x

Last To Leave / Press

“Visceral, driven, and relenting; the soothing melodies of this vagabond band will surely resonate through Reno for many more years to come.”

“Though some of the lyrics are a little angsty, the singing is never aggressive or punk, nor is it some smile-while-you-sing “Kumbaya” nonsense. Instead, the voices have a relaxed, almost neutral quality that fits the bittersweet music and lyrics. The instruments move with locomotive energy, but the songs never go off the tracks. And the songwriting is excellent. Here’s another memorable couplet: “Do you remember when I last wrote to you? I said some things I can’t recall, but it all was true.””

“The music has an agreeable homemade quality. It feels a little loose. Some of the mixes don’t sound quite right—like they aimed for spacious but landed on hollow—and there’s a ramshackle quality to some of the playing. But these rough edges actually enhance the songwriting in a way a more polished sound wouldn’t. Many of the lyrics are about travel. “I’ve driven more hours than anyone I know, and I’ve seen so many things. Everyone sings about never coming home, but home is the place for me” is a good bit from the album opener, “Roll Away.” “One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs” has one of the best count-ins this side of Springsteen. Then, over bouncy bass, mandolin and banjo, and plaintive saxophone, vocalists Luke Knudsen and Skye Evans trade lyrics, sometimes singing remarkably quickly, other times slowing down to emphasize the melody.”

“One way to classify albums is by time of year. Pavement’s Slanted and Enchanted always sounds like mid-July. Songs of Leonard Cohen is perpetual November. Another way to classify records is by time of day. Bob Dylan’s New Morning, appropriately enough, sounds best around 9 a.m. The Stooges’ Fun House sounds best around midnight. Fare Thee Well, the new album by Reno folk band Last to Leave, nails the feeling of 6:30 p.m. on a Friday in late August. The sun is low in the sky, the weather’s starting to cool down, a bunch of friends are sitting on somebody’s back porch, picking out tunes, drinking spiked lemonade. There’s a bittersweet quality to these songs—the feeling that summer’s almost over, so enjoy it while it lasts. It’s that feeling of being a couple of drinks in, where you feel warm and happy, and you haven’t done anything regrettable yet, but you feel yourself moving in that direction. ”

“One aspect Last to Leave captures perfectly is the balance they’ve developed between harnessing a country twang in their instrumentation and the straightforward presentation of Evans’ singing, keeping the band from being entirely country or folk. Assisting this is Cason’s saxophone, providing a bit more of a jazz influence in their songs. This aspect is conveyed in the song “Go,” maintaining a fast-paced gallop, complementing Evans’ lyrics on the need to move on from the status quo. “Paper Trails” features main vocals from drummer and songwriter Knudsen in a more personal style. Accompanied by guitar and saxophone, Knudsen channels his inner Connor Oberst with a shakey, honest performance. “Anasazi” is a wild scramble of thoughts on religion and belief, set to a e arrangement. “One of Those Long Name Traveling Songs” follows, featuring up-tempo lyrics set to acoustic guitars and banjos.”

“The record begins with a flurry of plucks as Evans sings about the conflicts of wanting more from the world while remaining loyal to his home on “Roll Away.” Saxophonist Dalton Cason provides a catchy melody, subtly fixed to each verse, chiming in right after Evans belts, “Home is where the heart is | and you’ll always know where to find me.” “Sleep Talk” highlights Melissa McMorran’s accordion, setting a soft, vibrating backbone to Evans pop-punk vocals and folky arrangement. Evans sings, “I am livid cause you called my life a nightmare/and it shows me that you never even dream,” carrying listeners through what seems like an open-letter response to a life-critique. “As I Think of You” is a sentimental track with a more definite relationship existing within the lyrics. Cason returns with a soft saxophone solo midway through the song, almost as if Evans is actually serenading a woman and Cason is there to play the soundtrack to their moonlit dinner. ”

“It’s rare to find a band whose live quality matches their quality on record — especially a local band. Reno natives Last to Leave do just that and more on their album “Fare Thee Well,” a joyous, twang filled romp through the minds of songwriters and bandmates Skye Evans and Luke Knudsen. “Fare Thee Well” is a fun album with an incredible sound quality and enough lyrical depth to satisfy the cerebral. Last to Leave has created a solid sound, uniquely combining instruments and musical elements that, while many wouldn’t expect, mesh to form a great record.”

“The room in which a band practices often says something about the music. Many loud rock bands practice in the basement. Bedroom bands are usually naval-gazing solo projects. Garage rock bands practice in the garage. The less said about bands that practice in the bathroom, the better. Reno’s Last To Leave is a living room band. (Although they also sound great in the kitchen.) There’s a communal, open-hearted spirit to the band, the feeling that these people play music together because, first and foremost, they enjoy one another’s company. The group’s excellent recent album, Fare Thee Well, features songs by Evans as well as several written by Knudsen before he went abroad. Many of the songs, by both writers, are about travel—though religious angst is also a nice recurring theme. There’s a bit of darkness around the edges of the songs, especially in the lyrics, though Evans, in his train conductor mustache and overalls, seems like a laidback, easygoing, salt-of-the-earth guy”