Jun 24, 2011

Sunday Sonance at the Raven in downtown Port Huron July 3rd

Join Franck and yours truly, Dale, for a night of tunes, drink, eats and conversation. Each July edition happens close to my birthday. This one is two days shy of it. You are welcomed to bring gifts.

Jun 22, 2011

OBN IIIs "Running On Fumes" 7inch EP

     There are some records that are made to be played loud. Then there are records that need to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD!
     There are also records that are punk rock and then there are those that are Punk "Fucking'" Rock.
     The thing is though that a record that is made to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD will always live up to such a declaration. Records considered Punk "Fucking" Rock have tend to have some problems though when it still comes to living up to that claim times later. There's many times where records dubbed that sound, well, kinda like a yoke some years down the road (if they weren't donned with the title as one to begin with).
     These Austin, Texas gruel mixers have no problem with the former and have no problem with the later either. If this is punk rock of any sort it's the best kind. You know the kind. The bottles flying/girls crying barroom rock-n-roll kind.
     Stones swagger. Stooges sickness. Dolls decadence. Dead Boys drunk and disorderly. It's all balled up and thrown into a pot of chicken grease and bad attitude juice here and boiled on high til the entire town smells of it. This isn't the not the macho, thrust the chest out so the can see this is a VINTAGE AC/DC t-shirt, Leather booted on the monitor for the 8th guitar solo in the last 5 minutes RAWK or Heavy Metal Fonzies stuff that you couldn't throw a Les Paul copy without hitting ten of them that overran the landscape a decade or so ago. Four juicy cuts of meat eating, stinking of beer sweat, slob celebrating ROCK-N-ROLL. Play this record SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD and be prepared to have it kick your ass all over the place.

Jun 21, 2011

TRENT FOX & the TENANTS "Mess Around" 7inch EP

     If this just showed up as a random unsolicited record in my mail box and I took one look at the cover I wouldn't give it much more thought other than to put it in the pile of the "maybe I'll get around to listening to it someday" pile and there it would sit for quite a long time. C'mon, Sepia toned color, old timey Wild West lettering and a dude sporting a sombrero? First impressions would be "Oh, man. Not another jackass cow-punk band."
That's right, not a good cow-punk band (which do happen from time to time) but one of those jack ass ones. And oh, there are so many. Throw in the edges of the sleeve burned for a little more character and it could be another band playing songs about how they want to be smoking weed with the Supersuckers while listening to Hank III and talking about the devil.
     "Sorry, man. I doubt ya do it good" and there in that pile the record would sit.
     That's not the case here though because this slab is courtesy of Kind Turkey records in Wisconsin. The label is headed up by Bobby of the always loud, always a blast beer drunk garage duo the Hussy. He's a rockin' dude and to my knowledge has never written a song about smoking pot with the Supersuckers while listen to Hank III. I trust his tastes. If he decided these guys were cool enough to put a record out by 'em I know it's gonna garner some listens here at the Chez Transistorsmash.
Once the needle hits the groove here any worries of Trent Fox & the Tenants doing songs about smoking pot with the Supersuckers while listening to Hank III and talking about the devil are quelled. Instead, spry rock-n-roll with one foot planted in a bucket of "Good Times! Great Oldies" goo, the other in a catbox of 90's garage punk mess is the call to (rock) action here.
     The Beach Blanket Blowout beat of "Mess Around", a not so cautionary tale of boy telling girl she better behave while he's gone or there will be trouble, kicks this 5 song EP with a hip moving beat, splattery guitar twang, maniacal laughs and more sing along "YEAH! YEAH! YEAH!"'s than I thought was even allowed anymore.
     With such a high revved up opener some records drop the energy a bit in the next couple songs but these Wisco-revelers keep it going with the hyped on caffeine and pizza Country-Soul turned up to 12 "Outta Mind" and side closer, the three chorded soon to be party favorite "Jokes".
The songs on side two, "Old Lady" and "Sounds Fine To Me" were recorded 10 months later. They show a little bit of "maturity" in the song writing but it's not like it's comparing the Seger System's Mongrel to ol' grandpa Bob's Fire Inside or something as the band is still spun up and at punch weight. Both tracks remind me of the night at a party when the Deadly Snakes convinced some Black Lips they you could snort No-Doz and challenged them do it. Now, if they only would've went in to a studio that night (sans horn players) and cut two on fire tributes to the Replacements and the Real Kids.

Jun 10, 2011

Thursday, June 30th-M.O.T.O. and the 7th Day Creeps at the Roche Bar in Port Huron

Punk pop (not pop-punk.There IS a difference) legends M.O.T.O. and local monster rockers the 7th Day Creeps. Yours truly, Dale Merrill, will spinning rock-n-roll records before and between bands. Thursday, June 30th at the Roche Bar, 405 Quay St. in Downtown Port Huron, Michigan.

May 27, 2011

PINK REASON "Desperate Living" 7inch EP

     Anyone familiar with Pink Reason's nodding out from a diet of downers while listening to Royal Trux/Skip Spence/Joy Division sound of their previous releases may find themselves taken a little back by this record.
     Maybe even blown back and pinned against the wall from the volume and impact it causes that is going on even.
     Side one's "Empty Stomach" is supported by a thick wall of guitar fuzz accentuated with large doses of Sonic Youth/Dinosaur Jr loud feedback squalls and fat booming drums that take, something is usually a bit of an anomaly for a Pink Reason songs, a rock-n-roll drum break/fill. Without warning the tracks starts to hemorrhage profusely into a tempo shift and off it goes into the artsy leaning hardcore of "The Song With No Name" that ends almost as quickly as it started but not before driving a steak into the songs heart with the funniest but most bad ass trash metal guitar solo these ears have heard in ages.
      If side one doesn't push away the goth tendencies Kevin gets pinned on him all the time (and though I haven't heard the "sister recordings" to this record, the Shit In The Garden ep, yet as of this writing imagine they will still pop up from time to time still will) the cover of V3's "Your Girlfriend" put more of a shove to get them even farther away. It has much more a thing for a taste of blood it's mouth that Christmas breath from chain smoking clove cigarettes.
     Starting out with a stumbling false start then diving head first in Kevin's usually brooding voice sounds as if he's been swallowing fiberglass as he blurts out the words over an all fist cleaned and swinging backing of wrung out, raped by the gain knob guitar noise and pummeling drums. The dust clears with an over a minute guitar duel that is all about room clearing feedback and distortion.

May 9, 2011

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Fourth Dementia

     Even in the world of Michigan beers where specialty and seasonal brews can become rare just a few days of being released, Warren based Kuhnhenn Brewing Company's things are done in such small and limited batches one might be better to find a needle in a haystack at time. Their 4th Dementia is a prime example of such and this, the bourbon aged version ever more so.
     Just popping the gold foiled cap of this hazy chestnut mare colored/minimal headed bourbon barrel aged old ale release a rather complex aroma of figs, caramel, vanilla, tobacco and, naturally, a whole lot of wood mellowed bourbon. As it sits to breathe in the glass four feet away from me it's all I can smell in the room. WOW!  I'm thinking "Wow! This is really something else" and haven't even tasted it yet.
     First sip IS a total WOW! too. Very silky and thick in texture. The woodsy bourbon flavor comes right on front and center but is not over powering as it curves through many different things though it's flavor profile. Vanilla, black molasses and a hint of maple syrup take the first turn. Then there's another swerve through some very rich chocolate, dark fruits, a little bit of pepper and anise and then finally returning to the bourbon flavors that started the trip but not before it throws a little bit of a Port wine thing into the mix.
    With all that though the finish is one of the most interesting things about it. Having a pretty top end alcohol content, after all, we're looking at a 13.5% abv here, is that there isn't much of a hotness to it as one would expect until each sip has cleared the taste buds and bring out a warming effect through the entire body. Let me say it again one more time-"WOW!"
     I'm five sips into this and each one has me smiling more and more. Good thing I don't have much to do the rest of the evening as I think this is one great beer that you just can't down in a glass in a short period. It is definitely one that's worth taking one's own sweet time with.

Apr 21, 2011

Fairweather Friends, Riverside Shakes and Speedy Greasy-Saturday, May 21st at the Roche Bar in Downtown Port Huron

Kicking off the summer month's in Rock-n-Roll style Smashin' Transistors proudly presents...

Milwaukee based The Fairweather Friends are Jordan of the Mystery Girls new band.

Speedy Greasy are a rock-n-roll band from Detroit.

The Riverside Shakes are one of Port Huron's favorite bands

Saturday, May 21st at the Roche Bar in downtown Port Huron.

Mar 23, 2011

Founders KBS (2011 edition)

 A week or so ago when we had temp's in the 60°F range I told friends and family "I have to finish up whatever straggling stouts I have kicking around. The warm weather is here to stay and it's time for warm weather beers. These thick stouts just ain't the kind of thing that cut it in that kind of climate."
"What about KBS" It'll be in stock in a few days" a buddy who orders the beer at one of my go to party store's in town asked.
"Well, that doesn't count because it's not just a stout but something close to pure manna" I said to him "but even after that NO MORE STOUTS til the old man winter weather returns."
Then last night BOOM! ANOTHER FREAKING WINTER STORM. Mean, thick, heavy sleet fell down. It was some back breaking work digging the car out of the nasty and wet mess that had dropped from the skies out but it had to be done. KBS had arrived to the area. It's a rare bird and is not something that can be put off picking up "sometime later in the week" because it doesn't last long on the shelves after it's released and when it's gone IT'S GONE FOR A WHOLE 'NOTHER YEAR (unlike this freaking snow though it seems).
A thin but hearty coffee with cream colored head sits on top on what has the be the darkest stout brew on this and, though it melts a bit, still hangs on all the way through the session. The aroma is first and foremost bourbon and oak wood due to it being casked in whiskey barrels for over a year. Other scents that follow it are coffee, chocolate and vanilla.
The scent alone is enough to make one smile and the flavor bursts open the tastebuds senses in ways the aroma was just hinting at. The bourbon characteristics warm the tongue and body even faster than they did the nostrils. Warms the heart of a serious beer lover too as it is making me smile despite no matter where I look outside I see a six inches of cold and clumpy mass covering everything.
The bourbon flavors don't overtake everything in this velvety and thick brew though as the sweetness from the chocolate and vanilla flavors and coffee bean bitters come in and balance each other out. Compared to other years this finishes with a slight hop hotness but it works incredibly with the bourbon warmth that goes along with it.
Other brews attempting the same kind of thing that Founders is doing with this may try to come close but none of them can match the twists of  complexities that are going on here. There's a reason why KBS gets ranked one of the top end beers of the world in places like Beer Advocate (where it currently ranks as #4). Utterly amazing stuff here. No doubt about it.

Mar 17, 2011

the BABIES s/t LP

Not to be confused with the band from a few decades back that featured John Waite and future members of Journey but still the proposition here wasn't enough to get me all that enthused. First thing is that it's one of the guys from Woods. Their sound has just not set well with me. Too "oh we're so clever and weird with what we're doing with hippie folk rock, huh?" thing going on
y'know? The concept of Jandek joins the Grateful Dead aided and abetted by some tape effected manipulations may sound good on paper to some ears but not in practice to these (especially when it's sounds like it's trying too hard to be clever or odd.)
The second thing was that made me shrug and think "Yeah, whatever" is that it's another Vivian Girls side/new project. I'm not a Vivian Girls hater by any stretch (I'm at an age where I don't bother to keep up with most backlashes these day) but in the last year or so there's been so many "featuring Vivian Girl..." projects coming out, doubled with marshmallow clouded female voice mixed with Jesus and Mary Chain goo releases coming out what seems every week (The Vivian Girls are the now like the Ramones or Nirvana in that respect it seems) these days it's hit a saturation point.
Imagine my surprise then when there wasn't much fake outsider freak folk going on AND the digital reverb is used but kept under control from getting too ridiculous. Instead, hints of the Modern Lovers with less "maybe he has Down's Syndrome" singing show up in tunes like "Sunset" and on tracks like "Wild 1" and "Wild 2" it's akin to Syd Barrett's Madcaps Laughs if he sounded more wide awake and not so far at the end of his rope. Songs like the wake-n-bake before for the day can be seized "Meet Me In The City" (not the Junior Kimbrough song) walk through Black Lips shambling neighborhood while others like the albums opener "Run Me Over", the slightly off key harmonies laden "Breaking The Law" (not the Judas Priest song) and the waiting for the sun to burn the morning fog off feeling "Sick Kid" sound like the Vaselines hobnobbing with Clinic. Bedroom pop that knows when to get loud but also doesn't mind zoning out when the time is right.

Mar 13, 2011

DANIEL JAMES GANG "Nothing I Can Do" 7inch EP

What is it with it these days that when bands look towards the 1970's for hard rock inspiration they tend to take themselves so seriously and lack the main ingredient of honest to goodness fun? It seems not all that uncommon any more for a band to come along with the kind of riffs a person would want to crank out of a '73 Dodge Charger but after a few times around it just becomes another tune that gets ya thinking "Whatever?"
Is it because of Gene Simmons who fancies on thinking he invented hard rock then wrote the book on the business of it and looks as fun as just something needed for the ledger line in a marketing plan? Or is it douche bags like the clowns in Buck Cherry who try so hard to make everyone dumb enough to believe they are total poon magnets by reminding whoever will listen to them that they mention it every song. It's not even like they are singing about the poon itself but how cool they are for getting the poon. Freaking overcompensating to make the mooks jealous I guess. Y'know, the kinds of bands that will mention the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols as being major influences but don't really like the Dolls other than in theory and are more influenced by the well past expiration date era Motley Crue or Megadeth cover of "Anarchy In The UK" (in which they probably had to look up word Anarchy in the dictionary after hearing the song) than the Sex Pistols themselves.
Luckily there are band's (though rare) that can do the hard rock thing, infuse it with a proper amount of punk rock and sound like they're having actual fun just acting like they are. Wisconsin's Daniel James Gang is one of those kind of bands. Dragging glam into the garage, and though they are far the best looking boys on the block, leave the make-up, hairspray and bedazzled with studs spandex get ups out in the yard, this gang kicks it the sound around giving it some must needed dings and bruises, have fun and even score some poon along the way too.
Instead of listening intently to some Gene Simmons lecture they get kicked out of the party after bringing up Ace Frehley's name when Gene asks "What is the soul of the music". It's no big deal them though because while keying Gene's cars on they're way out to the street Ace drives up in yes, a '73 Charger, and asks them if they need a ride. They get along so well, Ace not only lets them drink all his booze but then gives them cash to go out and pick up some more.