Let’s get this out of the way: when I first heard Left Lane Cruiser, ZZ Top came to mind immediately (stay with me here). Not, like, Eliminator, synthesizer period ZZ Top, but Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons ZZ Top’s 1st Album ZZ Top. Like, sandstorm of guitars, speed and weed, rhinestone zombie, early ’70s blues. Those guys (Beard, Gibbons, Hill) made three great albums: ZZ Top’s 1st (which went unheard), Rio Grande Mud (which flopped), and Tres Hombres (the album that would break the band into the airwaves). That sound, a deeply American, electric guitar driven blues, with snare and stomp, and boogie basslines boomed out from tube amps, with snarling, lascivious lyrics that echoed loyalty only to beer and weed; that was a good sound. Of course, they were motivated by the same things most great rocking blues bands are: weed, drink, women, and the hip dippin’ slow fizz of Junior Kimbrough style hill country blues combined with the jazzy, jump blues riffs of early rockers like Jackie Brenston.
Left Lane Cruiser is this idea to the Nth degree. I got stoned and started dancing just looking at the album cover. This blues is heavy, droning with distortion from resin encrusted speaker cabinets. Slide guitar snakes through the songs like a caterwauling tomcat pissing on its territory. The drums are a cacophonous rage played by a bull in a zildjian shop. Somehow, among all the noise there is also no mistaking that this Indiana band is heavily motivated by their hill country brethren from the south (as on the fantastically finger picked “Elephant Stomp”), but this is no easygoing juke joint. This is stoner blues, with at least three songs entirely dedicated to smokin’ that sweet leaf (“Tangled Up In Bush,” “Dirty Spliff Blues,” and “Cutting Trees”). I mean, your band might smoke a lot of weed, but have they premiered a song in High Times? Nah, son. When LLC isn’t praising the THC, they’re worshipping ass, comparing the many strains of booty to deserts, honey, hookers, wild animals, go-go dancers, and . . . bacon? Yeah, they did that (“All Damn Day”).
Subject matter aside, Left Lane Cruiser are quickly moving into their own lane with their style of blues. It’s tough to express just what a slide guitar made from a skateboard deck sounds like (pretty badass) or just how heavy the rhythm section is here, which reaches psych-rock depth. But it doesn’t matter anyway. I’ve listened to the track “Whitebread n Beans” at least twenty times, and still have no idea what it’s about. You know why? When you hit the drums that hard, and play the guitar like you’re taking a hammer to the speaker cabinet, who gives a shit, that’s why. It’s exciting. it’s rock n roll. It’s a needed toke of that strain called “gives no fucks.” Whatever these “Tres Borrachos” are smokin’ give them more.
Vandy’s been rocking “Heavy Honey” on The Roadhouse, which is a great cross-pollination of the ass & grass theme of the album, but you’re going to need the whole enchilada for those hot summer roadtrips. Dirty Spliff Blues is out now on Alive! records (who were kind enough to share the above audio/video of Heavy Honey), and Left Lane Cruiser is on tour now with several dates in the Northwest in late July/early August.