"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 5/17/2013 - NanoBotRock.com
Every so often there is an artist that comes along so true to self that it seems as though they couldn't possibly play a bad song if they tried. Anything I write here is going to become irrelevant once you listen to a few songs, but allow me to break down a few notes on what makes this an instant favorite.(read more)
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 5/1/2013 - FreightTrainBoogie.com
Alex "Crankshaft" Larson hails from the musical melting pot that is the Twin Cities; however, you won't hear a lot of Husker Du or Replacements influence on his sound. Rather Larson and his band, the Gear Grinders, seem to have tapped into the same vein as bands such as Jason & the Scorchers, Black Crowes, and most notably North Carolina's Southern Culture on the Skids. On their second album, What You Gonna Do? , the Grinders mine typical SCOTS themes such as cars, bowling, and dirt surfaces. Larson describes his sound as "pork neck blues" which, while I don't exactly know what that means, seems like as good a moniker as any. Most of the tracks on the album are performed with a basic three piece setup of guitar, bass and drums, but Alex is not afraid to throw in some electric piano, horns, and, of course, cowbell for good measure. Highlights include "When the Sun Goes Down", "Dancin' in the Dirt" and "Kingpin". The songs are catchy, fun and the production never overshadows the band's performance. Overall, a worthy effort from this promising young artist.
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 4/25/2013 - JerseyBeat.com
“What You Gonna Do?” is like a spark that ignites into bonfire. It starts off kind of subliminally, but by the time you get to the fifth song “King Pin,” you're hooked! A mix of barroom piano (like The Band on “Music from Big Pink”), neo-rockabilly, and carefully placed vocal harmonies. Crankshaft and the Grinders (cool name-I can't say it enough!), popularize American folk rock by telling it straight, embracing and updating ancient traditions without phony posing. Those who like Billy Bragg's sound, or as mentioned The Band are in for a largely topical (semi-political), dose of music that has been in limbo for a while. The lo-fi production adds a certain kind of laid-back approach, but it actually raises the listening appeal. You really what to hear to the WHOLE album, rather than piece by piece. Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders are gonna sneak-up on you and blow you away one song at a time!
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 4/25/2013 - RippleMusic.com
Plain old emotions and fun in the band's sound. And damn, it's infectious. I've listened to What You Gonna Do? in my truck a lot and the album is a straight up traffic hazard. Once I hit play I start to groove in my seat, playing all kinds of air instruments and if I wasn't wearing the seat belt I would probably try to dance...while driving! (read more)
"Barkin' Up The Wrong Tree" Live Video Review - 4/18/2013 - CityPages.com
Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders have built their reputation as well as their fan base due to their exuberant live shows, and this clip of "Barkin' Up The Wrong Tree" shows what all of the excitement is all about. The live video was shot at Crankshaft's recent record release party at Famous Dave's, and with all of the energy coming from the band you can definitely tell that they were enjoying themselves, as was the crowd. (video)
Featured Artist of the Week - 3/19/2013 - MusicThatIsntBad.org
The group's latest album, "What You Gonna Do?", was recorded in an early 1900's style barn in St. Francis, Minnesota. The album making process was an eighteen month affair that gives insight on what it means to live in America, both now and in years past. The track on the album that really caught my attention is “Kingpin” – a tune about a woman in a bowling alley. It's not everyday bowling alleys are the backdrop for a love affair, but Larson works it well and created a song that I simply can't stop listening to. (read more)
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 3/4/2013 - OnTheRechord.com
...Kingpin ramps up the sexiness that blues has been so often correlated with, and tells the interesting story of a “lo-fi enchilada mama in a bowling alley.” At first listen, I wrote down, ‘this song is too good,' and ‘who knew bowling alleys could be so sexy?' “There is something interesting about this song that I didn't realize myself, it was actually pointed out to me by Adam Levy, this is a song that points out the vulnerability of a relationship from a man's perspective,” Larson explained. “Most songs written in this way are actually sung by women about men.” By far the best track on the album, “Kingpin” incorporates quick fingers on the guitar, a classic rock ‘n' roll style, and an unbelievably sexy sounding leading lady. At the end of the song, the listener doesn't necessarily get the full story, although it's not hard to guess. But, we're left wondering what became of the nine-frame love affair... (read more)
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 2/5/2013 - RiftMagazine.com
I gotta confess, I'm not the biggest fan of popular music; most of it hurts my ears. But when I heard a teaser of Crankshaft's “What You Gonna Do?,” I needed to hear more. Crankshaft is a breath of fresh air. He's deeply rooted in and finely spins together blazin' blues, rockabilly, a little swing, a pinch of Hank Williams country, with some punk attitude thrown in for extra flavor. It's a throwback to the heyday of a young Elvis Presley and the king of the surf guitar, Dick Dale. Surprisingly, Crankshaft isn't drowned out by these influences, quite the contrary, he draws on them, but the sound is uniquely his. I can't even come up with a comparison to who he sounds like, because he doesn't sound like anyone else. While I especially loved “When The Sun Goes Down,” my favorite is “Trail Of Tears.” It's sultry, smoky … simply devastating. I'm not one to gush about a CD – I tell you what I hear and let you make the decision to buy, but I highly recommend you buy this one. “What You Gonna Do?” is a rare CD in which there isn't one bad song on it and boasts a pretty damn cool sound.
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 2/2/2013 - Examiner.com
Crankshaft is an artist that immediately grabbed my attention when I saw some of his videos as a one-man band on YouTube. Well, with this album he again immediately grabs my attention although now he is backed by a rhythm section (The Gear Grinders). The first track "When the Sun Goes Down" is an upbeat greasy blues tune that will get you shaking what you got... This is a great album that combines greasy blues with a gritty garage rock sound. If you're a fan of garage blues, this is an album you should add to your collection. (read more)
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 12/8/2012 - SkopeMag.com
Maybe you wax nostalgically about old Dick Dale records or maybe Big Band and Swing is you thing. Perhaps you miss the yesteryear foundation that gave birth to Southern Rock and vintage Country. If any of the above is the case, this is the album for you. Larson et al. seamlessly genre borrow and meld individual facets into an equally individual sound that would rival that of the Supersuckers or The Old 97s. The recording style (the tracks were laid down in an old barn ) even harkens the echo style of early pioneers of Rockabilly. Simply put this is high energy, low production music that allows the music to speak for itself. As a relatively objective reviewer, I am stepping out of my box here… but this album is really, really, really good. (read more)
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 3/3/2013 - Aidabet.com
Alex "Crankshaft" Larson likes his blues loud, aggressive and distorted. This album is just as much punk and indie rock as the blues, and it's all the better for that. After all, there's no good reason to sound like anyone else. Those who recall Jon Spencer will find a few points of intersection, but Larson prefers more traditional song construction and tighter cohesion. Songs that are played with volume in mind. Quite a pile of fun here.
"What You Gonna Do?" Album Review - 12/2/2012 - Suite101.com
As the tracks go by - "Kingpin," "I Wanna Play," "Waiting for Me" prove that Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders not only are cool cats, but they show incredible range. None of these songs sound the same - but the overall tempo and personality of each song is undeniable ... As if you didn't guess, this "What You Gonna Do?" garners an overall A+ review. This one hits all the right notes in all the right ways. It is unique and refreshinging. It doesn't try to be anything than what it is and leaves the studio tricks at the back door. Love this. (read more)
Nice words from Richard Morales of DiginMag.com - 1/26/2013
"I finally got time to take a serious listen to your album, and the first thing I've noticed is that both the production value and your songwriting has gotten considerably better. I mean its a phenomenal step forward. It also sounds as if you are expanding into new territory melodically, moving slightly away from the comfort of your blues roots (although those roots are still apparent in "Dancin' in the Dirt," "Trail of Tears," and "Earthquake Shake"). Each song carries a certain appeal for different reasons, such as the female backing vocals on "Boomtown," the delicate arpeggios used in "Waiting for Me," I'm digging the surf feel in "Kingpin," and even that punk interlude "Don't Leave" works. To me this album feels like an exploration through your numerous influences, which is delivered with confidence..."
Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders Live Review - 8/20/2012 - Blue Plate Special
I‘m a fan of Crankshaft for many reasons. He seems to be influenced by a lot of musicians who I also like. His music is a file gumbo of 50’s and 60’s rock n roll, boogie woogie, grimy electric delta and Chicago style blues and also has a dose of SoCal punk rock and surf music. He’s also a good dude that has a lot of personality up on the stage. Crankshaft knows how to work a crowd. His songs and lyrics are made of words most folks living up here in MN can relate to. (read more)
Alex "Crankshaft" Larson Review - 6/11/2012 - Stickypants Blog
Most of you, if any, won't remember a band I mentioned on here a while back called the Mojo Spleens. They're a local surf punk band, self described as "The worlds fastest surf band." It's kinda like Dick Dale on PCP. Well it had been a while since I'd heard anything from them, and since I've rather dropped out of the local punk scene I was out of the loop. But I came across a new band the other day, fronted by non other than Alex Larson, guitar player for the Spleens. So I decided to check out his new project, Crankshaft. It started as a one man band, just him playing guitar, the drums with his feet, some harmonica, and singing. But now it switches between that and a whole band. Both versions are great in their own respects, offering different moods and feelings on the same songs. I bought a cd, and really liked it. Even my parents, who after hearing the Spleens were convinced they would hate it, liked it a lot. Then I went to a show of their's, and I feel in love. So now I'm kind of a Crankshaft whore, and am peddling it to anyone and everyone I know. So I'll do it to you guys too! Hey, who doesn't love down and dirty blues? So go to the website, buy some cds, give them all of your money, and check him out when he comes to your town. Alex quit his day job and is trying to make a living as a musician, so just start throwing money at him. After you listen to it, you'll want to anyways.
Alex "Crankshaft" Larson Review - 5/31/2012 - Cities 97
One of the best and most interesting roots, rock and blues acts playing around town these days. Whether Alex “Crankshaft” Larson is playing solo, as a duo, or with his full band, he is absolutely worth checking out. Three weeks ago at Famous Dave’s Uptown, the full band won the finals of a months-long Battle of the Blues Bands to earn a main stage slot at the Famous Dave’s Blues and BBQ Fest June 9 in downtown Minneapolis. Then two weeks ago at MN Music Café in St Paul, he won both the solo/duo and full band categories of the local competition to represent Minnesota at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February, 2013.
Crankshaft Interview - 2/4/2012 - DigInMag.com
It's reassuring to know that individuals like Crankshaft exist, especially in the current state of popular music. The underlying fear that inhibits most bands to be willing to risk everything and make their music a full-time endeavor, has become almost taboo subject matter considering there is not a fashionably lucrative "scene" to latch onto. Crankshaft, on the other hand, has decided to push all his chips to the middle of the table gambling either success or poverty. With his long string of upcoming live performances, two studio albums under his belt, and a dedicated following that is quick to spread the word, Alex "Crankshaft" Larson seems destined to achieve the former. (read more)
"Louisiana Bayou Santa" Review - 11/25/2011 - Schwindy's indie music spotlight
In general, I am not a huge fan of Christmas music simply because it seems to be the same seven songs by different artists for the entire month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The way I see it, if you are going to do a Christmas song, you should give your fans more than just the 3,984th version of "Let It Snow." Alex "Crankshaft" Larson (one of my favorite musical discoveries of the year) has done just that with "Louisiana Bayou Santa." In this song, old St. Nick is imagined as a gator catcher instead of just some jolly old fat dude. The song is available to download starting today. So if you are looking to make a Christmas playlist, but you don't want The Chipmunks version of "O Holy Night," download this song.
Crankshaft Q&A - 11/14/2011 - Bman's Blues Report
Hi Crankshaft. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I stumbled on your music on Youtube a few months ago and I really dug your style. I have a particular love for guys who are willing put it all out there by themselves. So when did you learn to play guitar?
"Junkyard Rhythm" Album Review - 5/29/2011 - GravyandBiscuits.com
I have to say, this album is a breath of fresh air. This blues-driven rockabilly album gained my admiration by the end of the opening title track... ...What I really liked about this album is that it doesn’t stick to the standard “rockabilly” formula. Junkyard Rhythm is unique in its context as well as its blues textures and mix of up beat and laid back tempos. Song content ranges from bad luck, to wishing for snow so you can earn a buck, to kids being out of school for the summer, to the dreaded phantom ring of a cell phone, to even sexy innuendos. (read more)
"Junkyard Rhythm" Album Review - 5/2/2011 - Bizzbin Magazine
The blues man born from semi-truck drivers known as Crankshaft is releasing his first full album with a backup band, the Gear Grinders, it’s called Junkyard Rhythm. Its production has rough feel to it, like a dusty old 10-inch record that was forgotten in some abandoned attic. The rawness of the album has a strangely beautiful appeal that fits in with the album’s scrap yard auto-shop theme. Junkyard Rhythm gives decades old music a modern makeover and it does it very well. The production is spectacular and the music itself is killer. It’s definitely an album made for fans of the blues and old-school rock n’ roll. (read more)
Bayfront Blues Festival Review - 8/12/2012 - Duluth News Tribune
Crankshaft, a rockabilly blues musician, ripped through the Acoustic Tent, hair flying, Converse stomping. At one point he ripped away at his guitar from his knees.
Junkyard Rhythm Review - 10/1/2011 - Schwindy's indie music spotlight
This album is full of the kind of dirty blues R.L. Burnisde made a career of. I don't know about you, but this is the kind of album I hear and I just have to share. Or more to the point, I tell people "You GOTTA hear this!" Do yourself a favor and pick up Junkyard Rhythm. Then put it on, crank up the volume and tell your entire neighborhood, "You GOTTA hear this." If they're good neighbors, they'll thank you for it. (read more)
Crankshaft Live Interview/Performance - 9/2/2011 - DIY 360
On Friday September 2, 2011 The Institute of Production and Recording welcomed the ever so talented, one man band, Alex Crankshaft to Adam Levy’s DIY-360. Showing off his style by sporting a fantastic pin striped suit, complimented by a light blue tie, Crankshaft made it clear he was all about the 50’s. He opened the day with “Rust Bucket”; an original song rooted in the style of Mississippi Blues. While Crankshaft shared his musical journey the DIY crowd listened intently. (read more)
Junkyard Rhythm CD Review - 5/17/2011 - Adam Hammer - St. Cloud Times
These are songs about the working man, for the working man, by the working man with a gritty blues sound that lets you know sometimes you have to get your hands dirty to get the job done. If you’ve ever swung a hammer, welded a joint or spilled blood working under the hood, “Junkyard Rhythm” is a 14-song collection you can surely appreciate. (read more)
I Got The Curse 7" Record Review - 2/10/2010 - TwinCitiesRockabilly.com
Having heard Crankshaft's album “Suckin' Gas & Haulin' Ass”, as well as having seen him live I knew a bit what to expect on this EP. I was still pleasantly surprised by the album. Without the drums I have grown accustomed to this album has a more smooth bluesy feel than the previous album.
This is definitely a record to pick up with some very vivid imagery in the lyrics painting a clear picture and Crankshaft's always smooth vocals seeming even smoother without his drums in the mix. These 4 catchy songs will stick with you.
Suckin' Gas & Haulin' Ass Review - 2/24/2010
Don’t be deceived by the slim CD package—it’s loaded with a V-8 known as Alex Larson, the genius behind the Crankshaft. The essence of his energy, typically wild and unbridled at live shows, is slightly subdued and preserved in this recording. It’s a bit sinister, making you want to get down and get dirty . . . maybe under a car.
Hard work. Dedication. Respect. Drive. Life. This is what you can expect from the 11-track hummer. The songs are an honest testament to a hardworking, open-eyed lifestyle. It hails the essence of greats from yesteryear, including respectful tributes to Robert Johnson and ZZ Top. The driving beats will get ya to stomp and swing and sway or maybe even roughhouse around.
Surprising amongst all the gas and testosterone is the sensitivity. Whether it’s “Nail Driver” or “Sleepy Town,” Crankshaft captures raw emotion, raw desire with drums, guitar, and vocals—it seeps in through skin, ears, nose and eyes before swirling around in heart, guts, and groin. The guitar rages in to flush it through the system. You’re left feeling revived, satisfied to know there’s still a good deal of real out there.
There’s one thing left to do—head down the road in my ’78 Ford F-150 truck with Crankshaft’s “Suckin’ Gas & Haulin’ Ass” proudly blaring out my crappy stereo speakers. Those speaks can’t punch the sound quality capable of the CD, but my rumbling and growling engine and dual pipes in the back will more than set the appropriate scene. I know Crankshaft will approve.
Earth Shakin' R&B Review - 2/6/2009 - Rift Magazine
With a strong-bowed consciousness, a rattle snake skinned Southern-style and a deep blues toned musical pulse, Crankshaft slams his one-man-band approach into the membrane of the Minneapolis landscape with a constant beat pounding through the gates of Earth final frontier on his first solo EP trial, “Earth Shakin’ R&B.” (read More)