left lane cruiser - The I-94 Bar

Beck in Black - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Naturalsound)

beck in blackNot a “new” album as such but a compilation of favourite tracks, as nominated by former drummer Brenn "Sausage Paw" Beck, “Beck in Black” hangs together really well. Six of the 14 tracks are previously unreleased and a few others are re-mastered so there’s plenty of value here for glued-on fans.

For the uninitiated, Left Lane Cruiser is a duo (often augmented in the studio) from Indiana who play an eclectic brand of garage-blues with hillbilly and country undertones. Eight records in (four of ‘em on Alive Naturalsounds), they are currently Fredrick “Joe” Evans IV on guitar and vocals and Peter Dio providing the backbeat. When he’s not Left Lane cruising, Joe Evans is getting down and dirty in King Mud with Van Campbell (Black Diamond Heavies) and Parker Griggs (Radio Moscow.) Cos that's what families do.

Claw Machine Wizard - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sounds)

claw machine wizardUS label Alive Natural Sound have released the seventh album by the wonderful Left Lane Cruiser and to use a descriptor that no American will understand, “Claw Machine Wizard” is a ripper.

Indiana born and breed, this duo of Freddy J Evans (guitar-vocals) and Pete Rio (drums) brings the band back to what founding member Freddy has always seen as its place: two-piece blues /rock. Boy, does it work.

Dirty Spliff Blues - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sound)

dirty spliff bluesIt’s album number-seven for Left Lane Cruiser (five on Alive Natural Sound if you count the one they co-recorded with Black Diamond Heavies keyboardist John Wesley Myers) and the sound has evolved to the point where nobody is resting on any laurels.

Left Lane Cruiser were once an amped-up hill country duo playing what they tagged “hillgrass bluebilly”. They kicked out a helluva lot of jams for a two-piece, with fuzz, distortion and a kitchen drawer full of percussion their stock-in-trade. They even lucked out and landed a song on the soundtrack of “Breaking Bad”. Good synchronisation if you can get it.

Shake and Bake - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sounds)

shake and bakeFort Wayne, Indiana’s favourite blues duo is back and while they’re not making any seismic shifts in their music, it sure sounds good on “Shake and Bake”.

What's here? Ten songs. No fat. Mostly foot stomping punk blues. That giant-sized space cake on the cover sure ain’t gluten-free. Is it studio album 10 or 11? Who cares. The formula works. 

Left Lane Cruiser remains Freddy “Joe” Evans IV (guitar and vocals) and Pete Dio (drums and percussion), the latter on his third straight record, and opening track “Two Dollar Elvis” makes an immediate impact. Dio lays down the time to signal Evans’ stuttering guitar and trademark hoarse ’n’ gritty vocal. 

Victory Motel Sessions - King Mud (Alive Naturalsound Records) & The Power To Kill - Beyond the Stars (Beyond the Stars)

king mud
beyond the stars

These two discs were each made (mostly) by a two-piece band, drums’n’guitar; and vox and guitars, respectively. They’re both something I wouldn’t have believed possible: successful two-person rock’n’roll that sounds fantastic. Each album does have a few other elements, but they’re precious few and … and again, I wouldn’t have believed it, but … you don’t really miss the others that much. Why?

In King Mud’s case, the songs and the delivery gain, hold and manipulate your attention; their two covers (you should be familiar with at least one) taken over by the Mudders to such an extent they may as well have written it themselves.

King Mud are Van Campbell from the Black Diamond Heavies and Freddy J IV from Left Lane Cruiser. They’re full-on rock’n’stuff, the kind of busy guitar which tells the story, shoves the song forward and devil the details. There’s a distinctive ‘70s American style to the Mudders, but you can clearly hear innumerable UK influences as well.