On Friday, September 8, Sgt Scag released the single “Everest” off of At Least More than Half-Way Dead. The music video was directed by Mike DeMatteo of Sgt. Scag. About the “Everest” music video, vocalist Steve Lonergan says, “‘Everest’ is a song for all the people who ever had to attend a company kick off meeting or industry conference. Tony Robbins, Gary Vee, Snake oil salesmen, organized religions that pass a hat. All bad. All predatory. All nonsense. Plus, ain’t New Haven pretty from up there?”
Chaos Magick, the new EP from Mega Infinity is a pop-hook fueled, indie alternative rocker with four tracks of eclectic electric rock and roll. The lyrics are intimate and smart, revealing a scene that is all too often male-centric and misogynistic. While the title track offers up the positive aspects of artistic endeavors and the support of a strong community, Track two, “Dude Poisoning” launches a salvo against the pervasive negative aspects of the scene.
The EP provides four tracks in all, each with their own particular style and charm. The music is very vocally driven, with a range of instrumental support acting to reinforce a strong voice. Crunchy guitars and various electronica are laced throughout. A bonus is the bands take on the Alanis Morrisette track, “You Oughta Know”
Go ahead and diversify your collection and check it out. You can check out the video for Chaos Magick premiering today over on Punk News.
You Oughta Know
For fans of: Sonic Boom Six, Rage Against the Machine, Just Friends, Don Broco, 100 Gecs, Flying Raccoon Suit, Nova Twins
Mega Infinity are Michi (Turk) and Mike DiGiulio from Long Island NY. The two met while working in a grocery store, far from Michi’s home. They had a feeling that it would be the right move for them as a musician when they were transferred.
In 2014, Michi formed this band with Mike’s friend Andrew. In 2018, Mike stepped in as guitarist and a main songwriter. The band’s sound took a turn towards heavier riffs and the inclusion of more electronic elements fused in with rock.
Mike and Michi, living together, started writing more songs together and hosting a weekly livestream including other musicians. In 2021 Mike proposed to Michi on stream
The stream opened them to meeting bands from all over they wouldn’t have had the chance to meet including Flying Raccoon Suit, Eichlers, Tape Girl, and more who influenced them to take chances musically.
They were inspired to blend genres and styles that are unexpected, with elements of indie, emo, pop, hip-hop, ska, and progressive rock. They try to stay true to taking risks musically while having lyrics which tie together themes of perseverance, standing up for what you believe in and love for each other and their fans who they call the Megababes.
Their debut album Rainbow Heartache came out in December 2021. In 2023, they played for the first time in Texas for SPI Fest and went back into the studio soon after. Chaos Magick is produced by Nicholas Starrantino and Mike DiGiulio. They joined the Ska Punk International Family. Chaos Magick is releasing on Ska Punk International on October 10, 2023.
The song “Feather” is about experiencing burn out as a creator against the routine of working to pay the bills. In the music video, an artist going about his routine is followed around by members of the band who take the scraps of his crumpled thrown up artwork to have a fight with the balled up artwork like snowballs.The video is warm and fun, much like the progressive groove matched with the earnest lyrics.
The video was directed by vocalist/bassist, Kevin Silveira. “Feather” features the artwork of Melon Bobby instagram.com/melonbobby Simple Minded Symphony will be available on all streaming platforms Tuesday, August 22. Vinyl pre-orders begin today at Ska Punk International: skapunkinternational.com
Mustard Plug have shared the video for their new track “Fall Apart” off their upcoming album, Where Did All My Friends Go? Out in September on Bad Time Records.
Grand Rapids ska-punk legends Mustard Plug are back with their 8th studio album titled Where Did All My Friends Go? that will be released on Friday, September 8th. The band will be joining the ever growing and exciting roster of Bad Time Records who have carefully cultivated a community around all things ska over the last five years. Once again, Mustard Plug have teamed up with Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore at the infamous Blasting Room to produce an album that captures everything that has made Mustard Plug a fan favorite over the last 30 years. Mustard Plug will be touring in support of Where Did All My Friends Go? throughout the rest of 2023 and will be linking up with Toasters, Half Past Two, Matomska!, Big D and the Kids Table, The Slackers, and Stop the Presses on select dates.
September 7th @ Reggie’s – Chicago, IL
September 8th @ Magic Bag – Detroit, MI
September 9th @ Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI
September 10th @ Grog Shop – Cleveland, OH
October 6th @ El Corazon – Seattle, WA
October 7th @ Dante’s – Portland, OR
October 8th @ John Henry’s – Eugene, OR
October 9th @ Cornerstone – Berkeley, CA
October 10th @ Catalyst Atrium – Santa Cruz, CA
October 11th @ Goldfield Trading Post – Sacramento, CA
October 12th @ Knitting Factory – Hollywood, CA
October 13th @ Garden Amp – Garden Grove, CA
October 14th @ Nile Theater – Mesa, AZ
October 14th @ The Holding Company – San Diego, CA
October 28th @ Heartwood (FEST) – Gainesville, FL
October 29th @ High Dive (FEST) – Gainesville, FL
November 9th @ X-Ray Arcade – Milwaukee, WI
November 10th @ Uptown VFW – Minneapolis, MN
November 11th @ High Noon Saloon – Madison, WI
November 12th @ Blueberry Hill (Duck Room) – St. Louis, MO
December 13th @ Rumba Cafe – Columbus, OH
December 14th @ Black Cat – Washington D.C.
December 15th @ Broken Goblet Brewing – Bensalem, PA
December 16th @ Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY
December 17th @ The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
I’m going to preface this review by outing myself as a massive fan of this band prior to even hearing this release. Ever since the reliable Tim PopKid turned me onto their debut record “Why Trains Crash” in 2018, I’ve had them on pretty regular rotation. It seems surprising to me that it’s been five years since their last full length because I still listen to it so often. Over time it’s become one of my favorite records of the last decade. In fact, when my copy of “A Company Sleeve” arrived in the mail the other day, it was none other than “Why Trains Crash” that I removed from my turntable to make room for it.
I had the pleasure of meeting these guys in person this Spring when they came through Portland. I’d interacted with Noah on Twitter a little bit, discussing J Church, and him turning me onto some great music (Church Girls and Creeper Lagoon, namely). It was such an excellent show, and they couldn’t have been nicer. Perhaps because we were both riding the euphoria of having just unexpectedly met Toody from Dead Moon moments earlier, but conversation flowed smoothly, and it was fun to talk music with someone who you enjoy their own output so much.
You might think all this enthusiasm would shatter any objectivity I have on a new record, but the flipside of that is the crushingly high expectations you have from a band whose most recent album you hold in such high esteem. The situation was ripe for a letdown. 25 seconds into it, when the lead off track “Young Gray Enemies” opens up and explodes into everything that makes The Pretty Flowers great, all concerns for a sophomore slump were alleviated.
For those of you who have been paying attention, The Pretty Flowers have been hinting at their progression as songwriters with new songs and unreleased tracks being added to their Bandcamp page. This band is also extraordinarily good at doing covers. Their version of “Doom Town” by The Wipers rips so hard, especially live. Also, although you might not think you need it, their take on Warren Zevon’s “Lawyers, Guns, and Money” is one of the best covers of any song I’ve ever heard. Anyway, all the potential hinted at with the material released since “Why Trains Crash” has been realized on “A Company Sleeve”. I think I even like it better.
I hope this analogy doesn’t turn anyone off because I might be in the minority on this opinion, but the progression of The Pretty Flowers between these two albums reminds me of The Promise Ring between “Nothing Feels Good” and “Very Emergency”, the latter of which I consider to be their masterpiece. I remember how excited I was by “Very Emergency” when it came out in 1999. I loved it immediately, and remember calling my friends before I even got to the end of the first listen. That I’m able to access that same kind of evangelical excitement from a new album when I’m 44 years old with “A Company Sleeve” is pretty cool.
This record is really frontloaded with hits. Any song on side A I could see being the single. The aforementioned first track comes in at just under two minutes, but is the perfect opener. It goes from a distant muddled recording to a full blast banger, like when your headphone jack was partially unplugged and then you’d push it in all the way. It’s such a catchy tune, and that effect really puts it over the top. It’s followed up by “Another Way To Lose”, which is another absolute ripper, and just a perfect punk/power pop jam of the highest order. It briefly feels like we’re getting a break in the action with “Hit Nothing”, but the huge chorus and overall instrumentation make this another great example of what this band can do. “Baby Food” is next, which picks the tempo back up and provides the listener with not only another barn burner, but also some poignant commentary on the rental market in Los Angeles. “Bucket Beach” and “Agendaless” close out the first side, the former having rightfully been released as a single in 2021, and the latter being slower but also a definite album highlight.
Side B, much like their last record, has just as many hooks, but they tend to lay just below the surface and be a bit more subdued. “The Long Con” in particular, is maybe my current favorite song on the record. Sitting second to last, it has a nice dreamy/surfy vibe and is just unbelievably catchy. Including a few songs I haven’t mentioned by name yet, there are absolutely no skips to be found anywhere on this LP, and new things to appreciate with each passing listen.
All the other bands I’ve mentioned in this review (Promise Ring, Church Girls, Creeper Lagoon, and J Church) I can all see as worthwhile comparisons to The Pretty Flowers’ sound. I also really hear post-reunion Superchunk in the incredible layered quality of music and song structure. The songs are good, but so are all the people who are playing them. Everyone is doing something interesting, the lyrics are smart, and there’s so much special detail to every swirling hook and chorus. Their melody and sound reminds me a lot of Mrs. Magician as well, in that there’s an essence of Beach Boys, and again the songs are just so strong.
If anything you’ve read has sparked your interest, you really need to check out The Pretty Flowers. All of it, and especially this record. I give no recommendation higher than this one. Tell your friends, they’ll thank you. It makes absolutely no sense at all that these guys aren’t bigger.
I’m checking out a breakneck new release from Atlanta Georgia’s Billy Batts and The Made Men. Produced by Joe Queer of the legendary punk band The Queers, My Empire Is Crumbling dispenses snotty punk rock ala Queers, Screeching Weasel, or perhaps a Jon Cougar Concentration Camp. The straight ahead punk is interwoven with more hardcore elements on several tracks, all fused with the balls out speed of Bomb The Music Industry.
15 mostly brief tunes and one long-ass epic ballad. (Rent A Friend is only 4ish minutes long, but that’s like forever, right?) None of the songs disappoint. Vocals, as mentioned, are snotty. There is a nice call and response on “The Day I Became A Man.” Chugging guitars are complemented by a handful of not entirely untasteful solos. The bass glues everything together with the ratta-tat-tat drums in an able fashion.
There’s a song entitled Paul Belinni. I truly hope this song is about Paul Belinni from Kids in the Hall. Maybe it’s not, but I’m going to pretend it is. Furthermore, I’m going to pretend the band won the “Touch Paul Belinni” contest, all those years ago and got to touch Paul Belinni. It’s a kickass song either way.
The track “Change” gives me Leftover Crack vibes for some reason. I’m down with that.
Look, this is a damn fine album and if’n you like Punk Rock, which you do, check it out. Like it. Love it. Show some support and buy it.
1. Gotta Leave 02:37
2. Dan Is Awesome 01:43
3. People Are Shit 00:46
4. Maniac 01:12
5. Andy Doesn’t Read Much Book 01:17
6. 9am 01:00
7. Over Again 01:43
8. Behind My Screen 01:43
9. Drowning 01:48
10. Weird Al Wrote Propaganda Songs 00:26
11. Paul Bellini 01:53
12. The Day I Became A Man 01:14
13. Change 02:07
14. Never Comes Easy 02:09
15. I Bleed 01:27
16. Rent A Friend 04:13
Brody – Guitars, Lead Vocals
Stag – Bass, Backup Vocals
Nub Nub – Drums, Backup Vocals
Additional backup vocals by Joe Queer
Twitter can be a pretty dark place. The name itself lends most people an immediate visceral reaction of disgust, conjuring up an image of Elon Musk’s stupid head, and blue check mark American fascists hating on, and blatantly lying about, all that is good and decent in this world. Yuck. However, it’s not all bad, and there’s a reason a lot of us are still on there. Meeting interesting people from around the world to share music with is still pretty fun, it turns out. That’s how I wound up writing reviews here on Upstarter (thanks, Jerry). It’s where I met my main lasagna man, SST. Without Twitter I wouldn’t know a bunch of cool guys named Steve, a mysterious international man of leisure named Scotch Chalice, fellow China Drum and Leatherface enthusiast Dave, a guy with a hybrid Miami Dolphins/Strung Out tattoo, friggin’ Seaweed Pat, chef Dan in France, the real kings of New York Pedro and SJ, Mike, Green Corn, PhD, Alex, Kenosha Andrew, a bunch of cool people in Japan, Branch, 62 lb, Broken Locker Mike, the list goes on and on. A couple weeks ago, one of these Twitter acquaintances named Seth, whose band Lizard Brain Trust just released a new album, was nice enough to mail me a physical copy of their new CD. Not to be reviewed, but just because he’s a nice guy who wants to share his music. I’ve been listening to it so much in the past few weeks, I thought I should tell you about it.
Lizard Brain Trust are a punk band based out of Lawrence, Kansas, and this is their first full length. As its bizarre title might suggest, “The David Christ Memorial Indoctrination Fund for the Cure” is pretty weird, and falls into the Pere Ubu/Butthole Surfers side of punk. The CD has a mission statement of sorts underneath the clear plastic of the digipak that I think pretty accurately captures its vibe. It reads, “You can stockpile every option until it’s meaningless, trade it in for your own void. Does the world just spin out of orbit, throwing all of us, the shitty monkeys, back into space to freeze or fry, choking on our stupid plans? American exceptionalism, jingoistic propaganda pumped down our throats. Some is subtle and some is Lee Greenwood’s corn nightmares. We’ve tried to do something that speaks to our anxieties as humans living through this shit show, hoping for better things and pretty bummed out about how they are.”
Although abstract and corn-nightmare-referencing at times, “The David Christ Memorial Indoctrination for the Cure” is quite topical and lyrically poignant. The album touches a lot on far right political toxicity in American culture, but more specifically on the human response of anxiety from living through this incredibly stupid timeline of history. I think it can sometimes be difficult to write songs about omnipresent current events without being vaguely cringey, but Lizard Brain Trust manage to do so in a manner that’s relatable and effective. On the song “Honest Liar” in a Travis Shettel from Piebald-style vocal, “If you really think you’re right, why are screaming?”. I also enjoyed the line from the third track on here, “Evangelical tiki torch burning in the lawn, traded your god for a gun.” There are other allusions to the politics of gun control on here as well. “Now close your eyes, just like your mind. Your thoughts and prayers have made you blind,” from This Place is Cursed says a lot about what’s going on here.
Not all of “David Christ” is so serious. There’s a short acoustic number where the only chorus is repeating the name of the principal from Saved by the Bell, and a mysterious Pixies meets Pere Ubu number called “Southern Bulgarian Milk”. “My Brain is Sick” is straight up 80s hardcore, but opts to only have electric guitar and vocals. It all works though, and despite the darkness of some of the content, there is a real levity to the songs. The pacing, variety, and style of the album reminds me a lot of a Tenement record, or even Zen Arcade. Some songs come across as just demoed fragments, but they’re all pieced together nicely along with the more polished gems and some cool horror/8 bit video game interludes. I hear a lot of Love Battery here too, which is definitely a good thing. “Beach Day” is probably my favorite track on the album, a super catchy upbeat number with a sweet bassline.
Even with all the oddities, there is really no significant dip in this album from front to back. Most of the time I put it on, I find myself listening to it all the way through. With repeated listens, this has come to also include singing along and dancing. There’s something about this album that’s just so enjoyable. What I can find of them on the internet seems to suggest that they live up to their self-described moniker of “weirdo rock band” when playing out too, adorned in religious robes and upside down crosses. They have some summer shows lined up in Kansas and Colorado that I would suggest you check out if you’re anywhere nearby. Otherwise, pick up a copy of the CD from Dumb Ghost Recording Enterprises (who also released the excellent Curious Things album this year) on Bandcamp, or give it a listen on any of the major streaming platforms. Highly recommended.
Today, legendary OC punks Social Distortion announce that they have postponed their upcoming North American headlining tour due to the stage-one tonsil cancer diagnosis of vocalist Mike Ness. As he recovers from a recent surgery, the band is also temporarily halting the recording process of their eighth studio album. The previously announced tour, set to kick off on June 30th with support from fellow California rockers The Bellrays, is now being rescheduled for future dates. Check out the emotional statement from Ness below:
“We think that life is going to go according to our plan, but it has a way of saying “I don’t think so!”
In the midst of pre-production, I was diagnosed with stage one tonsil cancer. I was feeling well enough to continue with recording in the studio up until the very day before surgery. The band and I were so inspired and excited to lay down these tracks, which by the way sound f-ing AWESOME!
The recovery from surgery is a day-by-day process and in three weeks we start radiation and that should be the last therapy I need. The team of doctors are certain that once finished with this course, I will be able to start the healing and recovery process. We expect a full recovery enabling me to live a long and productive life.
It breaks my heart to post pone tours, and this album release, but time is required to heal. I can’t thank our loyal fans enough who have been waiting so patiently for this. While it will take a little longer-I promise you that it will be delivered and it will exceed your expectations.
I want you all to know that this has opened my eyes to a whole new struggle. I know it’s one that many of you or your loved ones have personally endured, and my heart goes out to you-because I now know what it’s like from this heavy experience.
I’m surrounded by love and support from my friends and family ESPECIALLY my lovely wife and incredible boys (oh and don’t forget my 3 dogs and kitty) THANK YOU ALL in advance to our unbelievable fans for YOUR love and support right now. ♥️
We WILL get through this….”
Formed as rebellious teenage punks in the working-class suburb of Fullerton, California, Social Distortion survived their tumultuous youth to pioneer an undeniably honest and fiery brand of rock ‘n’ roll that would incorporate outlaw country, classic seventies punk and primal blues. Seven studio albums and countless electrifying live shows have earned the band a dedicated worldwide fanbase and catalog of timeless anthems including “Story Of My Life,” ”Ball And Chain,” “Prison Bound” and more. The band’s last release, Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes entered the Billboard 200 at #4 and in 2019 they celebrated 40 years as a band.
For More Info On Social Distortion Visit:
Short, fast, loud, ZEKE!
New single “Ride Hard Ride Free”
due out June 9
Seattle punk legends ZEKE return with new recordings. “Ride Hard Ride Free” contains two tracks laced with ZEKE’s signature mix of turbo-charged thrash-punk and Motörhead possessed rock n’ roll and provides the first taste of ZEKE’s new album, which will be released later this year.
In 2022, ZEKE was unexpectedly reborn with founding members Blind Marky Felchtone (vox/guitar) and Donny Paycheck (drums) returning to the drum kit. They went into the studio with Jason Freeman (bass) and Jeff Hiatt (guitar), they were with ZEKE before and got back in, to record a new album. The first single “Ride Hard Ride Free” is everything you’ve come to expect – or want to hear from ZEKE.
A full-on thrasher celebrating speed in more ways than one, “Ride Hard Ride Free” has a very sharp style, with the band takes cues from old Motörhead rlffs, then fusing it with hardcore punk roughage. A modern ZEKE classic. They tie in here stylistically with “Death Alley”.
Produced by Jeff McNulty (Screamers, Blöödhag, Hell Bent For Letters) at Soundhouse in Seattle, WA, and mastered by Joe Bozzi at Bernie Grundmann in Los Angeles, CA. Cover photo by Mike Mitchell.
“Ride Hard Ride Free” will be released via Hound Gawd! and distributed by Amped (US/CAN), Rough Trade (DE/AT), Phonag (CH), Plastic Head (UK), Kuroneko (FR), Compact (PT), Border (Scan), PIAS (BeNeLux), Gran Sol (ES), Heathen Natives (GR), Audioglobe (IT), Hangfelvetelkiadó Kf (HU), Matrix (SI HR, RS) and Disk Union (JP).
The tracks are not available on Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms.
ZEKE recently completed a successful West Coast tour. The band also has a number of high-profile European performances scheduled in the coming months, including Sjock Festival in Belgium and appearances at Pitfest in the Netherlands and Sardina Fest in Spain. The group will return to America later this year. Stay tuned to www.zekeyou.com/tour for further details.
Ride with Zeke!
“Zeke are the dive bar that’s survived onslaughts of gentrification, knowing that the charm of lawless riffing and broken bottles never fades.“
Visit ZEKE online:
The front cover of this new EP from Virginia’s Neanderverbs has a hot rodding caveman on it. Without even listening to it, you might already have some assumptions as to what it sounds like. Anytime an angry cartoon is driving a vehicle on an album cover, it’s going to sound a little bit like Electric Frankenstein. Although that does reflect the general tone of this record, there are also several other components about this band that make them unique and worth your time.
First of all, there’s a cover of an L7 song from their 1997 album The Beauty Process. I wouldn’t have necessarily drawn the comparison had they not covered this song, but Neanderverbs definitely have an L7 attitude and style to them. Which is to say, they play angry rock and roll and have very sick riffs. The kind of riffs that get stuck in your head all by themselves. I’ve found myself humming a couple of them around the house today.
Musically overall they remind me of the surprisingly excellent Sonics reunion album that came out several years ago, along with some Deadbolt thrown in there too. Reverb-y huge riffs all day here. Actually, just for 16 and a half minutes. There are only six songs, including the L7 cover, and an instrumental song that has more than enough to it to hold your attention.
The vocal delivery and style are what I think make Neanderverbs a bit of a unique mutant. The singer sounds straight out of early 80s SoCal hardcore, which isn’t typical for the genre. He’s probably most similar to Henry Rollins, but I also hear some early Milo in there, or maybe the dude from Reagan Youth. Lyrical content reflects this as well. Here’s an example from the opening track:
“marketers are a bunch of liars
while the suckers are all us buyers
we’re the victims of subterfuge
in the end you know we’re gonna lose”.
Also, from the song “T. Wrecks”:
“I’m user friendly and vain
a slave to the mundane
feel like I’m living my life on a leash
there’s no way to appease”.
If you consider how effectively Neanderverbs transcend geography and time to bring together these disparate genres of punk, while distilling them down into 16.5 minutes for your listening pleasure, you’re actually saving time by checking them out. Recommended.