May 22, 2014

Short's Superfluid Double American India Pale Ale


     As the debate continues about what is the difference between West Coast vs. East Coast vs. Great Lakes vs. Rocky Mountains vs. (fill in any particular region that is brewing notable brews in the style)  India Pale Ale, Bellaire, Michigan based brewery fans the flames with a bazillion variations on the style. 
     This one, Superfluid, makes a call for preservation of the state's waterways "Clean water makes better beer" statement right on it's label. It has often been wondered what makes the beer coming out of Michigan so good.
     Well, there's one thing that always makes for sure, it's the water we got here.
     Dusty gold is the color here. When held to the light is shine and even sparkles. A medium pour brought out just a minimum head but it has a cap that stays strong through it's entire session with a lacing that leaves a full ring behind.
     On the nose there are scents of apricot, honeysuckle and pine. There's a particular sweetness in the aroma but all the smells blend well together making the anticipation of tasting the beer even more.      
     Giving it a first few sips there is something very interesting in the texture. It has a creamy softness to it that is surrounded by just enough hop resin oiliness to remind you that this is more than just a standard IPA. Once getting a taste too it is learned where the "SUPER" in it's name comes from the hop profile and flavors alone. At the very opening there are grassy and pine oil notes. That quickly steps to the side to let tart and sweet fruit nuances somewhere between cherries and peaches step in and take the taste buds for a little ride. Amidst those juicy flavors a bit of oak woodsiness flits in the background. The different levels of flavor finish with a mix of white pepper, lemon peel and a splash of hibiscus tea.  The 8% adv is hidden quite well amongst all the flavors but it is still quite a fun roller coaster ride with it's curves, cuts and dips.
www.shortsbrewing.com

Apr 22, 2014

Tom Green's Milkstout

    
When my friend Peter brought this over from Canada I looked at the label and did a few guffaws about it. I mean, c'mon, it's Tom Green approved, y'know. Not really the first person you would think of when it comes to having his name pinned to a craft beer.
     "Tom Green? The guy who was married to Drew Barrymore for a couple months?" I asked.
     "Yes, the same."
     "The same Tom Green who had that asshole from Jackyl come on his TV show and take a chainsaw to his desk"
     "Of course."
     The questions went on like this for a few minutes. 
      Thinking of the only other "celebrity approved beer" I've had, Kid Rock's BAD ASS, as well as Tom's brand of humor, all I could muster in my mind before opening it "Man, I dunno. Milk Stout or not this could be one really goofy ass stuff."
      Made by Beau's All Natural Brewing Company out of Vankleek Hill, Ontario the brew pours mahogany color with ruby illumination when held to light. It's bubbly one finger head comes on strong at first then fades quickly into a slight cap that leaves a blowing snow drift lacing behind.
     On the nose there are the scents of cocoa, hazelnut and malted milk balls. Though the aromas don't come off overtly strong and/or complex it does smell roasty and rich.
     Thoughts of a chocolate milkshake is what comes to mind first initial sip. It's quite milk chocolatey up front, followed by good bit of lactose sugars sweetness and then flits of dark roasted coffee and toast hanging around the edges. The brew has creamy texture in the mouth but the mild carbonation breaks up a bit which gives it a effervescent vibe. Hops poke their way though in the backbone adding a touch of bitters that gives it some bite and dryness in the finish. 
     Though I can only sit through about 10 minutes tops of Tom Green in most situation I could totally sit through and sip on another glass or two of this beer. One of the best milk stout's I've ever had? Nah. It is pretty decent though none the less. 

Apr 12, 2014

BURNT SKULL "Sewer Birth" LP

     High tension wires start to snap. They hit the ground a caustic slime to ooze up through the dirt.
     Electronics surge causing a blinding blue light that makes eyeballs pop out and then explode.
     Contraptions go haywire tearing the limbs from their operators.
     With a cranium crushing pummel of martial and murderous drums, a molten roar of guitars hopped up on electrical shocks and thirty for blood while a shredded vocal chords garble incantations of disgust and vileness Austin, Tx. band Burnt Skull provide the soundtrack if such is the fate for the planet's final days.  Featuring members of Total Abuse, Cruddy and Best Fwiends the band deal harsh waves of sound akin to Godflesh hopped up on bathtub crank pushing lawnmowers over the hills of hells acres and Big Black taking band saws to 100 guitars wallowing in feedback.
     The relentless noise may vary from track to track but it all will cause toxic sludge to bubble up through the soil that eats away brain matter at first whiff and encourages rats dwelled in the darkness of the most poisonous of gutters and trash strewn alleys to come out into the light and spread vermin to those who that they were safe.
     In it's wake all that is left for evidence is scorched earth splattered in blood and caked in guts.
http://12xu.net
     

Apr 7, 2014

NATURAL CHILD "Dancin' With Wolves" LP

     Let's talk a little bit about Country Rock.
     When I say country rock I don't mean the assembly line Wal-Mart shopping "Rockin' Country" bullshit that name checks Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash in the lyrics but has more in common with the Little River Band or Foreigner than any sense of country traditions much less rock AND roll that is all over commercial country radio these days either.
     I am talking something much more loose. Much more scraggly. Much more smelling like dirt, pollen, sweat and a fish fry. Something that maybe isn't dressed like a farmer but also isn't dudded up in embroidered jeans and a backwards designer baseball cap. Something can be rough and tumble when I wants to be or yearning when it feels like but I both cases sounds like it's for real and not gone through some market analysis flow chart to spell such feelings out to the lower common denominator. 
     Bands with folks that look more like the stoners that hang a beat up old Bondo buggy at the flea market or beach and not male models on their way Planet Fitness at the mall.
     Hailing from Nashville Natural Child are Country Rock. As we all know Nashville is the place where people go to get discovered to become country music stars but it also the place where the bullshit "Rockin' Country" assembly line works day and night to kill the sound that made people want to go there in the first place.
     While their previous releases entertained ideas such as "What if Neil Young's cocaine booger from The Last Waltz traveled back from '78 and wrote and recorded every album from Harvest to Zuma instead of Neil (and, of course Crazy Horse) himself" or "Waylon Jennings listening to Alex Chilton" there has been something that has had the listener thinking that the band was sincere about what they were doing. But, there was also an underlying smart ass nod and wink thing happening that may have had some thinking just how sincere. On Dancin' With Wolves, with the adding of a pedal steel and piano player into the official band line up, and the songs sounding, dare I say it, slightly more cultivated and composed-Natural Child show they've been dead level about it all along.
   The down home dose of laid back southern funky stuff of the album's opener, the "Out In The Country", the small late night jazz combo tinged "Bailando Con Lobos" and  the soulful Hammond organ that blurs the line between Saturday night and Sunday morning laden "I'm Gonna Try" sound as if they could've been plucked from a Capricorn Records jam session circa '73.
     Others like "Don't The Time Pass Quickly" where a hell raising hayseed takes a day off from kicking up some dust to roll around in the hay with his gal, the 3rd album era Velvet Underground sitting on the porch of the general store vibe of "Firewater Liquor" and "Saturday Night Blues" good time seeking a bits of rambunctious hick rockin'. The weed smoke gets thick down the backroads on "Country Hippie Blues" and shot glasses in honky tonk clink while people wonder once again if Hank would of done it this way for "Rounder."
http://naturalchildband.blogspot.com

Mar 26, 2014

GLOW GOD "House Of Distractions" LP

GRUNGE!
     When it comes to music it's been a tainted word for about two decades now. It was once used to describe scummy rock-n-roll  music made by outsiders, misfits, rejects and stoners who wanted things loud but also murky. Who wanted glare and blare to get all explode too but also something that slithered across quicksand at a lumbering gait.
    Then, as the story goes, a bunch of dudes in varsity jackets who dreamt at night about being the next Queensryche saw that Nirvana one video on MTV. The next day they hid their fringe leather jackets adorned with tin accessories in the back of the closet, swiped a couple of their old man's shirts that he wore when raking leaves and stopped brushing their hair. 
     Oklahoma City band Glow God are so damn grunge they took their name from a song by the Melvins. But not one of those signed to a major label Melvins albums that one of the above bought at the mall. We're talking about the smelly, smoldering sludge slowly rolling down a jagged mountain, partially killer inept mess that was their first record Gluey Porch Treatments. Any band that is going to take their name from that record is most likely not thinking of making a sick and noisy sound that will help them totally fry their minds and not the stupid shit that might get them onto jukeboxes at bars where douchebags play air guitar on pool cues to Puddle Of Mudd songs.
     Tracks like the opener "Numb", which starts off like a questionably maintained jet engine firing up, the biker rock nightmare vibe on "Man Down" and the screeching wall of sticky fuzz that's "Outside My Mind" resemble Mudhoney if they were all about plunging into a heated pool of Robitussin DAC instead of having a member falling for the plunging heroin needles into his veins thing that was expected back then. It's not all "that (particular) Seattle Sound" though either as songs like as "Stuck" wrings a boogie rock rag before throwing it into a bonfire while others such as "Without" and "Taking You Down" give off the feeling of floating on a fluffy cloud right before it joins other to start a thunderstorm.
     This is the moldy basement, dirt weed, hick town kind of GRUNGE.  Not the kind that has allowed really shitty bands like Creed and Nickelback to go on to influence even shittier ones such as Saving Abel and Evans Blue.
www.playpinballrecords.bigcartel.com

Mar 20, 2014

Victory Brewing Company Old Horizontal

    
     It's not uncommon for a group of us beer geeks to get together, try a few different brews and discuss them along with a billion other things beer geeks will discuss. It's not unusual for the conversation to turn to the topic of barley wines and especially barley wines we have tried before and want to try again if we ever spot them on a beer hunting adventure.
     The one that our group seems to have talked the most has been Victory Brewing Company's Old Horizontal. It had been a good few years since it has been seen on the shelves around these parts. From what we have gathered though-that was the case all around the nation as it was on a two year hiatus til it started appearing again late last year. The times I had tried it before I was always a delight but I never got around to making any notes about it. This time around I have.
     Pouring a clear burnt orange color a large, bubbly two finger tan head appears before slowly melting down and leaving rings of lace behind. The scents of fresh baked raisin bread, caramel apples and grapefruit introduce themselves almost immediately from a light whiff before they begin to intermingle with each other culminating into a sweet aromatic blend.
      Lots of buttery toffee and caramel and a very silky texture in the mouthfeel comes out in the front on the first sip. They hold strong for a moment then give way to rye toast and orange marmalade flavors in the middle followed quickly by blend of dates, blueberries and black currants along with the first initial hints of warmth from the +11% abv. Towards the end the hop characteristics come out adding a pine bite that does not push out the perfect blend of all the flavors that proceed it but adds and compliments them. The finish closes with a bit of a white pepper linger along with citus peel tang and hint of hazelnuts and dark chocolate.
     When I first spotted these around this year I bought two bottles with the intention of putting on in the cellar and one to drink. I didn't want to go all crazy and buy up every bottle because that hoarding mentality kinda pisses me off (unless they intend on sharing) and wanted to make sure that others around town who may be interested in trying it would get a chance to to grab a bottle or two for themselves. In the past they were here and gone within a couple of weeks. Luckily a few stores around these parts got enough so the bare spot on the shelf where they once were has not happened yet so I have been able to reward myself every couple of weeks with one as well as stick a few away to see how they age.
    One of my most favorite barley wines ever!
www.victorybeer.com

    

Mar 2, 2014

The YOLKS "Two Dollars Out The Door" 7inch

     The Yolks shambled pop rockin' sound is something akin of Nick Lowe's Jesus Of Cool being pushed down a mountain of beer cans with a singer who sounds like he is constantly battling a deep down turmoil of whether to be a wise cracking suburban troublemaker or a velvet fogged philanderer.
     That means, around the Smashin' Transistors digs at least, their few and far between records have always been welcomed on the turntable and calling up friends to come over for a house party follows.
    This, their latest release (and the first thing by 'em to make it to vinyl since their full length LP in 2009), is no exception.
     The a-side's hyped up on sugar and rollin' in the dirt "Two Dollars Out The Door" not only gets a house party started with it's hooky bashing and smart ass Doo Wop chorus and harmonies-the mentioning of BBQing of Polish sausage and trying to talk to girls (some of who are Polish too) a backyard party that takes over the entire block could most likely ensue.
     A take on Willie Dixon's via Sir Bo Diddley "Oh, Pretty Thing" stays loyal to the tempo, beat and harmonica blaring of the original but like any backyard party that winds watching the sun rising the next day it's all bloodshot and staggering and doesn't know how to explain to the cops when they show up why all the neighbors lawn furniture ended up in the swimming pool and their pets on the roof of the garage.
http://randyrecords.blogspot.com

Feb 25, 2014

PYPY "Pagan Day" LP

     If they were to give out an award to people who have used the garage punk springboard to bounce off into many a different direction sound wise Montreal's Roy Vucino would sport one of the biggest blue ribbons in the planet.
     From the soul sprinkled and Slade stomp of the Daylight Lovers and Les Sexareenos drunken frat rock trash bashing to the CPC Gangbangs hard rockin' action and the fever dream frazzled sounds of Red Mass there has always been that something in the projects he is part of that take things if not at least to a higher level don't just simply rehash the the obvious things within the particular genre over and over again.
     His latest thing, PyPy, continues with that.
     Starting off with a downstroked and heavily distorted chugging like a train on jagged tracks, the album's namesake builds up a head full of steam til it explodes into a mess of guitar splatter. The noise gives singer Annie-Claude DeschĂȘnes (her of Duchess Says) the cue to lure listeners in with a flirtatious sneer telling tales while the band hammers away at a calamitous Velvet Underground "White Light/White Heat" goes space rock vibe.
     Some the tracks have more than a tinge of avant funk/dub reggae reminiscent of the Slits and the No Wave scene to them. "New York" Roy and Annie trade off lines over an replete with wrung out chicken scratch guitar piece that wobbles then propels into head first in overdrive trashing for a bit before it returns to a woozy groove. "Daffodils" fools the listener at first thinking the song is simply gonna let them bob their head in some type of stoned zone til a roar similar to jet engines shreds eardrums to ribbons while "Too Much Cocaine" takes the same basic ingredients too and makes it much more antsy inducing spasmodic dance moves all over the room.
      The song most likely to appease the folks are are looking for the standard "garage rock" thing here would most like be "Molly" and "Ya Ya Ya/Psychedelic Overlords". The former is all fuzzed out guitar buzzing over the place as well as something sinister lurking right underneath the surface of Annie's voices but since it doesn't ape the Troggs or Chuck Berry they may write if off as art rock. It's their loss if they do though.
     The latter, with a sideways reference to a Hawkwind song in it's title, may go over their heads but then again I think a lot of those types are even oblivious to the fact that anymore only douchebags like Guy Fieri are ones left who wear bowling shirts with flames on them. The flames this song is about are the type a flying saucer would make after it slams into the surface of the earth taking a small town with it.
     Sure, we're only 8 weeks in to 2014 but I am going to go out on a limb and say already that this is one of my favorite albums of this year.
www.slovenly.com

Feb 22, 2014

March 8th: Marinol Nation, Radio Burns and ROWS at Port Huron's Roche Bar


Check out the Roche Bar in downtown Port Huron on Saturday, March 8th for an evening of international Rock-n-Roll

Described as "Daniel Johnston if he listened to the Rolling Stones instead of the Beatles" by fellow Sarnia compatriots the Chocolate Robots-Marinol Nation will be playing their brand of folk punk blues live in the USA for the first time.



Find out more about Marinol Nation at their Facebook page here.

Radio Burns are a Detroit Rock-n-Roll band that feature Port Huron's own Nick Lloyd (The Dirtys, Bantam Rooster) on drums.

Get more info on Radio Burns here.

Also on the bill are Sarnia indie garage blues popsters ROWS.

Listen to some music by ROWS here.

Find out more at the events page on Facebook.

Feb 17, 2014

CITY YELPS "Cheap Psych" Cassette

     What if Red Lorry Yellow Lorry first few singles were recorded at a pizza party instead of having a cinderblock cell illuminated by a 50 watt lightbulb with a layer of road salt muck all over them sound?
     Or think about the kind of record Crispy Ambulance would have made in 1981 if they were much less dour, trimmed a lot of the unneeded fat from some of their songs and played them with might like they were headed into the eye of a storm instead of moping around in a damp mist.
     Now imagine if a variation of the above (along with some Swell Maps and Flying Nun sounds thrown in for good measure) was fronted by a guy who's former band sounded like the Sonics drunk on slugging back jet fuel and their muffler completely torn off. 
     Hailing from Leeds, England and fronted by Shaun aka the Hand of the Real Losers, the City Yelps take sound of very British DIY post punk back to the basement (after kicking down the stairs most likely) where it belongs but not before slathering it with week old french fry grease then washing off the excess with Carling Lager.
     The results make the chiming guitars sting from the spikes of ice they are lobbing off while the morose vocals have more than an obvious wink and smirk to make the listener want bray along and not worry who may be watching instead of the standard going into a bedroom and hiding under the blankets while joining in with a mumble and murmur.
     While every song has an unearthed in a long misplaced box at The Cartel's mail order department vibe to it-there's also a heavy doses of twisted subterranean noise pop blurs that make the songs stand out. That sets the City Yelps apart from some of the college radio hopefuls that want everyone to compare them to Joy Division but really just sound fey synth pop bands with hissy thin guitar sounds and some dude trying to impersonate a ghost on the mic.   
http://cityyelps.bandcamp.com/album/cheap-psych