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.

The guitar playing is memorable; there are riffs everywhere that just make you want to dance, baby, and that’s what this album is all about. It’s dirty blues played without too much thought… heads down, bums up and the duo just rip the shit out of each tune, constantly bouncing off each other. To hear them at work is just wonderful.

The title track kicks the album off with a groove that’s nasty, dirty and bitter. From the very first riff I was in with that one, but it’s “The Point of Overflowing” that’s, without doubt, the best track on the record. The guitars and drums just smash you, and all the whooping and hollering makes you think you’re in the room with them. It’s an unbelievably great song.

The hillbilly punk/blues thing keeps this album rolling; The swamps and the smells – they’re all here for your listening pleasure. “Burn 'em Brew”, “Lately” and “Indigenous” have some off the best slide guitar playing you’re ever likely to hear. It’s almost a let down when “Liquor Store” brings the album to a close. Thankfully, it can be played again and again.  

And every listen brings up something new that’s invariably something old, whether it’s an odd influence or a little riff you might recognise after missing it the first time round. I’m sure I can hear some Ronnie Wood and The Faces in there, some Funkadelic. And, as Freddy says, a lot of James Brown. was listened to while on the road. These and other influences have seeped into the duo’s thoughts and tastes. They even call this their “soul album”.

So folks, if you want to hear a duo with a truly amazing sound then get yourself a copy, if only to hear the guitar playing madman that is Freddy J Evans. You’ll also dig the bash and crash of Pete Dio. So stoke the BBQ, pour a Bourbon or two and let the magic happen.

PS The music of Left Lane Cruiser has been heard on the TV show “Breaking Bad”.


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