Jun 27, 2015

Thee TSUNAMIS "Saturday Night Sweetheart"

     Sounding like a band John Waters called on Herschell Gordon Lewis to find for an upcoming film is no small feat. Sure, a combo here and there could fit such a role in the past in in the now it could be a little tricky.
     With a tough black leather exterior and heart of chewy gooey bubblegum it as if Bloomington Indiana's Thee Tsunamis were born to play the part though. Taking a girls gone bad in the garage form and giving it enough twists and turns to keep the trip interesting rather than stopping at all the same burger stands those before them pulled the car into.
     Whipping a big scuzzy ball of fuzz as introduction, lead off track "Female Trouble" is punk rock attitude, a grungy bounce and flirts with you while shoving a knife in your gut. This bad egg disposition holds its place like a beehive 'do plastered with two cans of Aqua Net on songs like the motors missing mufflers rev up at surf beach "Drag", the frat organ blurted and serpentine guitar wiggled "Skip Tracer", the Everly Brothers date daughters of the devil on "Dummy", "Shakee Jake" hopped on on Bo Diddley buzz and strychnine laced candy apple that's "Trash Talk." The already spiked fruit punch also get laced with something a bit more mind melting on"Kill Kill Kill" and the Cramps via labelmates Apache Dropout distorted roar of the album's title track
     With all this stompin' going on though even the most brassy need to let their guard down once in awhile and they don't hesitate to let the waterworks flow on "Crybaby."

Jun 19, 2015

UNIFORM "Perfect World" EP

     As a little kid where you afraid of thunder? To help you get over the fear did your folks tell you not to worry as it was just the gods bowling and the sound was simply balls rolling down the alley?
     Well, if that's the case the rolling rumbles down the alley here are that of Zeus and Thor are a two man team throwing perfect games while leaving cracks and divots all over the alley.
     Comprised of The Men's Ben Greenberg and Michael Berdan or Drunkdriver, Uniform deal in, despite the record's optimistic title, a doom laden metallic industrial sound that's akin to the clamor of Cabaret Voltaire's The Mix Up and Big Black's nail gun to the cranium than it is the Motorhead goes disco workouts that Ministry filled dance floors with.
    Opening with the title track, a reverberating electronic throb pushes to the brink of pent up tension. A bass drum thump joins in which is quickly followed by dense guitar slashes that repeat chords that are like opening salvo of a fist in the air 80s heavy metal anthem and audio demonstration on how to perform a death on something by a thousand tiny cuts. When Berdan's echo laden and dripping with contempt verbal bawl appear the floor drains are already clogged and gurgling back bubbles of blood.
     The intensity doesn't wane on the next two tracks, "Indifference" and "Footnote", with the former sounding like a hatchet murder of a shoegaze band in a House of Mirrors and the latter like watching a slow motion loop of the evidence of said murder scene being destroyed by dynamite. Speaking of explosions, "Buyer's Remorse" follow and it detonates into a post hardcore blast that repeatedly slams its head against the wall in a rapid fire succession which refuses to let up for close to six minutes.
     With all this darkness going on one must wonder if a little light is ever going to be let in. "Lost Cause", a collaboration with Coil's Drew McDowell, does manage to let some in but it's a harsh white light that illuminates an autopsy room rather than sunshine to bask in. "Learning To Forget" closes out the record by moving like an iron armored caterpillar inching it's way through a maze of ice. 

Jun 12, 2015

LIME CRUSH "Graveyard" 7inch EP

     In a post everything world where it is said everything musical has been done it is now a great trick to find a sweet spot between a sundry of sounds.
     For Vienna, Austria's Lime Crush that place isn't sitting by Franz Schubert under a blanket of snow with a plate Wiener Schnitzel and wondering what the hell Midge Ure was going on about in the song pretty much nicked from the Walker Brothers and named after the town they live in. Instead, the band extols the virtues of ramshackle DIY and what can be done with it if some sparkles are added.
     Leading off with "Graveyard", vexatious guitars scratch until they bleed over a bouncing beat while female vox sounds awkward but sure of the intent of making the point they set out to do. Next, "Baby" starts out sounding like it is going to follow some sunshine of 60s garage pop but quickly decides to turn off on a much more bumpier path that bands like Kleenex traveled often. Things wrap up with "Honk Honk." Not wrapped quite tightly though as it's very jittery spoonful of stops and starts that, even though it sounds like pieces are peeling off it in big chunks, it reaches it's destination.

Jun 6, 2015

CHICKEN CHAIN "Birth Of The Googus" LP

     The written buzz around the hive about this record is that it's Drew Owen of Sick Thoughts doing hardcore. The buzzing in the ear when listening to it is because, well, it's Drew Owen of Sick Thoughts doing hardcore.
     Now, to call this hardcore one needs to specify that this isn't the macho meathead stuff that rolled in sometime during the late 80s that gets fat guys with bald heads and goatees talking about when they remember Warped Tour before "it got all corporate." This hardocore is the kind that was made by the spazzy kids that got beat up by the macho meatheads for being "punk rock faggots" or whatever the insult of choice was at the high school you were attending.
     Sounding like they landed right in the middle of midwest hardcore of yore such as Die Kreuzin and the damaged rage of more recent bands like the Bad Noids, these eleven songs clock in about twenty minutes total and not a second is squandered from smearing vitriol.  Caught on tape in scuzzed and crackled quality, guitars sounds seriously mauled as the blare and grunt, the drummer probably starts to worry that his arms are going to fly off if he's asked to play even faster and the singer probably takes a break between each song to guzzle curdled milk and swallow some gravel to keep his voice in top shape.
     It's all heads down and running straight into a burning warehouse that stores bleach and other toxic items used in households every day. Even if they come out in one piece, this is an audio equivalent of the long lasting aftereffects of the exposure to them.

Jun 4, 2015

Saugatuck Brewing's Starburst Wheat

     Though it is common in a lot of places that brew beer now, Michigan is one of the places that does not think twice about piling on the hops in almost every style of beer. Being a self professed hop fiend myself this has been a great thing when it comes to giving something a try. Lately though it has gotten to a point where it has become a bit of silliness.
     When perusing the beer aisles recently I spotted a psychedelic/pop art label bearing the name of west Michigan brewery Saugatuck. It caught my attention so I gave it a closer look. 
     "For real?" I thought to myself.  "Do they really need to turn up the hop volume up to eleven on wheat beers now too?"
     While mulling the though of purchasing it over I remembered that Indiana's Three Floyd's does such a thing with their Gumball. Gumball is a pretty awesome brew so I figure "Eh, what the hell" and put my money down on the counter.
     Hazy brass in color and a very slight but still rocky head from a light pour this beer instantly gives off aromas of orange marmalade and an assortment of tropical fruits before even lifting it up to the nose for further investigation. Once giving it a closer sniff notes of wheat bread along with tinges of banana and clove poke their way up through the bright tart smells that stand tall on top.
     Tangerine, mango and tart kiwi are very noticeable on the taste buds at first sip. These tangy and slightly oily bits of zest move over to the side a bit towards the middle to let some doughy yeast and coriander through. It finishes fairly clean with some citrus note lingering for a little while after.
     To say this is a Michigan answer to Gumball could be a fair assumption but it also seems a little unfair. I'm not saying that Saugatuck may have not been inspired by the idea but they have done their own take on it. Sure, maybe hopping out a wheat beer is not what is "suppose" to be done with the style but this has quite a refreshing taste. As a whole there is a funky farmhouse/saison thing going on here that could be intentional or could just be a happy accident. Add this to your rotation list of sunny day beers for this summer.

May 27, 2015

The TRENDEES "We Are Sonic Art"

     Back in my high school days calling someone a trendy was a blanket slam of disdain on the rich kids, the cheerleaders and anyone else that was deemed a follower or simply late to the game. Y'know, what they called in movies (though we never used the term much if at all) the Soshes.
     Us punk rockers urchins and new wave misfits did our what we could to avoid them. For the most part it was easy. We weren't invited to their parties and they kept out of the video arcade we claimed our turf in this small town.
     With vocals that sound flailing about like Mark E. Smith with his hair on fire while some guys re-imagine what Mordecai's College Rock album would sound like if they attempted to be Flipper taking a stab at doing pop songs on circular saws, New Zealand’s Trendees probably aren't getting invited to many rich kids pool parties.
     Right from go, "Power Waves", guitars caked in mud blare a feedback infested squall and drums that sound firecrackers shut inside an armored car go bang. From there uncontrollable musical spams herk, jerk and pant through cyclones of introspection like "Boring Party", rants while pissing on an electrical fence for "Small Town/Dressing Gown", drops acid at dawn on "Center Of Town" and "Concorde #3" so they can wait for a bad trip to happen and, for "Motorcycle (Make Loud Noise)", take the term Biker Rock way more literately than most by sounding like they are living right inside the tail pipe. 

May 14, 2015

Belita Woods "Grounded"

     Before making a name for herself with songs such as “Lovin’ Is Really My Game” as lead singer for the Funk/Soul band Brainstorm in the 1970s and being a singer in the P-Funk All Stars in the 90s, Belita Woods first started recording in the mid 60s.
     After cutting some sides for Detroit record label impresario Ollie McLaughlin, her first single was released on his label, Moira, in 1967.
     The legend about this record is that though the sass pack floor filling groover “Grounded” was suppose to be the a-side but the pressing company went with the recording notes on the tape instead of the label’s request so the more soul ballad leaning (but still smokin’ in its own right) “Magic Corner” was viewed as the plug side. Both side of the record got a fair amount of play in Detroit but the record never broke through nationally.
     By 1969 McLaughlin was having financial problems and sold the distribution rights of his labels Carla, Karen and Moira (all of which were named after his daughters) to Atlantic Record records. In 1969, Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion re-released this single to little fanfare (and still with “Grounded” as the b-side.) 
     Belita passed away from heart failure on this day, May 14th, in 2012 at the age of 63. 

May 8, 2015

BENNY and the ROIDS 2015 Demo Cassette

     The School of  '77 English punk rock played through a USA sleaze filter. Sure, we've all head the claim. And, if you're into that kind of thing, have felt duped when a band that gets showered with such a distinction ends up just sounding like KISS without the explosions or Mötley Crüe's Theatre of Pain album but even crappier.
     Calling Los Angeles home, Benny and the Roids are in one of the epicenters where such a declared sound come from and, more often than not, wind up more like those latter examples. It seems they've made a note of such shenanigans though and chose to walk a path that's paved with rusted barbed wire and shattered beer bottles.
     Sporting four mid-tempo Humpers via Chuck Berry via the New York blast it's all about rumbly bass runs, guitars that sound distorted more likely because they are being cranked up high through a battered amp that could catch fire at any minute than any pedal that might be in use and a singer that sways between gruff slurring and a throaty bellow.
     Toss in some gang vocal choruses and keep all the songs around a minutes and you got a the fixins of sordid night out at your favorite dive bar to see a live band.
     No, these guys aren't tearing down any walls but also sound like you don't have to ask them twice to help kick some holes in some drywall.
Download the demo here or just give it a listen.

May 7, 2015

HEATERS "Mean Green" 7inch

Photo by shuttersam
     Night swimming at the lake. It's frowned upon by summer downers and fun governors due to its potential dangers. After a long day of toiling in the humidity that can dampens everything a person owns in the Great Lakes State during the summertime though those warnings are ignored. The moon light sparkling off the lake that gives off a shimmering liquid light show that only Mother Nature can produce. Cooling off the body and mind, washing away the grit that has caked both throughout the day. Many who grew up near the lakes know will take that over any warning of risks.
     The a-side of the latest record by Grand Rapids band Heaters, "Mean Green", is like a soundtrack for night swimming right before a thunderstorm rolls in. A driving surf beat agitates the motion of the water while a lustrous guitar chug joins in with a force that pushes the waves to go higher and higher and gracefully crash against the pebbles on the shore. The mashed together vocals of Andrew and Nolan echo in the distance like a calling from the beach that the weather is getting gonna get rougher but bounce and thrashing of water has become exhilarating and the risk addicting.
     It seems, at first, the storm is subsiding on the b-side's "Levitate Thigh." A trippy surf guitar line ripples along the shoreline over a easy going and hazy skip of a rhythm. Then the wind picks up and lightning throws a blinding flash in the night sky while puncturing the water. A waterspout forms and pulls everything into a whirling vortex of a violent sound storm.
     Night swimming, man. Perhaps it IS best not to do it alone.

May 4, 2015


     Are we at the point where we can proudly call something grunge again and people will not think we're talking about how Pearl Jam begat the cesspool that Creed invited a bunch of assholes to come swimming in with them to stink up an already crap commercial rock climate?
     If we are, it's as easy to say with a wave of a hand that Milwaukee's Slow Walker are in the process of scaling a mountain of contaminated soil to plant a grease stained flannel flag at it's peak. Fuzz-n-Wah are used brazenly, a fat bass bottom and drums with a particular boom waste no time in getting right down business with opening track, "Dog Meat", sounding like it should be used for the soundtrack for a film of nitro burning funny cars bursting in to actual flames.
     Listening to the album though the thing is with these guys, unlike, say, the Ramones Jr. bands that became a bane some time ago, the band doesn't stick straight to a grunge template. They dig deeper to find out where the sound they're going for got its sound from as well as they places it has went since and, all the while, avoiding the plastic alternative rock ghettos.
     "Too Much" takes a Black Lips bounce and injects it with David Allan practicing speed metal riffing, the hazy day feeling of "Never Coming Back" is something like Feelies stripping the Shocking Blues "Venus" of all its proto-prog jazz adornments and making things much straight forward as a result and songs like "Sight In Mind" and "Stale Heat" have a backstreet proto-metal/hesher punk clobbering groove that should be cranking from a weed dealer's El Camino.
     Throw in some summer stroll feelings on "Dawn At Sunrise" and "Losing It" along sounding like Spacemen 3 being locked in a closet with some Kyuss albums on "Bathroom Tile" and you've got a meal almost as well balanced as Mudhoney's finest hour Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.
     A couple of my Milwaukee bud's (who have some pretty good bands themselves) have told me this is the favorite band from town (and not just because they did a Saints tribute set last Halloween.) Jamming the album a bunch of times now I have no reason to doubt them.