May 28, 2013

DANIEL KROHA "The Folk Blues Stylings Of..." One Sided LP

     Does Danny K. really need any introduction to the Smashin' Transistors visitors? The cat that anchored the Gories sound before it would get completely lost at sea. Fashion Icon for a special breed of Tijuana showgirls while a member of the Demolition Dollrods. Rocket 455 axe man. Driver of a rust hole ridden and lots of exhaust making yet always durable/absolutely rad early 60's Dodge station wagon.
    The past half decade or so here has been part of the bands the Readies and, his latest thing the Darleens, but he's also been out there doing gigs as a sit down in a chair solo act. With his home made diddley bow, an ancient mail order looking guitar that may be kept together with wood glue, horseshoe nails and sheer good luck, a kazoo and whatever else he may bring in a small suitcase smelling musty and of mothballs-Dan pulls up a chair, introduces himself, perhaps tries to crack a joke and then spins his take on the old, weird, scary and righteous world of music that made "America".
     Consisting of songs that have long fallen into the public domain and, according the the liner notes on the back sleeve of this one-sided 12inch, recorded on a cell phone (which, in it's way, is the modern ages cassette deck with a condenser mic)-the seven tracks here take the oodles of primitiveness, unplug from electricity and strip back to simple instrumentation and, in once case, no instruments at all other than the human voice.
     Two of the five tracks are instrumental. The first one, "Rolling &Tumblin'" starts of the slab with something that sounds like the kind of blues snake charmers would play amid some major chaos at an Egyptian street market. Unearthly yet totally natural and of the earth. The other non-vocal track on this record is a faithful take of the country blues standard "K.C. Blues" with Dan doing top ace guitar picking abounds.
     "Angels Watching Over Me" finds him unaccompanied; his voice alternating between a lady at church feeling the gospel in a belting vibrato spirit and grunts & shouts like a carnival barker. His take Kid Bailey's (or Willie Brown with Charlie Patton on 2nd guitar as many a pre-war blues habituĂ© believe) song of never settling down, "Rowdy Blues", is all about gnarled fingers banjo picking and sitting on the back porch on a humid night like tonight and letting the neighbors know that the evening is just getting underway.
     Something sounding like a ghostly sitar adds something quite sinister feeling to his take on the Appalachian standard "Pretty Little Pink" and we get taken back to church circa somewhere between the Dustbowl, the Great Depression and the Delta to think about death and redemption with "Before This Time Next Year."
     The record closes with "Run Little Children" which works up a whirling dervish of bizarre snaky slider guitar notes, Ozark harp and murmuring chants.

     I am sure that if I was to play this to a particular crowd of honky "blues" musicians and jam band folkies around this town they would probably say it is not the blues because there's no SRV sustained note jacking off or that Jerry Garcia would have recorded it better. To me that means that Kroha hits the real thing straight on target.
http://socialmusicrecords.com/
    

May 16, 2013

NO BAILS "Soundproof Room" 7inch EP

     With a bucket of mud, a bucket of scuzz and a bucket of chicken-Kalamazoo, Michigan's No Bails ooze a thick BBBUUURRZZZAHHH of distorto-chug-chug punk that'll clog the earhole and, for those who get a particular sense of "Yeah, were in a rock band but will probably never be rock stars" humor, puts a smart ass smile on the face.
     Sounding a bit like a more jovial and quicker on their feet Flipper, the Aussie punk muck bathing in whatever the cheap American equivalent of the beer they drink, and the guy who never seems able to hold down a job for two weeks that lives in their mom's basement down the road who and tries all day to get his guitar to sound like Tommy Iommi. He can't afford the right kind of equipment though because, well, he can't hold down a job for more than two weeks and lives in his mom's basement.
     "Soundproof Room" hits on a Radio Birdman vibe, minus the street surfing guitar leads but with a whole lotta greased stained wah-wah put in it's place, and lyrics that pretty much tell the college boys that think shit like Sublime is reggae that live all around in their town to get lost because they are gonna play as loud as the want.
     The b-side opener "Werther's Original" is THE most punk rock ever about the bag of candies that are found in a grandparent's kitchen (and, yes, maybe grandpa is a war criminal). "Skate or Die" three chord thud rock finishes things up with a dose of teenage boredom and the videos games that love them.
http://orgonetoilet.angelfire.com/index.html  (yes, Angelfire still actually exists and that is the label's actual website)

May 10, 2013

Odd Side Ale Citra Pale Ale

     Out of Grand Haven, Odd Side Ales is another of those Michigan breweries that has had those lucky enough to try their beers singing all kinds of praises. Like all raves of beers from the Mitten State-Yes, there is a bit of bravado and Michigan pride going but, like all Michigan beers that get such hype, what's in the bottle backs it up.
     Pours hazy golden in color. A one finger head is fizzy, melts moderately and leaves a snow drift looking haze behind. The scent smells like a tropical fruit salad. Very crisp & bright and booming with grapefruit, pineapple and mango.  
     Those scents carries through in the flavor as tangy orange peels, drops of lemon and pineapple juice come out all over the citra hops on top of the first few sips. "Quite juicy" is the simplest way I can put it actually as far as a first impression goes. A lighter malt provides a background of cheesecake crust and honey that accent the citrus top end quite well. The ending is slightly oily so it hangs around for a little bit but also keeps it from being super-sticky and giving the sides of the mouth and back of the throat the impression that it has been chewing on grapefruit peels for the last hour. The very end is clean giving the beer a sessionable quality and allowing it to go well with a backyard barbeque or something to hit the spot after mowing the lawn. Some might say I am going out on a limb for saying this but it is one of the most perfect pale ales I have not tried before in a few years.
     From what I have been told Odd Side is bottling select beers in limited qualities, featuring a different one every couple of months. Last time I was in the store I picked this up at it was the getting down to the last case. Needless to say I picked up the rest that was there and keeping my fingers crossed this will see a regular bottling schedule eventually because I could see it becoming a go to brew for many times to come.
http://www.oddsideales.com/

Apr 26, 2013

May 4th, 2013 at Port Huron's Roche Bar: "Punk Rock from the West Coast (of Michigan)"

     Kalamazoo's mighty No Bails are bringing their groovin' sludge to the Roche Bar on Saturday May 4th. Powered by cheap pizza, cheaper beer, punk rock records of the Aussie kind (think Cosmic Psychos, feedtime and et cetera) and getting the wrong impression from ABC After School Specials-this trio will rumble your guts.
     Along for the ride from the land of Bell's beer and Broncos are the wild, wiggly and woozy hyperactivity that is Terror!...Terror!...Oh My! 

Check out a tune from No Bails here.
Get an earful of Terror!...Terror!...Oh My by clicking here.

Yours truly along with some special guests will most likely be spinning tunes before between and after the bands too.

Facebook event thingy here.

Apr 16, 2013

COP CITY/CHILL PILLARS "Hosed" LP

     Spongy! That's it.
     Weird squishy things soaking up weird squishy things.Things that give a person bad dreams. The kind of thing people wish don't swim up by them. Trailed by an ooze that looks used motor oil. With clumps of hair and cucumber peels floating in.
     Wobbly too! Very wobbly. The squishiness brings on a seasick feeling. Out of phase guitar line wiggle flanged out scrawls of gurgling lost somewhere between some flick from long ago where they would tell the viewer "Welcome To The Future" and the scene that plays in the head in high school when it is found out that those 4 really weird guys with bacon greased chin and forehead zits, hunched backs and constant large stains on every piece of clothing that the own have a band.
     Those old Sci-Fl films were just guessing what robot making music would sound like. It was all analog. The had no idea about midi and the perfect timed mechanical beat. They assumed we'd all be living on Mars. They thought robots would sound like trained monkeys running on car batteries or atomic power. The 4 really weird guys practiced really hard at learning tunes by Rainbow and even though they thought they sounded really spot on-everyone else was wondering if they were intentionally trying to sound like the Residents with sincere but inept rock chops.
     Cop City/Chill Pillars sound like the spent a lot of time listening to both of the above along with the band Parcheesi (y'know the band who shipped platinum with "I Didn't Know She Was A Midget" from The Men Who Make The Music. Rob the Man from Big Entertainment said they were hot.) Either that or they're just trying to make world music but it comes out all unworldly. Repetitious chants, blurting saxes, mucous laden synth lines. It may disturb some and make others feel queasy. These Orlando, Fla weirdos wouldn't have it any other way. 
www.floridasdying.com

Apr 6, 2013

DEAD GHOSTS "I Sleep Alone" 7inch

     A few years ago it seemed that most major metropolitan areas have had their own Junior Black Lips. Whether it was intentional or not to cop that sound; stealing beer, puking in the bushes and doing some shambling latchkey kid take on the Pebbles and Back From The Grave canon and sounding like the way the B'Lips seem to become de rigueur. In Vancouver, BC the job has been that of Dead Ghosts.
     In the more recent past the band has started to cut their own path out of that sound, but these recordings date back 4 and 5 years ago. It sounds as if back in those days a copy of We Did Not Know the Forest Spirit Made the Flowers Grow was ever very far from their stereo (and most likely wasn't).
     Drenched is glassy reverb, guitar jangle swimming in cough syrup and nasally singing that sounds agitated from be just woken up are the main calling cards here.
     "I Sleep Alone" (recorded summer 2009) sounds like it some folks trying to get a gig in some total small town dive country & western bar. On of those dive country bars where Happy Hour starts at the 7am opening time so all the old guys who were out fishing hours earlier and the 3rd shifters just getting out of work can go get sloshed before sleeping a good part of the afternoon away. The selections of import beer consists of Labatt Blue and maybe Guinness but no one ever drinks them because they cost an extra 50 cents. It's the only place in town the band hasn't played so they haven't been unplugged and shown the door yet. It may be the band's attempt to work up something that will make the folks think of Porter Wagoner (or some "Damn punk rock kids" trying to sound like the Stones trying to sound like Porter Wagoner but on rattier equipment and way low rent stimulants) but the slurry slide guitar lines just gets those old cranks scowling. When the messed up organ solo towards the end of the song starts the coots yell at them "You are stoned on something beyond bourbon. You are on them hippie drugs" before showing them shotguns and the door.
      Flip it over and "Spot A Trend" (from 2008) is all frantic fuzz fueled by unhealthy living and, well, whatever songs the Black Lips taught them how to play. Trashed out live to tape recording that sounds like everything is about to fall apart. Drink too much, bang into people and wait to get thrown out of another party.
http://randyrecords.blogspot.com/

Mar 27, 2013

Brewery Vivant Solitude

     From that magical land on the opposite side of the mitten from where I am sitting called Grand Rapids comes Brewery Vivant. Unlike a many of Michigan's top notch breweries that are very high hopped driven-Vivant prides itself being much more Belgo-centric and paying tribute to some brews that have been around since the first crusades. Their use of yeasts from Belgian Abbey breweries give their beers a traditional base of flavor without excess spices. Then good ol' American microbrewing experimentation follows.
     The beer pours chestnut with some ruby highlights from a 16 ounce can. Head is off tan in color. Fluffy and strong that melts into some spotty lacing. The aroma is understated at first but as it breaths nutmeg, green apples, vanilla and raisins.
     Plum is the initial thing that pops into my mind upfront. Very earthly and tart. White tea and pepper make and appearance in the middle. Interesting counter balance between the sweet and the savory. Things wrap up with a mix of grapes, toffee and a hint of baker's chocolate. A slight tang linger in the mouth for just a right time for the finish.
     Because it is on the average age of the alcohol content (6% abv) and a fresh sweet and sour flavor this beer has I can see it becoming one I might grab for after being out working in the yard, heading to the beach or going with whatever may be cooking over the wood fire.
www.breweryvivant.com

Mar 21, 2013

PURLING HISS "Water On Mars" LP

     Previous Purling Hiss offerings sound like they were recorded at a biker club.
     Scratch that, they actually sounded like they were recorded in the dirt parking lot of a biker club. While straight drag pipes rumble and dust is kicking up everywhere. All captured on one microphone.
     Loud. Blaring. Everything cranked as loud as it will go in some battle of trying to drown each others roar out. Dirt hanging in the air. Sound and vision muddied as angry boogie and disturbed ambiance is blown forth in a mass of distortion and grit filling all the senses with the smell of exhaust, perspiration and contempt for the subtle. Nuances and detail in the sound be damned-this is a go for it moment before chains start swinging, bottles start flying and blood starts spilling.
     On Water On Mars, their first album for Drag City, the smoke and muck has cleared.
     Well, somewhat at least.
     On the album's opener "Lolita" tracks such tracks as "Face Down" and the title song all the factors of the Hiss are there. Overdriven, hit the highway and drive recklessly fuzz riffs, vocals split the difference between basement apartment dwelling psychedelic warlord growl, punk rock cynicism and old fashion pothead yearning.
     The difference is though that instead of sounding like Blue Cheer, jam band era Black Flag and and those bad trip tales from the guy up the street who will tell you how he used to roadie for Molly Hatchet crammed into the trunk of a car to suffocate instead is a lot of breathing room here. You can actually hear what the rhythm section is doing for instance. Actual production values have allowed the sound to show off much more variety and colors.
     It's something like Dinosaur Jr orchestrating a feel good sunshine pop for Black Sabbath on "Rat Race". Neil Young and Crazy Horse raiding a pharmacy before heading off to the beach an look at the stars for "Mercury Retrograde". Indie slackers attempting the blues but not in a snarky or ironic way for "The Harrowing Wind." Where Purling Hiss releases of the past where all about burning everything to a crisp and frying eardrums there is much more sizzle and appreciating for spice and simmering. All of their records still find their way to my turntable but the do tend to cause fatigue. Now they have made one that can be played over and over again all day long without feeling woozy and and envisioning things so monochromatic.
     Some bands lose their "thing" when they get away from the trash can lo-fi rattling. Water On Mars has successfully made the transition like a champ.
www.dragcity.com

Mar 12, 2013

RATSAK "20th Century Bricolage" 7inch EP

     Taking their name from a popular brand of rodent poison in the land down under seems pretty obvious without even giving the record a listen that this Aussie band isn't gonna sound like the aural version of a warm and cuddly teddy bear. Especially when it is taken in consideration that it features members of thrash-n-burn Bloody Hammer and Circle Pit.
     Blown gasket 80's hardcore (which means without the, thank goodness, fat bald guy with a goatee palm mutes) is given a good work over of with bits flying of the rails garage punk wiggliness in the guitars, an unhealthy dose of the Confederacy of Scum dirtbagging (like there is a healthy dose of it) minus the that joke wears thin fairly quickly "we're redneck and proud" antics in the rhythm section, some twisted pieces of 70's hard rock and a singer who sounds like he eats a roll of pink insulation when he wakes up and then spends the rest of the day body slamming cows, buses and old folks that get in his way.
     Four songs in eight minutes so it's a perfect record to play when plotting throwing bricks through windows and speeding off for no other reason than general thrill and juvenile delinquency.
www.12xu.net

Mar 7, 2013

CRAPPY DRACULA "....Presents 'DEER JOHN' or Concerns of the Moderne Womb Wiggler" 7inEP

     Some months back I got involved with Facebook discussion amongst some Wisconsin music acquaintances  concerning the merits of Crappy Dracula. A huge basis of the conversation seemed to be questioning if the band even took making making music seriously yet themselves. First off, with a name like Crappy Dracula it would seem kind of obvious that the band isn't striving to be some deep thinking prog rock or something but it was like that part was lost on some in the debate.
     Having only seen the band once (so far) when they came through Michigan it was a set of laughs and just as much bewilderment. On stage a little guy who looks like Ernie the Muppet wearing glasses and a guitar played who's brother may be a star on the basketball team but for himself is most likely declared the king of of the AV club if not for any other reason he has over 1000 hours of 80's porn VHS's the he has been uploading to all the free sites and won the contest of making the loudest fart sound underneath BOTH armpits. Behind them a hippie/hesher drummer who hopes someone at the show will smoke a joint with him afterwards but knows the chances are slim as he it is his job to single the other two when the songs are suppose to start and end even though they never really pay attention to him. Their set seemed more about returning the heckles they invite from the crowd (and they are really funny at it) if simply for the reason to chew up time and not have to play as many songs. It really irks those who are in the crowd there to rock out or to bop their head while taking in some musical godhead experience.
      A lot of people leave thinking "Crappy Dracula really live up to their name. Ugh!" C'mon though-what did they really expect. It is also what makes them the best at the dumbness they do.
      Short songs about the ghost from Three Men and Baby (????) and Bill Cosby's ghost from Ghost Dad coming to get you, taking the stairway to heaven (which is only 29 steps) because the escalator is full and giving step by step of instructions of how to build muscles by guys who probably had towels snapped on every part of their body during gym class showers done in a way that makes the Dead Milkmen sound like deep thinkers who were striving to emulate Yes.
     Crappy Dracula's musical indulgences are not about transcending the mind to some higher plane through notes and sound. They also don't seem to be deliberately trying to deconstruct modern music by reducing it to a clumsy thud as they put that across in a way that seems effortless.
     I wear a Crappy Dracula button on my leather jacket with pride. When people ask what they are all about I respond "You probably would get it." I am not saying it in a snobbish or elitist way either.
Crappy Dracula on Facebook