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.