I’ve been banging my head against various tree stumps for about a week, trying to figure out a succinct way to critique this release. Normally, this ain’t a problem, but The Last are a bit different from the typical fodder that comes through Razorcake’s record bins. Those who have been keeping score on the band are likely hip to the fact that they are one of the “O.G. Three” Hermosa Beach punk bands, predating the other two, Black Flag and the Descendents, by a spell. Their 1978 “She Don’t Know Why I’m Here” single is about as choice a melding of early punk and ‘60s psychedelic rock as yer gonna find, and their 1979 debut LP, L.A. Explosion, showcased ‘em cleaning the sound a bit to unleash a seminal piece of twelve-string psych-twang that predated the whole “paisley underground” explosion by a few years. Sure, some of us became so enamored with hardcore that we kinda lost touch with The Last for a good while there, and the fact that it’s been nigh on seventeen years since their last LP makes no diff to the fact that some of us are fuggin’ lazy bastards, no matter how much we dig a particular group. That said, this is a decidedly different beast from those early records, in that where their debut swung way over into one corner of their influences, this bad boy pendulums waaaay over in the other. Yeah, you can still hear the organs ‘n’ twelve-stringers in there, but the latter is blaring through a distortion pedal loud enough to temper the former. The results sound like “classic” Last mooshed in with, yes, early Black Flag and the Descendents, which is probably no surprise seeing as the Nolte brothers have seen fit to draft the Descendents’ 900 lb. beast of a rhythm section (namely Karl and Bill) to round out this latest lineup, not to mention recording, mixing, and mastering it at the Blasting Room. The Pettibon cover art is also a nice touch. All of this gives the whole endeavor an aggressiveness and loudness that interweaves, tempers, counters, and augments those legendary multi-part harmonies and post-Strawberry Alarm Clock bits that made The Last so swell. Ah, but though it’s peachy to have a new release by ‘em, and all that, this is all ultimately just me blathering and self-bickering. I’m running outta stumps to butt and I need to take a position, so here it is: This bad boy is FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC.
–jimmy (End Sounds)