Aug 31, 2013

Saturday Night Crate Dig at the Roche Bar

     Shakers, Groovers and Movers courtesy of yours truly and Franck at the Roche Bar in Downtown Port Huron TONIGHT!!!

Event page thingy can be found here.

Aug 19, 2013

Right Brain Dead Kettle IPA

    India Pale Ale. I've tasted well more than my share in the many years now I have been drinking beer. They are usually my go to when trying a brewery I have never tasted before too.This especially rings true for any Michigan beer maker with me. The state seems to have set it's own standard or style for the way they are made and the way they taste.      
     Though Traverse City's Right Brain has been around for awhile and has been bottling things for a bit now-their stuff is not normally seen in my little portion of the state. I have had a little sip of some of the things they have made that were not an IPA courtesy of some friend here and there but my first time to pick a bottle of the stuff for me to sit down, examine and do the beer geek thing didn't happen til this weekend when I was an other part of the state and scanning the shelves. 
     Naturally I went for the IPA.     
     Dead Kettle pours a color between egg yolk orange and new penny copper. It's off white head grows a little at first the slowly melts to a 3mm head that stays constant throughout the sipping. The aroma is split down the middle between buttery & caramel malts and lime tinged hops. Neither seems dominate and they work well together.
     On the first sip the thing that sticks out in my mind is the texture of the brew. Though bubbles are floating all around in the glass it seems slightly thick fluff feeling in the mouth. A citrus zest, aforementioned the lime along with MICHIGAN peaches (because, yes, we do grow peaches here and they do have their own distinctive sweet-tart thing going on) and something that gets me thinking raspberry candy) is the first thing to strike the palate. A lot of Michigan IPA's tend to have an overly aggressive hop forward attitude that can beat up the tastebuds in the most awesome way possible but this one it's a obviously flirty but not mauling the tongue and mouth. It's followed by flavors of toasted wheat bread with honey and caramel covered Granny Smith apples. The finish is somewhat dry with a linger of white pepper and orange peel. 

     Due to these days where it seems like everybody and their brother, mother and dad are dabbling in making the IPA to give them their flagship distinctiveness I declared myself bored of the saturation of them and have told my beer drinking cohorts "Anything but an IPA for the next 6 months." 
     Obviously that hasn't happened and it's ones like Right Brain's Dead Kettle IPA that reel me right back in no matter how many times I declare my personal moratorium on the style. It's near perfect in it's balance and, with a lighter abv than some of the other Michigan IPA's (5.5%), one that could be a weekend long session without getting tired of it.
www.rightbrainbrewery.com

Jul 14, 2013

the HOT LZ's "Bringdown-Comedown-Putdown" 7inch EP

     Since the mid 90's as the guitar slinger in forgotten but rockin' meat and potatoes punkers the Halfways, Hot LZ's head slimeball Mark Death has never hidden away his reverence for Mr. John Anthony Genzale, Jr. In a way where he probably actually refers to him as Mr John Anthony Genzale, Jr. instead calling him by the name most know him as-Johnny Thunders.
     Hell, so much as where most people would get a LAMF tattoo-Mark's says LIKE A MOTHER FUCKER underneath it just so everyone knows what it exactly means. Such things do need to be clarified at time.
     The recording here sounds like it was made on a beer can deposit budget. The sleeve design, save for the weird waxy substance the cover is slathered in to make it glow in the dark, looks even lower budget.
      Death's half slurred/half prop-er-ly e-nun-ci-ated vocal cadences on these four songs sound like something scraped off the bottom of Cuban heels and as wishing to be as New York City as a drunken love child of Thunders and coked up Ace Frehley with lyrics to match while his guitar solos blurt and blare that thing that launched a billion punk rock guitar heroes who will admit to only a very chosen few that they tried to nick from Keith Richards but they couldn't figure out to play them right.
      The Hot LZ's are not gonna blow any minds or knock down any walls by taking punk rock somewhere it hasn't been before. I don't think they really care either. They probably do dream of playing for 1000's of rowdy fans where girls will throw their panties at them but will settle for payments of free booze, gas money and a handjob in the parking lot.   
https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hot-LZs/200543476647653

Jul 9, 2013

Arcadia Ales Cocoa Loco Stout

Smashin' Transistors unpaid intern, The Ripper, investigates this brew before it was tasted.
     Sure, it is summer. And, yes, I am usually one of those kind of people that believes stouts are only suppose to be drank in autumn and winter. It's, y'know, one of those "things". Like not wearing white pants before Easter and after Labor Day or something.
     Sometimes though you gotta break the rules. And if you're gonna break the stout rule might as go full bore. No boring ol' Guinness is gonna do. Now, a triple chocolate stout with some molasses and lactose included in the brewing process? Yep! That'll work.
     A moderate soft pour of this almost black in color pour leaves just a slight cap of froth on the top. That froth does hang all most of the way through the glass and leaves spots of drifting lace all the through. The cocoa does stand tall in the aroma with notes of espresso with double shots of milk sugar and cream. There is a slight hint of alcohol in the nose too but not any more than one would expect from a 7% abv.
     Baker's chocolate and the slightly burnt coffee from only gas station for miles bitterness is the first thing pronounced in the flavor. It's a little bit of a punchy opening along with some smokey bits but then the sugars from the lactose come along to soften the blow with just a enough sweetness to take the edge off while giving the beer a bit of creaminess in texture that was not noticed at first.
     As the beer breathes and adjusts to room temperature-the molasses becomes more noticeable adding another level of subtle complexity. The finish leaves a large does of dark chocolate coating mixed with sasparilla soda fizziness behind in the mouth.
     I don't think I could know back more than a couple of the current Michigan summer climate of thick humidity and shoulder frying heat. They are very chewy and quite warming. When the cold wind start blowing again (and they will-they always do) though I could spend a few hours sipping on these.
http://www.arcadiaales.com/

Jun 29, 2013

Tang Soliel "Mirror Maze" 7inch

     What do members of band's that had records on the In The Red label do when their groups call it a day? Well, if it's Matt of the Mystery Girls and the Demon's Claws Ysael (along with a couple Romanian malcontents and occasional contributions of another In The Red alumni, Greg from the Strange Boys) it's put a new combo together.
     A boozy, backwoods pace that is equally some twisted folk rock jangle, a day at the beach pop music and absolutely frayed around the edges garage rock thing that both the 'Girls and 'Claws did so well when they were nailing live is what it's about here.
     Sounding a bit like later period Byrds with not all the facial hair and a less dour disposition meets the Velvet Underground's 3rd album wrapped in flannel (not because they are waiting for grunge to return but are simply hayseeds) and barefoot, "Mirror Maze" is like an ice cream cone on a hot day. Cool and creamy but all sticky as it melts all over your hand. Boozy back up vocals and few seconds of sax blurt dropped in as a solo toward the end complete the slacking off on a summer day feeling.
     The flipside's "Beth's PA" features the sax making Canadian goose honks at the start along with dripping wet with moisture guitar licks snake in and out over a foundation of what sounds like a stoned country rock band standing on the verge of doing a freakbeat rave up.
     Kevin from Dusty Medical Records mentioned to me that he has already put this on a couple mixtapes then noting he doesn't ever really even make mixtapes anymore. I still do from time to time (and if you want to count the radio show I do I guess technically I make one every week) and both of these songs are going to go on all of them throughout this upcoming July and August.
http://tangsoleil.angelfire.com/

Jun 26, 2013

July 27th: The Mud City Manglers Crank It Up at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Saturday, July 27th at the Roche Bar! It's Pittsburgh's beer swilling, Marshall amp cranking, motorbike revving, cussing and swearing purveyors of bad ass rockin' The Mud City Manglers will be crawling from the gutter and rockin' the murky river banks of downtown Port Huron!
      Along for the noisy ride are the Failures which is Al and Sal of local bad attitude and butt kicking rockers Smackmadam's new band.
      Detroit's Axe Ripper will be coming up to tear the city down too.
      Maybe even some punk rock records spun between sets by yours truly and whoever else I can get to drop a needle on some records.
Yeah, Yeah! Here's a Facebook Event Page too.

Jun 20, 2013

HOT LUNCH s/t LP

     Back in my 1980's high school days I could not stand Deep Purple. Maybe it was because the grits, with their teenage teeth already ravaged Mountain Dew and Marlboro Lights world get excited one of their songs would come on in shop class, yell "It's Blackmore, bro!" and then crank the crappy classroom stereo up to where even if I thought the tune was good it ended up just be a mass of "BLLLUUURRRPPPP!!!" instead of banshee wails and bong as an echo chamber organs.
     As the time went on, and while looking for different (musical) kicks and working in record stores eventually my paths with "THE PURP, maaaan!" would cross again. Punk rock had gotten slower, what people ended up calling Grunge started bubbling to the surface and there were always a few copies of In Rock, Fireball and Machine Head in the dollar bin. After spending a weekend with them I realized, that for of all Blackmore's mystical and then blatant AOR bullcrap he was always pulling off in the 80's with Rainbow, those three albums kicked all kinds of ass with it's lunk-headed lyrics and blown out boogie.
     It sounds as if these San Fransisco dudes have spent their time listening to that holy triad of Deep Purple records too along with massive doses of the necessary Black Sabbath (because you can't actually do any bong rattling rockin' without it no matter how many ice cubes you have in it without spending many a toasted afternoon Masters Of Reality and Paranoid cranking out), Iggy and the Stooges Raw Power, Ace Frehley's  KISS solo album, Thin Lizzy here and there and other things skateboard rats listened to while gobbling down a handful of White Crosses and Yellow Jackets before punk rock came along.
     Tracks like "Handy Denny", "Killer Smile" and "Tragedy Prevention" are hard driving/Head out to the highway jams full of fuzz bass, distorto butt shaking/hair flipping guitar licks, and a drummer that knows how to pound the kit yet still swing all topped with a brown weed toking bellow.
     It's not all drinking warm beer and watching some California sunset though a windshield of a muscle car affair though as "Lady Of The Lake" and "Gold Lyre" brings out the darker side of late period psychedelia and "Ripped At The Seams" finds that sweet spot between proto-doom and Black Flag's Loose Nut. http://whocanyoutrustrec.wordpress.com/

Jun 13, 2013

SWEET TALK "Pickup Lines" LP

     Whenever I put on a record that has a bit of a "fizzy pop" thing to it and particular friends are hanging out they will make some comment about me playing some "pussy getting music" and then scoff. Then I get all analytical of if things that can get tagged power-pop or whatever people want to call it ever succeeded for many at landing a bunch of tail.
     Sure, most of those bands were singing about girls, cruising around town looking for girls, wanting to walk in the park or go to the amusement park with girls and wanting to talk to the girl that works behind the counter at the record shop or convenience store but are too shy. It seemed for the most part it was not music that was guaranteed to get young, horny guys into some nubile lasses tight jeans as much as it was about how much they wish they could.
     There were others though, such as Cheap Trick, who could take the bright, big and glittery sound of power chord hooks, pen words about unsavory things and wrap them into a melody that kids on the junior high school bus could sing along to (well, on the bus I rode we did at least. And a good chunk of years before "The Flame" and Elvis covers.)
     Then I discovered punk rock (or at least what I thought was punk rock) and a lot of the skinny ties and poofy hair sugary coatings gave way for something a bit more bitter, hot and not wrapped in plastic as far as my musical tastebuds were concerned.
     With members ranging from speedy hook merchants Mind Spiders along with cats of more raw weirdo punk combos such as the Wiccans and VIDEO, Austin's Sweet Talk should come with a label bragging that this record contains no high fructose corn syrup.
     Anchored by dual loud guitars throwing down sheets of chords this record roars even on the tinniest of transistors speakers. More in it's bag of trick than jubilant power (pop) chords-the six strings also careen, chop and bob at the right moments. Solos are hit-n-run affairs here. Quick & to the point then straight back the churning the motor. Vocals are an earnest cocky whine that when it sneers and yearns is sincere and not just for a video shoot.
      The records opening shot, "Put You Right Back", starts off like something Thin Lizzy with no exposure to Irish folk chords and not a chance being declared  the next Van Morrison or Springsteen, then builds into the kind of rock songs the alleged alternative rock stations should play for the boys who want to turn it up loud and play air guitar too while the girls shake their hair loose. Sadly it wont happen because it would make some of them realize that 30 Seconds To Mars kinda suck and it would also cut in the amount of time those stations can play the Lumineers and "classics" like "Enter Sandman" by Metallica before another 20 minute non interrupted block of commercials. 
      A early 70's glam boogie under the carnival ride lights rubbing itself all over later in the same decade small town America worshippers of the Buzzcocks feeling is all songs like "Find You", "No Vacancies", "Live To Die" and the title track.
     Tunes like "Stop In Line" and "Who Are You" would be anthems in a more perfect world and not just because they sound really BIG. Also, "Danger" shows that when poppy rock boys get some action they have just as much swagger as David Lee Roth claimed to have cornered the market on.
     Though this record came out in mid spring this year-it is gonna find a lot of time being blasted out of my car speakers this summer.
http://www.12xu.net/        
     

Jun 6, 2013

Cental City Red Racer IPA

     At one time Canadian brew was a right of passage for any young beer swiller who grew tired of of swiping whatever cheap stuff friends would pool their cash on or following in the footsteps of whatever they saw their folks drinking. It was always thought be stronger, better and more wicked. And, at the time compared to whatever swill we were usually downing around a bonfire or at the beach.
     One time I was talking to a guy who was in Johnny Paycheck's band (the last tour before he croaked...and I am not talking about the way he sang. Johnny Paycheck sounded like a frog more often than not that night and that was even when he's would ask the audience to sing the chorus) and he was telling me a story about the time he was touring with Jerry Reed. He told me a story that Jerry had his tour bus equipped with special secret compartments for when he toured the Great White North so he could smuggle things back across the border when the shows were over.
     What was Jerry sneaking back?
     Not illegal drugs.
     Not back bacon.
     Yep, that's right. He was smuggling back CANADIAN BEER! (And I must add that the cat who was telling me the story noted, with a big laugh, that Jerry did "stay well drunk the whole dang way!")
     As we have all learned the last couple of decades or so, Canadian macrobeers (or their foreign counterparts like Beck's, Heineken and St. Pauli Girl) were not the end all of brews. It also makes one wonder if Jerry ever had a chance to check out many craft beers before he died and, if he did, still insisted the Canadian ones are the best, which one would be his favorite? And would have found a way to run a pipeline of it to his house. Maybe if would've even been this brew out of Surrey, British Columbia. I would like to think he would dig the can design if nothing else.
     Very nice and clear dark copper in color. The eggshell white head is moderate and fades quickly but a good dusting of chunky white lace sticks to the side of the glass all we way down. The aromas are big and bright green smelling. Pine, a just squeezed lime and perhaps a bit of that BC bud come to mind while giving it a whiff. None of them come out punching hard on the nose but do give off a nice tease as to what the flavor may entail.
     First sip is a mix of the strong sub-tropical fruit notes of Citra hops that gives it a bit of bitterness which is then tempered by a malt sweetness that gives off and honey & maple flavor in the mix. A nice balance of simple complexities to start off with. The medium carbonation serves as a buffer in the middle giving the taste buds a little break before a sharp bite of citrus and grassiness start to appear toward the finish. There is a bit of stickiness in the end but is subtle and smoothed out by a carmel malt sweetness compared to the aggressiveness of a lot of hop bombs out there that find a home in my glass from time to time.
     All in all this is really great take on a traditional British IPA meeting it's more flavorful and complex west coast cousin.
http://centralcitybrewing.com/

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/