Monday, November 15, 2010

U.S. Christmas - "Run Thick In The Night" CD

What this Appalachian (Carolina/Tennessee) psychedelic/metal act does so well, can't be easily pinpointed. They write strong, epic, bewildering rock songs with a bluesy side, but their massive, dense sound aligns them closer to post-rock psychedelia. They are as comfortable writing acoustic mountain folk as they are performing deep, crunchy space-out jams. And that is damned cool. The 13-minute "In The Night" opens with an impressive Hawkwind-meets-SWANS astral dirge. It's a powerful introduction, and a perfect harbinger of what is to come on this 76-minute album that dares to send plumes of smoky drones and lysergic effects into the stratosphere. "Wolf On Anareta" is a feral, tranced-out beast, whereas "Ephraim In The Stars" is a memorable and melodic piece with strings. "The Leonids" is a haunting strings & guitar interlude, and the band amp it up for "Deep Green", which swarms with their powerful noise/drone psychedelia that's both imposing and alluring. "Devil's Flower In Mother Winter" is a woozy folk number with Megham Mulhearn's prominent violin. I could go on an on regarding this album, but suffice to say it's one of my favorites of this year. (Neurot Recordings)


USX's Nate Hall lists his 5 top places in Appalachia...great article and photos!

Beervember 2010!

So we are officially into the chilly months, so some darker, heavier beers are in order. This month there are some sure-fire winners from some first-rate brewers. But don't take my word for it...try them yourself. Remember that I rate beer on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being undrinkable pisswater, and 5 being nectar of Valhalla. So, it stands to reason that a 3 or 4 will still be a solid drinking experience. Support your local breweries and drink indie!

A pleasant and cloudy gold, this wheat ale boasts of an appealing banana and biscuit scent. First taste is subtle, with a slight citrus hint, though it is fairly subdued. Like most unfiltered wheat beers, this one's rather heavy and solid. It may not be frilly or challenging, but I found this one comfortable and a fine easygoing brew.

This cloudy golden-amber ale came to me highly recommended by this very magazine's illustrious beer expert/managing editor, and he knows his brews. Not to mention the fact that Sam Adams seldom disappoints, so this one's a "can't lose". What we have here is a cloudy golden ale with a strong cherry nose -- instantly appealing and unusual. My initial taste revealed, not surprisingly, tart cherries with a smooth honey undertone. Cherry wheat is balanced on the palate, and not too sweet or artificial-tasting (as are so many fruit-infused beers). Enjoyable.

This deep, dark black ale is supposedly based on a 500 year old Belgian recipe, and it's an unusual and tasty ale that doesn't easily fit into a category. I get a roasty chocolate scent, which gives way to a burnt chocolate palate -- not as spicy as a traditional Belgian abbey ale, and more akin to a softer, gentler stout. It's not snappy or hoppy, but subtle, smooth, and quite tasty. This one's a delightful brew with a unique personality.

Cloudy gold, and nearly amber in color, this hefe (unfiltered wheat) ale has a fruity nose up front. That's followed by a sharp and toasty tongue and a brisk, hoppy finish. Widmer's hefeweizen is a more complex wheat beer than most, and the strong, assertive personality may not be for beginners. Excellent.

"Dolla Morte" (director: Bill Zebub)

Dolls in distress. Like "Team America" but with a more sadistic impulse, this 70-minute film from 2006 takes pleasure in slaughtering sacred cows at every breath. Using only dolls, toys, and simple animations, "Dolla Morte" tells a convoluted tale involving serial-rapists, the living dead, Hitler, the Pope, George Bush, Bin Laden, "great white power" sharks, werewolves, conspiracy theories, Jesus, and more. In an attempt to shock and offend, this one goes too far, with no redeeming value whatsoever. The jokes are bad, the story uninteresting/nonexistent, and my interest waned quickly. This one's like one of the less-successful "Adult Swim" skits that gets swiftly forgotten (and justifiably so). I say "Dolla Morte" is a juvenile, unnecessary, and tedious exercise in cheap shock. For fook's sake, do yourself a favor and steer very, very clear of this one. (Wild Eye Releasingvia MVD Visual)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Delerium - "Epiphany" DVD

The first DVD from this longtime ethereal-exotica-electropop act is a well-done multi-cam live recording from the group's 2008 North American tour. Helmed by Front Line Assembly mainman Bill Leeb (who recedes to the background here, performing synths), this incarnation of Delerium was fronted by both the alluring Kristy Thirsk, and former Sixpence None The Richer frontwoman Leigh Nash.

The group faithfully recreates the group's rich and seductive moods with primarily live instrumentation, and minimal electronics. It's a charming and worldly set that includes hits like "Afterall", "Flowers Become Screens", and of course "Silence" (originally sung by Sarah McLachlan), which the girls handle quite well, thank you very much. Complete with textural & abstracted backing films and with plenty of post-production video effects, "Epiphany" becomes a pleasantly psychedelic viewing experience. My only complaint would be the exclusion of Delerium's promotional videos, but that's splitting hairs. This is a superb experience and proves that this studio project is a more-than-viable live entity. Kudos to Bill, Kristy, Leigh, and the boys (and producer NastyByte)...this is a winner. (MVD Visual)

Mindphaser - official Bill Leeb project site

Official Delerium site

Beertober, a wee bit late...

Here we are, another month-plus has gone by, and the seasonal beers have already piled up, been finished off, and more have found their way to Goatsden HQ! But has there ever been "too much beer"? I think not. As always, reviews are rated from 1.0 (outright sewage) to 5.0 (ambrosia from Valhalla). Support indie and craft beer, stay as local as possible, and avoid the multinationals! Onwards, troops!

JACK'S PUMPKIN SPICE (St. Louis, MO) - 2.5
Michelob's entry in the growing pumpkin ale sweepstakes pours a copper/amber, and the initial nose is of nutmeg and clove. The flavor is heavy on the spice, with minimal pumpkin. In fact, I only detect pumpkin in the aftertaste. Jack's is a sweet and malty ale that isn't too complex or unique, and really seems a little overbearing on the tastebuds.

A nice deep amber with substantial lacing, Sam Adams Octoberfest boasts of a spicy nose and rich, hearty flavor profile. I detect hints of candy sugar in the malts, somehow. Substantial and seemingly heavy, this one's pretty well tasty.

BELL'S OCTOBERFEST (Comstock, MI) - 4.0
Bell's is a typically amber lager with a rich, malty presence, with a slight tinge of hoppiness near the finish. More complex than the other Octoberfests reviewed this issue, and less heavy. I rate this one a prime example of a traditional Octoberfest style, and a delicious brew.

A nice pale amber complexion for this one, with plenty of suds up front. I didn't get much in the initial scent impression, but first taste hinted at a soft honey flavor, almost. Definitely an easy drinking beer, with a slight hint of hops near the end. Subtle and enjoyable.