Jul 26, 2015

GOLDEN PELICANS "Oldest Ride, Longest Line" LP

     Many centuries ago when punk rock arrived in my neighborhood (more than a few years after even the rest of the rust belt had an idea of what it was) those of us who got into it figured we needed to break away from the other things we had be listening up til that point. 
     Being that we intermediate school kids at the time with a flair of drama we just didn't stash them away in the back of a closet or throw then in the trash. Nope, we had to make a big deal of it. We all gathered down at the river as a group, made a little speech and then winged them into a tributary that leads into Lake Huron. 
     "Off with you" we yelled as sent KISS and other lunkheaded discs sailing into the muddy river. We didn't care about any environmental concerns that they may cause. That Eco-concious stuff was hippie shit.
     Some years later, I did wonder where those albums may have ended up. Perhaps, they reached the ocean eventually washed ashore somewhere. And perhaps this bunch of punk rock insurrectionists outta Orlando, Florida escaped town for a day or two on an Atlantic beach coast where it just so happened the waves pushed those records right to their feet. They picked them up and threw them in the back of their car because, well, they were free records. Once they got home and put them on the record player the covered in silt and fish guts and chewed and crusty from the salt water surfaces gave power chords blasts and dunderhead yowling gave off a tore up and bent sensation they couldn't resist.
     Beer soaked and stinking of the fast food sweat indigenous of the city that's the world's largest tourist trap, the Golden Pelicans punk does shy from throwing around glops hard rock mush in their world of feculence but they also manage not moving into RAWK's trailer park while doing so. There ain't no foot on the monitor to check out a stuffed crotch or hair waggin' antics going on here. Just straight up crankin'.
     Rooted in a Dictators blast of junk culture where they would live for cars and girls if they didn't have bad luck with both and who's idea of flash is shooting bottle rockets at anyone with a frown and their arms crossed at their shows, the Golden Pelicans kick off this latest slab with "Knuckle Dragger." It's primate beat stomps up dust and those knuckles aren't scraping across the dirt too long because they're now fists pumpin' in the air to accentuate their singing along to their new cretin anthem. 
     Actually all the songs, especially "Maggots" belly-smacker dive into a cesspool splash, the parched howls over super rock oozing with pus riffage on "Hog Tied Down" and "Low Falutin'',  "The Last Street Fighter" setting a scene where the Lazy Cowgirls get into a rumble with Twisted Sister and the "Having a horrible time, wish I was drunk" postcard sentiments of the title track set the mood for any keg party where a picnic table gets set on fire.

Jul 22, 2015

Odd Side Ales Wheatermelon

     I'm not much of a watermelon guy. It's not some I hate or anything but even as a kid when handed a slice it wasn't really my thing. Between the weird stickiness that got everywhere and having to deal with spitting out seeds it just seemed there was too much effort involved with very little reward.
     My lady, on the other hand, is a fan. Whenever she picks some up at the store she always offers me some but for the most part I pass.
     One of the many things her and I do have in common though is being fans of Grand Haven, Michigan brewery Odd Side Ales. When they announced that bottles of their wheat beer brewed with watermelon would be hitting the store shelves for the warmer months this year she would give me the occasional reminder to keep an eye of for it.
     Eventually I did spot some around. I hemmed and hawed a little bit about picking some but knew, even with me not being in the water melon fan club, bringing some home would make for a happy lady.
     Pouring hazy orange with a reddish tint in color it looks like summer. The head was very minimal and faded fast but there was a little ringleft that stuck around for the most part through the entire glass. Not much as far as lacing was concerned.
     The smell was sweet and summery. Not really blatant as far as the watermelon was concerned but generally fruity. The aromas of fresh baked bread and a hint of banana that is usually typical in a wheat beer was there.
     Though the watermelon wasn't pronounced much in the scent it does make it's presence known on the first sip. The thing is though it didn't have me making the "Meh!" face the way watermelon usually does. It wasn't over the top and bursting with that musky weirdness but it did serve its job of being more than just an flavor accent it. It, along with notes of lemon and seasonal fruits like strawberries, gave the beer a fresh summer salad type of tartness without taking over and overshadowing the wheat beer base. It finishes clean.
     If you're seeking out some big fruit and booze bomb of a beer like a Short's Soft Parade, the subtleness of the flavors and a 4% abv of this is not going to make that list. For something crisp and refreshing to slip while hanging out in the sun (now that summer seems to have finally arrived here in Michigan) this fits the bill just fine.

Jul 17, 2015

BLACK TIME "Aerial Gobs Of Love" LP

Black Time photo by Dale Merrill
     It's been a spell since Agent Lemmy Caution and the squad Black Time has filed a report. Had they returned to the Outlands to lay low? Maybe Professor von Braun didn't die from the gunshot after all and they took up his offer to join Alphaville?
     If the latter was the case they got handed a line of bullshit. Instead of being given the opportunity to run a galaxy they were put in clerical jobs at Grand Omega Minus, assigning those that pass through to places to cause discord, dissension and division. They decide to document the daily experiences and speculate what is going on inside the minds of the people they're dealing with. Eventually, toiling in such an environment, causes their nerves to scramble and become just like those they're sending off to encourage havoc.
     Originally recorded in 2009 but left to fester and ferment in some dark room with just a strobe light and a couple dog eared copies of Psychotronic magazine to keep it company, what all that happened can now be told.
     Right from the get go with the record's title track thing bursts into flames like a rattled spaceship co-manned by Gary Burger and Kevin Shields re-entering the earth's atmosphere. Walls of searing feedback fill the air with toxic chemical laden orange hues of color and smell. Echo drenched vocals bray above while below guitars clang and clamor like church bells hitting the ground from crumbling steeples. Later down in the album "Aeriel Dub" reassembles that rubble into a slower and more abstract structure.
     Devoted to caustic fuzz that can tear asunder ear drums and stereo speakers in moments is a calling card for a lot of bands. While some that ply such sound chose to wade through a lunkhead gutter while wearing a t-shirt that says slumming it, Black Time's acid tongued and well read without coming off too hoity-toity about it take aims to sizzle the brain first and THEN oscillates its way down to the hips. A song like primordial beat heavy "More Kicks That Pricks" and "The Winged Serpent" or the sea-sick sing-song swaying of shift work drones that goes on with "Industrial Anxiety" can make a backbone slip but also possesses petulant qualities encourages someone to find out what really happens when they take a gasoline soaked baseball bat to a wasps nest.
     While raucous clamor is abounds, the splatter does take on different settings than just painting the garage wall red with blood. "Tarzan Vs IBM" (the original working title of Godard's Alphaville) is titled apropos in a simple person getting ground to bits by artificial intelligence blips and bloops. Things can also take an acoustic turn too with the soaring free and away from a dirty swamp and, dare I say it, rejoiceful feeling of "Flakes" and channel some alternate universe where bands like Mordecai and Honey Radar rub shoulders with pop stars on "Cave Paintings."
     Since this is to be said the last record that will bear the Black Time the band closes it out with "Tolling Of The Bells" which is their final answer of what would it sound like if they REALLY wanted to do an unabashed mash up of the Fall and Can.

Jul 10, 2015


     If a band ever had play dates as children in a coven it's most likely that Toronto's Crosss is that band.
     Sure, dark and thick guitar riffs that bounce between buzzing like a forest full of cicadas on the hottest of summer days or roll in like front a cold drizzle and slow but battering wind rattling a loose tin roof. A nasally and haunted voice that resembles an imp working on croons and the rhythm section punctuates it all with a leaded dark sludge all over the place. With that said though seems to be a naivet√© in their gloom. One that makes their sound less pompous and more tenable in the moods they are setting.
     On tracks like the albums opener, the writhing and twitchy shadows casting "Interlocutor", the awakening of a grumpy giant vibe on "Golden Hearth"and the feeling of hot lava rolling down from a volcano to plow the village below that's "My Body", it's not like the band is trying to make the listener believe they are warlocks standing on a mountain peaks of purple and hairy buds where they keep fire breathing, huge horned argali as pets and have a stock pile of thunder stored in caves. What is believable though would be that after drinking the Robitussin they were using as bong water while toking down in a damp basement, they took a walk through a muddy woods at midnight and stumbled across something really spooky and disturbing.
     While gut rumbling fuzz is something that these guys deal with in bulk, they seem to know that even hemlock need UV rays to grow. A little bit of sunlight are let in through the dark clouds on "Mind" (which resembles Ty Segal not winking as much on one of his death trip rides.) There's also the acoustic creepy crawling "Dance Down" where one wonders if Vincent Price was still alive would he show up to drop a couple lines in the middle song.
     Crosss do manage to keep the songs economical. They average around 3 minutes each and don't waste a whole lot of time on way too long Nuge on Quaaludes solos. This stays true to til the end. That's when the 18 minute "Enthroning the 4 Acts" closes out things. Even then though, the band seems to be channeling noise bands after being asked to compose a new soundtrack for Nosferatu instead of trying to make people think Earth's Sub Pop albums. 

Jul 8, 2015

Joan Dovalle "No Better For You"

     Arranged by early Funk Brothers members Herbie Williams and Joe Hunter, this Joshie Armastead &Valerie Simpson penned number was the 2nd release for the Sport Record label.
     Both songs on this record were recorded by Big Maybelle and released as a single on the Port label in 1965. In 1967, Williams and Hunter gave the song a Detroit makeover turning it into a solid dance floor rumbler packed with much more grit than what became their most well known employer’s stock and trade. Their arrangement provides a heap of funk for the husky and authoritative wail of the very little known about Joan Dovalle.
     Copies of the Big Maybelle version are fairly common on 45 and can be found for around $20. The Joan Dovalle single is a lot more rare and prices for it have hit the $400 mark in the past.  

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.