The Last Hope
Manifesto is the second CD by Johnstown-to-Pittsburgh DIY/political punkers The Last Hope, whose members also run the South Side's In the Blood tattoo shop, staff the Hot Metal Church and put on all-ages shows. Whether it's the stenciled iconography (gas mask, smashed TV, megaphone) or the impassioned screaming over swift, four-chord missives, the band taps a tradition extending from The Clash, Crass and Minor Threat to Rancid, Anti-Flag and Rise Against.
I'm a bit ambivalent about this release, but not because it borrows so many tropes from three generations of punk, and not because the band is Christian. (The group plays with atheistic punks like The Subhumans and The Casualties, and isn't changing any minds that have already been made up.) And no punks worth their liberty spikes will be left unmoved by the stirring recording job done by Matt Davis, of Endless Mike & the Beagle Club. But I do see a drawback in the lyrics.
The songs advocate worldwide uprising but offer few talking points, almost as if they don't want to offend. Generalities such as "let's make a change / together we can make a difference," "let's embrace our diversity" and "to the basements, to the underground / our hearts together beat this rebel sound" make me question whether the text couldn't work as well for a Levi's ad or a "The More You Know" PSA.
I imagine many would be hard-pressed to pump a fist to these lyrics with conviction. But the youths, with their patches and ripped jackets, still think they have the power to improve the world, and they probably do. So The Last Hope is their perfect incendiary soundtrack.
The Last Hope with In the Wake of Giants, Code Orange Kids, The Edukators, Wifebeater and Eric Chowrah. 5:30 p.m. Fri., Dec. 18. The Cellar, First Presbyterian Church, 320 Sixth Ave., Downtown. All ages. Donations benefit Doctors Without Borders. 412-471-3436