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“Last Heroes” LP by Marc Miner

American Marc Miner spent much of his childhood growing up in Europe before ever seeing the United States. He spent several years in America before legal entanglements forced him to decamp to Europe where he’s since taken up residence in one of the continent’s most beautiful and historic cities, Vienna, Austria. The life and musical lessons he amassed during his time in America, however, stuck with him though. He’s released a debut collection Smile When You’re Wasted in 2020 and later a soundtrack for the short film The Path of His Spirits in 2022. His new release Last Heroes has produced two popular singles so far and seems poised to move the goalposts for his burgeoning artistry.

Firearms and crime are defining elements of the opener “Sweet Revenge”. His blood-soaked duo, a quasi-riff on Bonnie and Clyde, are an unforgiving pair and the musical landscape they inhabit rushes past listeners. It’s a deceptively simple tune that relies on the attentive interplay between the musicians involved for its success. It’s a memorable beginning for the release and sets a tone for everything that follows.

He favors character studies. “Nicki & Bob” continues in that tradition with a musical short story examining the lowdown lives of two small-town characters perceived as losers by everyone they meet. Miner has enormous sympathy for such outcasts, they populate his songwriting in abundance, but such depictions never smack of cliché. Americana musical elements are strong here, as elsewhere, and it couples a light honkytonk flavor with traditional rock touches such as organ.

 “Hero of Laredo” is a tragic tale of a hard-bitten character undone by his greed. It’s arguably the most compelling narrative on an album that makes great use of storytelling and the details Miner layers into the tale are a crucial factor. The haunted strands of pedal steel recurring through the song are a definite nod to Miner’s country music roots and make a big difference in the song. “Heavy Bones” is one of the album’s singles thus far and it isn’t hard to hear why. The chorus brings everything together with a resounding punch and the wordless backing vocals help make those moments even stronger. Blending acoustic guitar with electrified oomph is another reason for this song’s success.

“Bible & Rifle” lets some of Miner’s anger fly, but never sounds out of control. The gritty march of the song crackles thanks to its guitar playing and sternum-rattling percussion. Miner doesn’t mince words with the lyrics and some moments may catch listeners off-guard, but it’s never gratuitous. “The World’s Fairytale” sees Miner working in a socially conscious mode, but it doesn’t come across as preachy. It’s a thoughtful lyric reinforced by an equally considered arrangement that should exert across-the-board appeal.

Marc Miner’s latest musical foray proves he has the staying power to continue for years, if not decades, to come. There isn’t a single dud among Last Heroes’ eleven songs and their authenticity is convincing without ever straining for effect. Miner doesn’t treat songs in the Americana genre like butterflies pinned under glass but, instead, as living and breathing documents of our world today.  

Mindy McCall



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