CD Review: Left Lane Cruiser – Rock Them Back to Hell!
Freddy J. IV and Brenn Beck of Indiana’s roots rock and hillbilly blues duo Left Lane Cruiser are back with a follow-up to their 2011 release “Junkyard Speed Ball,” titled “Rock Them Back to Hell!” Still on Alive Records, this brand new full-length by Left Lane Cruiser consists of ten original songs of rousing sonic mastery. With Brenn’s dynamic drumming on his kit, along with the peculiar clank n’ bang of his occasional trash percussion, and with Freddy’s wildly nimble finger-pickin’ and dirty note progressions on his guitar, and of course his smoky, boozy stream of dirty-throated vocals, they especially rock the hell out of you on this one.
The first time my ears crossed paths with Left Lane Cruiser’s sound was a few years ago when Hillgrass Bluebilly Records released a reissue of the duo’s raucous debut, “Getting’ Down On It.” Admittedly, I became an instant fan as I listen to those early songs, an experience which resulted in a pretty favorable review. Since then I made a point of listening to as much Left Lane Cruiser material as I could find, during which I ended up reviewing “Junkyard Speed Ball.” But, having gone through the songs on “Rock Them Back to Hell!” a number of times in the last week, I am moved now to state that this is arguably their best album to date. Of course, you will have to listen to it and decided for yourself whether or not that is the case. Such things are entirely subjective, after all.
While “Rock Them Back to Hell” is one of those rare albums that are outstanding from start to finish, there are certainly a few album highlights that deserve mention. Zombie Blocked, the album opener, is a piece of hillbilly voodoo blues stomp, marked by note repetition and punctuated by trash percussion, as well as Freddy J.’s unmistakable ashtray vocals and Kevin Jackson’s ferocious harmonica accompaniment. The following track, Electrify, is along similar lines as Zombie Blocked, and again features Kevin Jackson’s harmonica skills. Neighborhood is a dirty song with Freddy J. working the keys on the Fender Rhodes organ, unleashing manic riffs, and delivering a busy stream of vocals as sharp and filthy as the edge of a rusty razor blade. Every good roots album needs a drinking song, especially when that roots album is by Left Lane Cruiser (whose two members undoubtedly have more booze in their veins than blood), and this one is a hybrid piece of beer-swilling, shot glass-turning rock’n’roll and wasteland country blues called The Juice to get Loose, in which Freddy J. praises the gods of fermentation and distillation, of pints and shots, of bottles and cans and jugs. For the song Coley, the boys slow it down a bit, with semi-clean-channel guitar over a foundation of dirty six-string rhythm, a simple but effective beat, and vocals that aren’t as muddy as usual. And lastly, we have the album’s closer, Righteous, an all-out rocker that seems a distant relation to the bluesy stoner rock of the band Clutch, coupled with a touch of ‘70s guitar rock, but when it comes down to all Left Lane Cruiser.
Left Lane Cruiser’s “Rock Them Back to Hell!” is available from Alive Records on red and white blood-splattered disc, in a simple cardboard and plastic case, with track list on back, band photos inside, and killer cover art by William Stout.
For fans of: Restavrant, Ten Foot Polecats, Scott H. Biram, The Juke Joint Pimps, Mudlow, Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, etc.