Monday, August 26, 2019

Odds Lane - Lost & Found

So here we have a guitar’n’drums duo in the form of Doug Byrkit and Brian Zielie respectively, and we all know what that kind of line-up sounds like, don’t we?  It’s right there in the primitive boom-thump of opening track ‘Don’t Give It Away’, with its spiky guitar licks – the latest manifestation of that back to basics blues sound style that gave us The White Stripes and The Black Keys.  ‘Nuff said.
Actually, no.  Odds Lane are a rather more eclectic outfit than that two-man band stereotype.  Sure, there are various shades of blues offered up on Lost & Found, but this St
Odds Lane - "Shit, I've dropped a contact lens!"
Louis pairing have got more than just that going on.  They may have started out as Mike Zito’s rhythm section back in the Nineties, but they played jazz in college and over the intervening years their songwriting partnership has absorbed a broader range of influences.
But let’s begin with the bluesier sounds.  ‘Seven States’ is Feelgood-ish, scratchy, rhythm’n’boogie and if Byrkit’s clear-toned vocals don’t come near to conveying the same kind of grit as Lee Brilleaux, it’s still a good tune with a neat little rollercoaster of a riff.  And there is more of an edgy vibe to ‘Blood On The Van’, which on one level seems like a straight-up twelve-bar blues, with a chugging riff a la ZZ Top.  But with its growling rhythm section and a intriguing lyric suggesting a violent event, as well as a strong slide break courtesy of the aforementioned Zito – who also produced the album – it’s more than the sum of its apparently simple parts.
‘Spare Change’ is bright, good old-fashioned R’n’B too, cantering along with a snappy rhythm and more scratchy guitar, garnished by more of Zito’s slide licks, and the closing ‘White Castle Blues’ sounds like the kind of British blues that emerged out of the Sixties Beat Boom, fashioned into a paean to the vintage Mid-West fast food chain White Castle, and its idiosyncratic square burgers.
There are more edges and corners on the likes of ‘Moth To A Flame’ and ‘Hard Rain’ though, the first a jolting shuffle pushed along by bobbling bass, and featuring more of Zito’s slide fills – rather begging the question of how they deliver this stuff when he’s not around – while the latter is a staccato mid-tempo affair, downbeat and mellow on the verses and punchier on the chorus, that perhaps outstays its welcome a bit.
But elsewhere they draw on a broader palette.  'Lost & Found' itself is best described as a catchy slice of bluesy jangle-pop, very nicely done. ‘What’s Your Name’, meanwhile, has a twitchy flavour, courtesy of a most Police-like deedle-eedly-dee guitar riff (pardon the technical terminology) over funky bass and an offbeat rhythm, added to interesting wah-wah like guitar tones and appealing key change leading into the guitar solo.  The mellow funkiness of ‘A Little Too Late’, on the other hand, contrives a Latin tinge in its rhythms to go with hints of Santana in its guitar sound.
Lost & Found is a refreshing album, like an inventively mixed blues cocktail – reassuringly familiar but infused with enough spice to give it a bit of extra zing.  Odds Lane may not have the heft to embed themselves permanently in your brain, but they’re sophisticated enough to make a positive impression.

Lost & Found is available now from Gulf Coast Records.

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