Feb 21, 2012

SUNDAY SONANCE returns to the Raven Cafe 2/26

     Well, If some of you locals were wondering where Sunday Sonance at the Raven Cafe in Port Huron went, as I know a few of you have asked me over the past couple of weeks, we have moved it to the last Sunday of each month instead of the first. We return this Sunday. I am already working on my crate of records to play. Looking forward to spinning them and seeing some of you there.

Feb 20, 2012

MUD CITY MANGLERS/PLASTERED BASTARDS "Twin Thrillers..." split single 7inch

     It's been a while since we've paid a visit to Mud City but some rumbling heard off in the distance got closer. Eventually, it got so so loud that we had to take the exit and check out what all the noise was about.
     The familiar faces may sport a couple wrinkles from hard rockin' hard livin' and there might be a slight touch of grey.
     The attitude though, is still bad. Still pissed off. Still ready to toss it's leather jacket to the ground, raise it fists and stomp suits with it's boots. That's right kids-Duck! Because the beer bottles may start flying.
    On their two songs here, the Main Mangler Ted still spits a gobby mixture of punk rock disgust and exhaust huffing bark in his voice. His guitar has always snarled like a swarm of killer bees pollinating gasoline and now that attack has been doubled, just in case the initial stings didn't inflict enough blisters, with the edition of Matt wielding a second axe of firepower. Add in Manglers stalwart Brian on drums and new bassist Mary providing a turkey drum in each hand BOOMBAST and it's something like Osterberg/Williamson's Kill City and Let There Be Rock Acca Dacca meeting in a bar. Not to fight each other but to kick in all the faces the frou-frou effects board experimentalists and bearded adventure metal muppets.
     Some years a go RAWK became a bad word. The Mud City Manglers have crawled back out the ditch again to make it DIRTY.
     If the Manglers are the ones to roam around Pittsburgh, rattling the roads on street bikes looking for bars to drink their entire Yuengling supply-the Plastered Bastards are out in the woods, jumping hills on stolen dirt bikes and hopped up on something crazy folks out on the creepy state roads manufacture. Spun tight and ready to snap their two songs take the Misfits monster punk and drag it behind them in a jean jacket that use to belong to Blag Dahlia. Then they beat it with a bike chain they stole from Venom. Amps blare and people get bloodied.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mud-City-Manglers/142455942451571 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Plastered-Bastards/162624753753146 

Jan 18, 2012

Wednesday Photo by Dale: The Blue Water Bridge

     The Blue Water Bridge, which connects Port Huron, Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario is one of the iconic structures of the this area. There have been countless photos taken of it from when it was built in the 30's. That was made double when the 2nd span was built in the mid 90's.
     Because of it being a constant model for who knows how many photographers it has usually not been one of my main subjects as I have chosen to usually take pictures of other things around the area. The other morning though the sun was rising and I had some time to kill before I went out gainful employment seeking and my college classes. The sky looked right, the angles caught my eye and I popped off a few photos.



     I always find it interesting how just over a few minutes the skies at dawn (and at dusk too actually) can totally change. In the winter time that effect seems even more so.
     As an added bonus Blue Water Bridge picture here's on of it from this past summer about 10 minutes before a major thunderstorm rolled in.
     I have been asked by people in the past if I have considered making prints of some of the photo's I have taken and sell them or let them be used for commercial purposes. With the economy being as tight as it is (especially in this area) and always having use for some extra income to provide for my family as well helping with my school expenses-the answer is yes. Those interested in such things can contact me at this email address

Jan 16, 2012

Radio Slaps "Music Is A Mistake" Cassette

     Now that punk rock has been around for 35 years (using 1977 as years zero though I know we could split hairs about it all day of when the technical start of it actually was) there's lots of wells that have been tapped.
     Some of them have been sucked dry while others are still flowing for a band to find hydration. From each well the water tastes different and it's always good to have variety.
     Elements of the early Rough Trade-ish DIY aesthetics, especially the wonderfully inept plonk of the Desperate Bicycles, comes to mind. Combine that with a bit of the 90's blurring into the 00's garage punk blasts served up by English denizens such as the Real Losers amped-up yowl and Black Time's everything from 60's french films to the kitchen sink swing & clang this with a little bit of the trash-pop-art-screech of things like Times New Viking, this London UK band has found wells they like very much to a point where they not only take a sip from them but submerge their entire heads too.
     Keyboard blurps that leave one debating whether that are awesome in their cheese or perfect in their obnoxiousness. The covered in fuzz guitar playing sounds it like was just learned to be played a few weeks ago, just found a third chord and has no intention of learning anymore because it has found it's bad attitude sweet spot and the drums believe the in the same ideas with a trash can tappity tap tap bash.
Yelping "we have no time for harmonies-we just gotta say what we want and say it loud" girl/boy vocals top it all off.  
     Some of the ten songs here sound so agitated that they might not only rattle themselves, but tape player they're being played on, apart. All of them though have that making noise in the basement punk rock spirit that lives and yells in a world beyond mall stores and giganto marketing schemes.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Radio-Slaps/181423821913129

Jan 10, 2012

JOHNNY ILL BAND "In The Wintertime" 7inch EP

      There have been many a time when someone who is from a mild of weather climate has visited Michigan during the winter months and have asked "How do you deal with this?"
      "Well, there's sledding, ice skating, snowmobiling, making snowmen, going out and doing 360's on freshly snowed roads as long as the car has rear wheel drive. Also, lots and lots of beer, whatever is on TV and cursing the weather outside comes into play. That helps us deal with the snow shoveling, getting stuck in snowbanks an the months on end of grey skies. And besides, it helps us appreciate the nice weather, when it comes around again. Basically, we don't like either but we've learned to deal with it. It's not usual to put it in song though. Well, that is until fellow Michiganders, the Johnny Ill Band, did such with their newest out on the X! label
     Opening with strummed guitar and Jonathan Richman punk rock nephew croon about not wanting to go outside because it's too cold and there's no sunlight-"In The Wintertime" then kicks into Swell Mapsian DIY downstroke chug. A twinkly toy piano adds accents that resemble how the snow sparkles at dawn after a super frigid evening. Sure, that always looks pretty but anyone who deals with it knows that doesn't necessarily mean the blanket of white stuff covering the ground is all soft and fluffy. It could also mean it's hard and crusty and has left patches of those son of bitches all over the streets known as black ice.
     Yes, it is true-No one really likes the winter though some pretend they do. You can't play really baseball or have a picnic in the wintertime and have to wear boots and gloves and sometimes scarves. Johnny Ill isn't sugarcoating it. They're just plain and simple telling you how it really is.
     The two tracks on the b-side, "Matt Larson" and "Doug Braun", are about two dudes they know from around town. The former hitting the Tyvek when they lock into a Wire groove. The latter is like that as well but splattered with a bit of wheezy, broken carnival calliope organ sounds.
http://johnnyill.com/

Jan 9, 2012

Chocolate Robots, Instant Party and Dorothy's Hazarai at the Roche

      The Chocolate Robots (see S/T's review of their latest album here) haul their noisemakers across the Blue Water Bridge to entertain the people on Saturday January, 28th at the Roche Bar at 405 Quay Street in downtown Port Huron. Also on the bill the distorted destructo-pop grooves of Detroit's Instant Party and blues/folk-rock in a pressure cooker sounds of Sarnia's Dorothy's Hazarai. Yours truly along with Franck Nowak (and possibly some others) will be spinning records between bands. No cover, 21 & over and the show starts around 10pm. Hope to see ya there.

Dec 21, 2011

Wendesday Photo By Dale: Greasy Santa

      There's this greasy spoon restaurant that has been downtown since the 50's (as all greasy spoon grill joints should be). It's located between the two watering holes I usually frequent. Every Christmas season they put this plastic Santa up by the glasses and cups by the grill. It's been the same Santa that has been put up there since I was a little kid and would eat there with my grandma. In the day time he doesn't look so ragged and greasy but at night he really turns on the charm.

Dec 14, 2011

Atwater Lager

     Lager. Because of all the bastardized and bland rice/cornwater that brewing monoliths have pushed on the people for so many years now-trying to convince your usual beer geek to try one out is the same as trying to convince a serious foodie that a drive though restaurant chain that advertising every at least every 20 minutes on every TV and radio station is making a top of the line gourmet burger.
     It's totally understandable too. I wear my beer geek badge proudly and as a somewhat foodie too-every time I've tried some new meat sandwich a burger chain is trotting out to the buying public always has me saying "It's like a weak processed version of the one I had at (fill in blank of a locally owned place that makes a far stellar burger...and makes them with care and one at time). So, when a new lager is introduced, even it's by a little guy brewer, it may get overlooked or purchased as a novelty or gag gift.
      Personally, I have never been impressed with anything from Detroit's based Atwater Brewing Company before. Drinking a few at their brewpub is decent but anytime I've tried anything they've made out of a bottle something is serious awry be it the taste or some ridiculous carbonation where each and every bottle fizzed like mad and half the beer is wasted even before it is even tasted. The latter happened every time I gave an Atwater "another chance" over five or six times over a year so it just wasn't a one time occurrence.
     A few weeks ago though I was getting together some friends to see what kind of noise we could make together on our instruments in a basement. The three of us are beer snobs but being on a very tight budget personally and slamming & quaffing brews straight from it's vessel is always more conducive in jam session situations than pouring it into a glass and sipping. Besides, we're playing at loud volume, and though breaking glass is punk rock, it was figured there would be less clean up mess if any cans rattled off the top of the amps from vibration and crashed to the floor than glass. The store, which is one of the main places I go in town for both selection AND price, had some 12 packs of cans of Atwater's Lager on the shelf. I liked the way the designed looked in it's white, gold, black and red colors. Reminded me of the old Stroh's design (back when it was still brewed in Detroit) or one of the other "old guys" beers me and friends of mine would sneak out of our grandparent's garage fridges back when we were teenagers. It's price point was nice too as it was cheaper than Bud and what have you. Seemed like though even if wasn't the most awesome, ultimate choice it would at least serve the purpose and had to at least have some more flavor than Busch or some other cheap swag.
     It ended up being a hit. Enough so where we went and bought more of it because the first 12 went down really fast. I ended up hiding one can in my guitar case so I could take it home to pour on into a glass and give it a little more thorough of an investigation.
     Translucent and gold in color as always expected from any lager but a bit more shiny and bright in it's color than most macro's of the same sort. A strong two fingered snow white head holds on tight with a good bit of retention before it finally melts away leaving a faint bit of lace behind. Sweet malts come to forefront on the nose followed by a touch of fresh baked bread and a little bit of honey too. Not one touch of boiled corn or rice either like almost every other lager that some one hands me usually has. Nice.
      On the tongue and in the mouth the first thing that is noticed is a crisp, bubbly thing that is light and effervescent but not all thin and watery. A strong but not bulky caramel like backbone carries the weight for the tinges of lemon, pepper and grassy hop nuances to make their appearances giving the beer an overall pilsner thing to it. It finishes clean and refreshing leaving just a slight tang behind.
     Needless to say, it has slightly changed my opinion of, at least of a couple things, Atwater beers. A person could session on these all day. 
     The store I got them on has been put on notice to now keep these in stock regularly as now they are not the go-to beer for band practice but something I like to have on hand for those mood where I just want a beer while cooking dinner, sit down to do a bit of writing or when some friends come over and will just knock back whatever is on hand (as long as it's mine most of the time it seems).

Dec 8, 2011

the CHOCOLATE ROBOTS "Pizza Face" LP

     "Wiggly Indie-Rock that is quite astute to the craft of constructing a great pop song."
     It's not uncommon to see something of the same effect as above in the blogosphere describing a myriad of bands out there. They release a clever and catchy debut that ear worms many and has them anticipating future sounds by the band in question. Problem is though a lot of those bands put their eggs all in one basket or shoot their entire load the first time around to as where their follow up seem just a revisiting of everything that they've already done with no expansion or they change their idea/approach so much that they lose what charmed listeners in the first place.
     Sarnia, Ontario based trio of the brothers Giresi (Mike, Matt and Marcus), The Chocolate Robots, recently released their second full length, Pizza Face, and with it have cast any worried of the dreaded sophomore slump aside. Their first album, Purr Quality, seemed geared for both the head as well as the dancefloor (the mechanical rock of Brainiac, Girls Against Boys and Servotron rubbing up against those late period T. Rex albums and 60's bubblegum came to mind at moments). This new one aims an brightly colored arrow straight for the heart and lands a direct bullseye.
     Recorded in their basement on (mostly) analog equipment that was left over from their dad's days of recording Canadian-Italiano pop music in the 70's-Pizza Face, an homage/dedication to their straight gig of working at their family's pizzeria (and because, well, we all know how pizza and rock music go hand in hand not to mention the only pizza place I know who uses songs by Personal and the Pizzas for their on hold music), is like ordering like a pie with the supreme toppings. Where the results could be overwhelming in some other hands though all the little nuances from sweet to spicy and textures from crispy to gooey come out and enthuse the flavor receptors here.
     The warm, fuzzy and, thankfully. lacking too much pro-tooled post production tricks that turns a lot of like-minded projects into a piece of plastic coated mush recording cradles sleepy eyed but smiling singing, rubbery and twinkling guitars, door knock and disco beat drums, thick bass and more squiggly & elastic keyboard sounds that should sound very out of place but somehow work since the last time Devo made a really good record.  
     The heyday of AM radio sunshine sound and Brian Eno's pop star phase (Y'know Here Comes The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) and so on) meld into the modern post whatever they call in now melodicism of bands such as the Pixies and the Strokes shine brightly not only on the should be an international sensation (which technically it is if you're take in the Port Huron and Sarnia are international neighbors) "Young Love" but also on songs such as the robots are playing slide whistle squiggliness of "Impossible Princess", "Line" with it's "I can't dance all that good but I sure try" feeling, the sugarbuzz pusher at the small town summer parade "Cotton Candy" and the long walk to think about stuff because it's a nice day mood of "Soul Shoes".
     A childlike whimsy runs though the record and like children they aren't afraid to get all noisy as the Creation frolic with Phil Spector's tape machine "Funny Feeling" and "Ratical Power" which sounds like Hawkwind if they were picked to do an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba prove.  
     Round out the album with a couple of citrus soda neo-psychedelia tracks like the Brian Wilson if he was asked to produce Roxy Music (they we go again with that Eno thing I guess) mood that is going on with "Dumb Angel" and you have a POP album your much cooler than thou pals won't scoff if they see it sitting out in the front of the record stack.
http://www.chocolaterobots.com/

Dec 7, 2011

Wednesday Photo by Dale: Bell's Brewery

Mmmmm. Beer. Here's a few shots from inside the Bell's Brewery in Comstock, Michigan.

     And there ya go. Some behind the scene's look of one of Michigan's most well known craft brewers. Beer! Beer! Glorious Beer! http://www.bellsbeer.com/