathroom on fire while I was sleeping"
"I don't know."
"Do you have her number because I would really like to talk to her because I...."
I hang up the phone before he continues to ask or tell me anything more. The phone rings 30 seconds later. The lady on the line meant to call another radio station.

Jun 6, 2010

Short's 6th Anniversary Blood Orange Wheat Wine

Wheat wine is still pretty much in it's infancy as far as fancy ale's are concerned but out of nowhere already many different tweaks on it have already began. Two of the one's we really liked here at Smashin' Transistors headquarters have been Founder Nemesis and New Holland's Pilgrims Dole. Both of them were excellent and quite original with what they're doing but the style, like it's older sister Barley Wine, a little of them can go a long way (and can lay down some hurt in the morning too). That doesn't mean we're gonna shy away from them. Just have to practice a bit of moderation when they come around.
Rumor is only a couple of cases of Short's 6th Anniversary Blood Orange Wheat Wine even made it to St. Clair County. Luckily, having a good rapport with a couple of the beer sellers in town we've been able to give it taste and since they're only allowing one bottle per customer per visit we can be moderated on how many we can drink at a time.
The color here obviously resembles blood oranges. A clear dark red color that borders on ruby. No head but a orange ring all the way around the top. The nose is quite interesting here. A orange blast comes out on top. Right after pouring it and giving it a moment to breathe the aroma could be noticed rising out of the glass and filling the room. Raising it up to give it a whiff the hops, which have a citrus aroma to them anyway, accentuate the scent even more. There's also a slight detection of the green peppercorns that we used in the brewing process too. If we were to judge this beer just off the scent alone it would be a winner.
First sip and it's made known that the smell was just teaser. The flavor hits the tongue & mouth just like a freshly peeled orange on a sweet summer day. The +11% abv sends quite a warm rush through the body on the first sip too but all and all the high booze content in the brew is hardly detectable. The middle has something similar to a very bold Sweet Tarts candy giving way to some more of the damp hop characteristics. Pepper comes out a bit in the finish but doesn't overwhelm any of the other flavors that this has offer. Orange flavors, some grassy spices and the dry hang of other wheat wines we've tried sticks around slightly in the end but for the most part it's very clean-n-dry and refreshing. Another way of looking at it is the strangest but tasty Sangria side road people can ride on. Even for those who aren't much into fruit/vegetable beers, present company included, will most likely wanting to have more than just one of these a session. In that case, I guess it's a good thing that, in this town at least, there's a one bottle per visit on these because I'm feeling good off just one 12 ounce bottle and could definitely be in the mood to down some more but then would most likely in the A.M. be thinking "Damn, how can something that tastes so good last night make me feel this spun out this morning".

Jun 4, 2010

KOMMIE KILPATRICK "Weird City" casette and "Life Sucks 2" CDR

You say the name Kommie Kilpatrick around these parts and it's greeted with excitement and cheers. Not because the band is a household word or anything but because it's a pretty funny play on the name of the former Detroit mayor who thought he was Teflon coated hip-hop superstar and anything he did wrong or bad wouldn't stick to him. Well, after having to resign from his mayoral gig, becoming a convicted felon and numerous probation violations which have now led him to one and a half to five years in Jackson State Prison even most of his staunchest supporters (the small handful he had left) are even thinking "Damn, what a dumbass".
The name is appropriate for the band too because they aren't in any way trying to sound like any kind of deep thinkers or or statement making intellectuals. Nope, they want to get drunk, get loud, maybe get in a fight, maybe even get laid and make it back home in one piece at about the same time the sun is coming up. Kinda like their namesake but without the police escort and strippers getting snuffed out for knowing too much.
The classic USA dumb punk sound of the Angry Samoans "Back From Samoa" and the Circle Jerks "Group Sex" play big into their sound. Quick blasts of obnoxiousness, most of the songs just barely top the one minute mark and a good number of them are over and done in half that time, about bad food, bad beer, bad hangovers, bad driving, bad luck and girls with bad, bad reputations that even these lunkheads have to think twice before taking the back to their place. Of course they DO take them back to their place but hey, they at least thought twice before they did. PUNK ROCK!

Jun 2, 2010

the PEOPLE'S TEMPLE "You Don't Know" 7inch

These Lansing via Perry, Michigan (Population 2065-making it the 4th largest town in Shiawassee County) brats first harassed the earholes at Smashin' Transistors about a year ago with their single on the Milk & Herpes label. That record was a loud & brash mash of Brian Jones era Stones worship, Back From The Grave digging and punk rock taking a psychedelic trip. The songs were jammed with abandon and teenage frustration. Hell, at the time they recorded it I believe a couple of them were still in high school. HOW COULD IT NOT BE FUELED WITH ABANDON TEENAGE FRUSTRATION?!?! That is, of course, what rock-n-roll is suppose to be all about, right? At the time we thought "They've really done their homework on how to do it RIGHT. Give them some time to develop at little more and they'll be the successors to the Black Lips crown" or something like that. After all, the Black Lips guys are all over 25 years old now. Heh! Over the hill. Who will be the hope for real ROCK-n-ROLL next young kings until the backlash starts and so on.
On these more recent recordings by the brothers Szegedy and brothers Young and other than both bands playing 60's tinged slop and jangle, the Black Lips references go out the window because these guys got their own thing going on.
"You Don't Know" has the sound of surf music gone to hit some waves in some sinister part of outerspace all lead by a Rob Tyner pushing the vocals into red testimonial. "Shoot Her Down" is loaded with wailing harp and dirt floor stomp. It's kinda like a tune everyone would like to hear Iggy Pop do for the last 35 years but know he probably wont. The flip is the total bad ass "Raft" where the band shows what they're excelling a super fast clip at. Psychedelic blues bliss all the way through. Guitar lines slither between the serpentine and Spacemen 3 swooshes & splatter while the vocals trade off with all of them sounding like a Saturday night sermon.

May 31, 2010

Short's The Magician Ale

When first seeing this on the shelves a few months back I thought "I know I need to try this BUT it's a red ale. It can wait". Red and Amber ales just are one of my favorite styles and there's always something other out there that I feel I want to try first. A few days later fellow local beer geek, good friend and eventual contributor this this very site Josh phones me up and says "Dale! I'm trying the Magician!"
"Yeah, I've seen it around now but you know how I am about reds."
"Me too but keep in mind it's a Short's so it's not a standard Irish red. It says right on the bottle its a Dark Red London ale, whatever that is, and it's pretty good. Come on over and try one tonight. It's really good."
Not to be one to turn down a free (good) beer I headed over that evening to give it a try. And you know what? He was right. It was pretty good but didn't take proper notes that evening so tonight I am sitting here with a glass of it in front of me to make amends for it.
Dark, almost brown when sitting in the glass but when held up to the light a rich ruby color shines through. The head was about a half inch of so which does melt a bit but doesn't quite go away through it's sipping so it leaves quite a bit of lacing all the way through the glass.
The aroma of Michigan garden herbs, some warm roasted malt and some woodsy characteristics are what comes out in the nose but the general overall scent is fairly subdued and mellow.
The flavor, which is what really matters anyway, do have a lot more pronounced things going on. Caramel and crystal malt are the first thing on the taste buds. They warm everything right up. The middle has brings out raisins and dark cherries and the back end has noticeable smokiness and white pepper to it. One of the things most interesting about this beer with all the levels of flavors it has is that it finishes quite clean making it quite sessionable. I can't say that it has me wanted to go and seek out other UK styled red's (okay...okay Dark Red London Ales if we want to split hairs) because I'm still not a huge fan of the style but there have been several times now since I've first tried it where I've found myself picking it up again.

May 27, 2010

FEVER B "The Lonely Sailor Sessions" 12inch EP

Be it his time in the Fevers, the Sweet Faces, Donny Denim and whatever other projects he's been involved in Brian Hermosillo aka Fever B knows his way around a loud, blaring and catchy as a virus going 'round pop song.
Armed with a rickety but reliable 4-track and some melodies inspired from tunes the "Good Times! Great Oldies" stations don't play anymore because they've decided to make room for Huey Lewis & the News and Billy Joel to skinny tie bands who albums haunt the dollar bins to Chinn & Chapman songs kids of the 70's know by heart (even if they don't know who Chinn and Chapman are but just by the bands who recorded their songs) to the the lo-fi garage trash 7inch blasts of the 90's-"The Lonely Sailor Sessions" encompasses a summer sound of carnival rides, late nights outside, frozen Cherry Cokes and young love that can (and usually does) go awry.
Five songs that blare but don't screech. Everything is stripped to it's bare essentials, once again proving the point that you can layer things in tons of gloop and throw all the garnishes you want but unless the meat that is the base isn't grade A what's the point. The priority here are the hooks that grab a hold where after even just one listen a person finds oneself humming the chorus and wondering "What IS THAT song?" Fever B doesn't meet those priorities. He exceeds them! Mark this one down as one of Smashin' Transistors highly suggested records for summertime 2010.

May 26, 2010

"ROCKIN' The Roche" June 11th in Port Huron

Sure, I've been part of dj's nights at the Roche Bar in downtown Port Huron for almost a year no but this is the first night we've done there where it's going to be EXCLUSIVELY ROCK-N-ROLL records. Join yours truly, Franck and very special guest Johnny Hentch (Yes, THAT Johnny Hentch of the Hentchmen fame) for an evening of tunes you can drink, dance and get rowdy to.

May 24, 2010

the GOODNIGHT LOVING "Arcobaleno" 12inch EP

The start of summer for more years than I care to count I have made a mix titled "Up North" and the year that correlates to it. It started with cassettes, then CD's and now a folder in my Mp3 player.
It's all the songs I want to hear when I'm miles north of this town, smelling the pine, wood smoke, bar-be-que and the lake (being it one of the Great ones or one of the over 11,000 inland ones we have here in Michigan. Over 11,000 of them! HAH! Take THAT Minnesota) with not one chemical factory around for 100's of miles. Music for listening to the late night crickets and bullfrogs and the birds at sunrise.
Tunes for hitting the highway, rolling the car windows down and looking at the lush green land and big sky vistas. The kind of songs you can both fish to and fire up a dirtbike and hit some hills, have ice cream with the kids in the afternoon and beer with the grown ups after dark.
The Goodnight Loving first weighed in heavy on those mixes in 2005 (when all they had were some demo tapes that were circulating around...one of the songs on it was "Up North Girl" which seems so appropos for such things. A couple of years later a recorded by Greg Cartwright version of was released as the a-side to the Goodnight Loving single my label, Bancroft, released. And before you ask, YES! I do have a scant few copies of it left if you are looking to score one) and have ever since.
Though there's only 5 songs on this (all on one side-the other side being a beautifully etched earth, sun and flowers motif) I'm having a hard time paring down what track of two I should include into this years mix.
"4&3" starts off the record with surfing & spying feel. It's followed by "You'll Own My Heart" where a listening to CCR on the back porch mood finds it way into a hazy late night Nashville jam session.
Both "Sweet Clover" and "Pinalope" nod in the directions of 60's pop-The former with a Shangri La's if they were scuffy boys from Wisconsin kinda of thing; the latter something like bloodshot eyed Mersybeat and the ferry crossed the Great Lakes. "Orphans" closes the record like a rustic and happy go-lucky sing along that includes a whirly organ bit in the middle.
Finding a band where one member writes consistently solid songs over a period of a few albums seems to be becoming a rarer and rarer treat in these times. Goodnight Loving has the advantage of each member coming up with good ones over and over again. I think instead of trying to nail down to just a song or two from this on this summer's mix I may just have to take everything they done with me on my up north trips.

May 19, 2010

Sunday Sonance for June

Drinks, eats and good tunes. Join Franck and I the first Sunday of every month at the Raven Cafe in Downtown Port Huron for all those things. Hey, the weather's getting nice and that back balcony deck they have there is always nice to hang out on.