Gettin' Down On It
Left Lane Cruiser

by D.M. Jones Down
So I’m having this dream, see, driving my lawnmower down the side of a dirt road in deepest Mississippi, on the way to the liquor store. It’s dusk. As I approach a certain crossroads I can make out three vague silhouettes up ahead, one taller than the others; they appear to be talking business ...

Playing the blues is tricky in the same way that, say, riding a horse with your eyes closed is tricky. You have to give up control to a certain degree, not worry about particulars, be they low tree branches or good manners. Left Lane Cruiser’s Joe Evans (guitar, vocal) and Brenn Beck (drums, harp, vocals) have figured this out, at least blues part - I have no idea as to their horsemanship. One listen to their sophomore effort, Gettin’ Down On It, will leave no doubt.

Evans and Beck both profess to be big fans of the Fat Possum label, which is loaded up with an unvarnished roster of rural blues icons. LLC wear the influence well, matching up Evans’ swampy pluck n’ slide guitar with the whomping, almost tribal drumbeats Beck provides. The two produce a dense sound that many a four-piece combo would be hard-pressed to match. Throw in a sly sense of humor and a willingness to strip their songs raw and roll them in bacon fat, and you’ve got yourself a juggernaut.

Gettin’ Down On It continues the gut-thumping relentlessness of its predecessor (last year’s Slingshot) but adds a few wrinkles here and there, like old radio show soundbites and varying production styles among its 16 songs, which were recorded at Tempel Recording Studios, Monastic Chambers and even at a live show. The sonic diversity helps the album breathe, resetting the listener’s focus for each new tune.

I can just barely hear the tall one tell the other two to take what he’s given them and head north, to pass along the goodness. The voice chills me to the bone, even though it’s at least 85 degrees out here ...

The disc’s many highlights include a frenetic breakdown on the live track, “That Ass,” which is made all the more intense by its club setting. It’s a heady mix of blues, punk and metronomic motorik that makes you wish you were at that show. Raw as it is, this stuff is imminently danceable. The combination of a muddy guitar and almost martial drumbeat pulse through the murky “Set Me Free” (proudly recorded in Beck’s garage with “two cheap-ass mics”), while LLC namecheck themselves in true blues fashion. The thumping “Pork N’ Beans” would be a golden opportunity for LLC if they ever decide to sell out. Heinz, are you listening?

Two CD release parties will be held in Fort Wayne for Gettin’ Down On It, first at the Cinema Center on the IIT campus May 17 at 8 p.m., then on May 20 at the Wooden Nickel Music Store on North Anthony Blvd. at 2 p.m.

If you like your blues unadorned, uncompromising, in-your-face and undeniable, your attendance is required. This is a devil of a real deal.

Copyright 2006 Ad Media Inc.