alive natural sound - The I-94 Bar
US 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.
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.
Who knows if there was a pitch to the label? If there was, it probably went something like this: Find a gap in powerpop troubadour Paul Collins’ crazy schedule, put him in the studio with garage production king Jim Diamond and the house band for Detroit’s Ghetto Recorders, give them a cases of beer and let the music flow.
Collins (The Beat, the Nerves, The Breakaways) writes perfect rocking’ guitar pop like hipsters steal oxygen. It’s in his DNA; he has equals but there’s nobody better. A good proportion of these songs would be mainstream hits in a more enlightened and less disposable time.
It’s just a theory so bear with it: As music’s once essential ingredients like passion and energy become even more diluted, those who still want to practice rock and roll as it used to be known will be forced right back into their past.
The ‘70s will become Rock’s Golden Age, even if the ‘60s were better, simply because that was the time when mass media first took a real grip and force-fed culture to the populace. Rock and roll will become more reactionary, tougher and more comfortable within its own leathery skin.
The meek will have already inherited the earth and occupied portable electronic devices and the digital channels. The only contestable ground will be bars and clubs where earthy, honest rock and roll will make a vinyl-like resurgence among a small but devoted following, and select newcomers (aka bored Milllennials.) Which is where someone like Heath Green comes in.
West Coast Highway Cosmic - Datura4 (Alive Natural Sound)
From the opening title track, Datura4 roars into life like a modern-day Steppenwolf. They’re all Hammond organ, vintage synths and a rock band, intent on making a statement.
Datura4 employ a massive wall of sound that departs from Dom Mariani's preferred '60s space into late '60s-early '70s, Deep Purple shtick - without the overindulgence of Ritchie Blackmore. Datura4 still displays its garage roots, but is a blend of Arizona desert rock a la early Alice Cooper... albeit updated with modern sounds.
Hard to comprehend that this is Mark Porkchop Holder’s debut album. He’s a founding and former member of the blues-stomping raunch machine, Black Diamond Heavies, and that should tell you something straight away, even before you play a single track.
“Let It Slide” is roadhouse blues - no, not those “Roadhouse Blues” with the drunken clown out front singing about mute nostril agony. I mean the shit you might hear in little bars when you get off the interstate highways in Tennessee or Louisiana. Best served with a corn dog side dish, grits and catfish fried in possum sweat. As featured on "Man versus Food".
Here's some music for the weekend, courtesy of powerpop king Paul Collins. It's the lead-off single from his new album "I Need My Rock and Roll" which is reviewed here.
They don’t have Real Rock and Roll bands in New York City any more, do they? Don’t kid yourself, kid. They might be hard to find but they’re still there, their beating hearts buried under 50 feet of radio-friendly dross and cultural fragmentation.
No, Virginia, there’s no CBGBs. They made a shitty telemovie about it and moved the awning to an airport bar, somewhere. It was a shadow of what it was, even when I got there in the mid-‘80s. There’s no Max’s, either. Times Square is more family friendly than a Disney dance party. Even The Continental is just a dive bar now, more famous for (literally) banning a figure of speech than the Joey Ramone parties it used to host in the ‘80s.
Gentrification has a lot of downsides and one is squeezing cultural outsiders to the extreme margins. Art mostly doesn’t pay the rent, pegged or non existent. The NY rock “scene” is in Brooklyn these days, by all accounts. It has been for quite some time but it’s mostly disposable pop. Thank fuck, then, for Beechwood.
One of our favourite new bands created a stir at their album launch in New York City this week.
Psych--glam-punks Beechwood played Berlin on Avenue A in Manhattan last Saturday to christen the "Songs From The Land of Nod" long-player...only find there were 14 undercover police in the audience.
According to their label Alive Natural Sound, they arrested drummer Isa Tineo: "What major felony had been committed to warrant such manpower? It was for jumping the subway turnstile in 2014 and not paying the $100 ticket."
The incident follows the arrest of two band members for playing a rowdy street party in Manhattan in 2016. At least 14 extra payers through the door should off-set the fine. Word is the cops let him finish the gig - and liked it. But 14 to arrest one person? That's rock and roll in The Big Apple these days.