Album Review of Odds Lane: Last Night on Cherokee (Bongo Boy Records)
Odds Lane delivers blues rock that leans heavily on the blues while mixing it with a raucous, rocking rawness. What keeps the songs interesting, though, is the infusion of other influences into the music, suggesting the musical palette of Doug Byrkit and Brian Zielie reaches well beyond the St. Louis-based duo’s stylistic base.
Whether it’s the slapping boogie rhythm of incessantly catchy “Falling Down” or the chunky beat driving “Take It Slow,” Odds Lane’s style feels old and familiar, like you’ve heard it before. For a reason. Because this is what the good stuff sounds like. Last Night on Cherokee is an album full of textbook oozing-the-blues blues-rock numbers. And it’s clearly the result of a pair of talented musicians/songwriters.
Last Night on Cherokee starts strong with the thumping, pulsing blues rocker “This is What It’s Like.” A perfect introduction. An ideal first single. Straight-ahead blues rock. Part George Thorogood, party Fabulous Thunderbirds. And maybe an alt-rock tinged jangle for additional character. Great way to kick off the disc.
There are catchy numbers throughout the album, but three have made it onto my oft-sampled (and shared via Twitter) phone-on-shuffle playlist. In addition to “This is What It’s Like” and “Take It Slow,” my other favorite from this disc is the traveling-song tempoed “Red & Yellow Clowns.” It’s catchy… until you listen to the lyrics. Then it’s catchy and kind of creepy. Just don’t listen to it for the first time while walking somewhere dark and deserted. Trust me. But with the creative lyrics and song-long transition from Americana flavored laid-back number to jangly rhythmic tune to, finally, almost-frenetic blues rocker with crunchy guitar, it’s quite possibly my favorite song in this collection.
That’s not to suggest the rest of the disc isn’t solid. It’s a great listen beginning-to-end, touching all the blues-rock bases with style and substance. There’s a booming, thumping rhythm on “Dust to Dust” that’ll rattle the windows, the strong reggae influence behind “100 Miles,” a fair bit of psychedelic influence in “Too Close to the Sun” and “End of the Line,” the jangly rock core of “Bottom of the Sea,” and amazing, classic blues guitar riffs propelling solos that, while relatively brief, are the driving forces in the progression of songs like “Strange Love” and “The Lonely.” This is a blues rock – or, perhaps more appropriately, a rockin’ blues – album you’ll be glad to have in your collection for years to come, a disc that continues to get better across multiple listens as you discover its nuances. Often, they’re in-your-face nuances, but they’re nuances nonetheless.
I’m fully aboard Odds Lane’s rough-edged, broadly-influenced blues bandwagon. Don’t let it ramble too far down the road before you join me for a ride.
Check out the “tour” page of Odds Lane’s website to see where you can catch them live. They’ll be performing twice on Tuesday, April 18th at Firecracker in St. Louis – first at 11:00 AM, then again at 8:30 PM. They have May dates listed in St. Louis (May 4th and 10th), Clayton (May 5th), and New Offenberg (May 6th), Missouri and in Springfield, Illinois (May 18th). Again, check out the band’s website for more details on those and other upcoming gigs.