Oct 24, 2016


     From the wildman rockabilly howling of his one man and the crude destructo trash of the Rat Traps to the Buzzcocks and other hooky tinged influenced blasts of Cheap Time,  Jeffrey Novak has been laying down chunks of punk rock sounds for over a decade now. The common thread that ran through all those bands was an identifiable footing planted in garage rock roots.
     His latest project, Savoy Motel (which also includes a couple folks from Heavy Cream), may throw those expecting that sort of thing shining through off. Sounding like it would make a perfect sandwich if put between the Young Marble Giants and Funkadelic, this record is all about a party but maybe not so much a party that involves spraying cheap cans of beer everywhere. Sipping colorful drinks with umbrellas in them though? Perhaps.
     Loaded with clickity-tickity rhythm boxes accents abounds, some falsetto that can get a little cheesy but not willies inducing like Mick Jagger's are on "Emotional Rescue" and enough space echo'd wah-wha guitar rips to cover an entire city in searing fuzzies, there's songs like funky southern pop groove of "Sorry People"and "Everyone Wants To Win" that can make even a dingy and damp evening feel more like an afternoon of gold (be that both of the Cuervo and Acapulco sort) sunshine that needs to be danced in.
     When nighttime rolls around, the strange new wave and jittery funk that fires up the boogie machine of "Souvenir Shop Rock", the disco record that sounds like it's being warped from being in the hands of a glitter rock band that's "Mindless Blues" and the way "Hot One" answers the question of what would happen if Devo and ABBA traded places, can get party lights to flash in an off-kilter way that'll have people making up new dance steps and their neighbor from downstairs hitting the ceiling with a broom stick to get them to calm it down.
     To say that the 70's influences are blatant is more than obvious. It's everywhere from the sound to the way the band looks. The cool thing here is though instead of absolute pastiche that would have the novelty wear off by the third listen, the band intent goes way deeper than spending a week listening to the 70's at 7 for a couple hours and then thinking they got great idea. For starters, those  don't play anything from Can's Ege Bamyasi, or The Incredible Bongo Band both of which Savoy Motel sound like the have every morning along with a plate of tropical fruit and coconut rum.

Oct 17, 2016

The Cheater Slicks at the UFO Factory

     I  think it is no secret that I feel that the Cheater Slicks are one the greatest American Rock-n-Roll bands ever. I'm talking about them ranking waaay up there like the Velvet Underground (yeah, I know Cale is foreigner but the band was formed in the US), the Cramps, the Stooges, the Electric Eels, the Gories, CCR and so on. I mean it too.
     I've seen them quite a few times live throughout the years but hadn't for quite a while until catching them at the UFO Factory in Detroit this past Friday. It's a little foggy as to the exact last time I saw 'em really and after talking to C'Slicks Tom after their set for a few minutes, it's still not clear as to when it was the last time either. He knows they played Detroit for sure in '94 and '96. I knew that though 'cuz I saw 'em then. I also know I've seen them a couple times in the 21st century but they weren't necessarily in Detroit and since I am crummy at keeping any notes I take around for too long of time I guess the exact dates will just have to be speculated now.

     One thing I know for sure though that it was still everything I'd want from a Cheater Slicks show. Tom's guitar making a roaring clang like an aural tornado rolling down road, rattling tin buildings and uprooting trees. His voice, one part a 1960's pop fizz and a lot of parts of bourbon and gasoline, churning up both yearning and bile out of his gut and into the mic.  

     To Tom's left is his brother Dave. Ancient effects pedals strewn in front of him to make his fractured Fender axe howl the freaked out free jazz runs and caveman country licks he manages to wrangle and strangle out it at the same time. Both siblings pushing their six strings volume through Music Man 130 HD heads.

     Anchored smack-dab between them is Dana on drums hellbent on shaking the world off it's axis with the most violent surf fills and brutal backbeats around, his head down bashing away at the kit execpt for when it is time for for us to hear his hoarse bellow which, fortunately is often.
     Blasting through their catalog with nary a break save for Dana singing the wrong song and a broken string, I wish their set could go on for hours. I've heard a few people worry that these guys may not bring it as the once did. Y'know, age and the baggage it brings can do that but that is not the case here. Hell, the band were old souls even when they were young.
     Yep. The Cheater Slicks still rule.
These photos are by me. See more of them from the night over at the Smashin' Transistors Tumblr page.

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.

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.

Sep 8, 2016


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.

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.

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.

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.

Aug 18, 2016


     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.