Stream The Last Gang’s new punk/reggae LP and read their track-by-track breakdown
LA punks The Last Gang formed back in the 2000s (led by Brenna Red, who also sang in Fiction Reform and drummed in Civet), but they really started to break out after signing to Fat Wreck Chords and releasing their 2018 album Keep Them Counting. They're now set to follow that album with Noise Noise Noise this Friday (10/8) via Fat (pre-order), and we're premiering a full stream of the album in this post, along with a track-by-track breakdown from Brenna.
As heard on the excellent title track, The Last Gang injected their raspy-voiced punk with a strong reggae influence on this album, taking inspiration not just from The Clash's reggae-infused punk classic London Calling, but from the stuff they were listening to, like Toots and the Maytals, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Trojan Records comps. It's not all reggae-influenced though -- the album's still got plenty of straight-up punk rippers -- and though the music is nostalgia-inducing, the lyrical content is urgent and topical, taking on a lot of the topics that came to the forefront of American society in recent years, especially in the past year.
It's a very cool record, and you can stream it via YouTube playlist and read Brenna's track-by-track below.
"Noise Noise Noise"
The title comes from an old record shop that used to be in Costa Mesa. It was one of the hubs of my teenage years. And that's what this whole song is about: a collection of memories that we made within the local punk scene. CPC stands for our joke group we called the Cream Puff Crew. The British Dominion is this pub where we used to hang out with this group of skins called the Trads. I used to take bus 42 from my friend's house off Electric Ave to get to Public Storage, one of the only all-ages venues that we would visit every weekend. But then, one night, when we went to see a show there, we noticed there were no more punk shows on the calendar. One of my friends called it our last episode there, even though I didn't want to believe this era of my life was ending. Sadly, he was right. What followed for the next few years were pop and indie shows only. I was heartbroken to see what was once my home so suddenly phase out of my life.
This actually started as a love song, inspired by the Queers song Fuck The World. The general message of the lyrics was, "This world is fucking stupid and we're surrounded by morons. Let's just stay inside together while the world burns." But then the pandemic happened, and the world did begin to die off, and it would have been in bad taste to have a song that wished a plague on the earth. I still feel the same that we're surrounded by ideocracy. But instead of wishing the world to burn and simply saying fuck it all, I emphasized that we ruined it ourselves. Team effort, guys, and we all fucked it up. Greed, lack of empathy, impulsiveness.... we're the infestation that is slowly devouring our earth.
"Prosthetic Lost Cause"
The main themes of this song are personal demons, depression, and all the goodies that come along with it. Self-loathing. Physical aches. Sleeplessness. Delusions of control. Indulging the defect in your brain that justifies doing the same destructive thing over and over and over again. Not only that but welcoming it. It's like a wonderfully heavy weighted blanket that drags you deeper and deeper. It's so hard to shake off because sometimes it's just so easy and feels so good to sink down under.
Donald Trump, fuck that guy and his ineptness and ego and delusions and his ideocracy and his lack of sympathy and his shamelessness and his everything! Using a fucking sharpie to draw a line extending into Alabama to show that a hurricane is hitting there? Just to double down on what he incorrectly said? He couldn't just say, "oops my bad, I was wrong, it's not going to hit Alabama after all." That's fucking insane! I couldn't WAIT till he was gone and stripped of his pedestal. I remember vividly the night I heard he had officially lost his re-election. I was driving on the freeway at night with the windows down. The air never felt so good. Deep long breaths the whole ride home.
Panic Dreaming is about our natural and unavoidable death. It also holds a tone of envy towards people who hold onto some kind of faith. My thoughts circle into a loop, thinking about what comes after all this ends. Is this life it, and then we die, and consciousness ends? Or is there a forever? And wouldn't forever become a hell no matter what state you're in? Would I even want a forever? Either answer is unavoidable. And every outcome can send me into a panic if I let the loop keep feeding back. So with all that, I envy those who find peace through blind faith.
I consider myself an optimistic nihilist. I enjoy spreading positivity, one-on-one and also in mass groups, like at shows. But I also feel like this world is doomed, and almost nothing we do can change the outcome. It's as impossible as altering the path of a monstrous iceberg. It's slow and massive, and it's going to move forward no matter how hard it's pushed. But something about last year made me feel this electricity. Like you could hear that single voice of change pierces through the white noise of complacency and the status quo. Like if we kept pushing, things could change.
The chorus was inspired by a woman named La Mulâtresse Solitude. She was born into slavery on the island of Guadalupe around the 1770s. A sailor raped her mother while she was being transported from Africa to the West Indies. Solitude saw the abolishment of slavery in 1794, but in 1799 Napoleon enacted a law reinstating slavery in the French colonies. A resistance was led by French officers of color Delgrès and Ignace against Napoleon's general. Solitude, a few months pregnant, was one of the people who fought alongside Delgrès and Ignace. Their battle cry was "live free or die," which they ultimately did. The French had won the battle and killed the resistance.
Except for Solitude, who was imprisoned until November, then hung one day after she gave birth. She's described as being a symbol of women who have fought to protect the ideals of equality and freedom.
When I was conversing with some girlfriends about our past traumas, I spoke up and said the words in all honesty "I'm lucky, I've never been assaulted, "….. and it hit me seconds later how fucked up that statement is. How being female, we inherit a social contract to be preyed upon. It made my blood boil. The story describes the development of a victim's personality. Second-guessing everyone's motive. A thicker skin, harder end, and calloused. Survival mode. A cancer that becomes a part of their daily life. Cancer that can't be cut out.
Paris green is a highly toxic compound that was once used in insecticide. It was also used in pigments for paints and clothing, especially for the fabric used by the Victorian social elite. It was considered a breathtaking color, despite its deadliness. TLG's song Paris Green is a metaphor for our toxic relationship with our earth and nature. The parasitic human race has devoured and raped this planet's resources for capital gains, status, comfort, convenience, and even just for fun because it's easier to get what we want now and let someone else deal with the repercussions: our sons and daughters.
"Intelligence Is A Plague"
I'm fucking sick to death of people thinking they know more just because they "feeeeeel" they're right. Have some humility. It's been said in many ways by many different artists and philosophers, but one of my favorites is Shakespeare. "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool." A large portion of the population would rather justify their opinions with the sound bites of TV hosts than take the time to educate themselves. Why learn or understand the facts, when you could be entertained and have your knee-jerk emotions endorsed?
"To The King"
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry is emotionally complicated. When is it just par for the course like it is for any musician, and when am I compromising because I'm a woman? My drive and desire to follow my passion can't be so delusional that I rationalize such submissiveness. I would never succumb to a "casting couch," but there definitely is a blurred line. How much can I compromise as an artist to get what I want as a musician? My relationship with music is a complicated one, to say the least. I'm infatuated with it, which can cloud decisions and leave me lost in a fantasy.