Sep 9, 2011

WOMEN IN PRISON "Strange Waves" 7inch EP

     I was at the mall earlier today. It was not by choice but I needed something and in this two cow city where the downtown shopping district is pretty much knick knack & trinket shops, a handful of eateries/drinkeries and empty storefronts I had no other choice.
     As we all know the mall is a good place to people to watch. It's also a good place to find something to vent about.
     "YOU KIDS NOT PUNK ROCK AT ALL! YOU ARE ALL BOUGHT AND SOLD! YOU ARE ALL BRING LIED TO! THE PERSON THAT SOLD YOU THAT DEAD KENNEDYS T-SHIRT AT HOT TOPIC DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU! HELL, THE DEAD KENNEDYS DON'T EVEN GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU! THEY JUST WANT THE MONEY YOUR PARENTS ARE LETTING YOU SPEND!" and so on goes through my mind on a regular basis on the rare times I set foot in the place seeing all "the kids" walking around like zombies with their tattoos (how rebellious and individualistic are they anymore when insurance salesmen sport full sleeves of ink and grandma's have tramp stamps? You aren't bikers, rock stars or longshoremen. You live in a Pulte built home on a cul-de-sac.), piercings that make the dude from Skid Row's lip to nose chain thing look less like a jackass and filling their faces with Taco Bell (which apparently is more "punk rock" than Hot Dog On A Stick, the Flaming Wok or Burger King judging judging by the fat asses wearing Anarchy t-shirts standing in line, asking for extra sour cream and the largest cup for Mountain Dew Baja Blast available "and we get free refills, right?" Free refills are punk! Long live anarchy!).
     Listening to this Women In Prison single I like to believe that whenever band members have to go to the mall though they are armed with butcher knives and flamethrowers with the intention of doing much more than just thinking vitriol and venting to themselves. And, yeah, they do sport tattoos (a lot of them as a matter of fact) but they're bona fide dirtbags not just weekend rebels.
     The sound is that of jackhammer to a cesspool this Austin based band take the template of things like '81 era Black Flag and splatter it like brains all over the windshield in a car crash with the falling into a vat of battery acid search and destroy punk rock of Chicago's Functional Blackouts. The latter makes sense though as Women In Prison are fronted one time FB's snarly throatman Brian Nervous (now operating under the name of John Bondage). All three tracks here pummel the ears to a pulp with chainsaw violence punk rock that are glazed with echo that doesn't sound like it's some studio trickery as it does like it was recorded in a cave filled with bat shit and coyote carcasses.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/WOMEN-IN-PRISON/34957120381

Sep 3, 2011

Creemore Springs Premium Lager

    Located about just a little bit south from Georgian Bay (the Lake Huron region, not the city itself-that's about an hour and half to the northeast) in quaint little town Creemore, Ontario sits the Creemore Spring brewery which, according to what info I could glean from the internet, is the largest employer in that particular area.
     It's color is nice amber shade accented with a right amount of carbonation to give a bit of a sparkle when drinking it out of glass in the afternoon sun. It's not too big but not too small head is a bit on the tan side filled with bubbles that when it fades leaves a light lace around. Looks good and that's always a good start. The aroma is strong but does have a nice bouquet of caramel, a bit of nuttiness and some citrus and grassy notes to top it off.
     Tastewise it's pretty interesting. It starts off with a bit of a creamy sweetness from the malts, followed by a little bit of hop and then finishes clean. It's light and refreshing but also full bodied and well rounded all the way through.
     I shared a couple of the cans (I was only able to score a sixer from a Canadian friend and fellow beer and music geek who brought them over for me to check out) with my wife and a friend of of ours while sitting out and enjoying the sun on an 85° afternoon this past August. All three of us almost at the same time "It's too bad this isn't available in Michigan because I could easier see this being something I would want to drink all through the summer." Summer is fleeting though but I think even through the autumn months (and probably even into the winter) these would still hit the spot.
http://www.creemoresprings.com/

Aug 25, 2011

the MIDWEST BEAT "Gone Not Lost" LP and "Back To Mono" 7inch EP

     What exactly is the beat of the Midwest?
     Is it the sound of flannel shirts sitting around a bonfire sipping on cans of beer that may not be exactly cold?
     Is it about trying to find the happy medium between being blasted with two to ten foot snowfalls in sub arctic temperature winters and scorching, humid, sweat drenched summers?
      Is it the sound of rust belt wonders revving up outside the corner store mixed in with sound of freighters chugging across the Great Lakes and their can be heard for miles horns?
     Is it the sound one hears while humming to their self at their favorite fishing hole or the songs going through their head being accompanied by the clang of factory noise of the third shift one has to do to make ends meat in these tough times?
     Is it the sound of sound of the country music that rural elders and first cousins listen too which is then filtered through growing up on parents and grandparents favorite songs on the oldies station and "weird" records friends and family acquired during their college years which they then brought home to have them neglected until one decided to look for some kind of new inspiration and give them a spin?
     Is it a sound that could be of naivety of what the world is trying to tell you what is cool and hip but a determination of what it's in the heart and mind musically is more important than some new flavor that'll be discarded in a year or so?
     Who knows for sure but the band the Midwest Beat sound as if they've got a bit of everything from the above rolled up into one nice package.
      Budget beer basement bash find it's way to a Wall Of Sound where harmonies soar like unwashed angels over a musical bed of what sounds like a perfect summer day. The album kicks off with the hyper jangle and squeaky wail of "Ain't It Strange" and then swerves around in plenty of different places. Stoned country rock lounging around listening to the Ohio Express looms large on tracks like "Too Late To Care" and "All Night Long", while others, such as "When She Came To Town" suggest the Walker Brothers raised on hot dogs and Hamm's beer taking a 3 day weekend trip to the Upper Peninsula. They also don't shy away from doing a campfire sing-a-long with the likes of Miss Besty from the Sugar Stems ("Crawling Back"), fiddling with a 50's rock ballad structure ("Firefly") and just wanting to make people dance ("Spent Love" and "Sister Mary Katherine").
     The "Back To Mono" single is exactly that. Tight and concise pieces of guitar pop bliss recorded (side one by Kyle of the Motorz, the flip taped by the band themselves) without any extra adornments or an overindulgence of flourishes. All four tracks on it are just as good as anything they've released in the past, but even if they weren't, the single would be worth the price of admission for their peaches and cream take on the Hussy's rough and tumble "Sexi Lady".
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Midwest-Beat/15907127759

Aug 24, 2011

DAY CREEPER "Problem At Hand" 7inch EP

     At first impression here, if Columbus, Ohio based Day Creeper wanted to, they could be sporting girls pants, Rod Stewart haircuts and killing it in front of power-pop festival audiences all over the world. Loud, catchy and kinda toe tapping kinda stuff is what the first think the ear tells the brain it's hearing.It's the following though where both the ear and brain notice something a little more than standard songs about cars and girls structures going on. It sounds like if the band would ever want to play for throngs of popsters, who are waiting for all the original members of the Spongetones or whoever to take the stage, it would be to confuse or frustrate them.
     The reason why is because instead of spending weeks practicing harmonies that would make the Beatles blush from such idolizing or taking a guitar solo the way Rick Neilsen does this is much more plug in, see what happens and go for broke here. What results is something much more rag-tag, comfortable and broken in on the four songs here than studied and starched.
     The sound is that of the Midwest where 70's punk rock buzzsaw downstrokes the same rust belt environs of 60's teenage jangle and where handclaps and snotty singing are commonplace. Think if during the recording of their album Hootenanny the Replacements spent time wanting to be a machine bent of perpetual motion instead of wanting to sounding like poetic wino's with their hearts wrapped in flannel or bands like the Yolks and Home Blitz laying sloppy kisses all over the Gizmos and you're in the same bar that has Black Label for a dollar a can that Day Creeper call a home away from home. 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Day-Creeper/119929404710560

Aug 8, 2011

CONSPIRACY OF OWLS s/t LP

     At a first and somewhat casual listen I was thinking about counting how many records over the past couple years have been declared Pet Sounds for the modern age. After running out of fingers but before taking off my shoes to keep the tabulation straight I put the album on again. It made me realize that if I was going to start the review off on some kind of "You're not Brian Wilson" rant I would be off base and would look the fool (not that it would be the first time that's happened...but still). All Beach Boys references that can be made about this album would be from some of the things they made after that always touted holy grail of pop music. Y'know, like 20/20 and Sunflower. Even some people that consider themselves "big Beach Boys fans" those are albums that don't really ever come up much in conversation. It was a period when Brian Wilson's influence and musical vision on the band had become diminished due to his brain teetering on the edge of a cliff which left the others scrambling to keep something somewhat cohesive in the sound they had established with their fans. The problem with that though was pop music at the time was growing by leaps and bounds. The band did their best to stay loyal to their original sound while also attempting to keep up to minute. That's not to say those records didn't have their good moments but there were also a lot of things that just fell flat or were trying to hard.
     Taking a wild stab in the dark it sounds as if members of Detroit's Conspiracy Of Owls (which includes cats who've done time in the Go, Rocket 455 and Human Eye just to rattle off a small bit of their lineage) must all own copies of both albums (and at least a couple of them having copies of Wild Honey and Friends in their record collection) and have had them on their turntables on a regular basis.
     Making these comparisons aren't just because the Conspiracy Of Owls, dressed in cut off shorts, tank tops or unbuttoned shirts, hair that looks it needs to be washed with beards to match look like that era of the Beach Boys either. Two songs out of more than a few on the record that particularly show more than a nod to that wilderness period of the Wilson family and friends here are"Tower Of Diamonds" and "The New Me". The former, a song about the days of yore, except in this case not being about malt shops it's about things like when K-Mart was the main discount retail chain and they had a Frozen Coke machine always close to the front door, Sir Graves Ghastly was still on Saturday afternoon TV and video arcade we're located inside bowling alleys and roller rinks, has a cheerful about being melancholy Carl Wilson vibe. The latter about reawakening but without all that creepy Mike Love transcendental meditation hooey and his later rubbing shoulders with the Reagan's and money grab tricks.
     To say that the brain into only clicks into just Beach Boys deep cut referencing while to Conspiracy Of Owls, though it does loom large over the entire album, would be short selling it. For example, the record's lead off track, "Puzzle People" would not sound out of place on  Hawkwind's Quark, Strangeness and Charm while other tracks such as "Raving Mad" nods to Syd Barrett, mid-70's AM radio and "The Lesson" is a fine Flaming Lips from Soft Bulletin that the Flaming Lips didn't write.
     Going in to this record expecting some crazy, wild and loud "Detroit Rock" record based on the members lineage could bum out to downright pissing off some listeners but for those looking for well crafted, harmony laden and clever psych-pop-this record is one that will make them smile.
https://www.facebook.com/conspiracyofowls

Aug 7, 2011

APACHE DROPOUT s/t LP

     Album of the year?
     Is it too early to declare such things?
     So far, it's been a pretty decent year for releases. A lot of things have found themselves on my turntable and in my portable Mp3 playing device when I'm in the car, riding the bike, mowing the lawn, going for a walk, hanging out the beach and so on. Then there are those that find themselves staying there for a much longer time.
     This Indiana trio, who took their name from the classic Edgar Broughton band song, and feature a former member of soul punks John Wilkes Booze (who's song "Whiskey and Pills" is still a standard I whip out on dj nights), have released a debut album that definitely falls into the later category.
     It's a sound of after being cooped up in a humid, claustrophobic cinder block box finally getting out and ready to do a swamp shimmy and hoot & holler. Why are their clothes all bloodstained in the morning though? The don't know and everyone that watch what went down would rather pretend they didn't see what happened.
     Part murder blues finds a back woods baptism, part post Oblivians/Gories slobbering over the bible that the Velvet Underground wrote bonk and all pressure cooker ready to burst tension.
     Sounding like the Good Earth era Feelies battling the Cheater Slicks in a loser the leave town match that ends in static-the album's opener, "I'm So Glad", throws the ears into a world of nervy, dripping in cold sweat sound that works for both shaking the hip or drowning sorrows in poison. Carnival organ accentuates a train chug on the, in a more perfect world, angst anthem "Teenager" and the super-agitated Cramps throwing the distortion into the deep red line of "Nothing In My Hand."
     Legendary records label proprietors and obscure record collector/even more obscure music historians get named checked too. The former with the acid boogie of "Sam Phillips Rising", the latter with a the caffeinated rooster rhythm of "God Bless You Johan Kugelberg".     
     I could go on about each and every track extolling it's execution and at moments sounding CCR covered in used motor oil while practicing fuzz-fest voodoo or some other attempt at rock-crit lit wit but I'd rather just listen to the record again and again as much as I have been these past few months.
Album of the year? So far I am thinking so.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Apache-Dropout/124872621463     

Jul 17, 2011

PEOPLE'S TEMPLE "Sons Of Stone" LP

     I'll never forget the first time I heard the Grateful Dead. It was my first year of my first go 'round of college. I was getting heavy into the Paisley Underground thing, it's forefathers (especially the Byrds and the Velvet Underground), some Euro Neo-psych stuff like Echo & the Bunnymen and the Teardrop Explodes (if neo-psych was even what they were considered, the Nuggets and Pebbles comps (Back From The Grave hadn't entered my orbit yet), the 13th Floor Elevators, the dark part of the mind drifting vibes of Spacemen 3 and the stoned sun baked lackadaisical sound of the Meat Puppets Up On The Sun.
     Having worked at my high school high school radio station and a bit of summer stringer work at a commercial one I fell right into a gig at the one at my college. For the most part the people at the college station were pretty straight laced. They wanted to play Eddie Money, Pat Benatar and Journey but had to begrudgingly let any weirdos do shows and especially those that had come from the high school program. Basically "the weirdos" were anyone who didn't want to play Eddie Money, Pate Benatar and Journey.
     It also so happened that the "weirdos" were usually the ones that were the partiers or, GASP!, the stoners.
     Well, hanging out at the beach or around a bonfire drinking and smoking always appealed to me more than associating with a bunch of Eddie Money, Journey and Pate Benatar fans who's idea of fun dressing up in theme costumes because it was time for a TV party because one of them had all the episodes of M.A.S.H. on videotape. One night while hanging out with the crowd I chose I was asked to put a tape in. It had a bunch of the things mentioned above on it. One guy, everyone called him Redman but I never found out why because he wasn't Native American, a ginger nor did he chew the tobacco of the same names, listens intently to the first few songs and asks me "You ever listen to the Grateful Dead."
     "I've seen the name so many times but I don't think I ever have"
     "Here, man" he says first handing me a joint and then a cassette copy of Terrapin Station "Smoke this and then put this in next. It's a lot along the lines of what you're in to. It's gonna blow your mind."
     I did. And you know what?
     It blew something but it wasn't my mind. IT SUCKED.
     It sounded like some overplaying jazzbo's trying to invent a genre they were going to call prog-country. In ways what the Meat Puppets were doing at the time could be considered the same kind of thing (save for the jazzbo part) but it was like a really overplayed, overblown, longwinded and, well, really crappy version of that sound even if it did come out 10 years earlier. It didn't blow my mind it just blew. It also sounded so far from being right up my alley that it was at the other side of the county.
       Listening to Lansing via Perry, Michigan based People's Temple debut album (after a handful of singles for various labels), Sons Of Stone, I would like to think they would react the same way in the same situation. There are elements of the bands that are mentioned in the first paragraph on this record mixed and matched that fit the band just right.
     Since we've covered that though there is no reason to reiterate it so let's describe the People's Temple sound in colors.
     They would be green, silver, black and burning red. The green of the rolling hill vistas of up-north Michigan summer vacations and high grade weed, the silver and black from laying on your back during the same summer trip while staring up at the night sky and red from an intensity that fires up when they crank the distortion or just simply all get into a zone where they're not a much thinking about the music they are playing as the music has taken them over and they are locked in to a zone. It's a zone that doesn't wander off into noodleland land though. It's a zone that is straight focused. It's likes to take a scenic route but doesn't find taking every side road and cow path just because it can. It knows when and where it's destination should wind up so they don't waste time looking for each thing no matter how boring it may be to everyone else that has hopped along for the ride. The People's temple may be jangly and folky at times but never longwinded, showing off jazz chops or thinking they're transcending space and time with some 15 minute drum solo or a million other unnecessary bits. They are first and foremost a rock-n-roll band and they know that's really all that matters.
Check out Smashin' Transistors interview with People's Temple here.

Jul 10, 2011

Frog Island Castle Bravo IPA

     Named after the bomb a thousand times more powerful than the one's the US dropped on Japan in World War II this double IPA from Ann Arbor's Frog Island brewing claims on the side that it's "the taste the frightened Eisenhower". Now, I consider myself somewhat of a 20th century US history buff. I know our country's 34th president used to smoke four packs of cigarettes a day but I don't recall ever reading anything about his take of craft brews, let alone double IPA's, so we'll just leave that claim to bravado for now and get down to the eyeing, sniffing and sipping.
     A cloudy maple syrup in color with a two finger fluffy head that melts fairly face leaving a consistent lace all the way down the glass. It's aromas are a bit earthy with some sweet malt, rolled oats and a dint of lemon peel.
     The first thing announced in the flavor is something woodsy. Almost an oak aged thing is what reminds be of with a touch of of malty almost brown sugar sweetness that flirts slightly with something akin to a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Next this chewy but fluffy/soft but full textured brew takes on a little bit more caramel flavors that still don't really give a hint that it's hitting at an 11% abv. It finishes with a burst of citrus With the average amount of stickiness one would expect from a DIPA. Not more and not less. Just right down the middle.
     Castle Bravo is the first Frog Island beer I have tasted and though my mind (or tastebuds, as the case may be) weren't exactly blown away making me declare "This is one of the best DIPA I've had ever" it was still quite decent (much better than what the first takes on Beer Advocate have been on it at least) and has now piqued my interest on trying some of the other things they have to offer.
http://www.frogislandbeer.com/       

Jul 5, 2011

The Hussy, No Bails and Sros Lords-Saturday, August 6th at Roche Bar in Port Huron


The Hussy-A two piece rock-n-roll band from Wisconsin that you can both drink and dance to.


Featuring Dutch from the Menthols and Mr & Mrs UFO Dictator-No Bails like beer and punk rock.


The Sros Lords claim they're from Detroit but sound like they are from outer space.


I'll most likely be spinning records between bands too. Things start around 10pm or so. The Roche Bar is located at 405 Quay St in downtown Port Huron, Michigan.

Here's the Facebook event page thingy too.

Jul 2, 2011

SPIDER FEVER "Whatcha Gonna Do?!" 7inch

     In a recent installment here we went over what was meant to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD and what was Punk "Fucking" Rock.As we learned in that lesson-the two are not necessarily components of each other.
     This San Diego four piece, featuring former Team Alva skater and drummer from bands such as Earthless, the Sultans and, most recently OFF!, Mario Rubalcaba on guitar/vox and John Ries's little brother, Dean, who Mario did a stint with in the Sultans, on bass do PUNK ROCK that is made to be played SUPER FREAKIN' LOUD.
     "But, other than it made to be played at some ridiculously high volume, what kind of punk rock is it?" you may be asking.
     Basically one of those good old kind of punk rock going on here. A-side's "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" scrambles Radio Birdman's eggs in cast iron pan that the Weirdoes found in the dumpster, scorches them til their all black and crusty then throws it in the face of anyone who says it's too loud. The guitars sound is more than just amplified by electricity. It sounds as if the guitar strings are made of power lines and when the songs goes over the cliff with a blood curdling scream to end-everything been zapped to a crisp.
     Flip it over for "Party Girl" and the beast rises from the ashes left from side one as a pop band. Pop in the way Sonic's Rendezvous Band, the Zeros and the Gears could be considered pop. Thick guitars that chug like a locomotive at top speed and a chorus that even the tone deaf can shout along with. 
http://www.facebook.com/pages/SPIDER-FEVER/129516360409286