Alive Naturalsound Records

Independent record label based in LA. Home to The Black Keys, Two Gallants, Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Hacienda, John The Conqueror, Brian Olive, Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T-Model Ford, Thomas Function, Waves Of Fury, etc. More at

Friday, January 25, 2008

LEFT LANE CRUISER - Nine Bullets, HearYa, Herohill

Nine Bullets review of "Bring Yo' Ass To the Table": Let the year that is 2008 begin to rock. Right now. Alive Records has released Left Lane Cruiser’s label debut, Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table, and it is everything fans of their self-released album, Gettin’ Down On It, could have expected and so much more. I got an iPhone for Christmas and in preparation for the beginning of the year, I planned to load the new LLC, Drive-By Truckers and N. Mississippi Allstars albums on it for listening in my New Years travels. I never made it to the DBT or NMA discs.

Joe and Brenn headed into Painesville, Ohio’s Suma Studios, a studio full of reel to reels and vinyl cutting machines, and emerged with a blues-fueled, rock-driven cd on the verge of a whiskey rage. This is a must add to the Essential Listening list and currently my favorite cd of this young year. You like this site? You’ll love this disc…trust me.

LLC is currently on the road with another ninebullets fave, Black Diamond Heavies….I can’t imagine the awesome concentrate that this show must be, but seeing as how the tour isn’t currently making it to Florida, imagining is all I got. Even if they don’t get down this way, they are supposed to be playing this year’s Deep Blues Festival, so I’ll be coming to them.

HearYa review of "Bring Yo' Ass To the Table":
In Left Lane Cruiser, Alive Records finds another swampy blues act with a heavy dose of pedal steel and grizzly, low-fi vocals. LLC won’t seduce you with poetic lyrics, but they’ll start you off with a whiskey on the rocks to warm you up on the intro track, “Wash It,” and then run you over with brute force throughout the rest of the album. Lead singer/Slide guitarist, Joe Evans, sounds like he is foaming at mouth as he isn’t going down without a fight. Brenn Beck beats the drums like they owe him money and blows a damn good harmonica.

Three songs into Bring Yo’ Ass to the Table, we’re greeted by “Pork N’ Beans,” a song about a plate of pork n’ beans. Nothing more. In the same vein as Mofro’s “Ho Cake,” Left Lane Cruiser show that simple tunes about food can hit with as much punch as the most complicated piece of music if performed well. This is a booze-fueled, blues romp that Evans devours.

Midway through the album you’ll find “Justify,” a song full of rage about racism. It’s the song Zach De La Rocha would have written if he’d have grown up in a swamp with lyrics: “Well the mama and the children, came out to watch you burn/ And the lawyer and the preacher, came out to take their turn.”

This isn’t dinner party music. It doesn’t go with wine or cheese plates, but roll out a table of barbeque and some canned beer and you’re in business. It’s simple. If you like Scott H. Biram, then you’re going to love these guys. Bring Yo’ Ass to The Table has everything that Biram delivers, plus a kickass drummer.

Herohill review of "Bring Yo' Ass To The Table":
When I laid out the records I wanted to review this week, I originally had
Kate Maki's lovely new long player (On High) slotted in for some hump day enjoyment. That all changed when a nice little mailer box with the Alive records logo stamped in the top left hand side was waiting for me in the ole postbox on Monday.

Alive records, quite simply, brings it. Their stable of artists is top shelf and the
Black Diamond Heavies really put the label on notice for me. When I heard some of the Left Lane Cruiser tracks floating around the net, I politely asked for a copy (truth be told, if it's possible to get on your knees and beg via email, that is probably more accurate).

LLC is another two-piece gritty, raw, dirty blues outfit but the depth of sound they bring is unreal. First you have Freddy J IV (Joe) on guitar and hoarse, screamed vocals. All too often people talk about smoke and whiskey ripped throats, but in the case of Freddy J IV, his vocal cords appear to be held together by only a few sinewy strands.

People always talk about emcees being hungry on verses, well, in this case I think Joe is thirsty. He rips through the tracks, giving every ounce of sweat and energy he has, in a Southern Pavlovian response. It's like he knows the minute the track finishes, he can catch his breath and pound a shot. I can picture him tossing the glassware across the studio, wiping his brow and signaling to Brenn to start up again. It doesn’t matter that they are in the studio not on stage, he treats the recordings like a performance; live, rugged and adrenaline/whiskey fueled.

Joe is backed up by Brenn. While he is listed as the "drummer", Brenn is much, much more. He pounds through the kit, stretching the limit of the material like the seat on Kim Kardashian's jeans. He fills open spaces with harmonicas, mouth harps, and backing (occasional lead) vocals and you are left with a wall of sound that hits you in the jaw like you were caught dancing with it's girl.

Obviously, you can tell I love this record. That's the beauty of blogging not critiquing. I don't have to waste my time looking for some counter point. I can gush about the fact the cover design on the record reminds me of the old Jimmy Smith cover for Root Down. I can say that the fact Brenn's nickname (
Sausage Paw) makes me want to love this band even more. But most importantly, this record blows the door off the hinges for 12 songs.

Wash It hits you with a viscous slide riff, cowbell and crashing cymbals. If you can stand still when they start going, you're a better person than me. They find a groove and run with it. The amazing thing is they actually manage to turn up the energy on Set me Down. Joe finds a frantic slide riff and lets Brenn deliver heavy fills. From the first note until the end of the song, the band goes faster, heavier, louder until they finally give you relief with a nice break down two-minutes in. You can't even catch your breath before they jump back into it.

They can sing about something as useless as a plate of pork n' beans and make you shake your ass. To the common listener, the riffs might sound similar but things like the harmonica on KFD add just the right change of style to keep it fresh. And seriously, they could play the same hectic, sweat inducing riff for the whole disc and my boney ass would still dance happily.

I've been listening to this record at work and the surging energy is killer.
Justify blows you off your chair, showcasing Joe's most powerful lyrical content. The percussion clatter, heavy drone of Amy's in the Kitchen (seriously, it's like a swampy tip of the cap to Tom Waits) spikes nicely and transitions into some of their most melodic moments on the record. G Bob starts as a swampy hoe-down, but a nice build cranks the energy back up to the point you picture rock-a-billies dosey-doing in some local bar.

You get the picture yet? I could go through record track by track, but I don't need to. Seriously, listen to
Wash It, say "f&ck yeah" and repeat eleven more times. Now, how to get these boys to Canada?

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