Sunday, June 22, 2008

Podcast 6/22/08

The quality of the rips isn't great on some of these, but I'm pretty stoked on the mix. Progressive instrument surf rock (Man...Or Astroman?) into 80s Finnish hardcore from a 7" that some call the best hardcore 7" of all time (Terveet Kadet). There's also some oooold 80s punk from the likes of the Vidiots, Black Flag (rare demo!) and Crisis, with some newer stuff in the mix of different styles. Legion are heavy as fuck and Spunk, from Japan, have more of a garage feel. DCOi! are thrashy punk from SoCal. I also threw in some kick ass 90s hardcore (MK Ultra, Anodyne), and old rockabilly comedy track from Bob Peck, and a couple British Oi! numbers to balance it out.

Man...Or Astroman?-Interstellar Hardrive
Terveet Kadet-Ei Enää Koskaan Sotaa

Vidiots-Laurie's Lament
MK Ultra-Worker Vs. Parasite
The Spunks-Russian Roulette
Bob Peck-Sweet 16

Hail Mary-In Motion
Cock Sparrer-Watch Your Back

Anodyne-Crop Circle
DCOi!-Agony of Defeat

Black Flag-My War (demo)
Close Shave-Rather Be Down the Pub

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Battle of the Beers 6/14/08

This is a first draft

We convened on June 14th, 2008. It was the day before Father’s Day, and we had serious business to attend to. The Plainfield, IL location of Binny’s Beverage Depot was hosting their first annual “Battle of The Beers”. Row upon row of beers sat, waiting for consumption. 25 domestics, 25 imports, all of the wheat variety. Admission was free, samples were plentiful and no one refused you when you went back for a second opinion. I approached the scene with a broken sense of caution, because there was only one thing for certain, and that was that was that I was going to be leaving Binny’s stinking drunk.

Wheat beers have never been my forte, but I knew there had to be something, buried inside the haystack, that would stick to my palette and instill in me the rich feeling of discovering a beer that is uniquely mine. Beer snobs all have their certain go-tos. Sure, we enjoy sitting down with the samples and picking apart the bodies, cleanliness, and clarity of any beer and brewery we come across, that’s what these events are all about. But, in the end, beer snobbery can cloud your vision and there will always be times when we just want something to drink simply because we enjoy it and want to enjoy it over and over again.

Keeping so many beers straight in your head is not an easy task. The 25 imports featured were mostly German brews with names that end up all running together after the first 15 beers or so. There were great stand-outs from both sides, but the Americans fell drastically short in this battle. There were some great contributions from the Americans, including Flying Dog’s (Colorado) “In-Heat Wheat”, Rogue’s (Oregon) “Half-E-Weizen”, and my personal favorite, “Uber Sun” from the always great Southern Tier brewery in New York. “Uber Sun” was a much hoppier, bitter styled beer that tasted more like an IPA than a wheat beer, which is right up my alley.

There were a number of American beers that left a lot to be desired, some were almost tasteless. The contributions from the Point Brewery in Wisconsin were dismal. Their “Horizon” was decent enough, sort of a relaxed take on the classic wheat beer style but with no distinguishing characteristics, and their “Nude Beach” and “White Ox” (which is brewed in the Point Brewery but under the James Page moniker) were both completely unnecessary, they were basically bland light beers with a small edge packaged in fancy bottles, as was North Coast’s (California) “Blue Star Wheat”. The Shiner Brewery out of Texas had their Hefeweizen available, which had a citrus taste that was so overpowering there almost no beer to be found in the drink. The “1809 Berliner” weisse from the Weihen brewery in Germany was done in the same style, but much better executed, with a tangy tinge, but not overpowering.

The Europeans were not without their faults, but the vast majority of the international beers for sampling were quality brews. Erdinger (Germany) made two great contributions, their regular weissbier, which was bitter with a bit of a citrus edge, and their dunkle (dark) was superb. The crowd favorite of the day was Hoegaarden’s (Belgium) weisse which was a beautifully thin beer that packed a much bigger flavor punch than you would ever imagine such a light beer being able to get away with. My personal favorite find was from the Weissbierbrauerei G. Schneider & Sohn Brewery (Germany), who put in three beers that were all great, but their “Aventinus” was the stand out in my opionion. The first little bit was hard to get through, but after letting it sit for a minute and get the aftertaste, the rest went down easy. It was definitely the surprise of the day for me, that beer I’d been looking for.

I admit, with great shame, that I did not get through all 50 beers. I made it to 47 in our three hour window. But there was a lot more there than just the beer. It was the conversations, the mutual respect of fellow beer drinkers, discussing all the subtleties of the craft that goes over most people’s heads. In three hours we had tried and examined more beers than most passive drinkers will try in the course of their lives. Basic economics tells you that in a recession, the alcohol industry is one that will soar. But it’s not about getting drunk, it’s about appreciating something that someone puts their whole life-force into to make right. Whether they’re a European Brewery who has been using the same recipe for 400 years or they’re a new American upstart who just got their foot in the door and is trying to forge new ground, there is a community to seek out their product and appreciate it. It’s just like any other obsession that is rooted in a mere hobby, just like those of us who collect obscure vinyl records or B horror movies. We drink because we can, because it’s one of the few privileges that the state hasn’t found a way to take away from us. It was Bukowski who said “When you drank, the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat,” and we don't need to be lifetime drunks to appreciate that (so FUCK YOU Alabama!).

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Public Serpents-The Feeding of the Fortune 5000 (Tent City)

This is the new band from some dude that was in Leftover Crack Choking Victim (this was a complete error on my part, this band has nothing to do with Leftover Crack and I don't know why I wrote that and then didn't catch when I proofread this. Sorry for any confusion). They're self-proclaimed "Crack Rock Steady", which is a label I've never really understood because to me it just sounds a lot like Rancid without the snappy bass lines. I could spend all day talking about the cheesy artwork on this record, predictable (and cheesy) lyrics, and the boring arrangements, but I've decided to take the high road and try to approach this record with an open mind.

There are some cool riffs on this record, like in the song "Dummy" that's got a poppy third-wave type sound with some funny background vocals and a chorus that reminds of the Freeze stuff from the 90s. If the whole album was as high-energy as that song, I could actually see myself sitting around listening to this. The song cuts out in just over a minute (the shortest song here, they need to follow that mode more), the record goes into a bland streetpunk beat and proceeds to alternate between that streetpunk sound and a "1/1" time ska beat for most of the record. To add to that, the song arrangements are typically way too long (majority of the songs clock in at over 2 and a half minutes, which is an eternity with as little variety as they have to offer). A lot of the vocal melodies fall tired quickly and are really too poppy for my tastes, to the point of being generic. For some reason, the band felt the need to balance out this record with some weird electronic music and bland rapping that sounds like the Insane Clown Posse circa 1991 (is it bad to be able to distinguish different eras of the Insane Clown Posse? I find it sort of embarrassing).

There are some cool moments on this record, but mostly just pieces of songs ("Effigies of Life" has potential to be really cool without all the stupid electronic shit). I could honestly see this record being released as an EP with some of the crap cut out and shorter versions of a lot of these songs, and turning out alright. But these dudes tried way too hard to put this out as a full length, and fell victim to their own ambition. Or drugs.

Public Serpents on MySpace
Buy It On Interpunk

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