WAKE-ZINE, Los Angeles, August 2001

Last Burning Embers
Distress Call 

(Reg Dunlop Recordings)

By Lindsay Mancha

Here’s my opinion, point-blank: This is one very good post-rock, punk influenced furnace of fervor and intelligence.  Bassist Tom Burke and drummer Jack Rabid provide a steady backbone while the Swervedriver guitars burn and guitarist/singer Dave Burokas’ lyrics provoke thought.  And the words to LBE songs are concerned with this guy called Everyman. 

You won’t be left scratching your head, as the band wants you to understand what they are talking about (ha, how’s that for a concept!)  They want you to realize that in this apathetic world, there are still bands that empathize.   Burokas, Burke and Rabid see music as a message-voyeur.  The runaway desperation of “Distress Call” will ring true with anyone who’s dealt with personal crisis.  The song is a commentary on the nature of emotional and mental paralysis, you know, that feeling when everything’s racing while you stand still?  It’s the calamity of finding that you are going nowhere or going down.  “Comfort in Misery” is first-hand observation of a mother and father disengaged with and by life.  “Self-pity is selfish,” Burokas sings, choosing to move away from the parents’ weaknesses and take the offense:  “I just want to destroy your comfort in misery.”  Distress Call ends with the band having the upper hand, with the contentious “Café Radical.”  Here, Burokas has one-upped you- he’s not impressed by the formulaic, your self-materialization.  Time you re-evaluate your motives, your priorities. 

Most EPs function as samplers, there’s usually not enough to delve into on a three, four song disc, but Distress Call has got the goods, a recording I will pay attention to when playing often.  LBE say more in three songs than most bands do by the time they’ve released their third album.  This is definitely recommended listening.  After hearing this EP, there’s the good chance you will look forward to LBE’s next musical venture, which very well may be a debut album.  I, for one, eagerly wait.

SHREDDING PAPER MAGAZINE, San Rafael, CA, October, 2001

Los Angeles, December, 2001

SUBURBAN VOICE, Lynn, MA, May 2002

LAST BURNING EMBERS-Distress Call (Reg Dunlop Recordings)

First off, naming your label after the lead character in "Slap Shot" is fucking cool, in my book. And this three piece from NYC, with Big Takeover honcho Jack Rabid on drums, have their merits, as well. If Rabid's involved, chances are the sound is going to lean towards something British and be tuneful and that's the case here. Melodic, but not wispy as the three songs here exude a lively sound. Guitar lines sounding like a hybrid of the Buzzcocks and Chameleons, while not being slavishly derivative of either.  Pop music with substance.

TONE CLUSTERS MAGAZINE, New York, NY, December, 2001

LAST BURNING EMBERS – Distress Call (Reg Dunlop Records, USA --CD EP)

     Last burning embers of what?  Listen and you’ll know right off, mon.  There wuz a sub-category of postpunk for a while which was in the ‘80s and early ‘90s typified by Sonic Youth (the Lee Ranaldo tunes, mostly), St. Johnny  and Swervedriver  (a fine tuneful Brit outfit which I does believe are still with us) : basically it wuz tuneful punk rock (but not poppy like, say, Kitchens of Distinction or Ned’s Atomic Dustbin) with great cloudy fuzz guitars, reticent  bass (not wandering about the  ruinz like, say, the JDs’ Peter Hook, ya know) and “uh, I think I’m in over my head” vocals. But of course it’z way too late 2 do anything about it, huh huh, Beavis.  It's 2001 and nobody can play a guitar any more and rock’n’roll is finally dead (again) and all the bad stuff what Bailter Space said was gonna happen has.  It’s a ROBOT  WORLD with neutron decay an’ all duh love’s taken away.  (From the album of the same name.  Neh heh).  What better reason then 2 do whut these guyz (the splatter-happy Jack Rabid on the tubs, Dave Burokas playing guitar an’ singin’, Tom Burke in tha bass chair) did an’ strap on the instruments an’ kick the jamz out. Right?  I mean, that’s what rock’n’roll used to be FOR before we got all esoteric an’ Pink Floyd started doin’ 23-minute songs an’ we pretended Arto Lindsay knew how to play long before he actually could an’ it was all a joke because it was.  And while we’re  at it, revive the postpunk school as if it hadn’t never gone away. 

     And for 3 songs here, it suddenly never has.  Yeah, we only got about 13 minutes of music here but if you ever liked the raw nasty stuff wit’ a soupcon of hooks, dig in and it’s 1991 again an’ Swervedriver’s MEZCAL HEAD has just come out an’ Lawdy Mama is it gooooood… like tha hot coffee in “Café Radical” (“Semiotics over caffeine…” quips Burokas with a slight Midlands accent.  Forgivable; hey, the Beatles sang like they was American.  We is just  STILL returnin’ the favor).  Been playin’ this on the office stereo again an’ again an’ our lovely Managing Editor is making nasty cracks about testosterone poisoning. Learned that concept from our equally lovely Staff Psychoanalyst, no doubt. Well, I already is had that since puberty.  Oops, wait, she don’t mean me.  All right, Mother, I’ll put da headphones on.  Cheez whiz, it’s like growin’ up in Bensonhurst all ovuh again.  Hold my calls.  Somebody!  But not “Distress Call,” which has a nice starburst riff, the guitar sustaining and enveloping over many bars while Rabid (publisher of THE BIG TAKEOVER Magazine, a fine bi-yearly screed concernin’ tha latest generation of Troo Believerz and Deconstructionists) detonates maniacally as might Bailter’s drummer Brent McLachlan.  Great smashies and drum rolls… I thought Rabid played guitar.  Not this time, an’ it don’t sound like he misses it.  Neato lyrics, too (rhymin’ ‘vacuous mass’ with ‘this too will pass’  tho’ you can tell he don’t believe a word of it; an’ here’s a bitsy more: “Distress call/ My downfall/ All my expectations wrecked beyond repair…”  Of course we is now in our early 50s or late 40s and now they really are.  Adds a certain POIGNANCE to it all, somehow, doncha know.  Now we ain’t fakin’! ) , delivered in a half-snarl reminiscent of that guy who sings on MEZCAL HEAD, I can’t remember his name .  It has been too long an’ I have reviewed too many Eric Dolphy albums!  There isn’t no way back!  No, actually there is.  Put this on again.  Stop givin’ me those nasty looks, Taliya.  That’s our lovely Managing Editor.  Anaways, given we are now a lot older an’ all the song lyrics in every tune Mark Burgess ever wrote are now come true, there is a certain, noops I mentioned POIGNANCE  already.  Well it’s the sense of resignation become flesh, I means, like when St. Johnny moans “I Give Up” or Ride sneers, “Leave Them All Behind” as if they knew you never really had ‘em to leave, they did that when they was in their 20s.  And 20s-ish is still a kid.  They didn’t know yet that they knew what they were talkin’ about so they did it with a distance.  Now Last Burning Embers knows they was all right after all, so they is doin’ it for the hell of it an’ no more, no less.  Sounds that way too.  Great!  The middle tune, “Comfort in Misery,” is a great midtempo roller, Burokas muttering, “Sometimes I can’t comprehend… how it all went wrong…”  Hey, that’s OK, Dave, I can dig it.  But he goes on, “Time will not wait for your choice, the chance is right now/ I just want to destroy your comfort in misery.”  Which is what great R’n’R is, and simultaneously is not, all about.  Not unserprizinglee,  Last Burning Embers realize this and make you like this ‘afterburner nihilism’ just 1 last time.–C.B.

VENDETTA ISSUE #16, June, 2001

Last Burning Embers
Distress Call EP

This relatively new power trio who consist of Dave
Burokas (guitar/vocals), Tom Burke (bass), and Jack
Rabid (drums) has already played support slots with
The Buzzcocks, and Alternative TV in their hometown
of New York City. Hopefully their success will rub off
on a wider scale based on the strength of this hard hit-
ting three-song debut EP. Exploring similar sonic ter-
rain to groups like Husker Du and early Swervedriver,
Last Burning Embers create an impressive wall of sound,
especially on the ripping title track. Keep an eye (and
ear) out for these guys.

Webmaster/ Pyrotechnician