Mar 25, 2015

April 18th: Hot Love and the Failures at Port Huron's Roche Bar

Flyer design by Smashin' Transistors
    Now that the ice is (hopefully) melting and we wont see any more tundra type weather (hopefully) for months and months away, it is time to heat up Port Huron with some REAL PUNK ROCK-n-ROLL! On Saturday, April 18th Smashin' Transistors intends to do just that by presenting our first installment of live show fun for the warm season.
     From Ohio, Hot Love will be getting up to get down and shake some rock action that is one part space cased new wave, one part basement party garage rock groovin' and 100% a blast.
     Fueled by caffeine, fried chicken and beer, Port Huron punk rock desperado's the Failures will be revving up their engine and firing on all 8 cylinders all in the name of having a good time.
     Find out more by checking the Facebook event page.     

Mar 19, 2015

FOGG "Death" LP

    "The carb hole was bored out after I upgraded to an 18.8 downstem. It makes for way less drag for intake."
     "The dual chambers cool it way down too meaning maximum expansion."
     "The carbon filter does an stellar job on keeping it gunk free too."
     On and on I could hear the technical jargon going on between two fellow students sitting behind me in during a science class in my high school years. It sounded like some serious modifications.
     Assuming their were talking about some project happening in their Auto-shop class I asked them what kind of motor they were working on.
     The one dude laugh "Brah, we ain't doing much in auto shop class since that one truck caught on fire. We're building a bong!"
     "We even have the sweet jams planned when we fire it up."
     Now, granted this was not the coolest/hippest town to grow up in. Wasn't expecting the two dudes to drop names like Hawkwind or Sir Lord Baltimore but when they rattled off the "sweet jams" that would be crankin', "Y'know, some Styx, some Journey, some REO...", a person couldn't help but wonder how if they even knew what the purpose of a bong is for AND how shitty would the grass be that they were going to smoke through it.
     If it was Fogg being overheard having the same discussion, there would be no doubt of about the engineering of the smoking apparatus, the quality of of what would be smoked and especially the choices of music that would be turned up while the toking would going down.
     After gurgling from the terra firma with a swell of feedback "Time Ride" starts to slither across the surface like a thousand slimy night crawlers in the grass after a midnight rain.
     Next the band drops two heavy doses of Blue Cheer with "Rainbow" and "Fried Cheer". The former lollops like a electrified calliope with guitar/bass interplay acting as nails pounded into a doorjamb to keep jackals from tearing things from the hinges. On the latter it sounds as if the levee is starting to break. The type of rattled and shit fidelity proto-punk fuzz that is all over things like the MC5's Kick Out The Jams album when it procreates with slabs of doom.
     Psychedelia flourishes come into play heavily on sprawling "Wings Of Death", which starts out as some introspective meandering before kick starting the engine and twisting the throttle, and the classical interlude that's "Hair Temple" but both are more about colors browns and greys and dead flowers than swirling fluorescent hues and putting daisy in your hair.
     The squishy, rubbery wah-wah that permeates "Tongue Melts", the primordial man plays funky drummer beats on "Merlin Power" and the bulldozing your bones into a mound of glowing ooze vibe on "Reaper" would all fit in at a biker barbeque where the pig is soaked in Old Crow before roasted over a fire of gasoline and brimstone.
     With all the lo-end rumbling it was only a matter of time before this would cause an avalanche rolling down from dotted with poppy field mountains. The two closers that to happen in (slow) motion. "Sludgemother", squirms like a luded out Mudhoney handing a teenage warlock the mic. Then a drum solo kicks in. As well all should know by now the only two places drum solos ever make sense and work are on stuff like this or some prime 60s jazz so it's all good here. "Womb To The Tomb" completes the comedown with droopy eyed guitar explosions and sounding a bit like some nephews of St. Vitus cutting classes and chasing bong rips with Mountain Dew.

Mar 16, 2015

The BRAINSTEMS "Ego Death Demos"

Photo: Daniel Hofmeister
    Starting off with a chiming guitar and a rumbling bass, "Stallioning" gets the ears prepping for they think is going to be some kind of pep pill addled slacker rock. A minute of ascending like a bottle rocket busting through an ozone made of the dust from some Grifters records and Parquet Courts residue, the song then fires up the propulsion with a blast of open headers roar that only lets up for the occasional one, two snap of the drums and the anfractuous ring of a guitar lead.
     The swarms of feedback that invade the opening of "The ID" push it to a point to make where almost skin crawls. Right before everything is going to snap the song dives head first into a trash bin of Sci-Fi Budget Rock and strangled saxaphone dance numbers.
      Starting off with bass line that sounds like it was taken from third generation duped cassette recording of some old new wave band's demo things turn bloody on "Elevators and Escalators" fairly quickly. Two guitars snarl band saw sounds at each other that may stem from an argument about whether it's Sonics or Swell Maps records sound even better played at 78 rpm's.

Feb 28, 2015

Refined Fool Ripsnorter Bourbon Porter

     Across the river and less than a mile away from me if a foreign land. Their currency is of many colors. their football fields are longer (GO TiCATS! 2015 will be the year!!) . They had a First Lady who dallianced with the Rolling Stones. When you order poutine it is poutine and not some small dish bistro that makes you wonder if the chef even knows what poutine is. Just a few of the many things that make them different yanks.
     Like many other people for the ages it was the first place a person in Michigan drank legally anywhere on the planet. Someone only has to be 19 years old there. Here it is 21. That means to many the first place of a beer oasis was discovered. It sorta shaped a whole outlook of what suds should be. Yep! Cue the tape and join with me into a rousing version of Oh, Canada.
     When craft beers starting rolling along, Canadian beers took a backseat quickly. Some small batch and specialty breweries started to appear but some of them seemed unsure of branching away from certain ingredient profile that seemed to be a thread that ran through the most beers available in the country for  eons. Sure I tried some that were decent but there was always "what's up with them always having that same aftertaste every Canadian beer has?"
     The folks at Refined Fool in Sarnia, Ontario knew what was up. The town is only ten minutes away (if the bridge isn't busy) so they did their research over here quite often before opening shop. I had a chance to enjoy a handful of their beers but this is my first go 'round with the Ripsnorter Bourbon Porter. Did I mention that it's been cellaring for for a few seasons now?
     Burnt burgandy in color that isn't gonna let any light in at all. A moderate pour brings out a rocky chocolate malt looking head that melts fairly quickly. Chocolate and espresso beans come out first on the nose. There's smokey and woodsy elements to it as well which bring out maple and bacon.
     Slightly bitter Cocoa and sweat cream play the first fiddle from front to end here but there are little details throughout. Dark cherry tartness zig zags its way around. Tobacco makes an appearance. Charred wood stop in to say high. A fun gathering of things that seem to enjoy each other vibe.
     And the finish and aftertaste? No, it doesn't taste like Burton Cummings mixed some perfume, pine needles and club soda together, smiling while serving it up and asking you if he once dated your aunt. It is a nice throat coat of chocolate and dark fruit though.
     Now I just gotta figure out a way to run a pipeline through the water from their brewery directly to my house.

Feb 24, 2015

THE MORONS "Crackin' Up" 7inch EP

     With a name like the Morons no one is going be dropping the needle on this 45 and expecting this Chicago band to be laying down some introspective deep thoughts over top of some folky dewy morning acoustic instrumentation.
     No, what one expects is things to be loud and idiotic and wasting no time make a mess of everything. When it's done they want their stereo's speakers dripping with green lobs of lung gob.
     Sounding like the Cheater Slicks jumping about like they've got ants in their pants at a high school dance is how this EP's lead track, "Crackin' Up" kicks things off. "Disco Diablo" opens with a thuddin' bass line and then takes its fried to a crisp 90's garage punk and crams it into a garbage disposal.
     Flip it over and one might think from the opening chords of "Madelyn" that the band letting their guard down from being bards of brainlessness by doing a heartfelt ballad. As the song's static cling and lint covered jangle picks up steam to a boozy psychedelic sing-a-long pace though it becomes obvious though that these troublemakers need girls that are cause even more trouble. Clocking at a minute and a half the raw throated and three chord "I Can't Wait" finishes out the dalliances of dumbness that a scraped into the grooves.
     These morons actions at a keg party happening at bad pizza central could make primates hopped on cheeseburgers and blow shake their heads in disbelief of the mess that was made. Hell, the floor is all sticky and crunchy here now from beer and chips I ended up knocking all over while listening to this record.

Feb 17, 2015


     Playing straight up traditional garage rock can be a slippery slope. In many cases questions get raised about if the band is delving into it from a purist stand point of sincerity or are they just playing dress up because they really enjoy costume parties.
     With the former it can get a nerdy if they are all just gear geeks that play at mid volume (because they can't turn it up too loud as it may fry out their oh so precious vintage amps) and think music died in 1967 (even if the members of said band weren't even alive yet.)
     The latter is akin to Halloween. It's fun to dress up but, unless someone is terminally goth or community theater actor weirdo, the novelty can wear thin pretty quick if mostly they got going for them is wacky schtick.
     Judging from their photos, the Ar-kaics dress in a classic style that always looks contemporary. They know that basic black and Levi jackets never goes out of style. Musically, the band floats around the party doing its best to keep both the freshly pressed shirt Nuggets crowd and the rumpled and ragged Back From the Grave fiends happy.
     Fuzz box frenzied tunes like album's opening salvo, "She Does Those Things To Me", the early period Black Lips caveman stomp of "Can't Keep Waiting" and "Sick & Tired" and the wiggly chugging of "Givin' Up", "No Good" and "Why Should I" fill a mud bog with grimy old wheel bearing grease that satiates the appetite of those hungry for dirt. For those who feed off the melancholy trips the slashing "Movin' On", the dirgy blues that vibrates off "Slave To Her Lies" and the slow crawl that's the albums closer "Cut Me Down" should be enough to flood black hearts with tears.
     It's tricky to take a definitive era of sound from about 50 years ago and stay loyal to it without making it sound too hokey but the Ar-Kaics kick up attitude and put enough sincere energy into it to pull it off pretty darn good.

Feb 8, 2015

Leah Dawson "You Got To Change (Your Evil Ways)"

     Released as the 4th record on the Godmother of Detroit Soul's (and the first African American female to own and operate her own record label a few years before this was released with the Northern Recording Company) Johnnie Mae Matthews Big Hit imprint, this would be the 2nd single to feature the powerful voice of Leah Dawson front and center. 
     Leah was first heard singing for the Choker Campbell Orchestra's on the innuendo laden "My Mechanical Man" single on the Magic City label in 1966 but on this Sir Mack Rice written and produced track from 1968, which digs deep into the blues aspect compared to a lot of the post Motown R&B tracks that were being cut in Detroit at the time, her voice really booms. She puts the needles on the mixing board in the red as she belts out indignity of a man who has done her wrong too many times.
     This record was picked up by the Okeh label for national distribution but sadly did not become the hit it deserved to be.

Feb 3, 2015

HOT LOVE "Get Back Down" 7inch

     Think if the rejuvenated by the rejoining of Phil Calvert Hawkwind Quark, Strangeness and Charm album spent more time walking the most sketchy streets of any Rustbelt town and very little time doing things like trying to get into a persona of an opium smoking fighter ace.
     Things like cracked sidewalks lit in a seedy purple glow from rusty neon signs and drink specials in the dives that those rusty neon signs are mounted too would take on much more influence in the sound. The guitars would cough out big black clouds instead of sci-fi heat waves and the ride would be a bit more bumpin' and shakin' than the super-sonic saunter.
     "Get Back Down", the a-side of this Ohio band (who may have got their name from the bad ass song that kicks off Cheap Trick's debut album) single gives off those kinda sensations.
     Two (yes, two) frontmen shake up some singing in unison rock action over a drivin' spiky fuzz fest and a tin roof rattle that is one part bong hittin' space cased new wave and the one part basement party punk rock groovin'.
    Things get a little dank and dingier with the b-side's "Trippin' Down The Hall." Dirgy guitar sustain buzzes like a wasps nest being whacked at with a flaming baseball bat. The band then runs for its life and heads off into a messed up, hard boogie maelstrom.    

Jan 22, 2015

BAD INDIANS "Keep Losin'" LP

     It's seems anymore that once a day there is some band doing laced sugar cube psych pop vying for attention. A lot of them have a habit of drenching everything is some sort of  (digital?) reverb. This works in a lot of respects making things sound like breaking glass in an oil drum of twinkling stars.
     The problems is for some bands though is that trick seems to be what their depending on most to be their calling card. It's like if a photographer decided to shoot everything in a bokeh blur. It may look all all pretty or swirly but with no subject in the setting standing out it leaves little to focus on or to leave an impression with.
     With a handful of releases over the last half decade or so Jules Nehring, chief of Ypsilanti, Michigan's Bad Indians, has lead his charges to a way of making their sound images be decipherable through the misty aural smears.
     Taking inspiration from sources both obvious and orphic, the band reassembles the bits and pieces making something familiar yet still cryptic. Some tracks, like "Are The Bees Gonna Buzz" and "11 Leaves", take a Black Lips Back From The Grave cocaine comedown to spend time outside on a rare winter day where the sun actually comes out. Others make one wonder if the band has had conversations of different modes of outer earth travel. "Don't Hang That On Me" rides a wild surf through the Milky Way, bottle rockets boosted by weed smoke propulsion sends "Airplants" and "Walk With Me" on a mission to push their way through nebula while the eleven minute closer on the record, "Marble Orchard", wiggles away at gravity's pull til it breaks loose.
     With sagging lids to match their bloodshot eyes (but still being able to see clearly and focus at the task at hand) "Keep Losin'" finds the Bad Indians even one upping themselves above their 2012 poisoned candy apple fave around these parts album "...Are On The Other Side."

Jan 16, 2015

RIP Kim Fowley

     Just read the news that THE PROVOCATEUR Kim Fowley has passed away.
     Jordan and Casey of Wisconsin band the Mystery Girls and myself had some very...umm..interesting exchanges with him when I was prepping to put out their single on my label Bancroft back in 2000.
     The conversations were posted on my original Smashin' Transistors website back then. That site is long gone and though I have the article buried in an old hard drive somewhere in this house it could have taken me who knows how long to find it and repost it.
     Thankfully Daniel James of Indonesian Junk and Ramma Lamma went to do some internet digging and found the interview over on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. You can read it in it's original badly laid out page here.

RIP you Animal Man.