It’s always an interesting prospect listening to an artist’s album after hearing them playing live. You always hear of comparing a live performance to what the studio releases sound like. It’s a first for me that I get to hear an album after experiencing the band live, including several songs from the album. If the live show was any indication of the album, it will be loud, powerful, and very satisfying.
Junkyard Speed Ball is the fourth studio album and latest release from Fort Wayne, IN punk, country-blues rockers (AKA deep blues), Left Lane Cruiser, out now on Alive Naturalsound Records. My first introduction to the band was a single track off of their album, All You Can Eat!!, called “Hillgrass Bluebilly”. Speaking of which, you can get the song free (among others) from Exploding in Sound.
The start of the album seems to prove my prediction right. “Lost My Mind” is an up-tempo, southern metal track with plenty of grit and some gruff vocals for good measure, a fine way to start an album. Moving to “Giving Tree”, the duo decides to show their range and switch things up. They do so by bringing in the organ for a down-tempo track that reminds me of a dirty Black Crowes blues track with plenty of slide.
Not being ones to settle down for long, the boys pick the tempo back up with “Circus” and “Shine”, a couple of deep blues tracks. “Hip-Hop” slows things down ever so slightly with a groovy track with backing keys that break out in the track with a solo of their own that give way, so the slide guitar can take the spotlight for a time.
The rest of the album switches on and off between up-tempo and more mellow grooves with two exceptions. The first exception, Left Lane Cruiser slows things down considerably with “Pig Farm”, a ballad where Freddy takes you back a few years to a pig farm where he grew up. While it is undoubtedly a great track, this one interests me more than it will for most others. It seems Freddy and I share more in common than an appreciation for the blues; he hails from area of Michigan where he used to work on a pig farm that is now a golf course that I’ve spent plenty of time swearing and drinking while losing my mind, not to mention plenty of golf balls. His side of the story is more interesting; you’ll have to take a listen, but I digress…
The second exception, “Represent”, immediately follows and is perhaps the heaviest of the album. With a heavy, crunchy riff and vocals that remind me slightly of Kid Rock, it’s the most radio-friendly of the heavier tracks, but that is by no means a bad thing. This track is best served cranked up to 11 while driving down the road with the windows open. As Spring nears here in the Midwest, I plan on doing just that.
When I first heard about the album being heavier than previous releases, I braced myself expecting the worst. Instead, what I found was an album with plenty of range from gritty southern metal to down-tempo country blues. I find myself very satisfied with this country fried offering from Left Lane Cruiser. The album is filled with gritty riffs, slide guitar, some obligatory harmonica, a little bit of organ and other keys, and plenty of attitude. Junkyard Speed Ball is an unholy union of country, blues, punk, and rock at the mercy of a duo that share a musical connection that culminates into one Hell of a record.
All in all, I feel my prediction came true. While there are clear differences between their live performances and their studio release, the studio album proves to be just as powerful and satisfying. Truth be told, I prefer it this way, since you can’t get the entire LLC experience until you have them both ways. These guys will have you, too.
I realize we say this a lot, but do yourself a favor and pick up this album and make it a point to see this band when they tour your area. Not only are you treating yourself to some great music, you’re supporting great guys and a great label. You can get it from the band via Bomp, and you’ll probably want it in vinyl, too.