Dirty Spliff Blues - Left Lane Cruiser (Alive Natural Sound)
It’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.
They’re now a tub-thumping three-piece, built around slide guitarist-vocalist Freddy J IV. Drummer Brenn Breck vacated the stool after a decade and was replaced by Pete Dio. The other newbie is bassist Joe Bent. Their take on blues-rock has been beefed-up as well. The lighter hill country touches have been smudged.
If the song titles weren’t a giveaway, aural wrecking balls like “Elephant’s Stomp” and “Whitbread n’ Beans” put the issue beyond doubt. The fuzz tone strut of “Heavy Honey” sits perfectly under Freddy J’s beefy soul shout.
By the time the slightly off-kilter title track slides into the pounding “Cutting Trees” and the wet concrete undertow of “All Damn Day”, it’s no contest. If you’ve had the volume up there’s no chance of you getting up off that canvas in a hurry.
The cover art shows a scarecrow with a joint in a field full of dope plants and the title song is a celebration of Indiana-grown weed, but the vibe’s more workingman’s blues rock than Bob Marley.
If you liked Left Lane Cruiser’s last album, “Rock Them Back To Hell”, you’ll more than likely take to this one. It’s just a little sharper, a fraction more focused. The band’s truly broken bad and there’s no looking back.