Left Lane Cruiser

Junkyard Speed Ball

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Left Lane Cruiser -- a two-piece band comprised of Frederick “Joe” Evans IV on slide guitar and vocals and Bren Beck on drums -- may be from Fort Wayne, IN but they sound like a couple of unhinged punk hillbillies raised on the North Mississippi hill country blues of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. They mine the same sort of modal blues territory but, with half-distorted vocals pushed through what sounds like a shorted-out karaoke mike, they also sound like a lo-fi swampy version of the Stooges, all full of rampaging impatience. Junkyard Speed Ball is the duo’s fourth album (and third for Alive Records), and it doesn’t deviate at all from the sound of their earlier releases -- this isn’t a band much concerned with evolving its sound. That’s a good thing, because they make a hell of a lot of noise and pretty much mow through every song with real rock fervor. The opener, “Lost My Mind,” is absolutely visceral, and it sets the tone for the whole album -- track after track races forward with the accelerator down, and if it’s sometimes hard to tell what Evans is scorching his vocal cords to say, well, it’s still the blues and we all know what that means. But this isn’t woe-is-me blues. It’s pissed-off blues. Song after song here clangs away at the end of the junkyard chain, riding Evans' searing, chiming modal guitar riffs and Beck's loose-limbed pounding on the drums. “Shine” gallops like a magnificent drunken plow horse, while “Weed Vodka” finds Evans' chiming electric guitar sounding like a clawhammer banjo run through an amp stack set on 11. Nothing is reined in here, and the accumulation of these blasts of hill country tweaks makes this a powerful album, one that replaces clarity with the sheer joy of impassioned noise -- stomp it to death seems to be the motto. Recorded by Jim Diamond (who also plays bass here on “Represent,” while John Wesley Myers of the Black Diamond Heavies adds organ and keyboard to four songs) at his Ghetto Recorders studio in Detroit, MI, Junkyard Speed Ball is another fine outing from a refreshingly direct and uncomplicated band that rocks like a jackhammer.

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