Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Full on scrooge rant . . . . White Hills / Gnod | Split Cdr

Is something going on tonight? What the fuck? Nobody's on the message boards. Some family came over and wore out their welcome. There was TONS of traffic today, now there's barely anybody on the streets. I don't know it's all weird. It's like it's a holiday or something. Oh well, here I am in front of the computer, getting away from the madness, having a Belgian brew and enjoying the fuck out of it.

Anyway, thought I'd throw this gem up for you fine folks, but not because it's a holiday or anything, so don't even go thinking that I'm in the spirit, because I'm NOT. You see, I believe we should be nice and give half a shit about others and give no matter what time of year it is, without needing holidays.

Ok, enough of that. So I came across the following review on Foxy Digitalis and had forgotten how good this split Cdr is. Funny how much good music slips to the bottom of the play list and almost becomes forgotten, due to the fact that there's just so much music coming out these days. It's not hard for some very good stuff to not fall through the cracks. So here's for moving some of those 6-12 month old releases back up to the top of the play lists folks.

"Two experiences I’ve enjoyed a great deal of late: a Sloow Tapes release by GNOD called “The Somnambulist’s Tale” and seeing White Hills play live in Glasgow. This album finds these two forces meeting in a particularly fine sense of harmony.

Although GNOD (it stands for Global Network of Dreams, in case you’re wondering) and White Hills are both known for turning the dial up to 11, quite a lot of the music here is in their mellower vein. Although the album opens with a generous helping of buzz-saw guitar and later there’s some heavy riffing too, the centre of this work revolves around drones and hypnotic percussion.

If your not familiar with GNOD, from Mamchester, England, or the American trio White Hills, from New York, I would commend both bands to you on their own. Together they’ve made a highly enjoyable album which, I suspect, not many people will get to hear. I hope you enjoy the privilege as I have.

[Since writing the above review, I'm grateful to Gnod for contacting me to correct an inaccuracy on my part. I'm now informed that "the global network of dreams is nothing to do with us, merely an unfortunate acronym we discovered after forming. Gnod is Nowt, the pagan god of nothing." I look forward to hearing more music from Gnod, a band clearly much greater than the sum of its name! --J.C.] 9/10 -- John Cavanagh (19 November, 2008)"

Noël baisant joyeux

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad

After running all over town trying to find this super limited brew, I finally found it, and grabbed the last one off the shelf. Oh the life of a beer geek. I think the endeavor will probably be worth it, as the Smokestack brews just keep getting better and better, and the Sixth Glass Quad, of which the Bourbon Barrel Quad is an offshoot, was exceptional, so I approach this one with great anticipation.

The "BBQ" comes in the same style bottle as the Saison Bret. It has that classically simple look to it, with the name inscribed in handwritten font. This one is numbered 04780/10630, and shows 11.8 % alc/vol.

A dark, almost opaque garnet colored pour is topped by a huge, dense tan head. Hues of crimson reveal themselves when held to light. Head retention is excellent, with a fine sheet of lace left behind. Dark fruits (raisins, grapes, figs) present themselves to the nose at first. Behind that we have some grain and subtle spice (nutmeg, coriander) along with a welcomed, but surprising hint of brett. Smoky phenols envelop the aromatic profile.

An initial sip reveals a spicy, bready sweetness that ends with a good hit of alcohol heat. Further exploration reveals the aforementioned brett funk, a furtive note of burnt wood, some spicy candy, more dark fruits such as grapes, prunes and cherries, and a hint of taffy. Toward the end of the glass, when everything has warmed, the essence of the bourbon barrel aging reveals itself and hits at the back of the throat with the oaken notes and grain, providing for a special encore.

Mouth-feel lies somewhere between medium and full-bodied, but it's definitive rich, creamy and viscous qualities make it quite drinkable.

The "BBQ", monikered appropriately as it's brewed in KC, is an exceptional beer that should make any Midwesterner proud, and any East or West coaster envious. Trade or travel, but do whatever you must to get a hold of one of these.

Friday, December 19, 2008


A who's who of mid-20th century artists, musicians and writers, Without Stopping follows Bowles through his middle class New York upbringing, through his journeys as a young man through Europe and North Africa, Central and South America, and back to North Africa as an older man as he settled in Tangier.

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Stories of Paul Bowles, and their rich desolation and iconoclasm, Without Stopping worked well as a follow up, exploring the depths that must have been the impetus of some of his short stories. And while there are a lot of well known facts about Bowles life that are left out of this book, those omissions do not detract from the overall telling of the experiences and travels portrayed in the book. In my opinion, the reader is not left wondering too much the reasons why, but I suppose I will look to a Bowles biography soon to get the rest of the story.

All in all this is great reading for those who have had dreams about living the vagobond, starving artists life, but never had the guts to follow them. Those like me.

I'm also reading psychologist Phil Zimbardo's The Lucifer Effect, which is a good study of his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment and a further exploration of the reasons why "normal" people can do very bad things, a subject I've always been fascinated by. It is good to educate ourselves about the many times conflicting workings of our minds, as we never know when might might be in a situation to become a hero, or become a devil.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Miss Lana Rebel | All I Need LP

Miss Lana Rebel, of Wantage USA's fabulous math-metal-punk instrumental group Last of the Juanitas, steps into the realm of country ballads and runs about as far from her distortion filled roots to the other end of the musical spectrum as an artist can go. But maybe this isn't as removed from her previous endeavors as we might think, as real music is real music no matter what form it may take.

Punkers embracing country is nothing new, just look at the Mekons, who did it very well, and there's no doubt that the true and original country musicians were rebels for sure. While The Last of the Juanitas were no Mekons, and Lana is no Tammy Wynette, All I Need is filled with enough country balladry and two-steppin' hooks to interest the most hardened of punk rockers who might be looking for a change of pace (even if just for the novelty) because somewhere right under the surface of things some common sensibilities stream through the chords whether they be distorted and picked or acoustic and strummed.

While Lana has everything country down pat here, there's one essential element missing from this record, and that's grit; the kind of grit that comes from being in bar brawls and living in trailer homes, the kind of grit that comes from working at the Wrangler plant and driving a beat-up truck, and being proud of it. Now I'm sure she's experienced plenty of livin', but it's just ain't the right kind. The real country music, as far as I can tell, is also a way of life that's been lost to time. And while that element of "being there" may not be completely present, this record is still darn good in it's own right, and I give Lana kudos for keeping real country music alive and making her own statement against the CMT bullshit that inundates the airwaves and makes for cheap entertainment for people who spend too much time at Wal Mart.

For the love of cheep beer and tight fittin’ jeans step out and do something different.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Steel Pole Bath Tub | Bozeman/Borstal 7"

If you like early Jesus Lizard along with a healthy dose of Black Sabbath and Melvins undercurrents, then you will probably dig this one. Dale Flattum's bass lines keep things grounded until Mike Morasky's kick-ass riffs and schizophrenic vocals come in and slay.

The early 90's, what a great time for good sounds, but those days seem to go way unnoticed these days. WTF happened to all these great fucking bands! Time moves on.