Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reviews:: Left Lane Cruiser Bring Yo Ass to the Table

When I laid out the records I wanted to review this week, I originally had Kate Maki's lovely new long player (On High) slotted in for some hump day enjoyment. That all changed when a nice little mailer box with the Alive records logo stamped in the top left hand side was waiting for me in the ole postbox on Monday.

Alive records, quite simply, brings it. Their stable of artists is top shelf and the Black Diamond Heavies really put the label on notice for me. When I heard some of the Left Lane Cruiser tracks floating around the net, I politely asked for a copy (truth be told, if it's possible to get on your knees and beg via email, that is probably more accurate).

LLC is another two-piece gritty, raw, dirty blues outfit but the depth of sound they bring is unreal. First you have Freddy J IV (Joe) on guitar and hoarse, screamed vocals. All too often people talk about smoke and whiskey ripped throats, but in the case of Freddy J IV, his vocal cords appear to be held together by only a few sinewy strands.

People always talk about emcees being hungry on verses, well, in this case I think Joe is thirsty. He rips through the tracks, giving every ounce of sweat and energy he has, in a Southern Pavlovian response. It's like he knows the minute the track finishes, he can catch his breath and pound a shot. I can picture him tossing the glassware across the studio, wiping his brow and signaling to Brenn to start up again. It doesn’t matter that they are in the studio not on stage, he treats the recordings like a performance; live, rugged and adrenaline/whiskey fueled.

Joe is backed up by Brenn. While he is listed as the "drummer", Brenn is much, much more. He pounds through the kit, stretching the limit of the material like the seat on Kim Kardashian's jeans. He fills open spaces with harmonicas, mouth harps, and backing (occasional lead) vocals and you are left with a wall of sound that hits you in the jaw like you were caught dancing with it's girl.

Obviously, you can tell I love this record. That's the beauty of blogging not critiquing. I don't have to waste my time looking for some counter point. I can gush about the fact the cover design on the record reminds me of the old Jimmy Smith cover for Root Down. I can say that the fact Brenn's nickname (Sausage Paw) makes me want to love this band even more. But most importantly, this record blows the door off the hinges for 12 songs.

Wash It hits you with a viscous slide riff, cowbell and crashing cymbals. If you can stand still when they start going, you're a better person than me. They find a groove and run with it. The amazing thing is they actually manage to turn up the energy on Set me Down. Joe finds a frantic slide riff and lets Brenn deliver heavy fills. From the first note until the end of the song, the band goes faster, heavier, louder until they finally give you relief with a nice break down two-minutes in. You can't even catch your breath before they jump back into it.

They can sing about something as useless as a plate of pork n' beans and make you shake your ass. To the common listener, the riffs might sound similar but things like the harmonica on KFD add just the right change of style to keep it fresh. And seriously, they could play the same hectic, sweat inducing riff for the whole disc and my boney ass would still dance happily.

I've been listening to this record at work and the surging energy is killer. Justify blows you off your chair, showcasing Joe's most powerful lyrical content. The percussion clatter, heavy drone of Amy's in the Kitchen (seriously, it's like a swampy tip of the cap to Tom Waits) spikes nicely and transitions into some of their most melodic moments on the record. G Bob starts as a swampy hoe-down, but a nice build cranks the energy back up to the point you picture rock-a-billies dosey-doing in some local bar.

You get the picture yet? I could go through record track by track, but I don't need to. Seriously, listen to Wash It, say "f&ck; yeah" and repeat eleven more times. Now, how to get these boys to Canada?

MP3:: Wash It
MP3:: Amy's in the Kitchen
Video:: Wash It
Note:: My man plays the drums standing up and wears a washboard suit of armor, which seems even cooler to me

myspace :: label

Posted at 12:53 PM by ack :: 4 comments

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At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Autopsy IV did sayeth:

probably the album of the year and it's only January.


At 5:27 PM, Blogger obese did sayeth:

hell yeah LLC!


At 8:32 AM, Anonymous chris did sayeth:

Absolutely love them


At 5:09 PM, Blogger Chicken Diamond did sayeth:

LLC is the best Punk Blues act!

BTW, you can also check out Chicken Diamond, at


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