Greg Antista & The Lonely Streets release the digital single “Down on Commonwealth,” the lead track from the group’s second album, Under the Neon Heat. The single marks the debut of veteran guitarist Frank Agnew in the lineup. The album follows July 16 on CD, download, and 180-gram hot pink vinyl. The vinyl will be a strictly limited edition of 500 units. All formats come courtesy of Primal Beat Records and are available now for pre-order at Road Dog Merch.
The Lonely Streets are set to make good on the buzz generated by 2019’s Shake, Stomp and Stumble, the debut album which featured nine party-starting songs anchored by indelible melodies, heartfelt vocals, and powerful musicianship. New Noise Magazinedescribed its tunes as “perfectly-crafted, three-minute pop songs that owe as much to Johnny Cash as they do the Adolescents,” while The Big Takeover compared the group’s approach to “a crunchier, power-pop-leaning Social Distortion.”
Active in Southern California since 2018, the group’s lineup is comprised of Greg Antista(lead vocals, songwriter, guitar), Frank Agnew (lead guitar, keyboards, vocals), Warren Renfrow (bass, accordion, vocals), and Jorge E. Disguster (drums, vocals). The members’ previous group affiliations are extensive: Antista (Joyride, Foxy), Agnew (Adolescents, Legal Weapon, T.S.O.L., 45 Grave), Renfrow (Cadillac Tramps, Manic Hispanic, Final Conflict, and tours with Adolescents and the Damned), Disguster (The Hangmen, Mink Daggers, Mr. Mirainga, live shows with Throw Rag).
“Down on Commonwealth” is a timely first taste of the upcoming Under the Neon Heat. Opening with ringing guitar and a propulsive rhythmic jolt, the song is both a wistful recollection of Antista’s youth and an invitation to engage in discussion about police reform. Police brutality was a frequent reality for most of the group members during their formative years in the SoCal punk scene, and “Commonwealth” underscores that the problem still exists. The lyric draws attention to Kelly Thomas, a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia who died in 2011 after succumbing to injuries from an attack by six members of the Fullerton Police Department.
“The song is a reminiscence about growing up in the Fullerton punk scene,” says Antista. “The intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue is the epicenter of all that. It was home to the first bars we snuck into and the pawn shops where we bought our first guitars. We have fond memories of seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Suburbia, The Decline of Western Civilization, and the Clash’s Rude Boy at the local Wilshire and Fox theaters. But the area has a dark side as well. The homeless situation is out of control. And local residents are still shaken by Kelly Thomas’ beating death by the police. Myself, and other members of the Lonely Streets have taken part in local protests related to his killing.”
A video clip for “Down on Commonwealth” was filmed in August 2020 during a concert livestream in tribute to local musician Steve Soto (1963-2018). It was the appropriate event for Agnew to make his live debut with The Lonely Streets considering that he had played alongside Soto in both the Adolescents and Legal Weapon.
“When it comes to strings and keyboards, there isn’t anything Frank can’t do,” says Antista. “Frank and I have been tight since we were 16 and I am sure Warren has known him just as long. Most importantly, he contributes to the sense of brotherhood in the band. Our new album is all about friendship, family, love and loyalty. We all feel lucky to still be here making music.”
Under the Neon Heat shares much of the musical approach and many of the themes of Shake, Stomp and Stumble. As Nate Jackson wrote in The OC Weekly, “Antista’s songs carry a tinge of angst and reckless abandon that suit his voice, a sturdy, punk-inspired howl that evokes the true emotion of an everyday man battling against heartbreak.” The majority of the new songs feature dynamic twin guitars, crisp rhythms, and lead vocals delivered with urgency. “Rosalita” and “Carmelita (Warren Does Warren)” follow in the tradition of the first album’s “Goodnight Ramona” and “Carmelita,” sweet tributes to local señoritas. All of the band members share Hispanic roots in the culturally-diverse Orange County scene.
But the album also branches into new areas. The Americana/roots influence is most prominent in the acoustic intro to “Unfinished Business” (which recalls Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”), the rousing picking on “Broken Glass” (Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”), and even the tongue-in-cheek “Carmelita (Warren Does Warren),” a twangy Norteño number originally written by Warren Zevon and now updated with parody lyrics written and sung by Renfrow. Elsewhere, there’s the furious surf-guitar shimmy of “Tijuana Jail,” the melodic power pop of “Feel Alright” (featuring piano and handclaps), and the yearning, deeply emotive “Lonesome Casualty.” The latter track shares DNA with the prior album’s “Beat Down and Broken” as both tracks address California’s homeless situation.
Under the Neon Heat: Tracklist
1. Down on Commonwealth
2. Feel Alright
3. Tijuana Jail
5. One More Mistake
6. Together Tonight
7. Lonesome Casualty
8. Unfinished Business
9. Broken Glass
10. Halfway to Whole
11. Carmelita (Warren Does Warren)
All songs by Greg Antista. Published by Greg Antista Music at ASCAP.
Except “Carmelita,” written by Warren Zevon and published by Warner Chappell Music. New parody lyrics by Warren Renfrow. Produced & engineered by Paul Miner at Buzzbomb Studios, Orange, CA.
Music recorded January – March, 2020. Vocals and mixing May – July, 2020.