Nov 23, 2014

Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's Dernière Volonté Belgian IPA

     Many of my beer pals from "the other side of the water" aka what we call Canada in Michigan's Thumb have told me about how the craft brewing thing is finally starting to take hold in their country. They then suggest beers from over there I should try. The thing is though we have the same problem they have when it comes to what we can get our hands on. A lot of things they've got turned on to here aren't seen over there and not much from what's over there is making it here. We do keep our eye out for one another though so if there is something that is the rave on either side we put one aside for the next time a visit is made.
     Quebec's Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel was getting talked up a lot. Their Dernière Volonté in particular was scoring high points. It also happened to be a beer the brewery only made occasionally so I figured it would only be one I would hear legends about but never taste to find out for myself. My luck changed though when my friend Peter (host of the Avant Garage on Calgary's CJSW) would be back in the area for a few days and he was bringing me one over.
     Pouring cloudy and colored like an Indian Summer sun with a fluffy 3 finger head that took its time fading into a cloudy lacing and a strong cloudy cap that hung all all the way through the sipping. The banana like esters that come with a Belgian yeast were natural the first to great the nose with aromas of clementine and peaches providing back up.
     Many more things come out in the flavor itself with banana bread backbone plays host to tropical fruits, vanilla, coconut and caramel characteristics that come from it first hits the palate to mid way though a creamy but light touched texture. A mixture of grapefruit peel and white pepper nudge there way in towards the finish. Grassy hops and a bit of guarded til now alcohol hotness take their bow at the end. As the beer adjusts and breathes though the fruits take up more of the spotlight. Very interesting levels all the way through that seem to take on a bit more soothing quality which each sip.
     Making a mental note right now (and most likely firing off a group message in a few minutes) to hint to my Canadian friends that "Wow! I really liked that one Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel I have tried. What else have the got available" in an attempt to remind them to bring other things they make on their next visit over here.

Nov 22, 2014


     There should be some kind of flammable material warning sticker on the front of this record because as soon as the music starts, with a song that shares it name with the band, it sounds like everything is exploding and bursting into flames.
MUSK photo by Mark Murrmann
     A thick wave guitar feedback courtesy of Chris Owen (he of Killer Kiss fame) oscillates, throwing off hot sparks and shards of something like flying circular saw teeth into faces. The rhythm section enters adding punctuations to the sound. It all slowly wakes a burly gigantic beast from slumber and the guttural growl that former Tractor Sex Fatality howler Rob Fletcher lets out notifies the ears know that they are not embarking on a pleasure cruise.
     Going to places that are swampier and more cursed than even the Scientists Mk II ever fathomed with a voice resembling Greg Oblivian raised next to a tire fire by wolves songs like nail gun to the nail temple pound of "Grandier", the "I'll show what being a pyscho is really all about you beauty parlor ninnies" psychobilly murder spree of  "Funny Feeling" and "Knuckle Dust" along with "Combat Shock II" resembling the tasty waves of surf music, if those waves were made of napalm, detonate like the band is barreling through a minefield drunk on Everclear (the 190 proof rectified spirit that has prohibited for sale in 13 states. Not the band that plays its hits from the 90's at state fairs and small market summer festivals) and adrenaline.
     The jangle on "Slow Bummer" may start off feeling like a drive through the hilly farmlands of the county but the sight of of shotgun bullet riddled road signs quickly note that the hayseeds are restless and, with twilight rolling in hoping the car doesn't break down. The last ride the record takes you on is "Black Ice." As the fuzz and hammering beat decays into darkness don't be surprised if the final stop is plunging into molten lava.
 A word to the wise is to keep a fire extinguisher close to your stereo when this album is on.

Nov 10, 2014

SHEER MAG "What You Want" 7inch EP

     Based off this Philly band's name and especially logo one could be a little wary. Did a cheesy group that one their high school's battle of the bands contests back in the mid 80's finally get around to releasing their original songs (which basically sounded like Styx songs altered just enough to keep any possible lawsuits away) that they recorded with the free studio time they won as said contest winners? Or is the RAWK sound that Gearhead and Hit List ballyhooed about at one time rearing it's head in the "punk rock" world?
      Though the opening guitar run on this slab's lead off/title track may get people thinking they should get ready to all pile in an IROC-Z, swig some Southern Comfort with Mountain Dew chaser and yell "Hey, your got an doobers, brah" at random passersby while Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion gets turned up louder and louder, there's a whole 'nother kinda 70's/80's inspired action happening here.
     It's the kind of action that makes you wonder why so many powerpop bands of yore never realized that though a band like Cheap Trick may have had cleverly crafted songs they also rocked them out. Maybe it never occurred to those bands though as because they were too busy learning perfect hair feathering, practicing adjusting the skinny tie just right and finding some producer who would bullshit them into thinking that the frosting he would pile on their sound make them the sensation where others failed.
     The cats in Sheer Mag look like their in need of a shower, probably don't have a tie even if they gotta go to a funeral and sound like the only thing like stacked is toppings on a pizza and tall guitar cabinets.  Be it the southern rock twang tinge on "Sit & Cry", sounding like a Nikki & the Corvettes song being deep fried on "Point Break" or the choppy pogo dancing party downstrokes of "Hard Lovin'" the band brings it straight up and unadorned. Punky rock-n-roll that easily rings the bell of some great forgotten single on Sympathy.

Nov 7, 2014

FRAU "Punk Is My Boyfriend" 7inch EP

     London's Burning again...WITH PUNK ROCK! Perhaps the flames never completely died out and we just didn't know but the last year or so the sound has been burning hot there again.
     Bands like Good Throb, Shopping and the Lowest Form are just 3 examples of bands from the Smoke who are approaching the ruckus at different angles and coming out with something that stakes its own claim.
     Frau is another band that can be added to the list.
     Sharing a member of the aforementioned Good Throb, Frau's sound is a long the same lines as far as it's stance and gender politics are concerned  but as where the former is a bit more straightforward with the noise it makes, Frau's 3 songs in under 4 minutes here take a more jagged path.
     The nervous bassline of the record's title track is reminiscent of many a '78 or so era DIY punk rock song would but the barrage of yelps and guitar blasts bring an outburst of causticness of the almost four decades of bullshit the world has dealt with since. "Snakeskin" sounds like Essential Logic's Aerosol Burns single stripped of the avant jazzbo leanings and then recorded in a bombed out airplane hanger.
     Clocking in at barely two minutes "Orca" is a whirling maelstrom out bent guitar figures and drums that resemble a never heard of the Tea Party Mo Tucker practicing war whoop beats. About a minute in the panic attack seems like it's about to subside but that's just the eye of the storm as the shrieks then become more hoarse and chilling.

Nov 6, 2014

Steve Mancha "Monday Through Thursday"

     Originally from South Carolina, Steve Mancha (real name is Clyde Wilson) and his family moved to Detroit around 1954. By the early 60s he had recorded for Harvey Fuqua's HPC and had Barry Gordy showing interest in him his career wasn't taking off.
     In 1965, producer Don Davis signed him to his Wheelsville label. His first record for the label was "Did My Baby Call?" It didn't see much airplay action but in '66, with Edwin Star and JJ Barnes, recording the under the name the Holidays (a name which Davis owned and though there was an actual group he had by that name none of the members appeared on the record) scored a top 40 hit with "I'll Love You, Forever" on Golden World records.
     When Davis started back up the label he originally had going in 1963, Groovesville, in 1966, Mancha was the first one to have something released on the label, "You're Still In My Heart" in May of that year. He would record five singles for the label over the next year including this Friday themed one, "Monday Through Saturday" (incidentally the A-side of this particular record is called "Friday Night". I could have picked either side to spotlight on as their both great but this is I heard first years ago so that's why I went for it.) None of them did much outside of Detroit but are still big faves with the Northern Soul crowd.
     Mancha did find later success though as lead singer in 100 Proof Aged In Soul. He would also become a big part of the Detroit gospel scene up until his death in January of 2011.

Nov 2, 2014

The YOLKS "Kings Of Awesome" LP

     My girl and I wanted to go out on Halloween. We checked the options around town and it seemed the entire city was overrun by EDM laptop jockeys (with turntable strictly for show) or a couple of bands who have been covering the same Scorpions and Foreigner songs since they graduated high school in the 80's. And no, they don't do them ironically either. We quickly discovered that finding a rock-n-roll party where we could dance and act the fools to something get down groovy were dashed.
    In a way I blame myself for nothing worth venturing out for. I knew I should've put some kind of show together to combat the invasion of soulessness.
     Since I don't have a time machine, hiring the B-52s circa '79 was not an option. I do have a phone though so I should've been placing calls to Chicago and telling whoever answered phone at Yolks central "PEOPLE WANT TO DANCE AND YOU'RE THE ONLY HOPE!"
     Sounding like a 60's frat rock band after making it with some black chicks, the Yolks have been bringing the party (on record at least) since 2007. On their latest LP, Kings Of Awesome, the party is in the basement. The floors are already sticky from a few spilled beer and the walls are the damp from condensation even before the band plugs in. With a heartfelt croon, some science fiction reverb on the guitar and keyboard line that sounds like something from a Velvet Underground song filtered through a Friday night fish fry "There She Goes" kicks the scene into a high gear. Then, with the Television "Prove It"/1950's tinged "I Want Your Number", they take the party for a romantic walk to get some chili dogs.
     After the innuendo that's so transparent I dunno why I am even referring it an innuendo of the bacon grease blistered and having nothing to do with Freddie King or Bruce Springsteen song "I'm Going Down", the streetwise Sweet Jane feeling of  "True Love" and the smoochy acoustic touches of "Best Friend" the tubes powering the volume are burning hot. Just in time for the organ to take the spotlight and blare on the possibly weed baked soul-jazz blasted instro "Bud Heavy", taking "What'd I Say" back to a sweaty jukejoint where it always sounds best making it's 5 minute length seem half as much. It could go on twice as long as it does too cuz the room would keep shakin' their asses to it.
     The crowd is drenched in sweat but far from spent. Calling out for one more the band treats the request with the fuzzed out & funky "Stewed Tomatoes."
     Gonna tie a string around my finger to remind myself to find out what these cats are up to next Halloween.

Oct 29, 2014


     In case you haven't noticed there's been a lot of talk of the cool music scene happening in Australia right now. Not like there hasn't been one happening for ages but it's a thing again to talk about. From the circles I run or, well, at least some of the things I read, a lot of it is based around particular collection of cats in the Melbourne area.
     But what is happening elsewhere in the land down under?
     A twenty hour drive up the coast on the Pacific Highway from Melbourne is the Gold Coast city of Brisbane. Most likely known to your average American, if they know anything of the city at all really, as the place Steve Irwin's zoo is at, Brisbane was also the home of the Saints, the Fun Things and the Go-Betweens as well as it being the place where the Bee Gees lived during their adolescent years.
     It is also where the Martyr Privates dwell.
     With the barbed guitar and hazy voice of Slug Guts Cameron Hawes leading the way this album travels through tunnels illuminated by glowering sodium lights warmth. Embarking with a slow and rumbling groove "Someone's Head" doesn't necessarily pick up but does gain moment as it moves along.
     That song, along with the blasting through wiggly wormholes humidity of "You Can't Stop Progress" along with it's fraternal twin "Something To Sell", the narcotized bounce of a new take of "Bless" from their debut single in 2012 and the way the album's closer "Sore" drills through the cranium, set the mind to wonder how the seeking some sort of salvation melodies in vocals sprout from a bed so muddied from torrential guitar downpour.
     The crepuscular sway that looms large in tracks like "Gold Chew" and "Toe The Plank" wring drops of the Stooges Funhouse and the filter through Loop's Fade Out while "Rope & Tarp" provides a come down soundtrack for watching the sun rise.

Oct 21, 2014

The GOTOBEDS "Poor People Are Revolting" LP

     Taking their name from a member of Wire has probably made it easier for some of today's rock critics to pen some words about Pittsburgh's Gotobeds. They just gotta glean some lines from some decades old reviews, find some parallels while listening to the album once (because, well, who really needs to spend more time with a record than than that if you've already have your reference points in order and a one sheet in front of you) and hit send.
    Anyone who reviews this record like that though is gonna look the lazy fool as well as missing out sounds the band is actually making.
     With a snare drum roll, "Fast Trash" barrels the album right out the gate with a electric shock chug that's spent more than just a night Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation and a melodic six string splatter which no one would doubt if it said it had the Fall circa Brix on its speed dial setting. A serpentine guitar melody wiggles it way through the song while singer/guitarist Eli Kasan voice bounce between a heartfelt bawl and a contemptuous bark. It's a formula that works well for the band and then, when adding twists like the overly antsy garage blues riff on "Rollin' Benny", the woozy tempo shifts of "To & Fromme" and the "A-ha! See! You can cite Wire's Pink Flag right there!" choppy chords moments of "Affection" and "Wimpy Garcia (Brotherfucker)", hit the euphoric smart guy punk rock/nervy pop conglomeration right on target.
     Though the raucous but clever of the songs about could find themselves worming into music part of the frontal lobe the big pick to click (if such things still exist) is "New York's Alright (If You Like Sex and Phones)", a re-recording of a song from a previous single that not only serves as a tribute/diss to some of the bands of a current ilk that the Gotobeds may find themselves lumped in with but also wrings a few Swell Maps songs of their twisted hooks for something that intoxicatingly toxic.
     The ten minute finishes with "Secs Tape" that builds up to slashing storm before descending into a collapse. Exhausted, and in need of a pick me up, starting the record over again will do the trick.

Oct 20, 2014

Founders Mosaic Promise IPA

     Brewed to benefit ArtPrize, the world's largest art completion that happens in Founders home base of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mosaic Promise is brewed with one single malt, Golden Promise, and with just one hop, Mosaic.
     This is the 2nd year their 5 year contract for creating a unique beer for the competition. Last year they brewed the pretty dang great Inspired Artist Black IPA so what they would come up with this year, like everything Founders makes, was something to look forward to giving a taste.
     Pours a rich golden slightly bordering on orange in color. It was a soft pour brought a one finger head that faded fairly quick but made a ring that left enough for spotty lacing behind through its drinking.
     Very crisp scents of grapefruit peel, lemon zest, some green bud and fresh ground pepper all intermingled on the nose in the top. The malt hold it all up in the background providing some honey and warm biscuits to the smell. There's quite a few levels of complexities actually which is interesting due to the fact that there only being one singular hop and malt used. Founders are masters at pulling every nuance out of a variety of hops they use and so far, as the smell goes at least, it they've done all kinds of magic again.
     The flavor is similar to the aroma. Lots of citrus and tropical fruit such as mango and pineapple along with a sour candy such as Spree's impart at first. Some pine qualities along with some grassy (as both in some lawn AND some primo weed), green grapes and blueberry notes then begin to waft through in the middle. If this was all the tastes the beer had to offer it would be enough to compare it to a super great harvest ale but, as a TV pitchman would put it, "Wait! There's more" as the malts come out in the end weaving things together with some fresh out of the oven wheat bread thing happening. The finish is peppery and piney but in a way that is very refreshing and not sticky.
     Of course this is a limited run and stock is running low on how much is left. I've picked up a couple six packs of it now and will continue to do so when I spot it around at stores til it's all gone. I'm not going to hoard it all though because I enjoy sharing beers with friends. Yes, this beer is for aficionados but is also a very flavorful and palatable one to turn on a neophyte to as well.

Oct 14, 2014


     Two UK trios united in a frayed and gauzy take on fried fidelity, a mutual admiration for Wire's Pink Flag and having a band member in common, take a side each to slather the ears in a exuberant DIY buzz.
     From London, Feature's (who include Sauna Youth's Jen Calleja in it's line up) two originals here, "Wisdom Teeth" and "Tourism Fiction", have my brain wanting to cite something like giving Slowdive a couple sticks of dynamite to rid them over the overdone and unneeded orchestral adornments and make things way more straight forward. The former is a down-stroked grungy grinder that finds an overall white knuckled darkness being pushed away from melodies allowing some sunlight to come through and the latter is choppy shoegazed tinged punk and loaded with head swimming harmonies. 
     Their take on on Wire's "Mannequin" stays somewhat faithful to the original's intention but at the same time gives it a different breathing space as well as tweaking the perception of the songs initial intent was for some.
     Though Leeds via Nottingham's Slowcoaches are the other side of a same sort of coin, they come at you at a much more panicked feeling. Topped off by bassist Heather Perkins (who is also in Feature) just the right discontention for punk rock vocals, the band's "Surface Observations" set off from a basement launch pad launch with high strung dose of rat poison noise pop meets Burger Records indie rock, give it a good kicking (such as the drummer pushing it all to go faster.) "Raw Dealing" keeps this manic feeling going.
     For their take on a Wire song they try "Ex-Lion Tamer" on for size and after giving a few alterations they find that it's a great fit.