Left Lane Cruiser – Rock Them Back To Hell! (2013)

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Never have so much gritty, grimy and righteous noise come from just two guys as Left Lane Cruiser. 2008’s Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table introduced this primal duo with Freddy J. IV manning a loud guitar and a mean country snarl, while Brenn Beck didn’t even use a drum set for percussion, fashioning noisemakers from parts you can find at a land fill. None of that was posing, because their brand of punk-blues is sincere; you can draw a straight line from Mississippi Fred McDowell to them, even though that line gets more rambunctious as you get closer to LLC. We revisited them a few years later when Junkyard Speed Ball (2011) came out, which I described then as “just as crunchy, unsubtle and amplified as album No. 1,” even with the subtle addition of James Leg’s keys on some tracks.

Two years later with Rock Them Back To Hell!, even more instruments are thrown at the music, with Freddy now adding bass, Fender Rhodes and organ to his arsenal of guitars. Benn meanwhile has long since graduated to a real drum kit, but he still likes to bang on odd shit sometimes. Is Hell just as raw, loud and brash as that first album? You betcher sweet ass it is.

Freddy’s guitar gets so damned loud sometimes, it’s sometimes hard to tell when he’s playing other instruments. As before, his growl is fed through a P.A. system (or so it seems) just so you can tell there’s singing going on. I can’t make the words most of the time, but who needs stinkin’ lyrics? This is balls-out bluesy hillbilly rock.

They announce from the start they still mean business: “Zombie Blocked” is a thick electric overdriven slab of punk soul. “Neighborhood” is an industrial drone, hillbilly style. “Jukebox” is 70’s style blues-rock, meant to be played with the volume maxed out. On some tunes, like “Electrify,” and “Be So Fine,” it sounds like the back porch of a shack in Clarksdale with Marshall stacks sitting alongside the rocking chairs.

One notable exception is “Juice To Get Loose,” streamed above, where an acoustic slide kicks off the song and the amps stay away, showing how they can be just as dangerous unplugged. “Overtaken” is the best place to hear Brenn, because there’s just enough letup from Freddy to check out the junkyard drummer’s funky syncopation. “Coley” is about the only song where you can make out the lyrics, which includes a nice shout out to Tom Petty. I may have to listen a little harder to the other cuts if there are any props given to Skynyrd or Molly Hatchet.

It’s a few more instruments but the same Left Lane Cruiser attitude. Since their attitude is their music, that’s all you need to know. Rock Them Back To Hell! will please anyone who enjoyed their prior three albums. And what’s not to enjoy about blues that’s loud, raucous and fun?

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Rock Them Back To Hell! drops on Setpember 17 by Alive Natural Sound Records.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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