Left Lane Cruiser’s “Claw Machine Wizard” deftly mixes blues and rock, almost

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Left Lane Cruiser is a blues rock band from Fort Wayne, Ind. Their latest single, “Claw Machine Wizard” is rollicking stomp of a song that mostly succeeds as an example of a blues-rock hybrid.

Left Lane Cruiser’s homegrown blues

To be honest, one of the reasons I might have overlooked blues rock duo. Left Lane Cruiser might be because they are too close to home. The band has been a part of the Fort Wayne music scene since 2004. I never heard a bad review, but never had a chance to hear them for myself until now.

Fort Wayne has a thriving blues scene. In the 1990s, Cornfed Johnson, another blues duo, mesmerized audiences at clubs like The Brass Rail with their buzzing blues guitar and Delta Blues delivery. Left Lane Cruiser is part of this still-burgeoning scene, even though the genre has been present in the city for decades.

Posted by Left Lane Cruiser on Thursday, May 18, 2017

“Claw Machine Wizard”

One of the potential problems with song genres that include guitar work, is the potential for solos or motifs to go for too long, for players to make the instrument sound as if it is yodeling. There is a fine line between art and self-indulgence.

So, with a song like “Claw Machine Wizard,” I had some apprehension. Having failed to hear them live, I had little idea what to expect.

The song begins with a neo-blues riff that could be troublesome if it goes on too long. Just under a minute in, the vocals kick in. The vocals are raspy and low, what most listeners expect of blues singing. The delivery reminds me of Mountain and early Deep Purple.

Right when the vocals kick in, a blues groove begins that is the most interesting part of the song. It makes the song slow down, and audiences get a chance to hear what makes Left Lane Cruiser’s brand of blues distinctive.

There is no flash here, and that’s a good thing. It would have been nice of there had been more of the aforementioned groove. As it is, the guitar riff that begins the song garners most of the sound space. The slower groove is tremendous, and when it is absent, it is noticeable. That groove establishes the song as a rocking example of blues rock.

Left Lane Cruiser presents all the right elements of blues and rock, at least in the example of their work demonstrated in “Claw Machine Wizard.” Melding the elements of blues and rock effectively for the most part, Left Lane Cruiser brings a bit of Mississippi to northeastern Indiana and the rest of the world.

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