Alive Records

The musical tornado known as Left Lane Cruiser are back. And like a tornado, you better get the hell out of the way or risk finding yourself flat on your ass three miles down the road. The duo of Freddy J. IV and Brenn Beck are back and the formula remains the same – Freddy J. belts out the vocals while he plays the guitar like its on fire and Beck beats the drums like they grabbed his wife’s ass.

While the formula remains the same there are a couple of subtle differences. In spite of an excellent finger-picking acoustic number, “Ol’ Fashioned,” the album sounds heavier (more metal) than Bring Yo’ Ass To The Table and it sounds cleaner than its predecessor, Thanks to Jim Diamond’s production. That’s never more evident than on “Hillgrass Bluebilly” and “Black Lung.”

Back in March, my buddy Jefe and I caught them on a small deck at SxSW and after the set I was half-deaf, exhausted and had a thirst for moonshine. And while they might not be reinventing the wheel with their update on delta blues, it is being done with an incredible amount of individual talent and fervor that is lacking with many of today’s acts.

Left Lane Cruiser – Crackalacka

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It looks like the boys from San Francisco went and got themselves a little bit of a polish and shine. It may seem out of character for a band that has been labeled as “cowpunk,” but it’s not like Trainwreck Riders have gone all American Idol on us.

The formula remains the same. Lead Singer, Pete Frauenfelder delivers his folksy, Americana vocals while the rhythm section of Steve Kerwin keeps the band moving forward with a furious energy that is the driving force of the band. Add to that a host of flourishes such as accordion, saw and‚  fiddle that give the band a more texture without losing their trademark sound.

I’ve been waiting on this release since I saw Trainwreck Riders perform in Austin over two years ago. The stage is their natural element and allows Frauenfelder and Kerwin to feed off the crowd and fire around the stage with reckless abandon. The production team of Patrick Brown (The Black Lips, Gomez), and mixed with Jon Kaplan (Ash, Granddaddy) has done a great job of capturing that energy on the album, while not losing sight of their evolution as songwriters.

“Chug Along” sounds exactly like what you would expect a tune named “Chug Along” to sound like. It ambles along in no particular hurry, keeping you interested at every meandering turn. Fellow HearYa writer, Starkey, thought it sounded like a Modest Mouse tune, but I always come back to Uncle Tupelo when describing their sound.

A couple of the other standouts are “Three To The Clouds” with some nice female harmonies, “Trainwreck Heart” that has a twisting, twangy guitar lick and “Upon The Losing End.” Trainwreck Riders’ follow up exceeds two years of expectations and is one my favorite releases so far this year. Next up on their list of things to keep to me happy is a tour through Chicago.

MySpace | Alive Records

Trainwreck Riders – Chug Along

Trainwreck Riders – Safety Of A Back

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Radio Moscow

When we first discovered Radio Moscow, we were all immediately floored by the guitar playing of Parker Griggs. For those unfamiliar with the story, Parker went to a Black Keys show and handed a demo to Dan Auerbach. Auerbach loved it and subsequently produced the Radio Moscow debut.

While their eponymous debut is excellent (#29 in the HearYa top 50 of 2007), it has a rough feel to it. Parker played most of the parts on the album himself and it came across as a one man project. In contrast, on Brain Cycles, Radio Moscow is a much more cohesive band. After listening to the album a few times, there are three things that really make this a more complete and balanced effort:

  1. Parker’s vocals. On the first album, the vocals sometimes seemed as if they were just filling room between blistering guitar solos. Griggs is a guitar prodigy so it works, but on Brain Cycles, Parker is more confident as a front man and has some swagger.
  2. The rhythm section is staggering. They move in lockstep with Parker while pulling off some of their own crazy shit. As I mentioned in my SXSW recap, Zach Anderson on bass has made tremendous strides and is every bit the equal to Parker.
  3. On the debut, the songwriting was about showcasing Parker’s guitar work, which was fine by me. But Brain Cycles shows a more mature effort in his songwriting.

A couple of my favorites include “Broke Down” that has a Sabbath inspired riff and “No Good Woman,” complete with 90 second drum solo by Parker (it actually kind of works).

Radio Moscow is growing up, but they don’t abandon their blues-psychedelic sound that is sure to fuel bong circles in smoky dorm rooms all over college campuses.

MySpace | Alive Records

Radio Moscow – Broke Down

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Here’s the second track from Trainwreck Rider’s new album, The Perch, out May 12th. We’ll have a review shortly.

Trainwreck Riders – Chug Along

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Henry’s Funeral Shoe – Everything’s For Sale [Album Review]

April 20, 2009

Alive Records venture outside the States to track down two piece brother duo, Henry’s Funeral Shoe (Aled and Brennig Clifford). Steeped in the Blues like almost every Alive act, the brothers set up shop like The Black Keys, White Stripes and Left Lane Cruiser with guitar/vocals and a manic drummer. Whereas Alive brethren Left Lane […]

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Trainwreck Riders – Safety Of A Back [new mp3]

April 14, 2009

San Francisco’s Trainwreck Riders are set to release their new album, The Perch, via Alive Records on May 12. They just released “Safety Of A Back” as a free download. More about the album: The Perch is filled with the band’s unique brand of romantic urban country, bohemian folk and dirty punk blues, and displays […]

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Alive Records SXSW 2009 Showcase Lineup

February 24, 2009

Alive Records announced their SXSW 2009 Lineup and it’s pretty damn tasty. Get a good buzz on before heading to this one and feel free to cut loose. It’ll be noisy. They also list that there will be a “special guest.” I know that Dan Aerbach of The Black Keys has produced albums with several […]

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Radio Moscow announce new album, release Broke Down [new mp3]

February 4, 2009

Brain Cycles is Radio Moscow’s second album, due out on Alive Records, April 14th. Guitar prodigy, Parker Griggs, appears to be sticking with the same formula from 2007’s self-titled debut and it’s sure to satisfy the bong rocker in you. Oh, and he has the Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) seal of approval. Dan […]

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A guest post from Alive Records, thus concluding Dan Auerbach week

September 12, 2008

The following is a guest contribution by the head honcho of Alive Records, Patrick Boissel. Every week is Dan Auerbach’s appreciation week at Alive Naturalsound records. Thanks to our collaboration with him and with Patrick Carney,‚  Alive was put on the underground map a few years ago with the release of the Black Keys’ debut […]

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New mp3: Hacienda – She’s Got A Hold On Me

August 30, 2008

Alive Records will release the forthcoming album debut from San Antonio, Texas’ rockers Hacienda titled Loud is the Night on September 16. The band’s first full-length was produced and recorded by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) at his Akron Analog studio over the course of two weekends and features a little help from special guest […]

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