There’s a new noise coming out of Brooklyn these days, a heavy, chaotic, and unrestrained blend of punk, hardcore, indie, noise, and post-punk that sort of vomits in the face of all that’s pleasant. Leading the joyously filthy pack are Big Ups, a quartet who encompass the true spirit of punk, demolishing audiences with an abrasive mixture of intelligent riffs, rhythms, and manic shouts that toe the line between terrifying and oddly charming. Witnessing them live is a must. The quartet quickly become unhinged, delving into the debauchery as a genuine extension of the music they create. There is an ever apparent degree of good humored lunacy to vocalist Joe Galarraga’s spoken/shouted delivery, barking like a maniac one moment and dancing across the stage the next. A party band for those in search of dangerous times, when it’s time to get rowdy and drink one too many… except no substitutes. Big Ups are a punk band, they don’t need to prove themselves, and yet… seeing them live does just that. It establishes them as one of the brightest and most energetic forces in Brooklyn.
It’s not all menace and destruction with these guys though, when you get to know them, they’re actually sweethearts… and like sweethearts are known to do, they got you a Valentine’s Day gift… yes, you. Last week, just in time for everyone’s favorite Hallmark holiday, Big Ups released a brand new split 7” together with labelmates and fellow Brooklyn punks, Flagland and it’s a doozy. The limited edition split was released through their own East Coast Basements and Bedrooms (ECB&B) imprint on Valentine’s Day pink vinyl.
Big Ups side begins with the dense and paranoid “Fresh Meat,” a spastic rant of psychotic nature, with an ominous pacing to match. Opening with Carlos Salguero’s enormous bass riff, the tone sets a mood similar to Jaws… only if Jaws was chasing you through the city with a spiked bat. The thick low end provides the perfect accompaniment to Galarraga’s deranged shouting, tearing through the clatter with bloodcurdling intensity. Big Ups understand the importance of dynamics, easing back speed and volume until a near crawl, only to blast into noisier territory thanks to guitarist Amar Lal’s triumphant waves of feedback and Brendan Finn’s stuttering rhythmic stampede. The song’s sludge parts ways as the guys dive headfirst into a blistering post-hardcore crescendo of angular guitars and polyrhythmic beats, one final muscular dirge of punk fury. “Wrong” moves at a more frantic pace as twisting and turning riffs are formed amid sharp distorted punches of guitar and tightly wound claustrophobic rhythms. Galarraga’s vocals take on a melodic near shout as the rapid fire groove warps to a drugged out haze, roaring constantly forward, never looking back at the path already trampled.
Big Ups are getting closer to capturing their live intensity in the studio and once they do, no one is safe. The band recently recorded their full length debut, set for release later this year on an exciting new imprint (details to come). If you’re a fan of Pissed Jeans, Double Dagger, Melvins, or Drive Like Jehu, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. The band will be heading out to SXSW next month, touring their way to Austin. Complete dates below.
Flagland’s side of the split is loose and jangly, but still chock full of aggressive chaotic punk tunes. Where Big Ups turn to skull cracking noise, Flagland are more prone to tongue-in-cheek indie punk, the snotty kind of fun like putting metal in a microwave or shaking an occupied port-a-potty. "Ghost Walk" begins with a minute of harmonized vocals, hand claps, and interspersed shouting, nothing that would suggest instruments are to be found. Just as you drop your guard, a swampy slide guitar and bass drum kick collide creating the best forty second backwoods blues jam you're gonna hear on a New York based punk split this year. I promise. “I Wanna Fuck” is a youthful rant over grungy guitar fuzz that brings to mind early Mudhoney. The song twitches between shouted vocals and discordant melodic lines that waver unapologetically, ending with the fantastic sentiment, “I want to taste every color of your filthy rainbow,” just before imploding. "Get Off The Phone!" begins with another solo a capella vocal, a woozy drunken little rhyme that leads to a furious hardcore meets cowpunk sprint of balled up energy. What will Flagland do next... your guess is as good as ours. All bets are off, and something tells us they prefer it that way.
Just like the cover art says, "Friends Forever". For a friendly good time, go see both of these bands live, seriously.
ORDER THE BIG UPS / FLAGLAND 7" SPLIT HERE.
Big Ups Tour Dates:
Mar 02 - The Studio @ Webster Hall [NYC] w/ Single Mothers, Manners
Mar 05 - Thee Fuckhole [Philly, PA] w/ Cousin Brian, Flagland, Cold Foamers
Mar 06 - The Shit Brick [Pittsburgh, PA] w/ Flagland
Mar 07 - The Funeral Home [Buffalo, NY] w/ So So Glos, Sonorous Gale, Space Wolves, Flagland
Mar 08 - Mahall's 20 Lanes [Cleveland, OH] w/ Flagland, Worship This!, Placeholder, Good Call
Mar 09 - The Empty Bottle [Chicago, IL] w/ Cult of Youth, So So Glos, Lazy
Mar 10 - Murphy's [Memphis, TN] w/ Flagland, Bad Indians, Toxie, Psychic Twins
Mar 14 - Side Bar [Midgetmen's Texas Jumpstart, SXSW] 12pm w/ The Midgetmen, Diarrhea Planet
Mar 15 – The Grackle [Austin, TX, SXSW]
Mar 28 - FUZZ [NYC]
Apr 10 - Shea Stadium [Brooklyn, NY] w/ Tenement, Lame Drivers, Big French