May 11, 2012

Bear Republic XP Pale Ale

     Now it seems that the warm weather is gonna hang around for a bit here in Michigan it's time to start indulging again into lighter, crisper and refreshing beers. No, this does not mean that Smashin' Transistors is gonna start sipping Miller 64 (2.8 abv? Really? Why doesn't one just drink San Pellegrino with a shot of regular Listerine instead?) or some other nonsense though so don't fret.
     This bottle of pale ale from California brewery Bear Republic has been in my fridge for about a week. After a day of hard work of job hunting (Argh, don't even get me started on that what seems to be a handful of empty promises in this area that I have no other choice but to stay in for the time being) it got eyed up, taken to the porch and poured in a glass.
     Slightly hazy rich copper in color with a burst of bubbles rising to the top. Modest half finger eggshell white head that melts fairly fast, leaving a moderate amount of lacing behind. Looks nice. The malt aromas seem pretty predominant with a caramel notes on the nose. That is accented with the scents of freshly bread and a mix of fruits like strawberry and pineapple. Smells good.
     Unfortunately though the flavors don't quite meet the sight and smell presentation. There's bit of malt, a touch of hops but nothing stands out. It just tastes mushed together, lacking anything that gives it any distinction or levels of complexities. Reminds me a bit of a Bass Ale without the gazillion years of history behind it or it's slight bite.
     I really like some of the other beers Bear Republic makes but this one is bland and completely "Meh." It bums me out a little too as my brew budget is almost completely nil due to my current financial situation and I was really looking to this. It's not a drain dumper but nothing I imagine trying again.
http://www.bearrepublic.com/

May 10, 2012

May 19: Retro Flashback's at the Tally Ho in North Lakeport

     It's been since Christmas time that the crew has spun some records up at our favorite "This place could be right out a David Lynch movie" watering hole a mile north of Lakeport State Park and directly across Lake Huron. On Saturday, May 19th the trip up M-25 will be taken to indulge the country road dwellers with the boxes of records. Keep in mind that this is not your standard "80's night" where the dj just picks out songs by Culture Club, Crowded House and tracks from John Hughes movie soundtracks from an MP3 folder marked "New Wave". The record shelves at home are dug into deep in this one and the needles will be busy spinning vinyl all evening.
Go to BeatNip.Org for more info   
Facebook event page here

May 8, 2012

ALICJA POP "I Play The Fool" 7inch

     Mention that Memphis, Tn.'s Alicja Trout was a New Wave archeologist in the Clears, a duet partner with Jack Oblivian, post-punk murk maker in the Fitts, the attitude enhancer/foil to Jay Reatard in the Lost Sounds and hard rockin' lady in the River City Tanlines and you aren't even coming coming close to scratching the surface to mentioning the contributions she has has made to make record collections around the world grow.
     Do we need to mention Mouse Rocket? Nervous Patterns? Black Sunday? Her label Contaminated Records?  Etc. Etc. Etc?
     Getting the gist, right? She is always up to something worth taking an earful of.
     A couple years back she released her first single under the alias Alicja Pop! She was a new mama (as in having a kid-not the rock-n-roll sense of the term-though she is that as well) and the first record of songs she released under the name, a 7inch called Shining Apple, had a bit of a Krautrock goes, well, a kiddie music feeling to them.
     While the pop on the previous record under this nom de plume as a bit whismy and bright version of "POP!"-here there are several more weird long shadows and shades of darkness.  Synth sounds hum behind simple rhythm patterns while guitar slash at time and at others blurry. Over top of it all is Alicja's voice, multilayered and melodic, adding fire and ice dimensions to the listening experience. Think the Cars Panorama album meets that Bangles EP that had "Mary Street" on it.
http://www.certifiedprrecords.com/

May 5, 2012

JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III "The Last Donkey Show" LP and JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III/FOLLOWED BY STATIC split 12inch EP

     A lot of people, including yours truly, have said "You know what I am going to do? I am going to write a new song everyday." Usually though, now matter how sincere such people's intentions are, things like life and it's responsibilities get in the way.
     Then there's cats like Wes Coleman.
     It's like he wakes up (probably around noon or later), has a breakfast of bacon, eggs, orange juice and whiskey and then not only gets down to writing a song each and every day but then lays them down to tape just minutes afterwards too.
      Slathered in greasy saxophone and whirly keyboards tracks like the "She's Like Dracula" jitteriness and the seeing double 50's rock-n-roll feeling "Animal Bed" conjure up happy memories of a summer youth misspent at beach coast amusement parks, watching dimestore E Street Band contenders and trying to chat up girls who thought they were too pretty for the local boys.
     Storefront gospel, southern soul and the ghosts of homeless Roy Orbison worshiping balladeers seem to haunt heavy on that thing that Jack Oblivian does when he does that type of think tune "The Howling" and the album's title track.
     Other songs on the album are downright pretty. "Hanging Around" country-rock lilts like one of those good songs from the Grateful Dead's Workingman's Dead or American Beauty. That is if the Dead had some punk rock records in their collection, could keep their songs around the 3 minute mark and, you know, didn't have all those pesky Deadhead's making it possibly embarrassing to be compared to. The assistance of a bit of pedal steal makes the lilting-n-weepy acoustic based "Flowers In the Dark" sound even more damn heartfelt.
    The Last Donkey Show finds Mr. Coleman in a myriad of moods. Some loud. Some quiet. All of them with a touch of booziness.
     The split single with other fellow fuzzy Texans, Followed By Static, is the first releases on the always cool Italian gal Astrid Dante of Miss Chain & the Broken Heels label Way Out There. A slight theme of metaphorical food and alliteration stands out at first gander. Both JWCIII's "Personality Pancake" and FBS's "Bacon Bear" take the cowpunk sound and kick that driving 290 Highway dust all over it. The former like the Replacements jangling along til the stumble into a nest of rattlesnakes, the latter like a Hill Country Hootenany going after a morning of a couple pots of Cafe Bustelo and mushroom hunting.
     They other 3 songs by both artist compliment each other well too with Coleman's tracks ranging from broken down robot funk ran on tubes instead of transistors, torrential waves of feedback and general Austin weirdness and Followed By Static's tunes starting out as simple, charming folk rock and finishing as large orchestrated epics.
http://www.goner-records.com/ 
http://www.wayoutthererecords.com/

Apr 26, 2012

KING TUFF "Wild Desire" 7inch

     Chocked full of instant earworms, King Tuff's "...Was Dead" was one of those modern classics that slowly made it's rounds at first but gained converts to everyone that heard it. Some of the tracks sounded like the Ohio Express dazed on medibles and others hinted at what ZZ Top would sound like if they called up Steve and Jeff McDonald to make a record with them.
     Though people wanted more King Tuff's main brain Kyle Thomas decided to take things in a little of different direction and formed a project Happy Birthday who ended up getting signed to Sub Pop. First word on the band was that they retained the King Tuff spirit but also fit in the Sub Pop aesthetic of the last decade.
     Y'know, that quirky yet palatable indie pop thing? Parts of Happy Birthday's 2010 debut album worked but a lot of it was quite scattershot. Seemed too many ideas thrown around and, no matter how clever the intentions were, it sounded like it was trying to hard at being charming.
     Fast forward to 2012 and Kyle is working under the King Tuff name again. Not only that he has employed Detroit craft loud pop bon vivant Bobby Harlow of the Go and Conspiracy Of Owls fame to help co-pilot the sound and twist the knobs.
     Serving as a teaser to the upcoming full length on, you guessed it, Sub Pop, these two tracks are spot on in firing up hopes. Both tracks here rev like a Grand Torino with an underaged driver behind the wheel with a 4 pack of Californina Coolers underneath the front seat, a couple of pin doobies in his cigarette pack and a cassette with the Sweet's Desolation Boulevard on one side and Hüsker Dü's Flip Your Wig on the other.
     The new album comes out at the end of May. It might be worth marking the calendar for.
http://suicidesqueezerecords.tumblr.com/

Apr 24, 2012

April 29th: The FINAL Sonance at the Raven Cafe in Port Huron

     After three years of serving up tunes on Sunday a month  Franck and I have decided it has served its purpose and it is time to discontinue Sunday Sonance. Join us this Sunday, April 29th, at the Raven Cafe in Downtown Port Huron for the final hurrah!

Apr 20, 2012

Lagunita's Wilco Foxtrot Tango Ale

     Lagunita's Wilco Foxtrot Tango, known as WTF for short, is described as a "Jobless Recovery Ale". Having turned over what seems every stone in Michigan's thumb with my curriculum vitae in hand and not a lick of luck yet I know I could sure use a drink of something that makes such a claim. Never know. Anything might help at this point.
     It looks a bit cloudy and dark at first in the pour but holding it up to the light it gives off a nice translucent chestnut glow. The head on it was interesting because at first it didn't seem much from a medium pour but then slowly grew into an inch deep and thick slightly maple colored head that kept consistent with spotty lacing through the rest of it's drinking. Aromas of pine, roasted malt and leather fill the nose.
     First sips have a piquant and spiky hop characteristic up from with a bit of Négrette grape middle and touch of nuttiness. As it is allowed to breathe and warm in the glass the hop bitterness mellows allowing a touch of caramel and sweeter malts come out.
     The finish is a mix of all the above with a lingering slightly sticky hop bitterness surrounded by a cocoa sweetness. I don't know if drinking this with my continuous job searching saga but it is a solid and somewhat interesting brew and, really, with job hunting seeming more arduous and labor intensive than actually working a job at the present time, it's a nice one to sip after a day of pounding the pavement.
http://www.lagunitas.com/home.html

Apr 19, 2012

Just Whistle While You (Look) For Work

     So I went into a place today that was accepting resumes. I asked if the manager was there and the person working said "No, he is gone for the day."
     I handed the guy my resume and said "Can you give this to them?"
     "What is it" he says while looking at it.
     "It's my resume."
     "What for?"
     "Your sign out front says 'Hiring. Now Accepting Resumes.'"
     Giving me a puzzled look he says "Weird."
     "When is a good time to find the manager here?" I ask.
     "I don't know. He's here sometimes but we are open a lot. Are you looking for a job? Do you want me to put this on his desk?"
     "Yes" I tell him. "That would be great."

     And I can't find job in this town because of why again?

Apr 13, 2012

GENTLEMAN JESSE "Leaving Atlanta" LP

     Maybe it's just me but judging from the cover of Gentleman Jesse's new album, Leaving Atlanta, it seems there are some changes afoot compared to his previous records.
     First off that 70's porn star mustache he was sporting for awhile has been shorn. No big deal there though because the 70's porn mustache has ran it's course and, unless one is seeking a gig in, well 70's porn or in a print ad for cigarettes, there isn't much use for one as both are either long gone except for Tumblr pages and other obscure parts of the internet.
     The thing that concerned this writer more was the dropping of "the Men". Gentleman Jesse (Smith) has established himself as a someone who can put together a catchy hook and clever wordsmith but fear struck that maybe he decided to go all singer/songwriter and had decided some kinda James Taylor thing would suit him best.
     If he did chose to go in such a direction though one couldn't really blame him though as he had gone through the past few years. Getting smashed in the face and suffering a broken nose while acting as a good Samaritan as well as having 5 friends die over the last couple of years like he did would make anyone pondering where life is leading them and consider being a bit more sedate and a lot more introspective.
     For those smitten with smiles & wrinkle free ties Merseybeat pop crispness meet the dirty & frayed cuff and scarred southern charm of his previous records need not fret. The sound of the men are gone just in name and, with the addition of the occasional electric piano/organ blips and doubled up guitar interplay, the songs sound a bit more fortified and beefed up (in a good way) than on previous outings.
     Album opener,  "Eat Me Alive", sounds like the Chords if they had had a Buddy Holly jones instead of studying the Jam's This Is The Modern World a little too much and could have gotten Richard Gottehrer to produce. Add King Louie Bankston, a guy who knows his way around a loud and catchy pop song as his time with the Exploding Hearts and last year's Missing Monuments album showed, blowing a bit of harmonica and contributing his croaky croon, to the track and the album comes out of the gate at a good pace.
     Another thing that hasn't changed is Jesse's observation of being unlucky at love (or at least just bad luck when choosing who to love) as most of the songs prove here and like the those songs from the proceeding records he may be bummed out by the situation the songs upbeat tempo's and chiming Rickenbacker sounds make it feel like everything is all easy come easy go.
     While the "...And His Men" album sounded like it was tailor made for being the opening act of a Tom Petty or Cheap Trick tour in 1978 the songs are a bit more varied here style-wise that the usual standard power pop revisionist go to tricks. While all the songs are bright and sweet like bowl full of fruit punch with a bit of spike from someone dumping a 5th of cheap ass vodka into them tracks like "You Give Me Shivers" and "Rooting For The Underdog" are pub rock you can pogo to, "Word Gets Around" resembles an outtake from Elvis Costello's RnB dabblings on Get Happy and "Covering Up My Tracks" could qualify as one of the most decent boys dream of dating Ronettes/Shangri-Las type of tune since Johnny stole Joey's girlfriend.
http://www.douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com/

Apr 12, 2012

BRAIN F≠ "Sleep Rough" LP

     I was half interested and half apprehensive in checking out Brain F≠ (Or Brain Flannel if you're "in the know") at first. Mainly because I had read a few things on them describing them as a pissed off garage rock/artsy hardcore punk hybrid.
      There have been bands that I have checked out with a similar description in the past and the such a description a lot of times seemed way off the mark as what I think of garage rock (be it pissed off or not) or hardcore punk (and putting that artsy identifier in front of it can be a very slippery slope all in itself). Their were rare times where I thought "Oh yeah! This sounds cool" and would crank it up to the point where the red warning lights in my old Technics speakers were glowing bright. There were may more times where I was like "Damn, this stinks" (I could insert my absolute blighted hopes after purchasing a Fucked Up record here but will save it for some other time).
     What's going on with this album though might actually reduced the paper in my trusty old stereo speakers to confetti though if I keep blasting it out the way I have.  Sure, it is understandable where the garage rock reference gets tossed around as it is a bit trashy, filled with exuberance and whirling with negative attitude.
     The torrential downpour of noise in the guitars knocks down powerlines into pools of blood sending electric shock to the brain while the rhythm section blindsides with a relentless pounding. The boy/girl interplay vocals sound disaffected by the world around them yet aware and alive about things that both pissed them off and excite them.
     To these ears tossing out the "Hardcore influenced garage rock" (or "Garage rock influenced hardcore") DOES seem very limited to downright unfair because it sounds as BRAIN F≠ do like playing it fast, loud, trashy and nasty but sound like they would rather start their own club than being part of ones already established. They probably wouldn't be allowed into either anyway as both factions would be bummed the band doesn't give a damn about their alleged rulebooks.
https://www.facebook.com/brainflannel