Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Roadsaw - s/t

Small Stone

To say a band gets better with every album is not only a bold statement, but it can have multiple meanings. Is it because the group breaks new ground or strikes out in a bold new direction? Or is it because the band simply just keeps refining what it already does until its vision can’t be denied? In the case of Boston’s long-running hard rock powerhouse Roadsaw, it’s definitely the latter. Picking up where 2008’s See You in Hell! left off, the Beantown quartet doesn’t do anything different than it’s ever done – it continues to blast out gritty, teeth-grinding riff rock, like a veteran biker gang that traded Harleys and speed for Les Pauls and Marshall stacks. The difference is simply this: burly, catchy, nitro-burning tunes like Long in the Tooth, Weight in Gold and The Getaway are simply leaner, meaner and more potent than any track the band has jammed before. The Saws have finally gained a truly firm grasp on slow songs as well – the luscious Electric Heaven flows like chocolate lava down a strawberry mountainside. Guitarist Ian Ross massages a variety of tones and textures from his brawny licks, drummer Jeremy Hemond drives the songs relentlessly forward and bassist Tim Catz calmly anchors it all. Frontdude Craig Riggs has turned into a world-class rock & roll singer, soulful and savage by turns – the band needs to watch it or he’ll be poached by some cash-waving, big-name has-beens who need fresh blood. But Riggs should be able to resist temptation – after, all with this record, Roadsaw proves itself the equal to its famous forebears and more celebrated peers.

- Michael Toland

Left Lane Cruiser - Junkyard Speed Ball

Left Lane Cruiser
Junkyard Speed Ball

A rolling stone gathers no moss (though a Rolling Stone might bundle up a STD and a few drug habits), and Left Lane Cruiser follows suit by quickly following up All You Can Eat!! with another slab of chicken-fried blues rock from the beergut of the beast. This time out guitarist/growler Freddy J. Evans IV and drummer Brenn Beck are joined by the Reverend James Leg, keyboardist for LLC road buddies the Black Diamond Heavies. Leg’s rumbling organ and distorted electric piano give the duo more texture, especially on slow tunes like Pig Farm and Giving Tree. But the Cruisers’ main meat is still groovy beats and muddy slide guitar, dragging the blues through the brambles on the way back to its roots. Cracker Barrel, At the Denny’s and Shine brandish bottlenecks and keyboards like weapons; Weed Vodka grooves like a record on a turntable. Evans is still no great shakes as a singer, but he’s getting better. With Junkyard Speed Ball, the blues is in perfectly unsafe hands.

- Michael Toland
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