Last Call – Dog Years
Record Label: Broken Arrow Collective
Release Date: November 27, 2012
Who would have thought that one of the best surprises and pop-punk records of the year would come out at the end of November. Well, true to their name, Last Call have done just that with Dog Years, their debut full-length record. Even though it has only been a year since their last EP, Stay on the Outside, I lost track of them in this time, as they’ve been on quite a roller-coaster since the release of that EP. Abruptly parting with Mightier Than Sword Records in the midst of recording, Last Call started their own record label, Broken Arrow Collective, with some friends.
The result of all this chaos, interruptions, and change is Dog Years, one of the year’s biggest curveballs and strongest pop-punk releases. Basically, Last Call have combined the aggressive nature of The Starting Line (“Nothing, Ever” and “Small Town Blues”) with the sensibility and wit of The American Scene or The Dangerous Summer (“No Bridge Back”), wrapped it all with the best elements of pop-punk, and crafted their debut record.
There is a sense of brooding sadness within these songs, masked and bolstered by gritty riffs, feisty drums, and rapid vocals. Take a minute to digest the opening “Generation Gap” for perfect proof of this sentiment. The drums get your foot tapping, a burly bass dances around in the background, and then the guitars kick in at full speed. Sure, it all sounds happy-go-lucky here, right? However, the lyrics are socially conscious and really perk up the ear: “Did you learn a thing about her pain / How it felt when her father walked out / Did you give a damn / When he told you she broke his heart / Left him there in the winter air / In his father’s car.” There’s a sophisticated imagery and feeling of heartache here that’s incredibly easy to relate to – these are stories we have all heard and know. That’s the thing about Dog Years, it’s honest to the core and begs to be heard and understood.
Both lead single “Bones” and later “Glassell St.” augment further intensity, with heavy reliance on dual vocals letting the songs pack a one-two punch. Conversely, “Winter Clothes” is a slow burning fire, employing pulsating palm mutes to give the track its sting. Clearly, Last Call realize what works best to convey different moods, switching pacing from all out rocking to mellow jamming. After the hollowing instrumental “Limbo,” the backbreaking drums of “Braid” come in out of nowhere – catching your attention form the get go. In similar fashion, the isolated bass line on “Dog Years” ensures the line, “It’s a house I’ll never buy / And a bed I’ll never make / It’s a wife I’ll never wed / And a song I’ll never meet / I’m sorry” hits home. Moments like this lend excessive weight to the words due to the instrumentation – the bass line perks up your ears, while Austin Jeffers’ words remain in your head even after the song ends.
Near the end of the record comes what seems to be Last Call’s anthem with “Live Like Roark” due to the defining line, “When all we have left / Is love and respect / If we lose that / Then we’re losing everything / And all we’re trying to be / Is decent human beings.” With Dog Years, I’d say Last Call accomplish all this and more. Despite all of their hardships, Last Call come out on top here, releasing one of the strongest, most authentic and heartfelt records of the year.
For everything this band has fought through to get this record out ... IT FUCKIN KILLS.
Amazing dudes that make awesome music in a hard town to be a band with a label that fucked them over along with leaving them high and dry while recording. This would have been enough to cripple most bands but these dudes came thru on the other side. <3