Last Call – Dog Years (2012)

Ever since Last Call released their EP entitled 12:57, I’ve been a huge fan of the band. Last Call released their follow up to 12:57 in 2011, Stay On The Outside. The band was signed to Mightier Than Sword Records and had announced they would be releasing their first full length effort after the two EPs. As most people may know, the label basically disappeared. This left Last Call with a record to fund on their own. After some sacrifices, the creation of their own label, and dedicated fans, the record was finally finished.

The album (Dog Years), opens up with “Generation Gap”, which is introduced with an extremely catchy drum part. The rest of the band quickly follows, and the familiar punk rock vocals come in very strong. “Generation Gap” has the same feel as the previous releases, but comes off way more professional. It’s not that Last Call’s prior work was unprofessional, it’s just that already one song in, this album seems like a huge upgrade. Next up is “Bones”, the first and only single that was released off of Dog Years. With an opening riff that instantly gains your attention, and some beautiful harmonies that immediately follows, this song is nothing short of catchy. Track three is “Winter Clothes”, the first song on Dog Years that seems to have a different vibe from any of the band’s past efforts. It’s different in the best way, and contains some of the catchiest melodies in pop punk.

After “Winter Clothes” is the title track. Putting it simply, “Dog Years” is just a very catchy punk rock song. The song’s climax would have to be about three fourths of the way in when some group vocals come into play. Following the title track is the interlude, if you will. “Limbo” is something extremely unique from what the band has ever done. The track is perfect for a night drive. Following the soothing instrumental, you are thrown into a fast punk rock anthem entitled “Braid”. The vocals in this song seem to be the most aggressive on the album at this point. The parts in which the song slows down a bit show off a different style of harmonies for Last Call. Next up is “Live Like Roark”, another fast paced song. While listening to this song, I found myself trying to compare the band’s vocals to some others, but the more I tried to, the more I realized how unique they were.

Following “Live Like Roark” is “Glassell St”. This is actually a re-recorded version of an older song which was on the band’s first EP. I was nervous about hearing this version, seeing as the first version is one of my favorite Last Call songs. Most of the time when a band re-records a song, it comes up short. Luckily for Last Call, they nailed it. The song just sounds way more put together than the first version.

The ninth track is “No Bridge Back”. This might be my favorite song off of Dog Years when it comes to musicianship. Just the way “No Bridge Back” makes its transitions, and the way the members play off each other’s parts is very enjoyable. Following “No Bridge Back” is “Nothing, Ever.”, which starts with a very promising opening riff. The song quickly makes a 180 with a roaring drum roll, which is followed by some very aggressive vocals. Although the song starts off as another fast punk rock song, the chorus is presented in a completely different way. This roller coaster of a song is everything a pop punk song should be.

“Breathing Fire” is next up. I feel like this song is a representation of how the band has evolved their old style into something bigger. I especially enjoyed the lyrics “I won’t tear myself down, just to build myself back up” at the end of this track. Dog Years’ closing track “Small Town Blues”  seems to blend every song that Last Call created on this album into one big musical masterpiece. Basically, the band couldn’t have picked a more appropriate closing track.

Overall, Dog Years is a breath of fresh air in a genre in which bands try to see who can play the fastest, or who can complain about girls more. The album is extremely honest; nothing is polished or sugar coated. Last Call has always been known to make some true jams, but this album seems to be their most natural sounding effort. The only album I would compare Dog Years to in the genre is The Wonder Years’ Suburbia.... Not because they sound similar (because they don’t), but because they are both very raw and very honest. Paul Miner did a fantastic job over at Buzzbomb Sound Labs with this release. The production fits Last Call’s sound in every way. This is a band who is meant to sound like you’re sitting in a room while they’re playing right in front of you, and Paul has definitely created that feel with Dog Years. This band has been through a lot recently and deserves every ounce of support they get. If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the record here. You can also stream the record here. In the end, Dog Years is the most honest release in pop punk this year and hopefully presents Last Call with a ton of well deserved opportunities. fourandhalf-1522129

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By Zack Lloyd ~ Me Gusta Reviews