By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
The 757s simply rock. Their take-us-or-leave-us, gimmick-free collective persona is somehow so passive it's in your face. The Minneapolis pop-rock act's latest album, Freeway Surrender, improves upon their solid debut and presents in vivid detail a band quite comfortable in their own wicked skin.
Freeway Surrender's production value is punchier than that of its predecessor, Tell the Pilgrims It's a Potluck, while retaining the band's organic feel. Bassist Paul Pirner's lows are warm, drummer Steve Sutherland's drums are full, and the overdriven dual guitars are crisp, as evidenced on "Always on the Outside" and "Teenage Logic." The disc's 11 tracks cut to the chase and split quickly, making the package a visceral listen that never wears out its welcome. Those still fetishizing physical releases will be pleased with the tactile experience of Surrender's weathered cardboard packaging and cover art.
Guitarist/vocalist and primary songwriter Jimmy Peterson leads the musical attack on opener "Amateur," which hits early with a lunging verse that smacks of Fugazi before unfolding into a decidedly peppier chorus. For linear listeners, it transitions smoothly into "Shirley MacLaine," a curiously titled, cleverly penned piece that proves to be one of the album's standout tracks. Its lyrical hook, "She's a dreamer for the modern age/And she's got visions just like Shirley MacLaine," rasped by Peterson and backed by the band's oohs and aahs, sticks like mental peanut butter.
Other notable offerings come courtesy of bassist/singer Pirner. When his eerily familiar voice isn't providing an ideal backdrop for Peterson's rants, it fronts barnburners like "Crash and Fade" and "Stagnation." His up-tempo tunes tend toward simple, repetitive choruses made for thrashing the night away in some anonymous dive. Pointed, personal lyrics in songs like "Always on the Outside" dovetail with Peterson's irony and sarcasm ("Your narcissism is only mediocre").
Like their predecessors who helped forge Minneapolis's alternative-rock scene, the 757s prove that a bunch of regular guys playing simple, well-written rock 'n' roll can be relevant. Freeway Surrender is a fully realized vision from a group of experienced musicians who understand that the real thing needs no gimmick, that if you rock well, they will come.
THE 757s play a show with the Mighty Mofos, Skinny Jim, and Swing Dogs on SATURDAY, AUGUST 22, at the UPTOWN BAR; 612.823.4719