Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christ Beheaded - "Open The Gates Of Hell" CDEP

The debut 5-song EP from an Indianapolis, Indiana black metal act, "Purgatory" begins things with in a blur of antagonism and an almost Napalm Death grindcore tempo and vibe. The title track is more typical tortured black metal with an old-school feel (dig the solo in the middle). "Decomposed" has elements of death metal within the confines of black metal. Production is solid, and this 5-song, 22-minute set more than satisfies the need for more metal.

But who's really counting? "Open The Gates Of Hell" is a strong showing from some skilled metallic warriors who take no prisoners. This EP (newly reissued) was recorded back in 2008, so it seems the band is on hiatus or split. Here's to a follow-up album. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

John Tejada & Josh Humphrey - "Pulse Locker" EP

In the spirit of the great techno DJs of Detroit, LA artists Tejada and Humphrey have unleashed a killer set of 3 minimalist beat-pulses that harken back to techno, trance, and acid's early days, while remaining crisp and clubby enough for today's more forward-thinking clubs. 

The title track is a bouncy minimal techno piece, while "Bifur Gates" brings a heavier, more insistent beat-pulse, reminiscent of Richie Hawtin's heyday to my relatively untrained techno ears. "Unanimous Arc" brings an old-school acid feel, with straight-forward beats and trippy, blippy electronic sequences. This is club music the way it used to be, and solid work it is, too. The extra 4th track, "Femto Frames" (available through Beatport), is a lighter, ambient-leaning bit of post-Orb electronica, and an ideal closer.

Some fine work here, definitely a well-done set of tunes for fans of the minimalist Detroit scene and beyond.

"Color Me Obsessed: A Film About The Replacements" 2xDVD (director: Gorman Bechard)

This is a love-letter-slash-documentary to the Minneapolis band who changed the face of indie and college rock scenes in the late 80s, featuring many famous fans. Names interviewed here include members of Babes In Toyland, Husker Du, Decemberists, Archers Of Loaf, and the Goo Goo Dolls, plus names like Tom Arnold, George Wendt, Steve Albini, Jack Rabid, Robert Christgau, Dave Foley, friends, ex-wives, and tons more.

The Replacements were as known for their careless, rowdy attitudes (and drunken sloppiness) as they were/are for their music, which only added to their mythology. The band, not surprisingly, imploded in 1990, only 9 years after their initial formation, but not before they recorded some immensely influential albums and plenty of memorable, catchy, and just plain great rock music.

"Color Me Obsessed" differs from most music bios, as it eschews any use of Replacements music or visuals. The accounts and information are delivered solely through the words of those who were "there". And oddly, it works. The documentary itself runs nearly 2 hours, and the extra disc includes extended interviews and more deleted scenes.  It's a great set for fans, or for those merely curious about the life and times of a great American band. 

"Libby, Montana" DVD (directors: Drury Gunn Carr & Doug Hawkes-Davis)

An exhaustive 2 hour documentary from 2006 that focuses attention on the small town of Libby, Montana, which was the center of a national controversy after a major mining operation (and the area's leading employer) was found guilty of nondisclosure of asbestos and toxic pollution hazards. 

The path to cleanup has been long and difficult for the citizens. This documentary shows the EPA stepping in to help resolve the issues, and the touchy situation that the town had to deal with, as the employer outright lied and attempted to avoid any liability, all the while seeing their longtime employees diagnosed with terminal  lung disease and asbestosis. Many of the town's working class were interviewed for this in-depth documentary, and many have since passed away. But the heart of this film is to draw attention to the rights and wrongs, and how the town never lost it's spirit, despite the devastating pollution and heartbreak brought on by corporate greed. 

It's an engrossing and enlightening film, and deserves your attention. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Einsturzende Neubauten - "Live At Rockpalast 1990" CD+DVD

A vintage Neubauten show, here resurrected as part of the excellent Rockpalast series, originally broadcast on German TV. "Live At Rockpalast" captures Bargeld and the boys in their "Haus Der Luge" period, at an intersection before the group decided to  further make their unique sound sculptures more subtle and, at times, even melodic.

Opening with the scalding noise/silence of "Prolog", and followed by the dance-oriented "Feurio!", "Rockpalast" includes some of the band's best-loved tracks from their earlier days. We get superb versions of "Der Tod Ist Ein Dandy", Sehnsucht", "Armenia", "Yu Gung", "Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T.", "Sand", and plenty more. The band isn't in their most intense form here, but it's still an excellent show. Bargeld is, as always, dramatic and shrill -- all the while remaining a perfectly refined madman. Behind him, Einheit and Unruh batter shopping carts, industrial debris, and likely themselves. Hacke is the resident "rocker", with long hair flailing about like a metal maven, with Chung tirelessly plucking his bass. It's a classic lineup, thus the classic material.

The DVD is pro-shot, with multiple cameras, so there's enough great visuals to illustrate the beauty and genius of Neubauten. The CD has the exact same tracklist (16 songs), and sounds as clear as a studio album. This is a must-have for serious fans, and would provide a fine introduction or primer for a novice. Absolultely recommended. 

"The Lost Realities Of Hog Caller" DVD (director: Tom Richards)

Less of a narrative film, and more of an extended promo video for Pennsylvania gore/grind/noise/metal duo Hog Caller, this one is all over the place, and not in a good way. 

Mostly, "The Lost Realities Of Hog Caller" is an overindulgent mess of offensive imagery. You'll get plenty of gore, some breasts, comedy skits, pig costumes, Three Mile Island, messing around with dead animals, G.W. Bush hanging out with Bin Laden, magic mushrooms, LSD trips, eviscerating Elvis, and plenty more. Trouble is, there's no order to the madness. And the music? Messy, sloppy, and fairly well unlistenable. A great gift for friends of the band, but anyone else? Seen it before, heard it before, and done better on both counts.

Naevus - "The Division Of Labour" CD

The English post-punk group Naevus, led by  of Lloyd James, has been around for over a decade, and this is his/their seventh album. "The Division Of Labour" is a diverse album combining some seminal influences into a palatable and edgy amalgamation. 

"Man In A Ditch" opens with a dark neo-folk sound, before diving into the Wire-esque "Idiots (Let Me In)", complete with dissonant guitar noise and metronomic rhythms alongside literate vocals. "Bleat Beep" or "Making Hay" feature stark, stylish, and often deadpan vocals in the same realm as Douglas P. of Death In June or Colin Newman (Wire). Other cuts echo this type of sound, hinting at folk and electronic music, but never quite becoming either. Naevus bring the old-school English post-punk back with a fresh coat of paint.

"I Heart Monster Movies" DVD (director: Tyler Benjamin)

A warm love letter to horror films in general, this feature-length documentary is evidently the result of a weekend spent at a national horror convention. The director speaks to a wide array of fans, as well as a large amount of horror stars. We get impromptu interview footage of folks like Tom Savini, Linnea Quigley, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, Doug Bradley, Ivan DePrume (formerly of White Zombie), David J, Dee Wallace, and tons more. 

There's not a lot of flash and glitz to this one (aside from some brief clips of some of the more influential horror films mentioned here), just honest people of all ages and backgrounds explaining their fascinations and passion for the scary movie genre. As a life-long horror fan myself, "I Heart Monster Movies" was a fun and engrossing look at a fringe culture that continues to inspire and seduce people, irregardless of class, culture, or age. Bravo! 

(Independent Media Distribution)

Corrosive Carcass - "Composition Of Flesh" CD

The debut from a Swedish death/gore metal band, "Composition Of Flesh" is a thick and sludgy attack, with the requisite gurgled vocals. Is this some kind of tribute to early Carcass? Not necessarily, as Corrosive Carcass seem more structured and, dare I say, almost tuneful as compared to Steer and Walker's legendary English gore/grind act. There remains some quality, if somewhat derivative, work here, nonetheless.

"Self Mutilation" is a solid slab of fuzzy, downtuned guitars and a breakneck pace. "Born In A Casket" would be perfect for a frenzied mosh pit (if those exist anymore), with multi-tempoed attacks that divebomb into blurry thrash madness. Other cuts are dynamic and well-produced berzerkers, as well. Corrosive Carcass aren't doing anything too unique, but they do a wonderful job creating ugly, sludgy metal monsters that mosh with the best of them. I liked.

"Black Metal - Voices From Hell" DVD

Not a documentary (as you'd rightfully and logically expect from the packaging), but  a (likely bootleg) combination of scattershot VHS clips, with only tenuous connections to one another. 

This shady set begins with three low-quality VHS transfers of live songs by Mayhem, Venom, and Celtic Frost (some with digital noise/tape glitches intact). Then we get a brief clip called "Consejo Black Metal", which amounts to a Spanish or Mexican guy in corpse paint ranting. There are some priceless (and hopefully tongue-in-cheek) shots of him reading Bram Stoker's "Dracula" in an outhouse. I couldn't figure this out. Finally there are two "photo galleries", one called "Black Metal Girls", and a "Norwegian Black Metal Photo Documentary", both of which contain some curious still images, but they are all unlabeled and unorganized, so who knows what bands are here? No documentation, just raw materials easily accessed online, I'm sure. 

If that weren't enough, the whole deal runs in 20 minutes!  Very, very shameful. This is a simple case of a company preying upon a faithful fan base, and releasing shoddy product. If that's not pure evil, I don't know what is. 

(XXL Releasing)

Black Sabbath - "The Lowdown" 2xCD

Joining a couple of older Sabbath-related interview CDs in one box, this unauthorized set is one for die-hards only. One disc, "Maximum Sabbath", is a 60-minute audio biography with only occasional interview sound-bites. This is a dry and droll narration by Louise Weekley, and one you will listen to only once, if you can make it all the way through! My advice is to read the band's allmusic.com bio, and you'll be happier to learn the band's history.

The second disc, I was sad to discover, is "Ozzy - X-Posed: The Interview". This disc fails to live up to the already-low expectations, as well. The Ozzy interview recording is muffled (recorded from a telephone interview) and virtually unlistenable. It's a single-indexed track and 45 minutes of an already-fuzzy Ozzy rattling on about his history. This, I'm afraid, is only for serious, hardcore fans. Not me.

Craig Padilla and Zero Ohms - "When The Earth Is Far Away" CD

The third collaboration by these ambient masters goes into uncharted sonic spatial realms, mapping out new terrain beyond the cosmos. 

With 6 tracks of opulent, rhythm-less bliss, "When The Earth Is Far Away" is a relaxing and wonderful soundtrack, full of shimmering celestial harmonies and amorphous sound. "Timelessness", at nearly 17 minutes, is a prime example of the gorgeous atmospherics that Padilla and Zero Ohms focus on. The lovely and flute-laden "Blue Distance" is pure ambience, almost receding it's so subtle. Other tracks echo this direction. A beautiful album here, ideal for drifting off to.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Collide - "Bent And Broken" 2xCD

A new double-album (26 tracks) of mostly remixes from California's finest dark-edged electro-rock act, "Bent And Broken" also includes some curious covers, including The Glove's "Orgy" and Queen's "She Makes Me". WIth the wealth of re-visited material here (mostly from their past couple of studio outings), fans of kArin and Statik's trademark blend of edgy electronica and sleek, ethereal vocal stylings will find much to enjoy here.

Quite often, remix albums are throwaways, shredding the artists' dignity in a shower of generic club beats or mainstream "radio friendly" mixes. For "Bent And Broken", I have to hand it to the band's choice in remixers -- there's nary a moment of "dubstep" foolishness here. Everything keeps Collide's integrity (and overall sound and personal, emotive vibe) intact.

It all opens with a heavy electronic remix by longtime Collide friends cEvin Key and Hiwatt Marshall, which works perfectly well in a trippy, skittering Skinny Puppy fashion. New track "Bent & Broken" is as good as anything the duo have done in the past, while the Queen cover ("She Makes Me") is a lovely, dreamy, even flighty acoustic-sounding rock song, sung in a gentle, ghostly voice courtesy of kArin. Other standouts include "Tears Like Rain (Cloudburst Mix)", which brings a serene, austere Eno piano ambience to great effect. "Counting To Zero (kaRin's Lullaby Mix by Antigen5)" is beautifully atmospheric and almost symphonic, while the "Unraveling Breaths" remix of "Utopia", by Whitney Kew, is a fittingly lovely ambient closer. 

A solid and faithful collection of both outsider remixes and a few new Collide tracks, "Bent And Broken" does the band justice, despite having many outside hands involved. Any fan will be more than pleased with this selection of dark and intelligent electro-rock stomp and slither. 

Desultor - "Masters Of Hate" CD

The debut album from Swedish duo Desultor is what the band themselves call "Murder Metal". I dunno about that description, but "Masters Of Hate" opens well with the big thrashy "Black Monday", which is like classic British metal, albeit with blastbeats! Production is clear and crunchy, so this smokes, right out of the gate.

From there, this 11-song, 33-minute album combines the melodic and cacophonous. "Another World" combines slower, melodic, classic falsetto vocal stylings with fearsome blast-thrash riffs and rhythms. There are guitar solos here, too, so Desultor aren't afraid to go "old school". Solid, solid stuff for fans of metal as it once was.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Escape From Women's Prison" DVD (director: Giovanni Brusadori)

This 1978 Italian sleaze-sexploitation film isn't the best print, looking like a well-generated VHS copy, so set your expectations low. Never a great film by any means, Brusadori still manages to capture an element of pure trashiness with "Escape", so it scores some points for being, well, nothing more and nothing less. The Engish overdubs make it even more weird and somehow out-of-time.

Here's a story of a quartet of women who (surprise) escape from prison only to hijack a bus-load of young female tennis players and their coach and driver. Naturally, these tough girls abuse their hostages in every way, from rape to murder. One of the prisoners is a lesbian, so we get scenes of her forcibly seducing a naive young tennis player, while another sex-obsessed convict preys upon a non-consenting male bus driver. It's tits and ass galore, as these wild and unruly women flaunt their guns and boobs. 

The acting is pretty awful, as is the script, which is naturally little more than an excuse to parade out nude scenes and violence. All that said, I fairly well enjoyed this one. Just keep expectations low, and this little trashy film is a good, mindless way to spend an hour plus. 

(CFS Releasing)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

"Hostel Part III" DVD (director: Scott Spiegel)

I admit (though a bit shamefully somehow) to enjoying "Hostel" (enough to buy a DVD), and even liking "Hostel 2" fairly well. This direct-to-video continuation, though, adds nothing to the story, only borrowing the idea and transplanting it to a new locale (Las Vegas), all the while missing the mark on gore, sexuality, and clever ideas. Eli Roth is no longer involved, either, so take that as you will.

Basically, after an initially playful and surprising opening scene (kudos to whoever was responsible for that), we get a rip-off of the first "Hostel" movies. A small group of young men are visiting Vegas for a bachelor party, where they mistakenly get involved in some seductive "party girls", who unwittingly get them all staked out as targets of the covert Elite Hunting Club, where privileged members get to place wagers on human lives. 

While not an altogether awful film, "Hostel Part III" lacks any sort of edge or angle to build upon the first 2 films in the franchise. In short, it's a shallow and unnecessary cash-in. Avoid, unless you've got too much time on your hands and are attached to the first 2 "Hostel" flicks.

(Sony Pictures)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"1-Ichi" DVD (director: Masato Tanno)

This 2003 Japanese prequel to the classic "Ichi The Killer" is less horror, more bloody, street-fighting action film. And it works just fine. Subtitled in English, "Ichi" is based on a popular manga comic series, and is a tale of Shiroichi -- a soft spoken, backward wuss who "gets off" on watching violent street fights. Yes, you read that correctly. He gets hard-ons (and more) while watching people get beat-downs. Well, Shiroichi (aka Ichi) gets bullied and beaten himself for his passive ways , and before long, his rage builds. When he finally releases his internalized anger, he annihilates an entire street gang, murdering everyone in a bloody rage.

Along the ride, we see rival fighters attempting to one-up their "schoolmates" in bloody, violent fist-fights, oftentimes vying for the attention of the squealing schoolgirls. Ichi is always on the periphery, never wanting to take part in the fights, but when he does, it's quite a blood-bath.

"1-Ichi" isn't a brilliant film, by any means, but it is a fun and ultra-violent romp (with elements of humor) that could only come from Japan. I liked this one.

"Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare" DVD (director: John R. Hand)

Directed, produced, and starring John R. Hand, this 2006 psychedelic swirl of abstracted horror was a unique debut, shot entirely on vintage Super-8 format (with an annoying abundance of color-saturated filters). On one hand, I admire Hand's attempt to produce a disorienting experience akin to some of the experimental filmmakers of the seventies. 

On the other hand (hah, no pun intended), "Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare" is a messy, scattered film. Loosely based on Mary Shelley's classic novel, this modern adaptation is a tale of a young doctor who decides to reanimate his dead girlfriend in the obvious fashion (i.e. with dead body parts). The dialogue here leaves much to be desired, and the "monster" looks more like a Muppet frog. In truth, "Frankensteins Bloody Nightmare" is almost unwatchable, but I can see the raw ideas that Hand brings to the table, and there's something there. I can't recommend this, but the director may be one to watch in the future. 

This Hollow Sacrament" DVD (director: Greg Stechman)

Part of the "Bloody Evil" bound budget 4-pack (often a quick sign of trouble), this cheapie micro-indie has so many issues, I don't know where to begin. It's a serial killer flick, completed by flat, robotic soap-level acting, casting issues (why is the supposed 13 year-old about 30-ish?), and a generic script. An ex-soldier, now a detective, is hot on the lead of a slayer of young women in Northern California. And, get this, it's "based on true events". Stop me if you've heard this one before...

Compared to the serial killer mainstays ("Se7en", "Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer", "Silence Of The Lambs"), this one seems just plain mild, and even playing safe. The gore, while prominent, is cheesy and forced, even. I dunno, but this one lost my interest really quickly and never got it back. Unearthed FIlms needs to bury this aimless cheese-fest back in the litter box, where it belongs. 

Lou Reed With Nico and John Cale - "Paris 1972" DVD

Filmed for French TV, this quick VHS-transfer of dubious origin is a superb history piece, and contains some fine music. Trouble is, "Paris 1972" runs well under a half-hour in total, is of poor-to-fair quality black & white, and has issues with the audio going out of synch with the video. Haphazard, yes. Historically valid, yes. 

It's great to see newly-solo Reed reunited with his old Velvet Underground bandmates, including the marvelously beautiful Nico and the studious Cale, and although the quality of this release leaves something to be desired, it's still a worthy document, and a must-see for serious Velvets fans. 

(XXL Media)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Maax - "Six Pack Witchcraft" CDEP

5 songs and 14 minutes of rolling black thrash metal thunder from an Indiana group. This EP was originally released in 2010, and the band have since realized a full-length LP, which I've not heard. Regardless, this is a solid piece of evil metal madness.

The opening cut, "Die By The Ax" is a beast of unbridled mayhem, with witchy vocals and a tough thrash exterior. Imagine if Motorhead careened headfirst into Darkthrone, and you'd be close to Maax's ferocious sound. The other cuts, including the blurry and subtle "Go Fuck Yourself", echo this sentiment. The title track is a pure drunken punk/black metal crossover that is as dirty and smelly as can be, which is a good thing. The only thing holding up this brief EP is the muddied mix, in which the lower end seems bottomed out. Nonetheless, these guys bring it in an authentic way.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beer: Triton Brewing and New Albanian bottle tastings....

Here are some Indiana-based small brewers, all of whom are producing some fine bottled brews. Distribution for these may be small and regional, but if you end up near Indianapolis, Indiana (Triton) or New Albany, Indiana (near Louisville, Kentucky, for New Albanian), do not hesitate to stop in and enjoy a pint! 

Reviews, again, range from 1 (terrible) to 5 (world-class). Ain't no bad beers here, so enjoy!

Triton is a new Indy brewery now producing bottled 6-packs. I love their graphic style -- stark, colorful, and distinctive. And their beers are pretty damned good, too.

Pours a deep ruby in color, with a pleasant head of off-white foam and loopy 2-finger lace. Nose - sweet & malty, with touches of toffee, maple and roasted nuttiness. Very in tune with Fall. Flavor is caramel-nutty malts, with a slight hint of citrus hops to round off the finish. 

This brown ale is nicely balanced and quite enjoyable. 

Pitch-black and opaque black upon pouring, with a deep tan head. Not much lace to speak of. Nose is creamy bittersweet chocolate, with an underlying caramel vibe. Unusual and appealing! Taste is plenty of the bittersweet chocolate, burnt coffee, and more of the caramelized sugar. I also get a good sense of the oat infusion, as this one is smooth, and almost milky/lactic in texture. Surprisingly different with the sweet/sourness. Enjoyable.

This Belgian-style pours a clean amber, with medium head. I get slight lace, but not very showy in presentation.

Nose is mildly spiced. I don't get a lot to go on here. Taste is, as before, spicy and warm, with a bit of hoppiness complementing the malty character. Hints of fruit are here, too, and this one's a cool amalgamation of a Belgian and a pale ale. Not bad, but not one I'd revisit.

New Albanian has distributed locally for a few years, but unfortunately it's all in larger (somewhat overpriced) bombers. Here's a friendly nudge for them to make some of their killer brews in smaller 6-packs for those of us without much disposable income.

This Imperial Pilsner pours from the bomber semi-cloudy golden, with a thick and sudsy head. Stunning and boldly detailed lace cascading down the glass. Beautiful. Nose is grainy and lagery, with a hint of floral hops. Nice.

Taste is malty and lagery an first, followed by a nice, heavy dose of floral hops. Faintly bitter upon tongue at finish. The heavy alcohol presence (a whopping 10%) is masked quite well by this delicious and well-hopped pilsner. Delicious and well-done.

Ramones - "Punk 'N' Rock 'N' Roll" DVD

Ah, the greatness that was the Ramones, here captured on DVD of dubious origin. But no matter, this short (19 tracks, but well under an hour in total) set includes old TV appearances (one recognizable source is England's Old Grey Whistle Test), and the band were in fine form, indeed. 

Sure, it's nowhere near HD in quality, but who needs that window dressing? The rawness here is fine with me, as the band (in their prime) pummel through greats like "Blitzkrieg Bop", "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", "We're A Happy Family", "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", and tons more. As mentioned before, this is a shady set of quick-transferred TV appearances, and the "Biography" is nothing more than a few paragraphs of text on-screen with a quickie band history, but (gabba gabba) hey, it's not rocket (to Russia) science. Cool stuff, and you can't discount the quality of these performances, regardless of the medium. 

(XXL Media)

Bob Dylan And The Band - "Down In The Flood" DVD

This documentary details the 1966 tour pairing Bob Dylan with arguably Canada's finest rock act (and the template for the Americana scene today), the Band. As with previous Sexy Intellectual releases, the usual panel of experts, bandmates, and journalists dissect the era when Dylan's electric rock both shocked and infuriated his folk-leaning fans.

There's a wealth of rare live and TV footage here, as well as plenty of photos and visuals to illustrate the amazing collaboration between Dylan and the great musicians of the Band, and what it meant to rock then and now. Despite an exhaustive 114 minutes, "Down In The Flood" is essential for serious Dylan-philes. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brian Wilson - "Songwriter 1969-1982" DVD

By most critics and fans' accounts, Brian Wilson was the Beach Boys' guiding light and innovator. His influence and inspiration led the band through their heyday in the early 60s, before he fell victim to his own personal demons, and alcohol and drugs. This unauthorized documentary looks at his later years, when the band was splitting due to internal pressures, and when the explosion of the late 60s underground music scene made the upbeat, pop-oriented sound of the Beach Boys seem irrelevant and safe.

As with most of Sexy Intellectual's releases of this nature, historians, journalists, and former bandmates are interviewed, and that input, placed beside plenty of great period films and photos, makes this an eye-opening experience. It seems Wilson's more experimental needs didn't gel with other band members, who saw the group as basically an "easy money" pop vehicle, whereas Wilson wasn't happy re-visiting the past. His checkered path has been met with both skepticism and admiration, and it's great he's getting his due now. Now, if only Mike Love will let him back into the band! Hah! (Sexy Intellectual)

"San Francisco Grindhouse Triple Feature" 2xDVD

This selection of marginal 70's-era sexploitation (aka early hardcore porn) doesn't offer much aside from a curious look at the depths and budgetary constraints of the era. Centered around San Francisco (in itself a hotbed of creativity and free-thinking since the sixties), these three films failed to impress me.

First was "Wendy's Naughty Night", directed by Nick Philips (who, oddly, went on to direct horror later in his career). This 1973 skin-flick was hippie hardcore at it's not-so-finest, complete with weirdly whimsical musical soundtrack. This one was a weird tale of damaged, but free-spirited Wendy, who supported an deadbeat artist boyfriend, but loved to frolic in the sack (when not with her therapist reminiscing about her lesbian inclinations). As it is, "Wendy's Naughty Night" is a mess, with flimsy plot, very little dialogue, and awful acting. And the action was nothing to remark about, either. 

"Siv, A Swedish Girl" was also the work of director Philips, and despite a mismatched audio track (bad overdubbing), this 1971 hardcore features a trippy psychedelic jazz soundtrack. Definitely a period piece, "Siv" is forgettable at best, with most of the "action" being mostly nude writhing. Poetic voiceovers are hackneyed, with amateur imagery and silly effects. Other adjectives I'd use to describe "Siv" are haphazard and disjointed. The murder-suicide "climax" is absolutely unexpected (and, I"m sure, off-putting to period moviegoers who simply wanted a good time), and certainly points to director Philips' future in horror, but it doesn't change that this is simply a bad movie.

Attached to the disc with "Siv, A Swedish Girl" are a series of Joe Sarno trailers, which fare much, much better. Seventies gems like "Butterflies", featuring the amazing Marie Forsa, are previewed here. The great sets and cinematography in these trailers make the feature-length films on this set look just heinous!

The third disc in this set, lest we forget, is an afterthought from 1976, directed by Tom Hofmann.This one features the always-entertaining Joey Silvera as a regular joe who, in need of some cash, takes a job as a porno star, much to his girlfriend's chagrin. Well, the girlfriend, played by Linda Wong, decides to "get even" by hanging out with some swinger friends, so you can imagine the obvious here. It's not a noteworthy or particularly memorable film, but the action does get wilder and steamier than the two supposed "marquee" names in this "grindhouse" collection.

All-in-all, some pretty forgettable work, and worthy only as a time capsule of the early-to-mid-seventies scene. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

KLLU - "UpsideDownCrossRoads" album

This downtempo ambient/dark dub release comes from members of Chicago grindcore/dub act Drug Honkey. And though it's a much more subtle direction from these guys, it remains equally as engrossing. Beginning with the ominous horror dub-hop of "Approach", this album would do well as an alternate score to the compelling FX TV series "American Horror Story". 

"Dead, Like Me", is a more laid-back affair, like if The Orb made sounds for a haunted house. "Keep Us Forever" is a sly, foggy dub tune with plenty of otherworldly reverb going on, whereas the blackened bass-hop of "Beliefs In Hate" features Eraldo Bernocchi (of Sigillum S, SIMM, and Bill Laswell collaborator). The all-too brief (31-minutes) album closes with the sinister "Impossible Dark", which is 8 minutes of atmospheric terror. Perfect.

Points of reference? How about Coil, Scorn, the early soundscapes of classic Skinny Puppy, or Lustmord. A superlative release in every way, and I hope it makes it to CD or vinyl soon. (self-released)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Beer: Shock Top, Heavy Seas, and Leinenkugel's

Ahh, time to relax with some top-notch craft beers, right? Especially after the ushering in of the retail workers' nightmare season. So here's three beers reviewed. A shame I didn't care much for any of them. Surely next round will be better. 

Ratings, as ever, range from 1 (bottom of the barrel) to 5 (perfect). So what you see here are some mediocre beers. Give them a try and see what you think, though. And let me know how far off base I am in my tastings!

Yes, this is a thiny-disguised Anheuser-Busch/InBev product (corporate beer alert!), but with the apocalyptic theme and addition of chilis and chocolate malts, I had to at least give this one a trial spin.

Cloudy ruby, with tan head. No discernible lace. Nose is quite unusual -- chili and spice are first to make their presence known. I also get a bit of fruitiness in there, but it's subtle. Taste is chocolate, with a hint of heat from the chilis and spices. 

It's a different kind of flavor, and unlike anything else I've had, but at the same time, not one I'd care to revisit, either. 

If ever there were a need for a beer with a need for a facelift, it's Heavy Seas, makers of the deilcious Hop3 IPA (which I've been a big fan of for several years). Their bottle designs don't lure me in, and they seem somehow drab. But anyway, I hadn't tried this "Uber Pils", so now's as good a time as any, right?

Pours a clean golden. with thick 3-finger head of off-white carbonation. Beautiful lace. Nose is grains, typically lager-like. Not bad, not outstanding. Taste is malty and nearly sweet at first, followed by a tangy, chewy, nearly boozy finish. I get a limited hops presence here. 

While this is definitely an "uber-pils", it's not one I'd chase down again.

Yes, Leine is another craft owned by the corporate SABMillerCoors conglomerate. Got this one as a gift, so let it be known I'd never spend my money on Leinenkugel's uniformly uninteresting brews. This one didn't change my mind.

Pours a deep, dark ruby. Thick head of quickly-dissipating fizzy tan bubbles. No lace. Nose says chocolate, cocoa nibs, and maybe a hint of vanilla. Actually it's more like a vanilla Coke. Weird. Taste is equally like a vanilla Coke, with an odd artificial sweetness. The finish shows this best of all. Not good. At all.

"Beijing Punk" DVD (director: Shaun M. Jefford)

Director Jefford did a wonderful job on this feature-length documentary, delving deeper into the burgeoning Chinese punk rock scene. What's so cool about this is that these underground artists in Beijing are truly underground, as their oppressive government certainly opposes their individuality and message. They are under constant threat from their government more than we in the Western world can imagine.

Skinhead/punk band Misandao, indie band Hedgehog, and classic punkers Demerit are the main focuses here, as Jefford accompanies them to clubs, shows, and on the streets of Beijing, where they are truly outsiders in their leather jackets, mohawks, tattoos, and studded jewelry. The bands' attitudes and thuggish behavior (especially in Misandao and Demerit's cases) may seem juvenile and stereotypical for an English or American punk band, but these artists are at the forefront of a new attitude in China, expressing themselves socially and politically -- a radical step in such a restrictive state. "Beijing Punk" shows a new awareness in a culture, looking at democracy from an outsider's viewpoint. These bands have plenty to shout about, and this documentary is inspiring and engrossing. (Seminal Films via MVD Visual)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Beer: A Rogue Thanksgiving!

Rogue Ales, out of  Newport, Oregon, is a legendary craft brewery (and craft distillery), with pretty far-reaching distribution and a generally well-respected name. I've had several of their brews before, but nothing has really moved me. I recently found myself with a couple of bottles, courtesy of bzach. Remember when scoring at home, the scale is from 1 (swill) to 5 (swank). 3 would be average, and a score below 3 entails one to avoid.

As with the following bottle, this one wasn't dated. Take that into consideration.  Without bottle dating, I can't say how fresh or stale these Rogue brews were.

Pours a deep, dark brown (nearly black), with subtle ruby highlights. Average head, and minimal lace. Nose is a little roasty. I get a hint of mocha, but it's not strong at all. Taste is deeply roasty, with hints of dark chocolate, coffee, burnt fruit. This is a rich porter, definitely with a heavy character, and the mocha tones come out better as it warms a bit. 

Still, not a favorite of mine, and not one I'd care to try again.

This popular brew (likely more for the name) was among my early craft beer enticements. How can you NOT resist trying "Dead Guy Ale"? I'm mixed on this one, as my initial review was pretty positive, but a recent bottle left me disappointed. More on that later.

Pours a handsome amber, with thick head. Nice and ornate Brussels lace. Malty nose, bready... Flavor is instantly sharp on the palate, with a toasty graininess. I get some warm fruit hints, as well. And, a little alcohol burn in the finish. Enjoyable, with plenty of flavor. Superb!

As an added note, the last bottle I had was suspected of being out of date. It wasn't very good.

"The Color Out Of Space (aka "Die Farbe")" DVD (director: Huan Vu)

Based on H.P. Lovecraft's short story of the same name, this German indie was shot in stark black & white, effectively adapting Lovecraft's tale into a wicked and weird sci-fi/horror crossover.

Opening with some bad digital/green screen effects, "The Color" quickly picks up steam, telling the tale of a young man searching for his father in beautiful rural Germany. The son eventually tracks his father down, and uncovers a mystery dating back to just after World War II, involving a meteorite, a bizarre colored substance, and mutations on the neighboring farms.

Despite a shaky opening, "The Color Out Of Space" succeeds (despite a microscopic budget) in capturing a sinister, off-kilter vibe. The acting is solid, as is the cinematography. Director Vu has crafted a must-see for serious Lovecraft fans, as this one captures the vibe well. (Brinkvision)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Beer: Winter In Colorado (Odell, Boulder, and New Belgium)

Ah, Winter in Colorado. Here's a series of themed beers, all from the wonderful state of Colorado, and all worthy of your taste buds. 

I've been reading and hearing about Odell Brewing for some time, but it's not available in backward Indiana. So I managed to snag a some bottles during a recent trip to St. Louis' impeccable Wine & Cheese Place. And I'm glad I did.

This beautifully-designed bottle (as all of Odell's beers are lovingy housed in) pours a clean, rusty amber, with thick, foamy off-white head. Exquisite and fine lacing. Aroma is malty up front, followed by some pine hoppiness. Good. Taste is pine hops, with plenty of body and a heavy malt presence to balance it all out. Overall, this is a remarkably well-balanced session pale ale, with a superlative taste and nice body. Better than many breweries' IPAs!

This is Odell's seasonal Winter ale, and as with all of Odell's other beers, it's a beautifully-designed bottle, and perfectly palatable contents inside, too. 

Pours a murky ruby-amber, with a large head of tan bubbles. Extensive and detailed spider-web lace. Nice. Nose is a malty caramel-toffee in character. Pleasing enough. Taste is similar -- heavily malted, with tones of toffee and caramel, and a light hoppy finish. This one drinks like a heavier amber ale, and holds up well as a heavy-bodied night-time session brew for the colder months.

Boulder, Colorado is a wonderful place, but I've not been a huge fan of legendary Boulder Beer's products. This seasonal Winter ale is quite nice, though.

Deep amber, with a thick head of off-white foam. Beautiful lace! Nose is sweet and malty, with definite caramel and toffee tones. Taste is heavy on the toasty malts, with more caramel and sweet toffee. Seems heavy on the body, almost thick & sticky in mouthfeel. Finishes with a slight dryness. Overall, a decent Winter Warmer, but not one I'd return to.

I fell in love with this seasonal last year. This is the second year for Snow Day, and I'm saddened to learn that New Belgium will be replacing it next year, with something called "Accumulation". I'm hoping it's a hopped-up version of Snow Day. But I will miss this one.

Dark caramel/amber, with a fearsome 3-finger head. Lace just about as extensive and impressive. Wow. Spectacular presentation. Aroma is fresh pine, floral, and citrus. Hoppy happiness. Taste is complex, beginning with a mild roasty malt, followed by a subtle citrus/pine bite in the middle. The finish brought a slightly bitter hops character, though by no means a hop bomb. Balanced well, this enjoyable ale really impressed me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Grindhouse Hostage" 2xDVD

This 2-disc, 3-movie set of 70's-era hardcore misses the mark more than it hits, but that doesn't mean there aren't some entertaining scenes here and there. All three films are centered on hostage situations, as the title implies, but all three are vastly different.

Up first is "Virgin Hostage", which would've worked if not for the male characters' saggy, limp performances. And I mean that in every sense. As in the actors can't get, uh, interested in the ladies. It's a tale of a gang of bank robbing fools who abduct several young ladies, and attempt to mount them. Sad, really.

"Play Only With Me" fares much better, as a girl (Kris) has a one-night stand with unwitting Richard, who doesn't realize (until it's too late) that Kris is an obsessive, gun-toting stalker, possibly homicidal, and threateningly jealous of Richard's serious girlfriend (played by the fine Desiree West). This one has some fair dialogue, some solid action, and some well-endowed ladies. No problems there!

The final film here is a Danish import, and overdubbed. It's called "The Blue Balloon", and is a tale of a ruthless lesbian white slave trader who sells a hapless young wife to a series of awful men. It's a sad and lonely tale of a woman broken and degraded, and in today's climate, this is a tough one to watch.

So, in summation -- win some and lose some. If this weren't enough to convince you, there's a plethora of trailers as an added bonus on disc 2. (After Hours Cinema)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Slave Girls On Auction Block 1313" DVD (director: Bob Gonzo)

Not sure where "Bob Gonzo" comes from, but from the looks of this micro-indie sleazefest, he's possibly from the porn world. But this softcore sexploitation film offers only breasts galore, and an overabundance of hammy over-acting, awful characters, and ludicrous sets. Not much to see here.

Not much to say about "Slave Girls On Auction Block 1313", either, other than it's a tale of a sordid group of kidnappers who auction off lovely lasses to the highest bidder. The girls do their thing (unconvincingly), flash some flesh, and that's it. "Private Dick" "Rod Danger" comes to the rescue, complete with sexual innuendo overload. This one's pure trash cinema, with no apologies, but it doesn't have the titillation or storytelling to inspire much more than yawns of indifference . (Video Outlaw/Alternative Cinema)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Angry Orchard Hard Ciders

Fall is a fitting time to enjoy the wonders of cider. In other terms, it's harvest season, and apples are one of the season's most beloved crops. Having been a casual fan of the pre-eminent "hard" cider, Woodchuck, for many years, I've never properly compared or reviewed their many varieties. This year, with the rise of other craft cider brands, as well as a fascination with the historic significance of cider, I set out on a mission to sift thru these often-found, but seldom-discussed beverages.

I began my mission with the new cider brand on the block, Angry Orchard, who are produced by the Boston Beer Company (aka Samuel Adams). Having appeared on the scene just about a year or two ago, Angry Orchard is clearly the biggest competition for Woodchuck in the states. These are their three mainline varieties.

Angry Orchard - CRISP APPLE

This clear amber cider pours with a little fizz, and an aroma of apples and alcohol. Not bad, but not great, either. Tastes like a rip, red apple with a hint of sulfite. This one has a bit of tartness, but overall this is like straight apple juice (albeit alcoholic). I thought this one was a wee tad too sweet overall.


This one is an old English-style cider, and discernibly more sour than the "Crisp Apple" variety. I get a more green apple feel here, and I did find it better balanced between the sweet and tart. Enjoyable.

Angry Orchard - APPLE GINGER

I vote this to be my favorite of the Angry Orchard line, easily. The aroma has a slightly spicy warmth to it, and the addition of ginger to the sweet apple provides a great and unique palate experience. A great blend, and one I'd pick up again.

Sierra Nevada and Firestone Walker - Top-Shelf IPAs

As the mighty Fear once sung proudly, "More Beer"! This short entry highlights a pair of top-shelf West Coast IPAs that I was lucky enough to sample recently. Same ratings system as ever, and since both of these exquisite beverages weigh in at a 4.5 out of 5, these are both superlative examples of American IPAs and well-worth your time and dollars. Support good beer!

Having loved the Southern Hemisphere Harvest a little while back (which used only fresh, wet hops from New Zealand), I was anxious to open this one, using only fresh wet hops from the Yakima Valley in Washington. 

Presentation-wise, it pours with a big, thick head of off-white bubbles. A+ in the lace department, with big, frilly, and detailed retention. Nose is hops, sweet hops. I get orange citrus, pine, floral, and grass. Splended and delectable!  Taste is definitely hop-forward, too, but well-balanced. I get pine most emphatically, with a lingering maltiness at the finish. Overall, very tasty and a great value, running about $4 on average for the 220z.bomber.

A legendary brewery, and one I'm anxious to try since I'm normally out of their distribution. Picked this one up in St. Louis, at the peerless Wine & Cheese Place.

Pours a clean, light amber with ample head and gorgeous lace. Promising beginning! Nose is beautiful. I get pine and floral notes, with a hint of fresh pineapple. Already love it! Taste is chewy and dry, with a tangy citrus/pine hops zip. It's all tempered by a smooth malt profile. This is a delicious IPA, and I'm sure it's even better fresher (my bottle was 5 months old)! Outstanding.

"Zombie Babies" DVD (director: Eamon Hardiman)

In the spirit of Troma, this low-rent micro-indie splatterfest offers little more than some rather disgusting gore effects, awful dialogue, bad audio, and some unimpressive breastage. I'll say it up front -- avoid this one.

With barely a script, this begins as a cool idea, but instead makes itself into little more than a farce. A sleazy back-alley, coat-hanger late-term abortionist (played with equal parts baptist preacher and Michael Keaton's "Beetlejuice" character) lines up a hotel full of young and very pregnant teens and their beaus. Well, a basement moonshine still goes awry, and the aborted fetuses become, well, reanimated. 

Bad digital effects, bad puppet effects (I saw hands and strings everywhere), and attempts at ultra-grossout deaths (death by defecation? umbilical cord strangulation?) are the name of the game here. I could go on and on. Sure, this one's thoroughly, through-and-through tongue-in-cheek, but I got pretty bored of this unconvincing film quite fast.  (Independent Entertainment)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Schlafly Limited Release Beer Reviews

This time, the Goatsden beer reviews focus on a single brewer -- Schlafly from St. Louis, MO, USA. Schlafly is still a regional brewery, but they are exceedingly well-known over a large part of the United States for their superb craft beers. If you ever find yourself in St. Louis and have some time, I strongly recommend touring the Schlafly Bottleworks, as it's basically a museum of brewing history. Plus you get the drink some free beers! Remember, ratings range from 1 (horrible) to 5 (exceptional).

It's an increasing trend in craft beer to barrel-age the beer in used oak bourbon barrels to impart extra flavors and complexities to the brew. Schlafly's version is unusual and innovative, as it blends their pale ale and barleywine before barrel aging. I found this treasure in Louisville at the wonderful Liquor Barn.

Pours a murky amber, with a thick head of off-white suds. Lovely wisp of delicate lace, too. Nose is complex, hinting at the bourbon barrel characteristics (vanilla), but this is dominated by a toffee and caramel maltiness (indubitably the barleywine). Needs more of the bourbony, oaky, vanilla vibe methinks. Taste is a weird mix, as with the aroma. The boozy bourbon vanilla and charred oak is muted by a fruity character (again, the barleywine speaks loudest here).

Though certainly not a bad beer, this one just lacks a more cohesive melding of tastes and styles.

This seasonal, limited-release IPA has a unique angle -- using only hops grown in Australia. Found this one locally at Winetree Liquors, and couldn't resist picking up a 6-pack. I am glad I did!

Clean and golden upon pouring, with a full head of white bubbles. Heavy-duty, finely-detailed lace, too. Very nice. Nose is sharp and tangy, with ripened grapefruit all the way. Thirst quenching and delightful! Taste is similarly citrus-oriented, with a well-pronounced hops profile and a light, citrus-grapefruit vibe. The malt profile here works well, complimenting the hoppy tang. 

A delicious IPA, and one I wish were more widely available. High marks, here.

Another seasonal, limited-release IPA, this one uses exclusively English hops and yeast. I've had it before, but found another bottle recently, so thus gets another review.

Clean and light amber, with superb off-white head (2 fingers). Wonderful and intricate lace. Nose is mild. I get pine hops and some spice. Taste is thick and sticky on the palate, notably with the pine resiny hops character. Finishes with a malty sweet spiciness.

Smooth and easy to drink, and a pleasing IPA!