I had never listened to Left Lane Cruiser before reviewing this album. I certainly was aware beforehand that they have a devoted cult following in their hometown of Fort Wayne and that they play hard, bluesy punk. And I have certainly sold plenty copies of their previous albums at Wooden Nickel and have had plenty of music-buying customers tell me how I was missing out. As I type these words, I still haven’t explored LLC’s back discography, but now that I’ve heard their sixth album, Rock Them Back to Hell!, I’ll be getting on that soon ...... And after sampling some selections from each album, I now know why Left Lane Cruiser have earned their reputation for impeccable song craft in their genre. After five songs, I picked up on guitarist Frederick “Joe” Evans IV and drummer Brenn Beck’s formula for creating their music: Southern fry some blues riffs, mix them with fiery punk sauce and top it off with scorched vocals. Bands that use formulas run the risk of becoming stale, but LLC’s freshness keeps customers coming back for more.
That’s how “Zombie Block” effortlessly and immediately hooks you in with its swaggering bass boogie, picking up right where 2011’s Junkyard Speedball left off. There are no covers or keyboards this time around, but if last year’s Painkillers album with James Leg proved anything, it’s that LLC could deviate briefly without sacrificing sound. With Rock Them Back to Hell!, Left Lane Cruiser have crafted an album that successfully carries out the command of its own title with a party mentality.
Coming from someone who knew virtually nothing about Left Lane Cruiser before hearing this album, RTBTH! has no problem accommodating those like myself who are exposed to the band for the first time. The accessibility of songs like “Neighborhood” and the percussion-oriented “Overtaken” familiarize you to their sound and make you want more.
Rock Them Back to Hell! is a well-paced, digestible album, even one worth revisiting on occasion. Given the strength of the songwriting, any song on the album is potentially a favorite for the casual listener. I know the track I’ll be revisiting the most is “Jukebox,” whenever I need a killer song stuck in my head. Or whenever I need to rock the undead back to hell.
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