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.
Cheers! Jerry Actually
Tracks: 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
Band: 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.
“Oh no, is this a straight edge band?” I thought to myself like an asshole after receiving this link for the new album by Straightline. A quick google image search revealed a guy in Suicidal Tendencies hat and RKL shirt. Phew. No way that dude’s sober, unless temporarily ordered by the court. Sobriety, by the way, is cool as hell (I mean, not for me, but for lots of other people). The straight edge trope of hardcore just has too much baggage and endless unintentional buffoonery for me to get into a new band with that schtick. Which Straightline DO NOT have, to be clear. Lots of great classic straight edge hardcore out there that I’m glad exists, some of which is ironically great drinking music. Try putting on Turning Point or Chain of Strength next time you knock a few back and you can thank me later, if you remember. It’s for the best that culture didn’t mix those two things though, punch dancing would be absolute mayhem if everyone was hammered.
Straightline are from Munich, Germany and have been together in one iteration or another since the late 90s. They definitely borrow their sound from metallic skate punk of that decade, but also bring in elements of crossover thrash and screamo. The album starts out very strong with massive pounding drums (the entire production on this record is HUGE) and chugga-chugga guitars on “Global Frustration”, which is perhaps called that because of how hard it is to remember how to play. Straightline songs have LOTS of parts. The second song “Virus” is even better, and reminds me of when metal guys on YouTube cover old Nintendo songs. If you’re a nerd of a certain age, you know these are some of the greatest songs ever created, so I mean it as a compliment. Seriously, maybe no song in the history of music has consistently delivered me goosebumps on each listen more than the moon theme from Duck Tales for the NES. Late 80s Japanese video game music composition is the fourth genre of music that Straightline master here.
The album takes an interesting turn on the third track with “Undone”, which is a massively catchy tune that could hang with the best stuff on Leche Con Carne by NUFAN. It’s my favorite song on the album, and the one I go back to the most. Straightline just absolutely crush each of these genres so well that these poppier songs really help to break up the record effectively, rather than sound as if they were awkwardly tacked on. A couple other album highlights are “Shame on You”, and the straight up thrash of “Stood for Something Else”. It’s pretty impressive to have both “Undone” and “Stood for Something Else” on the same record, because they’re both such great and incredibly different songs.
Straightline have toured as an opening act for Ten Foot Pole, Big Wig, and Satanic Surfers, which makes sense stylistically. Honestly though, they’re better than all of those bands. They also remind me a little bit of label mates One Hidden Frame, especially in song structure and technical ability. Even though I’m not personally a fan of screamo or metal solos, Straightline use and master them well here. I saw some live footage, and they were all wearing shorts on stage (which I am definitely PRO) and jumping in unison. My rule of thumb with bands that scream is that they must be wearing shorts, otherwise it’s lame. Black pants with loops and extra belts and shit? Forget about it, no screaming for you. They also appear to be politically sound, from at least an environmental standpoint, with song titles like “Global Citizens” and “Earth Defenders”, which is cool. Protecting the Earth rules. The other planets fucking suck, from what we know of them.
If any of this has piqued your musical interest, I should mention that Straightline offer their LP on its own, or as a merch bundle with a skateboard deck.
“[Gold Chain Punk] finds freedom in nihilism and something almost like joy in the idea that if people will try to punish you anyway, you may as well do whatever the fuck you want “- Consequence #11 of 50 Best Songs Of The Year So Far
“On their groundbreaking new album, the Philadelphia hardcore group mixes actionable rhetoric, absurdist humor, and breathtaking vulnerability like no band before them” – Pitchfork ‘Best New Music’
“It’s the album I’ve gone to over and over again to fill my soul back up when I’m depleted” – NPR
“One of the most thrillingly thrashy, brilliantly based, and convincingly punk hardcore albums in years” – SPIN
“Hardcore can sometimes be a formulaic thing, and it can also be an oppressively white thing, but Soul Glo push back hard against the idea that it has to be either”- Stereogum
“It’s the most breath-snatchingly thrilling and brain-nourishingly on-point hardcore album not just of 2022, but also in recent memory” – Revolver
Soul Glo has had a whirlwind year so far with no plans of coming up for air. Hot on the heels of their freshly released album ‘Diaspora Problems’, today they share the music video for opening track “Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?).” The scathing circle-pit ready song “finds freedom in nihilism,” via Consequence 50 Best Songs Of The Year roundup. “Something like joy in the idea that if people will try to punish you, you may as well do whatever the fuck you want.”
The experimental group is known for their inventive fusion of genres and while the evolution of their sound is inimitable, small-minded music fans desperately want to put them in a box. The music video satirizes the frustrations of being lumped together with other bands and artists due to the color of their skin when individually, they hold it down on their own. Vocalist Pierce Jordan, one of AV Club’s ‘20 Best Frontpeople In Modern Rock,’ explains,
“If you’re a Black person who is into any kind of hard rock, you’ve probably had a white person try to talk to you about Bad Brains. We are constantly compared to them. Apparently, I even look like HR. Can I fuckin live?”
Conceptualized over the course of 2016 to 2021, Diaspora Problems was recorded in an unfinished warehouse and the band’s practice space during the hottest parts of summer 2021. The self-produced albumexplores an artist and individuals’ self-doubt and self-hate, past traumas that can only be worked out in adulthood, financial instability and how it affects an artist, the effects of institutional and state violence, and the power of community that delivered Soul Glo through each struggle the band has endured from their inception and beyond.
‘Diaspora Problems’ has been noted in almost every major music publication, from a coveted 8.5 from Pitchfork to the mid-year “Best Of” lists in Stereogum, Consequence, Pitchfork, Revolver, and NPR. Celebratedamongst established peers of all genres, Soul Glo has cemented themselves as an anomaly in the hardcore genre. The timeliness and significance that the album holds in the world of music has the makings of AOTY written all over it.
Soul Glo is going on tour for the rest of the summer with Show Me The Body, kicking off in NYC and ending in Louisville, KY while playing some one-off shows along the way. On August 26th they’re opening for Turnstile and My Chemical Romance, and then heading off to sets at Furnace Fest and Desert Daze. You can find tickets here: https://bnds.us/jkpc2o
Soul Glo Tour Dates
Sun-Jul 10 Queens, NY Knockdown Center (The Ruins) *
Tue-Jul 12 Columbus, OH Rumba Café *^
Wed-Jul 13 Kansas City, MO recordBar *^
Thu-Jul 14 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep *^
Sat-Jul 16 Los Angeles, CA CORPUS Presents: LA IN BROAD DAYLIGHT
Sun-Jul 17 Tijuana, BC Black Box
Mon-Jul 18 San Fernando, CA The Midnight Hour Records
Tue-Jul 19 Los Angeles, CA Zebulon
Wed-Jul 20 Phoenix, AZ Valley Bar *^
Fri-Jul 22 Dallas, TX CheapSteaks *^
Sat-Jul 23 Austin, TX Sunny’s Backyard *^
Sun-Jul 24 Houston, TX The End *^
Mon-Jul 25 Oklahoma City, OK 89th Street
Tue-Jul 26 Albuquerque, NM Launchpad *^
Wed-Jul 27 Tucson, AZ Club Congress *^
Thu-Jul 28 Bakersfield, CA Temblor Brew *^
Fri-Jul 29 Oakland, CA Starline Social Club *^
Sat-Jul 30 Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz Vets Hall
Mon-Aug 1 Reno, NV Holland Project *^
Wed-Aug 3 Seattle, WA Madame Lou’s *^
Thu-Aug 4 Vancouver, BC Fortune Sound Club *^
Fri-Aug 5 Tacoma, WA Real Arts Tacoma *^
Sat-Aug 6 Happy Valley, OR Pickathon 2022
Mon-Aug 8 Salt Lake City, UT Beehive *^
Tue-Aug 9 Denver, CO Larimer Lounge *^
Thu-Aug 11 Louisville, KY Portal *^
Fri-Aug 12 Morgantown, WV 123 Pleasant Street *^
Fri-Aug 26 Raleigh, NC PNC Arena %
Sun-Sep 25 Birmingham, AL Furnace Fest
Sep 30 – Oct 2 Perris, CA Desert Daze
w/ Show Me The Body *
w/ MCR + Turnstile %
About Soul Glo
Soul Glo is Pierce Jordan (vocals), GG Guerra (bass, vocals, programming), and TJ Stevenson (drums). Fusing hip-hop, hardcore, and punk, the Philly outfit are fearless in their approach and even more ruthless in their delivery. Injecting their colorful narratives into predominantly white spaces, Soul Glo has the scope and ability to transcend outer appearances in hardcore music. We’re at the precipice of a sonic revolution as a higher variance of people find room for themselves and the expression of their lived experience within the genre.
Epitaph Records is pleased to welcome Santa Cruz-bred hardcore quartet Drain to the family!
Today, the Northern California-based band shares their new single “Watch You Burn,” produced and engineered by Taylor Young (Nails, Twitching Tongues, Rotting Out). “’Watch You Burn’ is a pissed off and in your face song that I wrote after hitting a breaking point this year,” explains vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro. “Lyrically, it is exactly what I felt like I needed to say to convey the way that I had been feeling, while also being the exact words that I needed to hear at that point in my life. I was in a really dark place and I used my mindset and troubled environment as fuel to create and make a positive out of a negative. Life handed me lemons and I made a badass song out of it”
Since their formation in 2014, Drain has released two EPs and one full-length record; Over Thinking (2016), Time Enough at Last (2017), and their debut record California Cursed (2020). The band takes heavy influence from thrash, and ’80s to ’90s hardcore mixed with a modern influence.
Having gained notoriety for their energetic and chaotic live shows over the years, Drain will be on tour this fall as direct support for Terror. Additionally, the band will play a handful of dates with REGULATE. Tickets are on sale now. For more information, visit https://www.drain831.com/.
DRAIN TOUR DATES supporting TERROR 9/6 Phoenix, AZ The Rebel Lounge 9/7 Henderson, NV Eagle Aerie Hall – SOLD OUT 9/8 Los Angeles, CA Lodge Room – SOLD OUT 9/9 Anaheim, CA Chain Reaction – SOLD OUT 9/10 San Diego, CA Soda Bar – SOLD OUT 9/11 Santa Cruz, CA Santa Cruz Vets Hall 9/12 Sacramento, CA Holy Diver 9/14 Salt Lake City, UT Kilby Court 9/15 Denver, CO Globe Hall 9/17 Dallas, TX Three Links 9/18 San Antonio, TX Vibes Underground 9/19 Houston, TX The Secret Group 9/20 Austin, TX Empire Control Room 9/21 Oklahoma City, OK 89th Street 9/22 Memphis, TN Growlers 9/23 Nashville, TN Studio 615 – SOLD OUT
with REGULATE 10/15 Hingham, MA Sons Of Italy 10/16 Philadelphia, PA The F.U. Church 10/17 Oakdale, NY Shakers Pub
Drain is Sammy Ciaramitaro (vocals), Cody Chavez (guitar), Mike Durrett (bass), and Tim Flegal (drums).
Got a CD in the post box the other day. It’s been on deck in the CD player for a week or so now. Finally enough of a lull in the day job to throw a few words at it. A paucity of words leaves them hanging though, right?
Here’s some quick thoughts about Skism and their new release “2021”. A blast of old school (which I realize is a term I use a lot) street punk from NYC.
Loud, gritty, in-your-face Punk / Hardcore / Oi
The lyric run a course from the murderous lament of “Eyes”, into the markedly anti-Nazi “U.S. Nazis Fuck Off and Die”, to the questioning retorts of “Agent Orange” and “Trioxin”.
Things delve into the personal with “Knocked Down With A 40”, a song, as it turns out, about being knocked down with a 40. The final track, something we all can relate to, “Outside the Club” brings how the feeling of being shut out in the cold.
You know what street punk sounds like? The drums pound. The guitar chugs. The bass rumbles. The vocals are somewhere between a sing and a shout. You know what you like. So check out Skism on all the streaming platforms. (but especially Bandcamp)
Tracks: 1. Pain and Pain 02:12 2. Eyes 02:24 3. U.S. Nazies Fuck Off and Die 01:32 4. Agent Orange 01:46 5. Trioxin 01:52 6. Knocked Down With A 40 01:26 7. Nomad 02:08 8. In Control (Eyes Reprise) 02:00 9. Outside the Club 01:29
Bio: Skism is an anti-social, angst ridden, hyperactive punks who pound out driving music with screaming vocals, fast guitars and pounding drums, with old school punk, hardcore and oi influences, featuring players who played in The Krays, American Eagle, WRENCH and Mad Mulligans.
I was in the mood for something a little more brutal today, and well, I guess I’m in luck. I’m listening to the new split with Deconvolution and Voidcrawler; Four tracks of pure fucking onlsaught!
The EP opens with blistering metal as Deconvolution belts out “Sanctimonious”. A track lodged between some seriously dark metal, and later era Hardcore. Razor vocals, but not screamo, inserted into a crushing metal cacophony of bass, guitar, and drums.
Track two, “Guillotine” introduces itself at a slightly slower pace, only to accelerate into Slayer speeds. It owes as much to 80s Thrash as it does to 90s Death metal.
Track three brings us into Voidcrawler territory. “Certain Fatality” offers further sonic assault. Relentless chugging riffs and an angry growl grip you straight by the throat. The song winds down with what I can only describe as death by weed wacker.
The final track “Torment” bursts at the seams with unbridled anguish, the very torment the title invokes. Extreme metal solos lace the tracks and neatly sew up its bone crushing grind.
A brief, yet brutal split from bands who, if they haven’t been, would be right at home at Wacken Open Air. (During some better year, when music festivals return)
1 Deconvolution- Sanctimonious
2 Deconvolution- Guillotine
3 Voidcrawler- Certain Fatality
4 Voidcrawler- Torment
Blindsided Records’ 4th release is about to be unleashed into the world. A 7” vinyl record featuring Voidcrawler (NL) & Deconvolution (CH), each taking up one side of the wax. Having played together several times the combination was a slamdunk as the music from both outfits complement each other perfectly. The riff filled record will drop both digitally and physically on 7” vinyl on June 12th, 2020.
DECONVOLUTION will kick off the record with raw hardcore combined with juicy thrash metal riffs. The Swiss band, hailing from Solothurn, has been working hard since 2015 and released their first EP ‘Fool’s Path’ in 2017. Sharing the stage with major hardcore bands Terror, Broken Teeth, Hawser and Expire to name a few, they gained momentum in the European hardcore scene. A promo cassette was released in 2019 and Blindsided Records is more than proud to feature them on this record.
On ‘Sanctimonious’ the band talks about the annihilation of our world, two faced politicians and the destruction of the environment. ‘Guillotine’ is about a group of people suffering and rising up against their leader through violent means. It’s easy to draw parallels with certain US leaders as the symbolic monarch, especially in these trying times.
Side two is occupied by the most terrifying band in the Netherlands, VOIDCRAWLER. In just two years the Dutch band have already played shows all over Europe and released their acclaimed EP ‘Maddening Descent’ last year. The band produces an unique blend of extremely angry metal and hardcore. Lyrically frontman Lennart explores similar themes as DECONVOLUTION, for example he imagines the end of the world on ‘Certain Fatality’.