By Samuel Wigness
After nearly losing lead man Jesse Damien Revel to a prolonged illness, the duo of bruisers known as Crooked Saws returns with the energy of an army.
Their new album This Machine Sells Cars, released on Feb. 16, is dirty, gritty, grungy and raw – all the muddiness of their previous work – yet clean and focused.
But maybe focused is the better word. Any listener should rightfully consider taking a shower after a listen through, but Justin Fischler and Revel clearly have a direction in their sound and refuse to stray from their course with unnecessary effects and tricks. They are stripped down, just a drummer, distorted guitar and Revel’s torched-throat-through-a-hollow-log voice.
From the first track, “Three Minute Long Song,” Revel introduces cleanly distorted blues riffs that drive home lyrics obviously inspired by his brush with death. It’s simple, fluid yet driving and pulsing with energy. Tagged as “Bluesish” on SoundCloud, This Machine Sells Cars has the sound of early Black Keys, the energy of the White Stripes and covers almost anything you can call blues. Whether is gritty-blues, garage rock-blues, late-on-my-rent-blues or hungry-blues, it emerges on Cars.
While an immensity of talent is displayed by Crooked Saws, even more impressive is the chemistry between Fischler and Revel. A worthy duo only works with deep-rooted, I know what you had for lunch type chemistry, and that chemistry percolates on every track. You can tell that Fischler and Revel are on the same wavelength, down to the same thought, as they play, creating cleanliness in chaos.
And then there’s the issue of death. Songs like “Sad Days, Lonely Nights” are a window into Revels look into Death’s face, and the album sufficiently tackles the subject without lingering.
We are left with an album that compresses bits and pieces of great duos across music into a blues diamond.