LEFT LANE CRUISER
BRING YO' ASS TO THE TABLE
I’ll freely admit that I’m pulling for Left Lane Cruiser. I was hooked from the very first time I saw them live a few years ago, incongruously perched on a second stage at a local entertainment plex and totally immersed in their task. Here were two guys (Brenn Beck on drums and hollerin’ and Joe Evans on vocals and guitar) pumping impossibly raw, authentic rural-blues stomps through the club’s massive bass bins, causing the meat-market kids to shake it despite themselves. Cut to present: upon hearing that LLC got picked up by the Alive Naturalsound label earlier this year, I was pleased as punch to see this hardworking, talented local duo go national.
So the big question upon popping Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table into the CD player was not how good it would be, rather, how much of an edge might have been removed for the sake of the dreaded bean counters at LLC’s new home. The short answer: it’s still as visceral and aggressive as ever. You might argue that it’s actually more so, since the instruments and vocals sound even more “present” and immediate. While Get Yo’ Ass to the Table fits well with LLC’s previous releases (Slingshot and Gettin’ Down On It), it also represents another move forward. As soon as you hear the steady hydraulic thump of Beck’s substantial kick drum (with a tasty cowbell to boot) announcing the opening track “Wash It,” you know right away that all is well in the north Mississippi hill country of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The song’s frenetic slide guitar work gives way to a classic stomp, and you’re left shaking your head at the fact that just two guys are making all this fine racket. Again.
“KFD” grooves on a minimal combination slide and fingerpicked riff, with Beck pushing and pulling the dynamics expertly. The uptempo “Amerika” clatters along for a bit before firing up like a muscle car that’s been sitting in the back yard all winter, while the Tom Waits-meets-Ween vibe of “Amy’s in the Kitchen” oozes with grimy power. It’s definitely a highlight. Name checking your hometown is always good for a few style points, and Evans does just that on “Set Me Down,” among pile-driving beats and badass riffage. If he didn’t smoke unfiltered cigarettes between sips of rotgut whiskey to prepare his voice for the studio, then I guess he must’ve found the empty bottle and ate it. His weathered vocal cords are definitely our gain.
A number of tunes make return engagements from previous recordings, and they don’t disappoint. It makes sense for LLC to showcase these live favorites again for a bigger audience, and it’s a hoot to hear them again. The whole package sounds great, and LLC perform with an air of authenticity and total commitment that sucks you into their world from the first note. (D.M. Jones)
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