Last Planet is a self-proclaimed “groovy alternative rock band from Oakland, California” that is on a very aggressive recording schedule: they plan to release a single on the first Friday of every month for the rest of 2023 while also prepping a full length album! Their most recent songs are titled “Ruined,” “Little More Time” and “Whiskey Breath.”
Last Planet’s signature sound features soulful vocals over modern rock, while their music ranges from introspective grunge to upbeat pop rock. They were formed when two songwriting musicians (Cort Young and Albero Berul) met while working at the Guitar Center in San Francisco, and currently features six members: a vocalist (Rai Ahmed-Green), two guitarists (Albero Berul and Ben Hicks), bass, drums (Lyman Jerome Alexander II) and sax (Loosh Pixley). Their influences include The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden, as well as modern bands like Arctic Monkeys and Glass Animals, with a dash of R&B by way of Jill Scott and Adele.
The band describes the first track “Ruined” as being about “an emotional upheaval in the collapse of a relationship.” It begins with a tentatively picked amplified acoustic and quickly creates a smoky, smooth jazz vibe with its staccato 7th chords and organ. While checking out the band’s Instagram page I became very familiar with the powerhouse vocals of Rai Ahmed-Green, the kind of singer who can wrap her dulcet pipes around anything at the drop of a hat. Though Ahmed-Green’s the undeniable focal point of the song, the sax frills of Loosh Pixley add lots of film noir coloring. As the song builds power there’s subtle overdubs of both vocals and sax, and the middle section features a sweet guitar solo in a bluesy, B.B. King mode. By the conclusion the song is ready to burst with all the added sounds, but never loses its studio-perfect sheen.
“Little More Time” is described by lead singer Ahmed-Green as being about “when you’re in a relationship and you haven’t grown quickly enough and someone’s leaving out the door. You just wish you had a little more time to prove that you’re changing or growing in the way they need.” The single’s cover image is quite striking (as are most of Last Planet’s graphics). This song also begins with a folky acoustic riff and Ahmed-Green’s quiet, questioning vocals. Very suddenly the electric guitars blast in, making this the hardest rocking moment I’ve yet heard from these guys. The verses are sung behind a unique texture built from acoustic guitar, prominent bass and a sharp, creatively mixed percussive pattern. There’s also some kind of ghostly sound holding everything together, which makes me wonder how this band comes up with such great-sound songs with only 30 days each? Ahmed Green’s insistent chorus chants of “just give me a little more, a little time” are quite effective.
The final track “Whiskey Breath” was written about “the feeling of losing yourself in the trance of a night out. We wanted to make this song feel like an intoxicating daze.” This song features another bluesy structure with sharp staccato chords, wailing lead guitar and shuffling percussion (whoever has been producing deserves credit!). Ahmed-Green throws herself headfirst into the lyrics seemingly sung after a night of partying, with reality still way out of reach. The chorus is thick with vocals and Abbey Road-style guitars. If you’re not hearing this song in headphones you’re missing the amazing moments where fragments of vocals and weird noises pop up and skitter across the stereo field like errant UFOs. Having seen live videos where the band can clearly play without too may frills, it’s a surprise to hear them morph into such an interesting “studio band.” At the end I can’t believe just over four minutes have passed!
For me to say this band is going places is almost redundant, because they’re already chugging down the road to success at full speed. Hop on now and check them out!
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