From the somber opening notes of “Lunar Rhapsody,” to the closing notes of “Dial Tone,” Last Import’s self-titled debut album transports you into another dimension. Only one thing is perfectly clear; the energetic, melodic, surf-punk trio based out of Minneapolis has officially dropped the gloves and are ready to take the world by storm.
Last Import started off as a teen collaboration in 2014, at that time performing under the name She Rock She Rock. Three years later they found themselves with a new name and all three members daylighting as full-time college students but continued performing together and deciding to see how far this musical journey can take them.
Featuring Emily Bjorke (guitar, lead vocals), Grace Baldwin (bass, backing vocals), and Jane Halldorson (drums), the band released their first official EP, titled Songs for Adam on January 25th of last year. Since then, they have performed at some of the most popular venues in the Twin Cities, opening for Bastille at Go 96.3’s ‘Snow Show 18’ at Palace Theatre as well as performing with Foster The People last summer.
I was lucky enough to be sent an early copy of Last Import’s debut album by their drummer, Jane Halldorson, and as soon as I hit play, I was absolutely blown away. The first time I listened through, I actually forgot I was supposed to be reviewing the album and simply got lost in the wonderful music I was listening to.
After roughly thirty-one minutes, I was thrust back into reality, totally lacking any ability to put what I had just listened to into words. The album sounded like something you would expect from twenty-plus year veterans in this industry, and the production behind it is absolutely incredible. As I struggled to put pen to paper, the only thing I could think of was “this is going to be huge.”
Although it’s still too early to tell if I was right or not, the album dropped on Friday and has already received a little bit of help from a few of the Twin Cities largest radio stations.
The Current debuted the song “Dial Tone” on The Local Show last Sunday, and the song “(Fast Times At) Space Mountain” debuted on Go 96.3 Wednesday night. All of this was leading up to their LP Release Show at the legendary 7th St Entry on Friday night.
Fresh off the Polar Vortex, but still cold enough to make my six-block walk to the venue pure agony, roughly 250 Minnesotan’s pushed their way into The Entry side of First Avenue for a show that sold-out just as the doors opened.
Last Import brought in a few local favorites like The Aftergreens & Karate Chop, Silence to assist in celebrating their big day, and by the time I got to the venue the room was overflowing with energy that totally consumed me as soon as I opened the door.
As John Chuck & The Class got up onto the stage to perform, I was sure the crowd was actually going to blow the roof off the place. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this incredibly talented group before and got just what I expected in a vibrant, and very dynamic performance. A headliner who can sell-out The Entry at any time themselves, they were an excellent choice as hype/set-up men for Last Import’s inspired set.
As the ladies of Last Import starting setting up the equipment on stage, you could tell the crowd was getting a bit restless. If I had concerns about the amount of energy and the effect it would have on the building before, the anticipation building in the room felt even more explosive and was very fun to experience.
Once the finishing touch of the signature “Stay Rad Ponyboy” banner was raised above the stage, the crowd finished shuffling to the front of the stage and we were officially off to the races. Each member entered the stage one-by-one, with the help of the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme song, to a huge round of applause and cheering.
The majority of the set featured the girls performing their debut album from start to finish, but they made sure to sneak in a couple of longtime crowd-favorites, as well as a really fun sing-a-long cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Don’t Bring Me Down.”
Before their performance of “One A Day,” the girls passed out confetti canons that the crowd was instructed to set off as soon as Jane’s drum kicked in, resulting in an explosion of color and absolute chaos from the crowd.
Another high point was the girls instructing the crowd to form a “circle pit” during the ensuing song, and watching the crowd struggle to form an actual circle pit and simply just randomly running into one another instead.
Overall, the performance was simply amazing. The chemistry these three girls have together on-stage, and the pure joy that exudes from them as they perform, is quite enjoyable to watch. Each one of the members took at least one opportunity during the show to share how much this album meant to them, and how overjoyed they were to finally share it with the world.
It’s important to mention that I also noticed giant black X’s on lead singer Emily Bjorke’s hands, telling me that these three girls are either just turning twenty-one, or are still under the legal drinking age, making the nearly flawless performance (both at The Entry & on the album) all the more impressive.
These ladies obviously have a very, very long career ahead of them, and we will certainly be seeing the name ‘Last Import’ on marquees for years to come.
Starting next week, Last Import’s self-titled debut will be available for purchase at both Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, as well as Caydence Records in St. Paul. The album is also available on your preferred choice of streaming service, but this is certainly a record on which you will not regret spending the money.