New album by Left Lane Cruiser: “Junkyard Speed Ball”
Fort Wayne, Indiana roots rock duo Left Lane Cruiser are preparing to unleash yet another countrified and blues-filled album on Alive Naturalsound Records. That’s right, singer and vocalist Fredrick J. Evans IV and drummer and junk percussionist Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck are still at it, tellin’ ya’ll to bring yo’ assess to the table, where they serve up heaping mounds of all you can eat music. And their music, as expected, remains true to the formula that has worked so well for them since their inception in 2004 — a mighty signature sound of dirty, aggressive blues and foot-stompin’ alt-country.
“Junkyard Speed Ball” makes for the two-piece roots powerhouse’s fourth full-length album, featuring twelve searing new songs, all of which make it pretty darn clear that these two good ol’ boys ain’t quitting anytime soon. Left Lane Cruiser is in its prime, if anything. “Lost My Mind,” the new album’s opener, is definitely one of the more standout tracks, with echoing harmonica, a killer riff, a driving drumbeat, and a flow of gritty vocals. “Circus” stands out as well, with some wicked slide guitar. After that I’d have to say the fourth track “Shine” is one of the more notable songs, with its catchy note progressions and punctuating snare hits, and of course Fredrick’s vocals, which sound as if they’re being sung through a big rig’s staticy CB radio. “At the Denny’s,” the album’s closer, is another one, to be sure, with plenty of distorted electric guitar bits and a steady beat, like a nighttime run in a rusted-out ’72 Chevy Nova, with clear plastic taped over the windows, a large crack in the windshield, a busted headlight, and smoking engine.
On “Junkyard Speed Ball” the boys tried their hand at slowing it down a bit with some mellow rockin’ numbers, like “Giving Tree,” “Cracker Barrel,” and “Road Again.” Of course, these songs are no less important for their lack of energy and raucousness. In fact, they reveal a side of Left Lane Cruiser that needs to be heard as well. Not to mention, they also gives the boys a little more room to show off the subtleties of their musical skill.
During their live shows, Fredrick J. Evans IV handles his guitar one moment like something special he may never get to touch again, and the next he attacks the strings in a fury of fingers and slide, alternately picking and strumming, frantically but with all the precision and dexterity in the world. Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck goes to town on his drums, pounding at times like a crazed individual, while at other times he plays with a good deal of restraint. There are even times when Brenn sits back from the kit altogether and uses a washboard or junk percussion.
I have said many times in my writing that the two-piece band effort isn’t something that many artists get right. In today’s independent and underground music world there are a handful of worthwhile two-piece outfits, such as Black Diamond Heavies, Restavrant, The Black Keys, Uncle Scratch’s Gospel Revival, Two Gallants, and Hillstomp. But Left Lane Cruiser have it down.
“Junkyard Speed Ball” follows on the heels of Hillgrass Bluebilly Records’ re-release of Left Lane Cruiser’s debut album “Gettin’ Down On It.” Other than the re-release, all of Left Lane Cruiser’s albums have been released on Alive Naturalsound Records, like 2008’s “Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table” and 2009’s “All You Can Eat!” Personally, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.
So, if you like your music like your food, and prefer backyard barbecues with pork n’ beans and plenty of cheap beer and mason jar moonshine over stuffy indoor events with expensive wines and palate cleanser nibblers, Left Lane Cruiser is undoubtedly the dish for you.