Left Lane Cruiser

Claw Machine Wizard

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2017's Claw Machine Wizard is Left Lane Cruiser's ninth album in ten years, and if you've been following their body of work, you should know what to expect before the first tune kicks in. Left Lane Cruiser are all about raw, dirty blues-rock, full of distorted guitars and pounding rhythms, and they aren't about to change their formula a decade into the game. But Claw Machine Wizard does sound just a bit less raunchy than their past few efforts, and contrary to expectations, that turns out to work in their favor. Don't worry, this album is still industrial-strength stomp-down blues-rock, but Jason Davis' engineering and mix add a bit more clarity to the group's attack, and the result boasts a bit less grime and a bit more groove, which helps these tunes shake long and hard. The cleaner palette also gives Freddy J IV's noisy guitar figures more space to strut their stuff, and brightens the snap of Pete Dio's drumming. Davis' guest keyboards boast a punch that kicks like a second guitar, and the band's attack sounds leaner, tighter, and more muscular than it did on 2015's Dirty Spliff Blues. None of these changes to the band's attack are radical, but the details do make a difference, and taken together, they help make Claw Machine Wizard one of Left Lane Cruiser's best albums to date.

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