Aug 20, 2010

the PINK NOISE "Birdland" LP

Seems there's a new band every week being declared the next wave of synth music. Something new, fresh and exciting. Then checking the hyped group out one can't help but think "Yeah, I suppose this is possibly new, fresh and exciting if you're 21, have an ironic mustache, get up to the second updates from Pitchfork Media to your iPhone and never heard of Howard Jones and the Thompson Twins." I mean, c'mon, are there actually THAT many people honestly digging things like the Passion Pit and the Junior Boys or just acting like they do because they think their friends do. Hey, I'm all for a nostalgia/revisiting trip as much as the next guy but fey 80's Europop redo's ain't no tourist trap I really want to visit.
When using the term "Synth Band" to describe this Montreal combo though the sound of peppy doot-doot-dah-doot's, plastic neon colored belts & ear rings and triangular haircuts don't come to mind. Floating through a outerspacescape where weird being taunt you on tracks such as "Crystal Ball, Crystal Skull" and "In Modern Colors" but no doot-doot-dah-doots. A band saw slicing up sheets of metal in a murky swamp only illuminated by are bare 40 watt light bulb and Red Mecca era Cabaret Voltaire on an Adderall sound of "Get High (Love Is The Drug)" and "Rube For You" maybe but nothing brightly colored. A simplistic and "vintage" drum machine getting it's dance beat mangled while re-imagining Chrome in 1976 San Francisco being clumsily dropped into 1981 Hermosa Beach so they can pick fights with Black Flag (though not at all sounding like them) on "Step Into A New Skin", "Blinded By The Arcade Lights" (which also has some creepy ass synthetic church bell loops threaded through it) and "Do The Slither Shimmer" but not really any sign of triangular haircuts. This is synth music for mopping blood off the floor and not dancing on one.

Aug 6, 2010

Green Flash West Coast IPA

Oh, the American IPA. Most craft breweries have their take on it nowadays but there are some that set the precedent or are the benchmarks. Vista, Ca. based brewery Green Flash is one of those. Unfortunately they are also one of those beers that doesn't distribute to Michigan so it's a rare treat whenever one comes my way in a beer trade or a gift. Many thanks go to Chris Owen, he of Killer's Kiss and the Hook Or Crook record label fame, for sending one my way. Now, as I sip on it (Yes, sipping and savoring because who knows when the next time one will come my way) let me share my notes about it with you.
Dark copper color and a light orange color tinged creamy head that melts a bit but still hangs tough and leaves a snowdrift effect like lacing all the way though the sipping. The label tells you that this is extravagantly hopped and if you didn't believe them the aromas that come out just from simply pouring it and letting it breathe in the glass for a few are enough to tell you they aren't lying. Big citrus scents, grapefruit along with some lime, stick out most but there are some underlying sweet caramel and bready malts that seem to set a foundation.
The flavor is one of those examples of what a stellar American IPA (be it west coast, east coast, Michigan or what ever other sub genres the style claim) is all about. Bright and bold floral hops packed with a grapefruit bite and a slight pineapple sweetness upfront that tingle and tantalize, a malt backbone taming a bit of the hop sting and nuances of almonds and fresh biscuits. The brew itself is of creamy medium body that's not too fizzy or too thick. It's finishes dry and though somewhat sticky doesn't hang for way too long like some other hop bombs of this caliber can.

Aug 4, 2010

The MOJOMATICS "Love Wild Fever" 7inch

While some previous records by these Italian mojodudes touched these ears as Brian Wilson adoration stripped down and geared towards a cramped and sweaty dive bar instead of an orchestra pit the two songs here toss Brian Wilson thing to the side and make that cramped dive bar even more sweaty with some hyped up howl.
Loud harmonica wails upfront loud and proud set a rowdy mood for side one's touching on a young Pretty Things RnB stomper meets a county fair shit kicker "Love Wild Fever". Flip it over for "A Heavy Dose Of Sympathy", which has nothing to do with Long Gone John's late and lamented record label, and the mouth harp is gone but in it's place is the sound of some total farmer tanned hayseeds setting fire to a garage and the rock-n-roll that goes on it.
It not known if these guys mojo is from the hand or kept in a bag but however they're shaking it here can get a party started.

Jul 26, 2010

GOREVETTE "Lustfully Yours" CDEP

"Damn generation gap. Do I really have to explain who Nikki Corvette is?" I think to myself. It seems that yes, I do. Of course I do have to realize that not everyone grew up in the days of having a subscription to CREEM magazine and got the Bomp! newsletter/mail order list in the mail (you know, actual mail delivered by a mailman) when they were in junior high but even some of the the decade or two younger than me rock-n-roll fans who can sing the lyrics to the Donnas "Gimme My Radio" (which Nikki gets name checked in) think she's a fictional character that just happened to rhyme with "cheeba cigarettes". Little do they know that she held a pivotal role in Nikki and the Corvettes by not only as a lady not only fronting a rock-n-roll band in the dawn of the 80's but writing her own songs as well paving the way for bands from the Go-Go's through the Donnas and beyond.
After taking a long while out of the spotlight Nikki returned to the rock-n-roll world in the early 00's after Bomp! reissued the long out of print Nikki and the Corvettes album to not only a devoted slew of original fans but a generation of new ears too. She eventually returned to her hometown of Detroit, became friends of Amy of the Gore Gore Girls and as a result formed the band Gorevette and released the EP that we have here.
While a couple songs here are reminiscent of the Nikki (and the) Corvette(s) of yore such as the bouncy & bubbly "Baby, Let's Rock" and the nod to the Shangri-La's (check out the talking part in the song to hear for yourself if you don't believe me) "Honey, Please Don't Go" others like the full of fuzz box guitar blare "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me" and big beat backend groover of the title track stay loyal to the good things that are rock-n-roll but souped them up to these days of the post jet age. Welcome home Nikki. It's great to have you back!

Jul 24, 2010

Short's Spruce Pilsner

Here's a situation I'm sure many a craft beer aficionado understands. You're at a party and someone spots you with something that isn't a Bud Light, Corona, PBR etc in your hand. The start to engage you in conversation by saying "Oh, drinking one of them weird beers I see." Now, since it is a party it's highly likely you aren't bringing some ultra limited double casked Imperial something or other but most likely something that can be found at any decent grocery store like a Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, Bell's or what have you. No matter how you go about telling them that what you are drinking is fairly normal/not weird at all they'd rather not listen and then just tell you how they can get a 12 or 18 pack or whatever and "get hammered all night". In those cases all you can do is shrug and say "Oh cool" and slink away.
In the case of Short's Spruce Pilsner and in that situation though I would have to say "Yep, It's a pretty weird beer." Clear golden in color with a modest head that leaves some interesting looking lacing behind. Let it breathe for less than a minute and you'll seriously find yourself looking around to see who dragged a Christmas tree into the house. Well, I did at least. Beneath the northern Michigan pine forest on a breezy early spring day scent are some citrus hops peeking out.
My initial thought on the flavor was some high end gin with ginger nuances. The pine flavor is really stands out on the first sip and is there all the way from start to finish. And when I say pine I'm not talking the pine qualities a lot of hops have in IPA's or Double/Imperial pilsners. I'm talking "Yep, they aren't kidding when they say on the bottle that it's brewed with Michigan spring blue spruce tips." Nope, not extracts or oils from them but the actual tips of the trees.
Letting it breathe and warm up in the glass slightly the spruce pulls back a bit and the bright and tangy lemon/lime like hops come out a bit more. The finish packs the pine back in tasting somewhat minty in the end. You'll feel warmth all over your body as each sip goes down but not a burn that you might think with what was used to brew it not to mention it's 10% abv. Surprisingly, though the brew does have a lot of body and a semi-fat mouthfeel it's slightly (but only slightly) less oily feeling than I expected and very sticky none the less. Definitely a sipper here. I don't think I could ever sit down and have a 6 pack session with them because the flavor is way over the top but I do plan to pick up another six of these before they're gone and pop the cap on one when the mood for something quite interesting and way different hits me.

Jul 22, 2010

The Sugar Stems Thursday July 29th at the Roche Bar in Port Huron

The Sugar Stems feature Drew of the LegHounds/Jetty Boys fame, Betsy and Stephanie of the Flips and JonE from bands such as the Catholic Boys, Teenage Rejects, Tuff Bananas etc. Check out more about them at their Myspace page.

Sort of a last minute show announcement here but it'll be a good one. Many thanks to Johnny and Suzie of the Roche Bar for always providing a place where band's doing their own music can play in this otherwise podunk town called Port Huron.

Jul 19, 2010

MISSING MONUMENTS "Black Rainbow" 7inch

No matter what style of music King Louie Bankston decides to delve in be it southern fried rock with his Loose Diamonds, the full on garage trash like he did when he joined forces with Eric Oblivian and Jay Reatard (who passing they pay tribute to on the insert with a pic of the band dumping out beers in his honor) in the Bad Times, dirtbag power-pop in the Black Rose Band and a list that can go on and from his rural blues one band man to the Exploding Hearts to scum metal (and pretty much everything in between....except for maybe cool jazz and some techno thing-but who knows maybe he even has projects like those in the works or at least in his head too) it never sounds like genre hopping. Mainly because when Louie sets out to do something he does it in his own Louie way putting his stamp (and usually his stomp too) all over it.
For the Missing Monuments it's sounds like Louie and crew have time traveled Collegetown USA 1985 and got jobs at the record store where they argue the merits of the Feelies "Crazy Rhythms" vs. "The Good Earth" (Ya know-the downtown NYC oddballs vs. the rustic tin shed dwellers), scoff at people who buy Monkees records out of the 25cent bin (while being silently pissed they didn't find them first) and telling the Replacements new found jock audience how Tommy Ramone's production on "Tim" makes them sound more like the Jefferson Starship than America's next best Rock-n-Roll band (to which the jocks reply "Starship rocks" and then threaten to kick their punk new wave faggot asses if they ever see them at a kegger party).
Recorded on what sounds like a budget of $200 bucks (and half of it spent on whatever the popular regional cheap beer was) you get two ragged but right songs here full of frayed and cotton pilled flannel jangle and cigarette burned twang, copped from 1960's Top 40 soul hit basslines, hoarse & boozy choruses and wondering what would've happened if they went on to be produced by Nick Lowe or Mitch Easter.

Jul 17, 2010

Dark Horse Boffo Brown Ale

Yeah, yeah. I know. It was just a little over a week ago where we went off here about getting away from the heavier and darker ales because it's summer and now we are getting ready to discuss a brown ale. Well, It's an offering from Dark Horse, a Michigan brewery that makes some really solid beers but don't seem have as much of a high profile as some of the breweries in the state, and just showed up in my neck of the Mitten State woods this part week (after being around in other part of the state in bottles for a couple month now this release season. Chalk another one up to the slow on the draw distro's that controls this part of the state) so it just could not wait til cooler day.
Dark brown in color. Looks a bit cola really. Since it's a Dark Horse brew there's not much, if any, filtering of any sort going on so the floaties of grain hanging around the sides of the glass look sorta like soda bubbles. The was a tan in color and a modest half inch think that fade down fairly quickly. The scent borders on a cola too with the roasted malts taking on a caramel, coffee and molasses aromas.
First flavor to come out is that of sweet (but not overtly sugary) cream. The mouthfeel of the brew also has a light cream to it as well now that I'm mentioning it. Right behind it is caramel malts, brown sugar and a bit of nuttiness. The finish has something of a porter taste to it with a slight touch of bitters and baker's chocolate. There's some brown ales out there, to me at least, that have too much of a grit or dirt flavor going on. Boffo isn't like those. Nice level of complexities, very well rounded and quite flavorful. Definitely another good job from those malt, grain and hops outlaws over there in Marshall, Michigan

Jul 15, 2010

JJ and the REAL JERKS "The Future Is Now...(and it stinks)" 7inch

I guess if a discussion of what kind of jerks some people can be these guys have already put their bid in for what kind of jerks they are. Nope, not total jerks. Not big jerks. Not complete jerks nor absolute jerks either. Only REAL jerks will do.
Also, If you were to get into a discussion about what decade it is with J.J. and the Real Jerks about what decade it is they'd probably tell you that they wish it was the late end of the 70's. And where would they want to be living if it was that era? Well, though these (real) jerks reside in sunny California the two tracks here bear more of a Motor City High Energy & Hard Rawkin' vibe that Scandinavian's were all over 10 years back and NYC's more than completely seed trashcan chic of the Heartbreakers (Johnny's not Tom's) that may go out of favor but never out of style. Hell, there's even a saxophone blurting in-n-out of the concrete boogie din. If that ain't a staple instrument for the eastern side of the USA trad. punk-rock-n-roll style I don't know what is.

Jul 13, 2010

the PEOPLE'S TEMPLE "Make You Understand" 7inch EP

Damn, it's a sweatbox here room right now. Freakin' Michigan summer humidity. As they say though in these parts though "If you don't like it give it 15 minutes. It'll change." The thing is though is that if Michigan's weather was to be described as a mental condition it could be politely refereed to Bi-Polar or more bluntly as schizophrenic. For all I know by the time you are done reading this the weather might have gone from a heat index making it feel like 105°F and 89% humidity to a freaking ice storm knocking down trees and power lines courtesy of a north Great Lakes wind. Kinda like this 3rd 7inch offering in a year from Lansing, Mi based post teen combo the People's Temple.
Lead off track here, "Make You Understand", has the feeling of loud noise in a small basement room where the walls sweat and you can see steam rising off the cement foundation. Primal venting of desperation with a beat that knock you head against the ciderblocks and guitar noise covering the rest of your body with a corrosive sticky fuzz. It's as if these guys found a battered copy of the book the MC5 wrote. There's some pages missing from it though those pages are the one's about getting sometimes a little excessive with the long jammy groove parts. Those pages shouldn't be read by most bands anyway so it's all good. It's followed by "Machine", a way later in the evening thing where the temperature has dropped a good 20 degrees and you're walking heavy lidded down the street watching a fog rise up that is thick enough to make the street lights at the end of the block hardly noticeable. And dude, yes, you may be tripping hard but that isn't animated paisley on your buddy's shirt. They are really colorful maggots.
Side two's "Jim Jones" is where the weather takes a really strange shift. What could have turned out to be pastoral walk through a meadow turns into a chilling stroll. That's not some hippie singer like Donovan with flowers in his hand. He's holding a machete and it ain't to cut a new trail through the long grass for ya. Somewhere (in Hell or wherever religious cult leaders go when the die) the song's namesake is smiling after trading in his cop/Elvis/Blu-Blocker shades for a pair of John Cale wraparounds.