Dec 22, 2010

Brother David's Triple Abbey Style Ale

From the solar powered Northern California beer maker Anderson Valley Brewing Company come this series of "Big Beers". They are the people behind one of the best Oatmeal stout's on the planet (Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout to be exact) so I was anxious to give one of them a taste. As luck would have I was visiting one of my usual beer cellar haunts and the man behind the counter said "Dale, I have a gift for you."
"Free Beer? Yes!" It must've been my lucky day it seemed.
A slight bit darker than some Tripel Abbey ales I've seen and drank in the past. It's almost brown in it's shade even when held up to the light. The head was modest and faded out fairly quickly but a good bit of lacing all the way down. Notes of caramel apples along with a big blast of alcohol show up in the scent. There are the banana, spices and hint of honey thing in the flavor that are common for the style but they seem to get bossed around by too much of a grainy malt. As it warms the malts do step away somewhat but what seems to be left is something slightly lacking as far as a complexity as well as a little thin as far as the body is concerned too. One thing I did find interesting is that though the alcohol comes on quite strong in the scent it is hidden very well in the taste til you get almost to the very end. "Almost" because there is a hotness that comes out right at the tail that will bite you if you're not ready for it.
Since this was gifted to me I can't really complain much about it but considering some of the goodness AVBC can serve up I was somewhat disappointed.

Dec 16, 2010

BRAINCAR "Rock-n-Roll Bologna" 7inch EP

WHAT A BUNCH OF BALONEY! No, I'm serious. The front cover come with a piece of bologna with the words ROCK-N-ROLL cut into it in a zip lock bag glued to the cover. And, well since we're always way behind here when it comes around to giving records to be reviewed a listen that piece lunchmeat has taken on looking like a science experiment of lunchmeat grease and mold.
"Lunchmeat grease and mold". I kinda like that because it fits the sounds that is going down on this record. Five slimey and sick tardcore dirt-fi punk tracks that are over almost as soon as they start. Reference points as far as classics are concerned for this reviewer would be Drunks With Guns and Flipper while comparisons of more modern things are along the lines of The Mahonies and Holy Shit. This is not a record to have in your collection that will gain you friends. Just like serving up a rancid piece of balogna wouldn't either. But if you want to bogue out or annoy people out-show them the sleeve to this (especially if it's taken on it's particular life of microcosms as the copy I have sitting here) and play it loud and often.

Dec 13, 2010

Moylan's White Christmas Spiced Winter Lager

Ahhh, the Christmas season. A time for peace on earth. good will toward man, stressing out, being depressed and dealing with hustle and bustle to the point where you want to burn down everything within a couple miles of the shopping epicenters of the area you live by. It's also a time to give a try to a seasonal ale or two that maybe you haven't before. Moylan's just started being available in these parts I live in and since I have tried a couple of other things they brew that I found pretty decent I figured it was worth giving a shot.
Gold with reddish highlights in color and somewhat bubbly with a modest but fluffy head that leaves a snowdrift like lace behind. The nose is predominantly lager yeasts and malt along with bit of hay. There some are spice characteristics to it but with the variety of ones used (orange zest, mace, cinnamon, coriander and white pepper) none stand out from the others-they all blur into each other.
The spices, primarily the coriander and some dints of the orange spice up front and some slight pepper taste in the finish, do come out in the flavor but as in the scent none of them really stand out. The spices seem like they were added an afterthought than something infused to compliment the flavors. It's not bad (especially compared to some stinkers in the Christmas/Winter ale style that have hit my tastebuds in the past) but it just lacks that "something special".

Dec 10, 2010


This band's bed of damaged pop is sturdy which is a good thing because when they invite odd bedfellows of sonic attraction to romp, jump and roll around-it would probably collapse elsewise. "Working On Something" opens the album up sounding like You're Living Me All Over Me era Dinosaur Jr posing as a Buzzcocks tribute band. An instant hit for those who appreciate instant hits because of their whir-n-fire and not because of some overblown recording techniques. From there tracks like "Here Those Bells" and "Prison Mind" pick an under the influence of low budget opiate high fights with the last couple of Black Lips albums, swim through a swamp of cough syrup and Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure on "When You Wish", mix glass chips with Strawberry Bubblicious for "There You Go", get beat up and thrown out of country bar because some dickwipe in a Kid Rock t-shirt told them they weren't really country and to which they replied "Neither is that shit you listen to" on "I'm Gone" and bum out peace and love hippies the way Hawkwind did (and surely would again if the tape machine they were recording on sounded like it was being held together by electrical tape while the record knob was kept in it's position by the cardboard flap from a crush proof pack of cigarettes) with "I Don't Believe You/X-Tina". "Hey Little Girl" also takes notes from those kinda space rock and motoriks then pulls it out behind the garage to have their way with it.

Dec 6, 2010

the TOUCH ME NOTS "Keep Talking Like That" 7inch

Some people say "Don't mess with success". Ya know if something works say with the formula and don't tweak it. Damn, that can get boring though. Doing the same thing over and over no matter how good you are at it and all that. Sometimes you gotta shake it up and change things around here and there. After all, variety is the spice of life, right?
For the last half decade or so Andrew and Kelly put out a solid collection of singles, 10 inches and LPs of 1950's tinged, hayseed steeped and garage tainted rock-n-roll. Stripped down to the essentials of voice, guitar and drums worked well for them but they still couldn't resist throwing the occasional curveball at the listener like, say, taking a stab at a Broadway show tune for instance. This go round they supplement the bottom end with the addition of Clark from Killer's Kiss on bass and Greg Ashley putting down some bits organ as well as doing the knob twiddling and it really adds something to their spartan but splendid sound. Both "Keep Talking Like That" and "Hard To Forget" have a certain small town rootsy feeling to them that the band had flirted with in the past and completely score this time around. Country-rock (but not in an Eagles or fake affected nasal twang college crowd/trust fund thing that seems to be on eight out of every ten "alt/country" released someone tries to push as the "real deal" way) songs about love's fire coming close to going out but there's still some glowing red embers. Reminds me of being a kid and listening to the radio in my dad's car. Back then they'd play Waylon Jennings and the Bay City Rollers right after each other. Not that I am hearing that when I listen to this but there is a certain dust filled room meets a shiny soda pop machine vibe...And that's always good to me. COUNTRY-ROCK SINGLE OF THE YEAR!
Classic Bar
An ages old interview Smashin' Transistors did with the Touch Me Nots
Andrew's Food Blog

Dec 1, 2010

WHEELS ON FIRE "Liar, Liar" CD and "Cherry Bomb" 7inch EP

I'm taking a wild guess here but it's more than likely these Athens, Ohio boys and girl sound is the product of a couple "weird/cool" uncles that played them a bunch of records growing up. The older of the two uncles played them things from the early Stiff Records roster and telling them "None of these bands would've amounted to nothing if it wasn't for Nick Lowe AND THAT GOES DOUBLY FOR ELVIS COSTELLO!"
The younger uncle was all about 90's garage punk. He regaled them with stories about how many times he saw the New Bomb Turks and so on, but the band he drilled into their head was the Oblivians simply for the reason "Beneath the scum there's some classic pop song moves there. One day the rest of the world will figure that fact out."
It seemed to make an impression on the band especially in the both Nick Lowe and the Oblivians took standard "rock" foundations, in former's case country music and 60's radio pop and the latter with primal blues and teenage garage gunk, and they've manage to meld all of it into the tunes that rock all over both these releases. A snappy backbeat and sticky organ provide the foundation for the two guitars to switch between bashin', janglin' and throwin' out hooks that dig into your back and pull you up & move you around while Jack O'Yarberesque vox of the brothers Chaney sing/shout tales of young lust and all the things go with it.
The album, Liar, Liar, is jammed full of loud pop gems like the beach ball bouncy "Bad Lie" and "Losin'", bubblegum found in a box of dirt sounds of "Looking At You" and "Sarah" and the Modern Lovers tinged "Stick Around" and "I Wanna Know." The single on Kind Turkey is more of the same but a just little bit more scruffy with some soul music infection and some doo-wop nods thrown in for good measure.

Nov 30, 2010

The Holiday Sonance

The first Sunday of every month Mr. Franck and yours truly drop the needle on some tracks at the Raven Cafe in downtown Port Huron. People come in to listen and enjoy the food, drinks and folks while they are there. Conversations, fun and games always happen. Our next one is on December 5th. If you're in the area stop on by and say "Hi"
More info at

Nov 15, 2010

Hue Blanc's Joyless One "Live On WSGR" (10/26/10)

A few weeks back Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones came through Port Huron and did a live set on WSGR. Here is all it's glorious red lining glory. I did absolutely nothing to sweeten or trash the recording. This is how it sounded going over the air. Two mics in a room about the size of a walk-in closet.

Nov 5, 2010

Dogfish Head Olde School

Ohhhh man. Barley wine! They're a rare treat around here in Smashin' Transistors land. One reason is that they're not something you see just at any random store. Another reason is that they're usually an occasional or season thing for most breweries. Usually packed with sweetness and a high alcohol count they can be thick and syrupy laying down some major hurt the next day. Moderation is the key as usual but doubly when it comes to them.
When it comes to suggesting a barley wine to a first timer Olde School from Dogfish Head is always at the top of my list. It is sweet but not way to syrup like, packs a 15% abv and sports one of Jon Langford's country music art pieces on it's label (which makes it 100% more bad ass than any other barley wine out there just based on it's cool factor alone). We're talking on of the kings of the style here.
Deep and clear amber color and a fizzy head and some serious lacing clinging to the side of the glass all the way through. Quite a few levels in the aroma. Apricot, green apple, toffee, sweet malts, some piney hops and, yes, many an alcohol fume on the nose. Reminds me some really fancy brandy or something like that.
The thing that jumps out the most on an initial sip is a bittersweet sting and a whole lotta warmth that doesn't seem to come from the alcohol but from the blast of flavor that comes out all the way through the glass. When it's cooler malt, caramel and sour fruits lays it down heavy then as it warms it takes on more of a dark fruit and spicy, hinting at a Belgian Quad ale or almost a cognac, flavor. It's finishes full and bold but it's stickiness doesn't coat the tongue and the back of the throat too thickly. We had a slight bit of snow flying around this evening. I'm looking out the window, sipping this and smiling because even if the heat wasn't turned on this is keeping me warm.

Nov 1, 2010

the MENTHOLS "Michigan Works" LP

Space rock? Nah, that doesn't sound right. Saying space rock makes people think things that is, well, spacey. Floating off and all that. Hmmm. Space Punk? Yeah! That's might be a little more fitting to describe what these Kalamazoosters are up to here. It doesn't go drifting through a weird galaxy much as it does swirling through some non gravity place lit by balls of fire in whatever the space version of a oil leaking, exhaust spewing battered but still (somewhat) reliable mid 80's Econoline is. It's not a jet age smooth ride. It can be somewhat bumpy but when as it picks up to wanted cruising speed it's a lumbering might that gets things to move out of it's way.
If Lemmy would've forced Dave Brock out of Hawkwind (instead of vice-versa), brought in a couple dirtbags with a penchant for a chug-chug-chug velocity instead of navel gazing wandering, burned the Michael Moorcock books and replaced them with written works Stan Lee, baseball card stats and Penthouse Forum for lyrical themes-the Menthols would have all the albums in their collection.
Cuts like the smeared with a "Land Of A Thousand Dances" flammable goo opener "B-OK", the mutated borrowings of 70's FM Rock riffs (think ZZ Top jamming-as in around the time Deg├╝ello came out NOT something like "Rough Boy"- with Evol era Sonic Youth)"Long Time Coming" or in a sorta same but different thing "Loose Lips" sounding like the Wooden Shjips gone full tilt chooglin' and "Between The Dots" and the album's final track, the ring modulation orgy called "Fire, Fire, Fire" fade in and then take off to weird parts of the head. Others, such as "That's All You Got" and "Don't Give Up Yours" hammer out things like Feedtime hanging in a cold & damp Michigan basement where they depend on Little Caesars $5 Hot-n-Ready Pizzas and cans of Four Loko for nutrition.