"Kids these days don't get how cool you used to be."
There are a lot of people Paul Pirner could be referring to when he sings that line three-quarters of the way through "Freeway Surrender," the lively sophomore album by middle-aged buzz band the 757s. Is it about himself? His brother Dave? One of his fellow middle-aged bandmates? Maybe even Lawrence Welk (referenced earlier in the song)?
Whoever it is, it's one of the many times the 757s' disc -- out this week on Eclectone Records, with a CD party tonight at the Uptown -- will leave you pondering both the subject of the song and the irrelevance of youth in rock 'n' roll.
"He's not the kind of guy for giving up," singer/guitarist Jimmy Peterson also intones in "Amateur," the grinding opening track. "He's going to try it one more time."
Formed in 2007, the 757s have become poster boys for that one-more-time crowd -- 40-or-older scenesters who are not yet ready to retire from the scene. And thank God and Grain Belt for that. In the same way the Hold Steady rose up opposite Brooklyn's arty-farty dance-rock scene, the 757s seem to thrive off distinguishing themselves from the throngs of Mac-equipped, MySpace-buoyed, tight-T-shirted young indie-rock bands around town. Not that there's anything wrong with those bands (although something is amiss with Mouthful of Bees' new sophomore CD).
All four of the 757s -- including singer/guitarist Seth Zimmerman and drummer Steve Sutherland -- played in bands that rippled through the scene in the late '80s and '90s, including Bellwether, Tangletown, Nova Mob, Missing Numbers and Mosquito Ranch. They named this band after the airplane-level noise they hoped to make, and they purportedly rehearsed just once before recording their 2007 debut album, "Tell the Pilgrim It's a Potluck."
"Freeway Surrender" is tighter and more refined than "Pilgrim," but not too much. Musically, anybody who owns a Replacements, Soul Asylum, Who or Guided by Voices record will get it right away. Song-wise, the band members stepped it up a notch, producing a bunch of anthems for the aged (and maybe a few for the ages), including the aforementioned Pirner song, "Stagnation," plus the punky gem "Crash and Fade" and the winning losers' ode "Atrophy."
You'll know these guys aren't young turks just by the fact that they named a song after Shirley MacLaine (another of the best cuts). Even their one track that sounds as if it could be a youthful anthem, the steaming rocker "Teenage Logic," is actually a rant against an older guy who can't get his act together: "You're sadly unemployable and totally underinsured."
Once again, a thousand guesses who that one's about.Random mix
One of the wildest and haziest music events of the year, the Heliotrope Festival is happening again May 28-30 at the Ritz Theater in northeast Minneapolis with 26 acts, including Vampire Hands, Knife World, Skoal Kodiak, Flavor Crystals, Michael Yonkers, Paul Metzger, plus a dual-percussion set with Milo Fine and Davu Seru and the once-a-year return of White Map. ...
Tonight's Fine Line gig by the Western Fifth is the band's final show with co-founding guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Jacobson, who is getting married and moving to Atlanta. Gypsy-folk-ish openers the Sunny Era are also celebrating the release of their second CD that night. ... Saturday at the Fine Line, Brit-rocky dance-rock quintet So It Goes is touting a new EP, "The Quick Fix," featuring tracks produced by Ed Ackerson and the Alarmists' Eric Lovold. ... Contrary to a City Pages report last week, the Alarmists are actually still a band and have booked a release party June 12 at the Varsity Theater (with the 757s opening). The show will probably introduce a new lineup led by Lovold. ...
The 501 Club didn't wait a few weeks to host its free grand opening bash simply to get its act together. Tonight's party with the Retribution Gospel Choir and Lookbook falls on May 1 -- 5/01! Let's hope the booking from here on out is equally clever.
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