I had the honor of reviewing Left Lane Cruiser’s first album four years ago, and it left a definite impression. Out of the literally hundreds of local albums I’ve reviewed over the years this band is one of the few whose sound is so pleasingly distinctive that I could recognize them 10 seconds into a song. After all, how many bands manage to make one drum set and one guitar sound like a full band? People always seem impressed when a power trio can make a sound as big as a traditional rock band, and, while two-piece bands seem to be the trendy thing lately, no one is able to match Left Lane Cruiser for quality noise.
It’s pleasing to find that since 2005 this amazing band has signed a real record deal and toured Europe. Not bad for a couple of Hoosiers. Freddy J. Evans IV lays a gritty foundation of ragged, buzzing slide guitar, crooning over the top with his dulcet tones. Scratch that. Evans hoarsely growls with vocal chords seemingly shredded by whiskey and a three-pack-a-day habit. Brenn “Sausage Paw” Beck plays the drums, which is as much of an understatement as saying that Hormel processes a lot of meat. Beck pounds away like a man forever playing his final song, filling whatever unfortunate spaces have been left by Evans. Their swampy sound is raw with few overdubs, each song sounding like a first take, a first take so stunning and full of lunging energy that further attempts are unnecessary.
Fortunately for those of us unable or too cowardly to subject themselves to the intensity of a live show, Left Lane Cruiser’s newest CD is slated to hit the shelves this month. The 10 songs on All You Can Eat will leave your jaw on the floor and your eardrums bruised. There’s “Crackalacka,” where Mississippi blues meets punk; and “Black Lung” that will raise the hairs on your neck with its muddy, to-die-for guitar tone; and “Ol’ Fashioned,” a song that is nearly playful in its clean(er) finger picked guitar and lighter drums. I can’t tell you much about the lyrics because it’s difficult to hear clearly. Evans could be singing about leprechauns and unicorns and it would sound like he’s singing about a backwater dive that sells watered-down whiskey to grimy truckers.
You almost have to feel sorry for the instruments these guys play as they make their beautiful cacophony. These aren’t instruments that are carefully polished and packed away each night, but tools, worn and smudged and chipped with hard use and sheer love. Venture out to a Left Lane Cruiser show this fall before they head to Europe again, or pick up All You Can Eat (on sale early exclusively at Wooden Nickel Music) and you’ll find out why this band is making die-hard fans around the world.
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Marcus King Band
July 21 • Sweetwater Performace Pavilion