Oct 10, 2016

Stroh's Bohemian-Style Pilsner

     When the word hit the news that Stroh's would be brewed in Detroit again, you would've thought from the buzz and excitement about it all over internet that it was announced that Bob Seger was going to go door to door and hand everyone a bottle or something.
     By the time I started drinking Stroh's, the company was the 3rd largest brewery in the country but was also starting to fall apart. Their home base brewery in Detroit was closed in 1985 (and along with it, the fire brewing process they proudly boasted about on it labels) and by 1999, all the company's assets were sold off essentially making it finally really only Stroh's in name is it was brewed by contract all over different parts of the country. That version (or whatever the facsimile of it is these days at least) can be found in it's blue can in parts of the country to this this day.
     From what I remember it was fizzy, yellow barley pop. It had a bit more bite then some other macros and less of that weird corn syrup and carbonated water flavor than others. It was your standard beer but, as a Michigander, it was OUR standard. As the years went on though, whatever distinct characters it had slipped away more and more making it interchangeable with most other budget swag on the shelves.
     This new Stroh's, brewed at  Big Boy Restaurant associated Brew Detroit LLC in Detroit's Corktown neighborhood, is a bit more "grown up" than that if, at least, by a tiny bit. The abv is a little higher for starters (5.5% vs 4.8%) along with other things that are easier to detect with the eye, nose and and tongue. The color itself is a more of a gold than the faded yellow straw for beginners. The head is a bit stronger too and it holds on for more than a few seconds. Unlike smelling just like only damp saltines, there are also faint notes of honey on the nose here.
     The flavor is crisp and fresh. The malt base is sturdy (I am guessing it's the choice of Vienna malt that does the trick) instead of watered down and has a slight sweetness to it. The biggest twist from what I remember from any Stroh's I've had back in the 80's up until even more recent times at this point though is a slightly bitter but not biting to hard hop notes. Like all marcos, regular Stroh's seemed to have just enough to have them play their part in the brewing process but never a priority. Here, they are noticeable but not over the top making it taste closer to a good, solid German pilsner than whatever the really, really old coots are drinking at the down at the corner bar. As it warms and breaths a little, pine notes come a little more to the forefront as do the faint flavor of corn chips.
     It's pretty obvious that this beer is aiming for a retro-hound crowd and, like the 1960's recipe Schlitz that can be found around at some better beer stores, I think they nailed it. Don't pick this up expecting your mind to be blown but if you're looking for something that's tastes like the kind of beer our dad's and grandpa's drank when they were younger or a lawnmower beer with a little more oomph this could be your fix.
strohbeer.com

Oct 7, 2016

HEAVY LIDS We Believe In The Night LP

Photo by Gary Loverde
     Some of my favorite punk rock is the kind of punk rock that sounds like it is from outer space. I don't know the exact distance from where the Heavy Lids live in New Orleans is from outer space but judging from the rumbling & droned out ignition of the album's opener "Useless Escape" and the matter of moments it takes before the throttle is pulled for complete propulsion, it's my guess that after dealing with a little heavy traffic it's a non-stop trip into the Rock-n-Roll nebula.
     Ramoneszoid downstroke guitars are double strength laser beams on songs like the antsy "Night And Day", how "Pressure" total blares and the way "Trash And Burn" provides a simple sing along for making a mess of everything while kicking in faces.
      The trips to planets both weird and loud find themselves rattled by Z-movie sci-fi keyboard whirls and an nasally alien voice that doesn't ask "Take Me To Your Leader" (but will probably ask to be led to all the cold booze and hot drugs) on the garage psych twitch that's all over the splattering "Where Are You Now" and the mutant bop "Catatonic State" while "What Remains" sounds like it is taking credit for burning down the all the chicken coops on Mars.
     The record does end by falling to earth though as the rocket ride of "Manacles" seems to bolt at hyperspace ending like it is crashing through meteors on a voyage through more distant galaxies.
Pelican Pow Wow

Sep 14, 2016

FRIED EGG Delirium 7inch EP

     Calling Virginia band Fried Egg straight up traditional USHC is a target anyone who has heard this new record or their debut flexi single from last year can hit.
     The thing is though is that such a target is a little off the mark when it comes to being the complete bullseye. Sure, it's got chunka-grrrrr/dentist drill guitar riffs and a raw throated bellower ranting on the mic but that's just the jump off point for the band to dive into things a bit more askew and scorch the pages of rule book rote. A bare knuckled rock-n-roll blast jettisons "Mixed Feelings" a land of whirling rage while "Second Fiddle" lumbers like the Meatmen with less winking nods to to heavy metal stunts and bigger love for the sound of broken glass in a garbage disposal.
    After those three minutes are done the band is ready hit an opus point with the b-side.  Clocking in a time almost as long as the first two songs combined, "Eggshells" runs through a gauntlet made circular saws and sticks of dynamite, flipping the bird and hacking mucus all the way through.
negativejazz.bigcartel.com

Sep 8, 2016

JAMES ARTHUR'S MANHUNT Digital Clubbing LP

Photo by Ángel Delgado-Reyes
     Since the mid-90's I have seen every band that James Arthur has been in that rolled through Michigan. The first couple of times it was just coincidental. Then it came deliberate. Fireworks. A Feast Of Snakes. The Necessary Evils. Heck, even when he was in the Golden Boys. I was always around whooping it up at the show and then talking bourbon, bikes, backwoods and whatever else afterwards.
    Since the 2010's Manhunt LP on Melbourne's Aarght! and a couple of singles though the world hadn't heard much from James. He had his reasons to go missing (you can read all about that and more in an interview he did with Ryan Leach) but now, along Orville of the OBN IIIs on drums, Golden Boys Bryan Schmitz and bassist Sean Morales, he's back to plugging things in and making noise on them.
     Like those previous records with the Manhunt name on them, there is an ambient and soundtracky vibe on tracks like on Psilocybin mushroom heaped spaghetti westerns "Blowout" and "Butcher" but Digital Clubbing isn't just a bunch of mood pieces strung together with the more meandering parts clipped out. 
     "Blackbird" and "Come Down" take Davie Allan & the Arrows fuzz down some dangerous paths. The former into a burning building full of hoarse rhythm and blues growlers, the latter tying it to the from of a truck hauling dynamite and aiming straight for a brick wall. Beating the tar out of things beyond recognition might be a thing that runs through the record though as "Wired" has a riff that boogies like a, what else, totally wired classic rock station being spun out of control and then belt sanded down to a chunky pulp and by the time "Kill Zone" finishes, a dizzying space rock high still rings even though all that is left behind is ashes.
12xu.net

Sep 2, 2016

NOTS "Cold Line" 7inch

Photo by Geoffrey Brent Shrewsbury
     Because of calling Memphis home and they're records have bee released on Goner,  Nots often get the "garage punk" blanket through on them. The thing is though they don't sound like anything from Back From The Grave nor much like any contemporaries they'd get bracketed in with that comes with the tag. If there's was anything that a listener would associate with the blues on a Nots record it would be more about the band's aural darkness than something that might be heard in your average backyard on a Saturday while some cuts into a roasted pig.
     If anything, the band is much more closer to the late 70's jittery UK  DIY art-conk than what usually flows down through the Mississippi. The differences though where that stuff acted a bit demure and hoity-toity about its agitation, Nots don't mince words. They use guitars as serrated knifes to make jagged patterns and searing synths to then cauterized the wounds. Instead of offering something for the pain, drums beats rattling as the only distraction for the brain while a chorus of bawls and wails jeer.
     "Cold Line" takes the listener to a dark and damp place. It's a dampness that is not of the cold, clammy sort the we've been told in fables that the English deal with though. The goth here is of the southern type. Slathered in humid echo the song sounds as if it recorded in some graveyard where dorky psychobilly zombies get made into dust after passing through a 5 story tall grater.
     Covering a song that any self-respecting maven of weirdo music considers definitive and a touchstone for a whole form usually leads to a lot of derision. "HOW COULD THEY DO THAT?" I don't know how many times now I've heard a band do a take on "T.V.O.D."  and no matter how sincere and serious that band may have been about doing it justice, it's usually sounds like a cornball tribute or something else simply unconvincing. Somehow though when the Nots do it though it really seems like they've have been sucked in by the video addiction and are using an IV that's hooked up to cable television feed.
www.goner-records.com

Sep 1, 2016

SEXY NEIGHBORS "Live At Shea Stadium" Cassette

     Trebly guitar that sounds like rubbers stretched over the top of a metal trash can and cranked through a 20 watt Gorilla amp. Vocals verge on puberty croaking pleas at 7am on some songs, like their take on the Country Teasers "Golden Apples" which sounds like some adolescent boys trying to gross out some girls behind the garage by making snot bubble and talking about getting warts from toad piss. On others, like the remedial class Black Sabbath fuzz stumbler "On The Wire" and the spasmodic blues riffed "Sevens" they're more like heavily medicated pro-wrestler on.
     Throw in a drummer that knows two beats (actually just one but it can be played fast or slow) and NYC's Sexy Neighbors probably have more people casting away their eyes than checking out any foxiness they may have been told they have. I think they would have it no other way.
www.facebook.com/sexyneighbors

Aug 23, 2016

MUSK Musk 2: The Second Scumming LP

Photo by Corey Arnold
      There's the blues. There's also blues-rock, blues-rawk, blues-punk and, of course, the blooze. Then there's something that is much more sinister, foreboding and scary as hell. Something that may have the blues as a steady part of their diet but like water, it is just the base ingredient. Bands like the Birthday Party, the Laughing Hyenas and Chrome Cranks huffed and guzzled such concoctions in the past and California's Musk have figured out the formula for themselves too.
     After what sounds like a circus being run of out town and over a cliff by spaceships on opener "The Hidden Cost" a murder spree starts with "Wet Brain." Full of serrated guitars alternate between recklessly sawing away at tendons or blowing up a dam full of blood while a man possessed howls something that sounds somewhere between Lux Interior screaming for dear life and a snake charming preacher drunk on a serpents venom, the song is where all kinds of creepy dreams begin.
     Fuzz coated and mildew laden freak fest like "Raw Night" and the drunks fist flying boogie of "Hip Pain" come barreling out like a runaway train loaded with a raw sewage payload, smashing everything in its path. Meanwhile, a panicky "Catch And Release" kicks rockabilly music in the head with a work boot and tangles your worthless soul into a slimy and sticky web of spidery guitar lines.
     When it seems the band might play it a bit straight things are still messed up. "Weathervane" may remind some ears of Neil Young and Crazy Horse but after a minute or so in it's more like them being tied together at the ankles and then dragged alive behind the hearse that Neil wrote "Long May You Run" about. When they do a take on the Paul Anka song "Crazy Love" it sounds more like a murderer making a non remorseful but disturbing confession and their version of The Savages "The World Ain't Round (It's Square)" takes the teenage snot and rage of the 1960's original and drops into the even more brutal and bitter modern world.
     The first Musk album blew my head off. For this second go round they have decided to stomp on the grey matter and kick the bloody parts all over the walls and window.
12xu.net

Aug 18, 2016

JOHN WESLEY COLEMAN III Greatest Hits LP

     I dunno how many times I have told myself that I am gonna sit down a write a song everyday. Sure, it sounds good and impressive but it never happens. Coming up with a song everyday is not very easy.
     That is, it seems, unless you are John Wesley Coleman III. Releasing solo records as well as his playing a major role in the band the Golden Boys, Wes can pen a good a tune at a decent clip. His latest, titled Greatest Hits is not a collection of previously released songs. It could possibly be the greatest hits of the mountain of songs he most likely created fairly recently.
     On the cover of the record, Wes stand on the bow of an abandoned boat left in a field. He's dressed like a yachtsman on his way to fancy dinner party. In one pocket a flask and a dime bag in the other most likely. In some ways that conveys the moods of the record. It may be time to show some maturity and responsibility (after all, he's a dad now) but there's always going to be some scruff and rabble that comes with it.
     Actually, still quite a bit of scruff and rabble as the slightly cheesey/kinda sleazy riffed opener "Bong Song" displays. The song juxtaposes a brightly chromed and hi-performance Camaro Rock chug with drunken handclaps and a ratty buzz that sounds like it's about to get completely engulfed in corrosion. A similar sanguine unkeptness is all over the south of the border meets 70's horn driven pop "Portlandia" and "Miranda," who's rumbling bass line is straight out of punk rock song but a woozy sax and whirling organ make it seem like a carnival setting circa 2nd album Springsteen if he drank less milkshakes and smoked more weed.


     When things take on a folkier strain such "Tea and Sandwiches" and the practically lilting but darkly lit "Pick Up Your Phone" they're still frayed around the edges. Actual dirt and dust flying around where it would probably enough to send Lumineers fan back into the hiding in the corner of a coffee house and discuss the way people were dressed in the "Come On Eileen" video.
     Throw in a country weeper that feels absolutely sincere and real as should be while also sounding equally cracked in the head like "Falling Outta Love" and some downright introspective crooning about yard work called "Lawnmower Man" and you have a whole new slew of songs to pick from if and when an actual JWC retrospective does ever come out.
johnwesleycoleman.com

Aug 15, 2016

It's Gonna Be a Tower of Sound on August 27th in Lexington

     Summer is starting to wind down but the parties are still hot. No better time than to have one up in Sanilac county. Great food, a whole lot of taps of fine Michigan beer, an evening August breeze coming in off of Lake Huron and Franck & yours truly spinning blasts from the past and messages of the future for your dining, drinking and dancing pleasure.
     Come up and groove the evening away just a little south of Lexington on August 27. It's Vinyl Night at the Water Tower Sports Pub!

Aug 11, 2016

THE WORLD Managerial Material 7inch EP

     In my high school days I didn't ever really get bummed when someone referred to me as a New Waver. There was less contempt and punches in the face for such compared to the attitudes toward anyone who claimed they were a punk rocker. If the music was a bit enjoyably strange or  weird you could just call it new wave too instead of waiting for the rare cool zines to trickle in and telling what genre to consider it. It you could dance to it was a bonus.
     I know for sure that Oakland, California's The World get things like post-avant-punk-funk thrown at the but it this was 30 years ago, they would've been a new wave favorite of mine.
    Sounding like a tug of war between downtown skronk-meisters who show contempt of everything for the sake of art and suburban raised mutants who dream of hearing a song their wrote echoing off the walls of the local roller rink, the four songs here are sublimely odd. The record's lead off, "Managerial Material",  does a fidget wiggle out of the speakers and immediately entertains as well as confounds. The dual sax players, one that sounds like it has a penchant for fog horns and steam whistles and the other seemingly addled but still intent on making some "good time" music, a like a parade marching band wandering off it whatever direction they chose.
     What keeps those horns from wanted off a cliff is, is the tight and twisted band that engulfs the sound around them. F'instance, the blurts "It Takes 2" may sound like radioactive dosed goose calls but it's the A Certain Ratio type of exposed electrical wire zap groove from them that provides a thud-n-sway for the singer bark and coo and make the listener wonder whether Su Tissue and Ari Up haunt her dreams every night.
     That and you can dance to it!
www.upsettherhythm.co.uk