SoCal-style punk has been suffering blows lately, with three members of über-influential Rich Kids on LSD passing away in the past year, plus billions of bands bastardizing the genre into incoherent screamo fests with the good parts stolen from Pennywise or Lagwagon. Thankfully, there are a few youngsters out there who can see beyond their noses and come up with their own arrangements.
The city of Stuart in Martin County, Florida, has the fine distinction of being at the heart of Florida's Treasure Coast and wins Best Tasting Water in Florida year after year. Stuart is also home to a hardworking punk-rock quintet by the name of Last Laugh. Formed in 1997 under the inspiration of the then-booming skate punk/SoCal thing, Last Laugh has increasingly matured, putting out a few demos and a full-length. This latest offering, No Regrets, comes with a little pain of its own. In 2004, close friend and roadie Tim Daley was killed in a car accident. Apparently, they've poured all the emotion cued by that tragedy into one exceptional album.
The dueling guitars of Matt House and Chris Ziemba supplement each other over the tightly compressed rhythms of bassist Scott Fereshe -tian and drummer Les Jolliffe. Singer Charley Tobin ranges between harmonies and abrasions. Tracks like "Your Distraction," "Taken Away," and "Burn the Sky" best showcase the band's grasp of its influences and maybe even its dominion over them. An atmospheric and broody cover of the Stones' "Paint It Black" grounds the three-quarter mark, and their humorously titled instrumental opener, "Dutch Oven," segues into the heartfelt piece for their friend, "No Regrets." It's all very well-done, showing that more than crisp water, Stuart has a wellspring of serious talent.
Last Laugh celebrates the release of No Regrets along with NeverHood, On Watership Down, Losing It, and Red State Riot at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at Cruzans, 725 N. Beach Rd., A1A, Jupiter. Tickets for this all-ages show cost $8. Call 561-662-8214.
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