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Leroy from the North (from the album Toughen Up available on From the North Records) (by Brian Rock)
Leroy from the North brings a cool front of sonic highs to their debut album, Toughen Up. Rolling in from Michigan and settling in the Los Angeles area, the band cranks out the Blues-heavy influences of fellow power trios Cream and ZZ Top. Ironically, Leroy from the North (LFN) also displays a strong Southern Rock influence.
Heavy electric Blues chords introduce the band on “Youngblood”. Lead singer/guitarist Eli Wulfmeier moaning ‘when I reach out, no one’s there. Every time I break down, she don’t care’. Discussing his dysfunctional relationship, Wulfmeier confides ‘well, I gave her my heart and she got in my head’. Drummer Jason Garnberg and bassist Adam Arcos add thunder and bounce to capture the tempestuous torment. There’s a defiance in the tone of the song but there is surrender to the lyrics when Wulfmeier struggles to build a relationship with a woman who just wants to ‘make out then be alone’. The dynamic is that of an addict struggling to free himself from the thing he craves the most.
The story of “Homemade Crosses” also deals in disparate lyrics and melodies as the band sings of the tragedy of a young soldier cut down in his prime to the upbeat rhythms of a festival Rock anthem. “White Knights” showcases their Southern Rock influences as they sing about societal decay. “Top Ten” rides LFN’s Southern groove as they take a pot shot at the selling-out side of making music. Arcos’ bass line adds a Funky, Bootsy Collins flavor to “Toughen Up”; the song a metaphor for surviving hard times and facing our problems head on. All of these songs reflect the angst of a generation raised to be offended by everything and to distrust everyone. But rather than wallow in a social media induced stupor, LFN turns these turbulent feelings into some damn fine rock and roll.
When Leroy from the North turns to ballads, the lyrics and melodies align in a potent outpouring of pain and empathy. “Push” is a stirring power-ballad about trying to break through the emotional walls of someone who’s been hurt in the past. Trying to understand ‘the pain in her eyes from trouble she can’t leave behind’ Eli Wulfmeier and company offer an outlet for those repressed memories. “Laid Off” captures the feelings of self-doubt and frustration that go with losing your job, as well as the comfort that comes from having someone there to help you through it. “Hard to Last” ponders why the hard feelings seem to last so long after a relationship ends and the poignant “Pawnshop” reminds us that there’s a story behind every discarded item for sale in every seedy second-hand shop. At times evoking Elvin Bishop’s classic, “Fooled Around and Fell In Love”, the song confronts the loneliness of those who find themselves at the end of a long line of bad decisions.
Whether plying power chords or pouring out pathos, Leroy from the North make memorable, independent Rock’n’Roll that’s as cool as a Artic breeze.
Listen and buy the music of Leroy from the North from AMAZON
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