Monday, December 15, 2014

FLESH LIGHTS "Free Yourself" LP

     Referring to a bands sound even remotely as power-pop can garner many different reactions and opinions from music zealots. And a lot of those reactions and opinions do not fall on the pro side of the fence. Those types will bitch about the stereotypical trappings of what they think the pigeonhole sports even though they're going off something they read somewhere or basing it off scoffs they made once at the cover of a record while thumbing through a dollar bin.
     Sometimes, as a bonus, you will get the anti-Beatles rant by someone who hates the Beatles because it's a cool thing to do. They will know everything about what a band that gets offhandedly described as "having a bit of a power-pop thing happening" sound like without even hearing them.
     Loud guitars, catchy melodies and choruses that'll lure the ears in is where Austin's Flesh Lights is where the power and the pop lies and those types are missing out on what was being got at, I guess.
     With no skinny ties, sugary whines or white horned rim glasses this record is about turning the volume up and having the songs get stuck in that place in your head where a bright gloss and punk rock grit compliment each other instead of fighting for the front seat. The beat battering of drummer Elissa and bass player Jeremy's full steam ahead thump lay a solid bedrock of rhythm for Max to hammer jubilant guitar blare and keep it study.
     Opening the record with a foot stomping cadency, "Just About Due" fires off without nary a warning of the need to hang on before it jettisons into a perfect piece of making air guitar windmill moves for the listener. Sounding like they were fed doses of the Ramones and the Saints since birth they don't have the time to candy coat what their thinking either. Be it calling out the oldsters who are trying to hard to look hip to prove that they (may be) still cool on "Middle Age" or mocking the rockers who tell the same story over and over again about the time they almost hit rock stardom on the hot footed Flaming Groovies like blaster "Big Break" pretty much lets everyone know they aren't about to don candy coats anytime soon. They also aren't afraid of bringing the rock action when it's called for uncoiling tasty guitar solos all over on tunes like the Cheap Trick down at the dive bar "You Might Know"and the over speed limit pace of the album's title track.

Friday, December 12, 2014

EX-LEGIONNAIRES "Don't Care For Crying" 7inch EP

      Most likely best known for being the one behind the incongruous pop sounds of Denton, TX based Maaster Gaiden close to a decade ago, D. A. Anguiano has kept himself busy with several projects since. His latest thing, Ex-Legionnaires, is the first one us here at the good ship Smashin' Transistors have laid our ears on since the split single Maaster Gaiden did with the Points in 2007.
     Hooking up with some Austin cats for his newest combo things get fired up cooking with bacon grease.
     Rifling around the herbs and spice racks of the Devil Dogs and whatever the Misfits used to give Walk Among Us its particular bite (a vampire pun only partially intended right there), these guys, realizing that it would be dumb to serve up a straight replication, the took bits and pieces from each of the recipe books, subtracting this (f'r instance there is luckily a lack of "Whoa-Oh-Oh" abuse that the latter practically turned into a genre of it's very own), adding that (like the amusement park organ that pumps behind the record's closer "Labor Of My Love") before tossing it on the grill to sear.
     When served these helpings of rock-n-roll, such as the blaring guitar party of the record's title track and fittingly titled "Vigorous Head Shakin'", are crispy and crunchy on the outside with a right amount of rareness found when cutting into the middle.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Yvonne Vernee "Just Like You Did Me"

     After being a member of the Correct-Tone label group the Donays, whose only single had the Richard Dee penned b-side“Devil In His Heart” which the Beatles covered on their second album With The Beatles,  Detroit gal Yvonne Symington got the itch to record as a solo artist. Correct-Tone owner Wilbert Golden declared that no one would remember her name so he changed her last name to Vernee and put Sonny Saunders & Robert Bateman, who were in charge Correct-Tone subsidiary SonBert, to make her a star.
     Released in 1965 “Just Like You Did Me” was Yvonne’s 2nd single for the label and her 3rd (main label Correct-Tone released “Does He Love Me Anymore” in 1964) since becoming a solo artist in 1963.
     Backed by Motown musicians at after hour session at Correct-Tone’s studio on Detroit’s 12th St, this Tony Clark written and Sonny Sanders arranged track gets cooking allowing Yvonne’s voice put the point across of what it really feels like to be heartbroken.
     Sadly, the song never became a hit but is a very sought out single with original copies selling up to the $3,000 range when they come up in auction.
After the release of this record Yvonne stepped out of the spotlight and took a day job. In 1971 she was asked to join the Elgins. She still performs with them to this day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

MAD DOCTORS "Snake Oil Superscience" LP

     Mashing the sounds of the post Brit Invasion/pre-hippie 60's with more than a passing fancy for the Z-grade horror and sci-fi flicks that lowest budget of UHF channels used to run on Saturday afternoons, these practitioners of trash are well prepared to crash any basement party that has revelers craving for ladles of a slimy stew of garage gruel to be flung at them.
     With the voice of guitarist Dr. Seth Applebaum, sounding something like cross between a local circuit pro-wrestling announcer and a leisure suited lounge lizard after a 4 day bender, pontificating and bellowing over top a brawling & blusey core of garage fuzz, blurred escapades are spun.
     They shoot the curl across an echo lavished Milky Way and use comets like pinball table bumpers on the album's opener "Space Woman" and wiggly "Surfboard From Hell." They spike rhythm-n-blues whiskey gets with something freaky, making the stomp and wiggle on tracks such as "Transmission Impossible" take a kaleidoscopic detour and treat the boogie on a tune like "Braindead Boogie" like IT IS a bunch of brains, which they then run lawnmower over, splattering bits all over the yard and the side of house. 
     Wrecked and wooly like a coyote fur coat dragged behind a car down a couple of alleys where the back entrances of burger joints and dive bars stand is something that New York City's Mad Doctors would proudly wear it in all it's moth eaten and weird smelling glory.

Sunday, November 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.

Saturday, November 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.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Smashin Radio Transistors for November 13th 2014

     It's been a few weeks since I last shared one of my radio shows with the world outside of the station's broadcast range so I guess one is due. Give a listen to what went down last night on WSGR 91.3fm in Port Huron here.

Monday, November 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.

Friday, November 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.

Thursday, November 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.