The Jukebox Romantics – Sleepwalk Me Home

Generally a bit behind the curve here at good ol’ Upstarter, I’m just now getting around to listening to Sleepwalk Me Home, the late 2017 release from The Jukebox Romantics. As wise wise people have espoused for millennia before me, better late than never.

I can’t say that I’ve listened to the band before. Well, I could say it, but it probably wouldn’t be truthful. If I have though, it was maybe on a comp, or I thought it was Blink 182 or something. With that said, the band captures the finer points of pop punk, namely being poppy, whilst being punk rock. Seriously though, 10 tracks, mostly under the three minute mark, stemming from a peppy rock trio? This is entirely up my alley.

The band lists Alkaline Trio and The Bouncing Souls as influences and I can definitely hear them, but I really pick up a Blink vibe. Maybe it’s in the way they sound so SoCal sardonic, despite being from downstate NY (I initially suspected this was a secret code for New Jersey) No matter. They sound good. They sound especially good if you like pop punk.

It’s funny, to me at least. My “reviews” have rather devolved to the point of, “here’s my opinions about things while I’m listening to this new (to me) music) I don’t know that it is expressly helpful to anyone at this point. I hope that it is.

The takeaway here: Pop punk. Good. Fast. Fun. New!

Jerry Actually

Getting To Know Swirl

Where are you from and when did you get started?

Swirl is currently from sunny Southern California with half the band in Temecula and the other half in Pasadena.

Swirl was born in the Pacific Northwest. A little town called Mukilteo, WA. The current incarnation which has been together for 9 years now. In fact, we were kind of “put together” by Claude Schnell (former keyboardist for Dio). He was looking to record with a band that needed a guitar player and he asked if I would be willing to write with them so we could record together. It never got that far. Shortly after I joined up I recruited Shane and Alfred for Swirl.

Who are you and who does what in the band?

I am Duane “DT” Jones- guitar player. My brother Brian “Bam Bam” Jones is the drummer. Alfred Ramirez is our lead singer and Shane Carlson plays bass in the band

How would you best describe the sound?

With as many diverse musical interests as the members of Swirl have I honestly don`t know how else to describe our sound other than “it’s in the name”. We each bring our own influences to this band to create what you hear.

However, in 2017 The Huffington Post did a review and stated “they sound like an amalgamation of Slipknot and AC/DC”. Very flattering indeed as those are two very good bands with incredible careers. I have also read “…an interesting and diverse band to check out, as they combine the best of the past 20 years of American Rock/ Hardrock” which personally I think sums us up pretty succinctly.

I encourage you to give us a listen and judge for yourself at

Dream rock moment (real or not)?

Great question. Standing on stage at Wembley Arena, playing to a sold out audience where Swirl is the headliner and as we are getting ready to start the first chorus of our latest single, “The Lift” the power goes out on the electric guitars causing a delay in the performance. Strangely enough the microphones still work, but not the electric instruments. Before we lose the moment entirely and ruin the night the band gets handed acoustic guitars and we sit on the edge of the stage playing “The Lift” while the entire crowd sings the song back to the band! Yeah that would be my “it can`t get any better than this” moment.

Still got day jobs?

Well my “day job” is coaching football. As of this interview the season is over so I can put all my energy into promoting Swirl.

Brian is a drum instructor so he is “behind the kit” all day anyway.

Alfred has a night job, but Shane still has his day job….for now.

Any regrets?

None. If I did it I had a reason. Not saying it was the best of reasons, but clearly I thought it was the way to go at that time. None of us are getting out of here alive so might as well have some fun right?

“The Lift” Lyric video-

illicitor – self-titled

Illicitor is a 3 piece punk/hardcore band born out of the ashes of prolific Las Vegas favorites: Holding Onto Sound. Their debut album arrived December 2017.

I was somewhat familiar with Holding Onto Sound (HOTS). I spent a little time listening to their music, an interview, and a review. I have also seen them perform live in the past, so I was excited to hear about illicitor. Stripped down 3-piece punk rock born from some familiar faces and voice. Thus far the self-titled debut does not disappoint.

The core of the nine tracks are uptempo punk rock with some hardcore aggression. There are some departures from the formula with track 4. The Body and The Dirt with its acoustic guitar and vocal intro, climbing into full arrangement and eventual insistence on a complete sonic uprising. For a trio, the soundscape is quite full. Studio magic goes a long way, but then again so does competent musicianship, none of which are in short supply on this release.

The band ticks a lot of boxes on my list of favorite rock and roll features: fast paced, trio, clear vocals, short tracks with a bit of grit. If you’re of a similar mind, and I know that you are, check out illicitor. I have no doubt that you will dig the hell out of them.

Nothing on the album gives me cause to be overly critical, but nothing can be completely perfect I suppose. There is a bit of psychedelic guitar noodling that I could probably live without, but overall a solid debut from Las Vegas’ illicitor.

Jerry Actually

Zabi Naqshband – bass, vocals
Bob Gates – guitar, vocals
Micah Malcolm – drums

(Photo by Aaron Mattern)

Getting to Know Rebel’s End

Where are you from and when did you get started?

Rebel’s End is a Belgian sleazy hard rock band.
We are based in Antwerp and we started out in 2015 when our previous bands ceased to exist to form the current line- up.

Who are you and who does what in the band?

My name is Jeff James and I am the vocalist/guitarist. The core of the band will have to be our drummer Dol and I. We’ve been playing since 2009 and have lived together for a short while. Any ideas for new songs will be filtered through Dol to get the right groove. He also has a lot to do with sounding good on stage. Our bassplayer Stijn loves to tribute in the songwriting process and adds balls to songs already written. Live, he brings the attitude 200%. Our lead guitarist Rutger brings the flavor with razor sharp leads n licks. Loves to write and is ace in managment and bookings. My biggest love has to be composing and writing music. To start out from a riff or vocal line and then transform that into a whole song is amazing. I also try to sing not too badly ☺.

How would you best describe the sound?

Sleazy hard rock with a punk attitude and metal influences. We aim for modern sounding rock with a catchy sing a long chorus.

Dream rock moment (real or not)?

The Guns n Roses “not in this lifetime tour”. Seeing duff axl and slash reunited after all these years. Would have been better with izzy but hey, we saw them this summer and it was awesome. Goosebumps.

Still got day jobs?

Unfortunately, yeah we do ☺.

Any regrets?

Yeah , that we were born too late ☺

Senior Discount – The Christmas Medley

Rhode Island punk rock band Senior Discount has their song “The Christmas Medley” (consisting of eight Christmas songs) up TODAY (12/22/17) on iTunes/Google Play Music/Amazon Mp3, etc!
Senior Discount will be direct support next weekend for the one-off Pietasters show at the Met in Providence, RI on Friday, December 29th (the day before the Pietasters join the Mighty Mighty Bosstones for their Hometown Throwdown Show in Boston).

Merry Christmas, Fuckers!

Straightline (Germany) and Blind Man Death Stare Australian Tour March 2018


German thrash tinged Melodic Skate Punk act Straightline are touring Australia for the very first time in March with Melbourne punks Blind Man Death Stare. Straightline recently released the excellent full length “Vanishing Values” through US label Bird Attack Records. The record is full of razor tight playing, melodic hooks, and a positive social message reminiscent of acts such as A Wilhelm Scream, Strike Anywhere and Municipal Waste.

Straightline have toured Europe, Japan and Latin America extensively and played massive festivals such as Groezrock, Punk Rock Holiday and Mighty Sounds. The infectious, melodic and insanely energetic live show from Straightline will be a rare treat for Australian audiences.

Blind Man Death Stare

Melbourne punk rockers Blind Man Death Stare (BMDS) have been on an unstoppable rampage since the release of their debut full length “It”ll Grow On Ya” through Arrest Records in July. The band recently completed a 40 date tour of Australia, NZ and Asia, taking in five countries in the space of 3 months.

Strip searches at customs, spiked drinks and a hunger for the chaos of the road seems to be par for the course at BMDS HQ, with the band showing no signs of slowing down. They are currently wrapping up yet another national tour with Guttermouth. The extensive 12 date tour kicks off in early March.

WEAK13 music video featuring FONZi NeuTRON

Underground British band rock WEAK13 shocked many of their supporters due to a surprise collaboration with top Birmingham hip hop artist FONZi NeuTRON. A music video for a song titled “Frequency” emerged on the official Facebook and YouTube channel for rapper FONZi NeuTRON which reveals WEAK13 frontman & guitarist Nick J Townsend and Bassist Wesley Smith performing with him. The song which has a very underground 90’s feel has already gone down well with hip hop audiences and this seems to confirm that WEAK13 have no plans on staying quiet whilst they write the follow up to their well recieved debut album ‘They Live’ .

Earlier this year WEAK13 surprised their audiences again by revealing a love for British band Depeche Mode after releasing the Halo single; a rock fueled cover of the classic tune which first appeared on the 1990 Violater album. The single which is now available in Europe, Asia and the UK on Spotify, Amazon and iTunes sparked much debate on the internet with fans from both camps argueing with each other. Whilst some Depeche Mode fans appreciated how WEAK13 had made Halo “their own song” as it was recorded in their style whilst simultaneously saluting the original; others objected to the heavier take on it. WEAK13 themselves of course were happy with the controversy caused by their version of the tune.

WEAK13 are still writing and recording their second album but many fans are enjoying the surprise cover releases and collaborations that are emerging whilst they await it. Rumours are circulating of future cover versions by WEAK13 of established songs. For more info on WEAK13 go to

Getting to Know Charly&Faust

Where are you from and when did you get started?

Faust: We are almost all from France except our bass player who is from Switzerland! It started with Charly and I who met in France. We moved to LA a few years ago and we decided to create the band.

Charly: We met the other band members at The Musicians Institute, a music school in Hollywood.

ER: I’m from Switzerland and I joined the band one year ago.

NL: I’m from Strasbourg in France, I started playing the piano a couple of days ago.

CH: I am from a small town in Brittany, France. I joined the band in October 2016.

JF: I was born and raised in Paris. I joined the band about five months ago.

Who are you and who does what in the band?

Faust: I am Faust (Faustine Hornok) one of the lead singer and songwriter of the band.

ER: My name is Eric Reymond and I’m the bass player and one of the backing vocalist.

JF: I am Jeff (Jefferson Fichou), lead guitar player. I play most of the melodic lines and solo during our shows and recording sessions. I also do the backing vocals with Eric.

CH: My name is Coralie Hervé and I play drums in the band.

NL: I’m Nathan Lorber, and I mostly just bring coffe to other band members.

Charly: I never saw mine Nathan… *laughs* I am Charly (Marie Weill). I am the other lead singer of the band and I play rhythm guitar.

How would you best describe the sound?

ER: A subtle mix of Rock/Folk and all the influences of the band members.

NL: A vibration that typically propagates as an audible wave of pressure, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid.

CH: We are an Indie-Rock-Folk band.

JF: Vintage and modern, elaborate and straightforward, ambient and rock.

Chalry: Our sound is basically a mix of all the influences of the different band members. We obviously have a main direction which is staying in the Indie-Folk-Rock genre, but sharing our different musical influences bring us sometimes to be really creative and to go interesting places in our composition process.

Faust: It’s an Indie-Rock-Folk style with some trippy sounds and with a lot of vocal harmonies. Vocals are really important in this band and we are spending a lot of time working on them with Charly.

Dream rock moment (real or not)?

CH: I would like to be able to do a worldwide tour. It would be awesome!!!

Faust: Being able to wake up and realize that music is now what I do for a living.

Charly: I would love to crowd surfing to one of our gig even if our music is probably not the best for it. I used to do that all the time with my sister when we were teenager and that was awesome!

NL: Bringing my bed on stage and playing in front of 10.000 people lying down.

ER: A nice mix between rock and roll with some modern touch.

Still got day jobs?

NL: Keyboardist for Charly&Faust is my day job, I only do it to pay the bills. When night comes I am actually a corporate accountant, which is my real passion.

Charly: Yes. We need to pay rent right!

Faust: Yes I do! You know, I love my work because it’s an artistic field and I can express myself with it, but what really gives me goosebumps is music.

CH: I am still studying at the Musicians Institute, I’ll be graduated in March.

ER: If you define going to school as a day job, so yes.

JF: School.

Any regrets?

JF: Absolutely none!

ER: No regrets!

Faust: My number one saying: “never have regrets”. So no regrets! *laughs*

CH: Not at all. I am really happy of what I achieve already and I hope there is a lot more coming up.

Charly: Nop! Just remorse! But instead of complaining about them, it is better to try to fix them right?

NL: Reading about Ned’s death online before watching Game of Thrones!

Swhat – Wasty Tasty

I got this disc in a mail a couple weeks ago and put it into my drive, and that’s about as far as it got until today. Swhat, if you’ve not heard of them, are a 3 piece punk rock band from Ballarat, Australia. For you geography minded folks out there, Ballarat is about 120 km outside of Melbourne. … but back to the punk rock.

Wasty Tasty serves up 13 tracks of solid, slightly aggressive, somewhat lo-fi, yet well played, punk rock. As I’ve often professed, I’m a fan of the trio. I like the lean stripped down sound, and Swhat doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

That tracks offer traditional punk rock themes of suburban desolation, angst, and disillusion. Tradition aside, the accompanying music is layered in a fresh, often angularly juxtaposed, way to the lyrical content. … reminds me a bit of how some of the tracks on Voivod’s Nothingface are constructed, except with vocal delivery that reminds me of Descendents/All … a strange, likeable combination.

Summary, this is good. Please check ‘em out.