Oct 30, 2013

North Peak Hooligan

     Traverse City's North Peak Brewing makes simple, yet solid beers. They aren't all about frou-frou-ing them with unusual ingredients or a piling on a ridiculous bevy of spices.    
     A very liberal use of hops though?  Yeah! They are all over that tip though.
     When I spotted this, labeled as a Hoppy Pumpkin Ale, of course I was curious. My gal-pal, a foodie and wine fan with still a bit of a neophyte when it comes to all the great brews out there and after having feelings of pleasant to total disappointment on some of the pumpkin beers she's tried on her own in the past, asked me to keep and eye out for ones she hadn't tried so we could give 'em a shot. Hmmm. Beer and drinking it with girls? You don't have to twist my arm.
     The brew pours a transparent and bright pumpkin copper orange. The head was very minimal save for some spotty clouds and a few bubbles around the rim. Very little lacing because of this.
      On the nose there's good chunk pumpkin meat, a large bit of white pepper and fresh mowed grass from the hops and a little flourishes of graham crackers. Different from a from a huge number of other pumpkin beers that smell like all the spices that go into a pumpkin pie but stray away from the actual pumpkin itself not to mention still being a beer. 
      The hops jump right out front in flavor. At first it seems more about being an IPA (North Peak's Diabolical in particular) with a distinctive citrus and earthy bitters along with a counter balance of sweet malts. Fresh pumpkin flavors then start to emerge adding an interesting twist in the middle. As the brew breaths and warms slightly the pumpkin comes more to the forefront, mellowing out the very big (and good) hop forward slant along with some slight nuances of nutmeg and cinnamon. The finish is slightly dry and piney like one would expect from any beer that says "Hoppy" right on it's label.
     One of the most interesting things about this beer is that, as I mentioned before, the spice is something to add some character to the taste but not the main thing about the flavor. This one depends more on the hops to give it an oomph and bite. to give a short one line description of this would be a pumpkin juice infused Michigan styled IPA. Quite interesting and much different from the many sweet spiced ones that are can be found all around this time of the year.

Oct 29, 2013

Beat Time this Saturday at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Join Franck, Benny and yours truly at the Roche Bar, located at 405 Quay St. in downtown Port Huron, this Saturday for an evening of all kinds of boss tunes, bad ass jams and totally groovin' tunes. They roll the clocks back an hour so there's an extra hour of rockin', drinkin' and carousing too.

Oct 28, 2013

the PITY FUCKS "Oaks Park" 7inch EP

     Right off the bat the swirly organ sound that the sound from the needle picks up here reminds me of wandering around while being quite boozy at a run down amusement park during summer vacation up north of my youth. One of those places were sounds of things hiding the noises of mechanical things squeaking, creaking and coming to a abrupt and grinding halt were people yelling "Fuckin' Ay, Brah" between telling random passersby that they had doobies (double paper rolled and still loose pin joints if they were to actually speak the truth) for sale for "two bones, brah. Best connection in this place" (they weren't) and Foghat's "Fool For The City", "Smokin'" by Boston and Molly Hatchet's "Flirting With Disaster" (it may have been the 80's but the whoever was in charge of the place did their best to keep them alive and the customer satisfied. I even heard they fired the dj of the Himalaya ride for playing "too much punk stuff like Rocky Burnette's 'Tired Of Towing The Line') over loud speakers that spent too many Michigan seasons exposed to the elements.
     Well, that and the weirdly out of tune and always wobbly sounding pipe organ sounds coming from the carousel where half the paint chipped horse didn't even go up and down anymore Add the sound of screams of children (not ones of joy. Ones ranging from disappointment and be really creeped out) and parents arguing with that mean old cheap vodka stinking milkshake in the box office. I can hear the crusty old Electrolarynx voice spitting out curse words the sounded like retared Cylons all over again along with the Van Halen tank top dudes that still hadn't grown a full mustache the summer before mentioning "It's like 'I am Iron Man', brah."
     Coincidentally, the lead off track here, "Oaks Park", with the swirly organ is about an amusement park. Along with keys, the trashy but tough choppy & fuzzed out guitars and Matto's voice sounding like a King Louie Bankston going all pro-wrestler announcer voice would definitely piss off the grits hanging around the band shell waiting for local bar band legends Nyght Fyre (or was it Mid Nyght Maniakz that one particular year) to take the stage because they do all the "good songs. You know like 'Lovin', Touchin' Squeezin' and they sound almost like the real thing". I close my eyes and can see the styrofoam cups filled with Southern Comfort and Mountain Dew flying now. I can hear someone yelling "We are here to rock out. Not punk rock fag out." Then someone would comment "At least if they're gonna play punk rock can't they play some good punk like something from the Cars or the Police?"
     It's followed with "She Ain't All There". If you've ever wondered what happens when you take a Hound Dog Taylor boogie, give it shaken baby syndrome shower it in the sickly sweet and boozy Four Loko til it almost drowns then drink a couple glasses of milk before hollering about it-this could very well be the result.
     The flip is hyperactive take on Bo Diddley's "Hong Kong, Mississippi" that would either make ol' Elias McDaniel put these guys on the back or make him write new lyrics to that "Just Say No" rap thing he would throw in the middle of his sets in the 80's & 90's to throw a complete wrench into the middle of his sets (all the while thinking he was being hip and contemporary and doing something the "kids" could get into) and make them listen to it as some kind of sage advice.
Hit Up Matto at Facebook to score a copy.

Oct 22, 2013

Gettin' Down Halloween Style at Port Huron's Roche Bar

I will be one spinning the records with loud & actual guitars at the annual Halloween soiree in the first city on Lake Huron southeastern shoreline this Saturday night.

Oct 13, 2013

Founders Inspired Artist Black IPA

     Though this had been floating around a little bit in the past as a rare experimental beer that a lucky few got a sample of here in there it was officially introduced earlier this summer. It's name is in tribute to ArtPrize, the world’s largest art competition held annually in Founders home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan and it's limited batch run that was sold in the Mitten State only proceeds are going to benefit ArtPrize's future competitions.
    The brew pours almost black in color but when held up to the light shows off a dark crimson in color. The medium soft pour brought out a minimal head but what is there leaves a pretty solid cap and ring that holds tight and leaves drifts of lacing all the way through the drinking session.
    Roasty malts, a bit of maple wood smoke, bakers chocolate and more than a touch of the aroma that is standard for Founders other IPA's come out on the nose. None of the scents are aggressive and have a muted but pleasant relationship going on.
     The taste is right along the lines of the smell but all much more pronounced. The first thing in medium & creamy weight in mouth feeling beer is the flavor is something of a less sugary Nutella. You know what I am talking about. Hazelnuts & cocoa happening. Since I am not one to ever turn down some Nutella-I am already charmed as soon as it hits the taste buds. That is followed by a hint of charred wood which then gives way to some grapefruit tang. It finishes with a mix of dark coffee bitters and lingering citrus with the 7.5% alcohol being pretty well hidden.
     My experience with some other black IPA's have been hit or miss but this one hits it not only out of the park but the ball is found 3 blocks away from the park when it finally lands.
     Been hoping that I could find another six pack somewhere (because sometimes there is that rare stroke of luck locating a stash in a out of the way store that doesn't realize what it has) but all I got from clerks were a chuckle and a "Yeah, good luck with that, Bub" in a scoffing tone.
     I don't know if Founders plans on releasing this every year but one can wish so wish I do.

Oct 2, 2013

OBNOX "Corrupt Free Enterprise" LP

     Whatever happened to the brutha as a rock-n-rolla?
     I'm not talking the calculated bullshit "I don't care what people think as long as every move I make gets me the gossip headlines and trending on Twitter" things that Kanye West does so he can declare himself a rock star in those very same gossip rags.
     Declaring yourself a rock star doesn't not equate a rock-n-rolla.
     I am talking about a brutha that actually does not give a fuck but other than rocking out when it is called for. One that isn't doing what he does in hopes that Entertainment Weekly will declare a genius because everything else they had to review for the week was albums from TV talent show winners or adult contemporary artists disguised as a modern county entertainers. One that is out to blow out eardrums as well as minds. One that is actually playing something that is loud, obnoxious and, yep, punk rock music instead of just wearing some goofy shades so the pop press can mention a nod to "punk rock style" the dude is sporting while walking down the red carpet at an awards show.
     Being declared a rock-n-rolla is something that is bestowed on someone. Described in a recent article/interview in Consequence Of Sound as "the only black 41-year-old single father DIY garage rock drummer/singer from Cleveland" the brutha behind Obnox, Lamont "Bim" Thomas, is a #1 Rock-n-Rolla, and has been for many years with his time behind the drum kit in bands such as Bassholes and This Moment In Black History.
     While those bands had him working within what others may have had in mind-Obnox is his own deal. A loud, thick, abrasive thing of beauty deal the mashes many different worlds of sound but doesn't sound like some mutli-culti NPR bullshit at that.
     Like Chrome's Half Machine Lip Moves wound way to tight riding a spaceship through some urban wasteland inhabited Spector Wall of Sound zombies and the best weed punk rockers can never afford growing wild through sidewalk cracks-the album wastes no time taking a hammer to the eardrum and making blood rush to the head with opener "By Myself". This initial blast off helps propel other feasts of burning noise filled with dangerous fumes such as it's follow up, the sex jam in the middle of a fire-fight basher "(I Want To) Fuck You Like A Puma".
      Cop era Swans discover the blues after meeting some street preachin' rapper who's so underground his address is a sewer who's idea of a beat is a locked groove is the best to describe hypnotically woozy rhythm that Bim busts some rhymes over on the lolloping glitched soul of "Deep In The Dusk" and the mangled street beat/shout out to the hometown harsh out hip-hop that's "Being Cleveland". The latter is not the only bit of local pride/contempt either as Obnox also out noises the Cheater Slicks at their own game on his take on their "Ghost" and his revisiting his past with a version of the Bassholes "Swimming Bues".
     The magic of hypnotism through bleats of guitar feedback get worked over on the soul falsetto being abused by dentist drills on the take of Tom Waits "Way Down In A Hole" and pleading for love (or most likely and, simply a piece of pussy) "Home".  The pleading is given the same treatment again and then run through the ringer once more on the rudest take one will probably ever hear of the Eddie Floyd song "Good Love/Bad Love".
     It's highly doubtful that TMZ will ever be falling over themselves to document ever off the wall ass thing Bim might ever blather when paparazzi and press corps are around and it's hardly unlikely that MTV will be calling saving a seat at their stupid awards shows (especially after they hear about him lighting up a joint at a college radio station and then getting kicked out of the studio) but he is a for real Rock-n-Roll brutha and Corrupt Free Enterprise is all the proof one needs.    

Sep 16, 2013

RICHARD and the YOUNG LIONS: "Open Up Your Door": Song Stuck In My Head Today (Part 1)

Though the band was outta New Jersey and the song only went to #99 on the national charts it did hit #1 in Detroit on this very week in 1966.
The song has had a bit of staying power in Michigan too. In 1983, the Romantics included it on their biggest selling (and cheesiest sounding) album In Heat and the Demolition Dollrods played it regularly in live sets in the 90's.

There's a documentary on the band called
Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story that I have not seen but may be worth checking out on stay inside cold days that will be happening in this part of the world over the next 6 months or so. A copy of that can be found here if you're so inclined to order one.

Sep 6, 2013

Friday Night Crate Dig at Port Huron's Roche Bar

     Well, since everybody went nuts and filled the floor over and over again when Franck and I went digging deep into our record collections dropping raw funk, deep soul, true ska, trashy punk and straight up raunchy rock-n-roll at the Roche Bar in Downtown Port Huron-We're gonna do it again tonight!

More details here.

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.