New Music : The 757s : Last Laugh

Know who Joe Mauer is? Guy with $150 million in the bank and nearly as many women vying for his attention. Young Joey has maybe the sweetest swing in baseball, but for years local sports scribes pestered the Twins’ brass about when Joe was going to start hitting home runs, and for years all they got was rhetoric about “not tinkering” and “power will come in time.” And sure enough, last year, Joe’s line drives started flying over the fence. It just happened. Of course, if Joe had gone to the plate intent to destroy every pitch he saw, he probably would’ve end up the next Rob Deer, and sales of these things would have dropped precipitously.

So, if you’re preparing for the GRE, here’s a practice problem… Baseball : Joe Mauer :: Music : ?

Of course, the answer is The 757s, minus the admiring hoards of women and undreamed of riches.  Homegrowns. Nothing fancy, and no unnecessary tinkering. Just prototypical Minnesota rock-n-roll. This week, The 757s are taking the wrapper off record #3, Last Laugh (thanks to the fine folks at Automatic Recordings) and as usual, they’re just going up there and swinging the bat. If you are hoping for power ballads, club beats or Rick Wakeman-style prog-rock workouts, save your money. The 757s’ modus operandi hasn’t changed a bit:  turn up the guitars, count it off and completely disregard the prevailing wisdom of what’s popular. These guys are the Dodge Dart of Minnesota music;  a noisy, smelly and a little square, but dependable as all hell.

Producer Mike Wisti (Rank Strangers, Ben Weaver, Grant Hart) is back, keeping things in the wheelhouse and choosing his spots carefully. Reaching into his bag of tricks (little keyboard here, little pedal effect there, a handclap when no one is watching) he constructs tracks that feel solid without verging on cluttered. As it should be, the heavy lifting is left to the band.

It didn’t seem possible after Freeway Surrender, but The 757s have somehow managed to further hone their songwriting chops. Last Laugh puts listeners in a lion killer right from the word go with Sarah Saw It Coming, quite possibly the most perfect 2:36 of music you’ll hear this year. Numbers like Kerouac and Disastronauts hit so quickly, that by the time you’ve grasped the hook, the band is off to the next idea, like say, channeling Minnesota’s favorite son at his most ominous in This Is This. And extra points for the title track, which stumbles and lurches along just to spite itself, yet manages to namecheck the band’s discography.

My beef with Last Laugh (come one, I have a beef with everything) is that it clocks in at just under 29 minutes, and one of the tracks verges dangerously close to (gasp!) filler. Does that make Last Laugh the anti-Sandinista!? And I know what you’re thinking, it’s quality, not quantity. Remember Reign In BloodThe Old Man and the Sea?  Tyson vs. Frazier? And sure, no one appreciates all killer-no filler more than me, but come on guys. Bars close 2am these days. Would it kill you to record one more song?

Bottom line: If the 80s almost killed you and/or you liked Tell The Pilgrims It’s a Potluck and Freeway Surrender, you’ll greet Last Laugh with open arms (and likely empty bottles). And don’t forget, if you’re in the Twin Cities, you can catch The 757s at Brit’s Pub on Thursday, May 6th, or at their CD release soiree Friday, May 7th at Sauce.

MP3 : The 757s – Sarah Saw It Coming

-by Luftmensch

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