Nov 7, 2011

Dogfish Head Burton Baton 2011

     There are some rare "occasionals" the breweries whip that make me say "Woo!" Then there are SOME that make me say "WOO! HOO!" and punctuate with the feeling of total beer geek bliss and flavor nirvana with a "HOT DAMN! YES!"
     Dogfish Head's Burton Baton is one that always goes into the latter camp.
     The first impression of any beer is how it looks and the hazy, slightly burnt orange color of this, topped with a one finger sized fizzy, cream colored head that melts away at a moderate pace to a constant cap that sticks by all the way through. It's pretty much announcing that there's gonna be a good number of complexities to take in through the sipping so get yourself ready now.
     Aromas of orange peel, vanilla, caramel all wrapped by a woodsy oak cask project itself boldly out of the glass. There's a dint of alcohol in the smell too but not overwhelming considering the brew's 10% abv potency. DAMN! It's been well over a year since I've last tasted one of these (and this only the 2nd beer I have revisited ever in this blog so far) so enough of these pleasantries and let's get down to some sipping.
     The sweet/buttery/malty meets the citrus pucker power of Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA is here in spades on the initial sip. It's followed by a bit of honey then a bit of woodsy, whiskey nuances in the middle. The finish starts with a bit of an orange tartness but is mellowed out again with something that I can only describe as a smokey vanilla thing. At the very tail end of it all the more top end of the alcohol spectrum comes out but still subtle enough to not realize how potent this brew is.
     A very, very limited amount of these hit this area (word was two cases for the entire county) and the beer merchant I picked them up at had their allowance of them reserved for those of us who have professed our love to them. I have two bottles left out of my 4 pack. I'm gonna hide those down in my beer cellar for at least a few months and see what happens.
http://www.dogfish.com/

Nov 5, 2011

MONDO RAY "Hynotized" 7inch

     To call this Munich, Germany band "Euro garage with a flair for the power pop thing" would be simple enough to do and then call it a day but it would be selling what is going on in the two songs of this little slab of plastic a bit too short.
     First off, the description of "Euro-garage" is, usually, at most, a backhanded compliment and most times a nice way of saying "Their hearts are in the right place but they just don't have IT enough to be convincing."
     Secondly, "the power pop thing, leaves it open as to what kind of power pop. After all, some of the music coined that sounds like its running on a couple of triple A batteries while others actually have some get up and go to them.
      Mondo Ray sound convincingly revved up. "Hypnotized" could almost be passed off a unreleased track from the Saints Eternally Yours for it's amped up dirty white boy take on soul power rock (minus the horns though but twice the noise as the guitars and distorted organ sounds lock gang up tightly with the rhythm section and throw down a pummel that last throughout the song).
     The B-side's "Nothing" plays it a bit more straitlaced and cleaner, hence where the blessed or dreaded, depending on which side of the fence you are, power pop badge comes in to play, but the band inject an enthusiasm into it that sounds honest and direct. The fat bass tones and spikey blasts of twanged out guitar all over the song show that these guys aren't afraid to walk on on stage with wrinkles in their shirts.
http://www.windianrecords.com/  

Nov 2, 2011

DIRTY BEACHES "Badlands" LP

     "Dark! Seductive! Disturbing!"
     It could be printed in bold across a old exploitation poster from the 50's. It could also be used to describe the overall mood that this record puts across.
     A very mysterious film noir type of air hangs over the entire proceedings from the use of darkness, shadow and smoke that appear in the cover shot of the band's mastermind, Alex Zhang Hungtai, to the use of the same and the making the best of a B-movie budget and equipment that goes with it of the music within.
     On tracks such as the ballads like the treated and looped piano laded "God Only Knows", which on a recent radio show of mine I declared "the darkest make out song in quite awhile" (when hearing it one might wonder if it's written for an imaginary David Lynch movie where it plays during a seduction scene and then again while someone lies bleeding and dying) and the 50's weeper (down to the falsettos) gone goth "True Blue", it's as if Leonard Cohen gave up wine for tall glasses of codeine cough syrup then sent Martin Rev a telegram stating that he had some demons he needs to free.
      The Suicide references (the band not the act-though there is a very dark and depressive place nature looming like an entire year of dark clouds all over the album) don't just stop there as it even exists on the more "upbeat" songs.
     The echoey metallic clang of "Speedway King" is like the story of Frankie Teardrop if he was a hot rod racer if he had had a preference for the OVH 390 cu in Cadillac engine and the plot line of the story was left a bit more open ended.  That same clang makes a lot of showings in "A Hundred Highway", which sounds like something between a gravedigger humming Little Peggy March's "I Will Follow Him"on a rainy night at work and a track that didn't make it to the Godz (the New York freak band of the 60's-not the Ohio hard rock band of the 70's) 2nd album for being just too minimal.
     "Horses" has a beat that sounds like it was created by the undead soul of the world's gloomiest rockabilly drummer collaborating with Lux Interior and John Cale for the title track of an unreleased Russ Meyers horror flick and if there's such a thing as surfer goths they prowl the coldest and lonely spots for tasty waves and confused girls in their hearse converted into a woody while listening to "Sweet 17".
     Round it out with two atmospheric "noise" tracks and watch pyschobilly dudes leave the room pissed, make them admit that they do that they still have their Nitzer Ebb and Nine Inch Nails cassettes (and listen to them when no one is looking) or realize that most of that psychobilly stuff they listen to isn't really psycho at all and is in reality just cartoon cock rock.
http://dirtybeaches.bandcamp.com/ 

Oct 25, 2011

JACK OBLIVIAN "Rat City" LP

     Each time Jackie O'Yarber releases a record it's like hanging out in a used record store that doubles as a greasy spoon eatery. So not only selling music they serve up cooked in beef tallow french fries, the juiciest burgers for miles around and when you ask for a Coca-Cola they don't tell you "We carry Pepsi products". Instead inform that you've got the choice of RC Cola or a Boilermaker.
     Unlike a lot of record stores too that have their selection somewhat divided up into genres-Jack's used record emporium and grill sometimes don't even bother having them filed in alphabetical order. Forgotten Memphis soul sides of the 60's find themselves leaning next international cheeky pop hits of the 70's, million sellers classic rock standards sandwiched between basement rock and garage punk bands that pressed 300 copies of their only record before fading into obscurity and all but forgotten save for a few collectors of such things and pure country & western slabs find themselves neighboring with synth laden/funny hair driven new wave 12 inches.
     This has resulted in Memphis Jack Oblivian living by the adage of what Pablo Picasso (or was it someone like David Lee Roth) said that "Good artists borrow, great artists steal" and his latest album, Rat City, is no different. Jack processes all of the sounds that has passed through his brain through the years, be it a lick here, a lyric there, and assimilates them into his own brand of musical barbecue sauce. Listening to it can raise some interesting and mostly likely ridiculous conversation amongst collectors of arcane and fans of music that's not so popular with regular everyday people these days.
     For instance would the ghosts of Lightnin' Hopkins and Hound Dog Taylor give Jack the keys to a phantom Cadillac for keeping their boogie alive on the record's full of fuzz title track and the cracked ribs barroom dance beat bottom'd "Old Folks Boogie" or would the pissed and pull out a gun for him not giving them co-writing credit as well doing adding a bit of punk rock mess to the proceedings? A similar question could be raised with the Stax foundation that it sounds "Caboose Jump", a tune about it beinga long time but, baby, she's still looking fine, that would instantly fill dance floors in a more perfect world, is built upon.
    Is the opening line "Yeah, What are you gonna now' of the Jonathan Richman if he wasn't afraid to fight country rock charmer "Girl With The Bruises" inspired after hearing Clash's "Clampdown"? And what happens if you take another country rock charmer, grafted it with some of the vibes that Stiv Bators Disconnected was going for could you get much better results than "Dark Eyes"? I'm thinking mostly likely not. Consult your own Magic 8-Ball if you feel the need though.
     Does Jack hide his copy of the Talking Heads Remain In Light album when company is over because he doesn't want to get cracked on for liking that goofy new york art disco but now is letting the secret out for the goofy new york art disco gets soaked overnight in butter and black pepper with "Crime of Love".
     If Tom Petty heard "Girl On The Beach" and "Jealous Heart" (which opening line has gotta be a subtle nod to Alex Chilton with it's "I'm free to do what I want" and where the songs protagonist goes from working in a gas station in the bad part of town to getting a gig as a late night radio disk jockey. Talk about total American rock! You can't get it much more than that) would he think "I remember when I wrote songs like this. And people still like him" then call Jeff Lynne to curse him for all those plastic coated production jobs he's been doing forever?
    Is it a good thing that Jack doesn't have some disgruntled ex-manager that would try to take him to court over the reasoning that "Mass Confusion" sounds like the dirty funky blues that he's been doing since the Oblivians (but with an, ahem, "more studio rock session guys" rhythm section.)
     With all that said not only are Jack's records a fun time listen but can be a fun game of playing Spot The Difference. Party record of the year!
http://biglegalmessrecords.com

Oct 13, 2011

Spend a Sunday evening at SEX CHURCH

     With a band name like Sex Church some people might be expecting some blatant nudie girl worship thing going on. You know, something silly with a logo that has a wanna porn chick dressed up as a hot zombie nun straddling a cross and a sound band members themselves would consider "Industrial Dance Metal with a White Trash-A-Billy twist" and would tell you so with a straight face.
     Instead of sounding like they have daily dalliances with undead disco dollies though the music of Sex Church is wrought with desperation, depression and daydreams of a handful of downers. The guitars sometimes blare with a wet BLLAAANNGGG of the Cramps living in the dingiest of of windowless basements, at others work up a choir of drone up to the dark skies like Spacemen 3 on a thunderstorming weekend and occasionally howl a Stooges grind. Above it a voice, disconnected and discontented, brays soliloquies of not the best of times. This clamor of celebration of what is electricity electricity is solidified by thudding bass notes & boom-boom drums locked into a throb-n-nod rhythm that nods to the ticking of the motorik heartbeat as well as wiped out surf swinging.
     Featuring Wisconsin expat NickG (Catholic Boys and Strong Come Ons) and Levon (of Ladies Night and some other ridiculousness I can't recall at the moment) Vancouver B.C.'s Sex Church have previously released records on the Hozac and Sweet Rot labels. Their new full length LP, Growing Over, came out on the venerable LOAD records in the past couple of weeks and the band is taking their death trip on the road. They'll be holding an special early Sunday evening sermon/eardrum sacrifice here in Port Huron on October 23rd at the SchwonkSoundStead. Paint may peel, minds may blow, punk rockers may break into hippie dancing.
http://soundcloud.com/sexchurch

Oct 1, 2011

HEAD ON ELECTRIC "Ghost Hunter" 7inch

     Once upon a time it was considered a compliment to say a band sounded like they were influenced by Nirvana. That was many years ago before douchebags like Creed and Nickelback took the basic sound, wiped out all the subtleties, dynamics and nuances out of it, launching a still non-stop parade of other douchebags unimaginatively following in their steps, flooding the ears with a soundtrack appropriate for shopping for a new black t-shirt at Walmart (You know-for "church & shit"), being lame and, when turning it up loud so the neighbors can hear, showing the rest of the world that the average music "fan" not only minds the taste of baloney that has sat on the kitchen counter for three days-they savor it.
    Milwaukee's Head On Electric takes us back to the days when being compared to Nirvana meant something good.
     Full of tension building soft to loud dynamics held together by thick hooks that bring to mind some of the thick and terse moments of In Utero (Nirvana's best album in this writers opinion) and the bad dream daze haunting's of Sonic Youth's EVOL. Much, much more tasty than the wading in a river of mud and Corona Light effect pedal setting that a lot of radio rock bands who THINK they are touching on the same sounds have.
    It's not just the approach they take with the guitar sounds and so on that make them sound like they could've come out of the golden period of "Alternative Rock" in the "years before punk broke". With bands who dream of being heard on the local modern rock station sandwiched between something off Metallica's "Black" album and Theory Of A Deadman-the vocals tend to sound like Emo Phillips with constipation. Head On Electric's are that of a disjointed, moody croon wrapped loosely in a blanket floating in & out around the music instead of a whiny grunt autotuned to high hell and right in your face.
     I suppose it's not really fair to even make such comparisons between what Head On Electric and what some bozo's with a PRS Guitar and Line 6 endorsment deals are doing but all it takes is that ONE SONG to get a band from lugging/plugging it in and out in local dive bars to headlining rock festivals all over the world. This one sided 7inch only hosts one song (they make up for it with some pretty fancy handmade packaging though. There's also a trippy video that goes along with the tune) but it's the first time in a long time where I've said "They remind me of Nirvana" about a band and wasn't ripping on them.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Head-On-Electric/182335031791838     

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