Fuel Junkie – All Out
11 songs – 57 minutes
Based out of Montreal, Fuel Junkie blows the back off of it on this all-original, high-octane release, their first venture to the studio since their 2016 debut album, Injected – and one listen will have you wondering why they waited so long.
The band formed in 2014 after music student Mark LeClerc gathered together a handful of friends in an effort to combine a blues trio with a three-piece section of sax players. With their feet firmly planted in conventional blues, they deliver energetic, urban tunes with deep soul, R&B and funk overtones.
Festival favorites across Quebec, they’re led by LeClerc, who doubles on tenor sax and vocals. But the band is more of a cohesive unit who consistently trade leads in complex musical charts. Joining him on reeds are Philippe Brochu-Pellitier on tenor and Patrice Luneau on baritone sax. Antoine Loiselle handles guitar duties with bassist Jean-Francois Charest and percussionist Philippe Fleury holding down the bottom. Sitting in on five of the 11 cuts are trumpet players Lex French and Andy King as well as trombonists Jean-Nicolas Trottier and Olivier Lizotte.
All Out was recorded live at Breakglass Studios in Montreal, recorded live off the floor and mixed with limited overdubs and editing. As their name implies, several of the tunes in this set are imbued with automotive themes.
The action kicks into high gear with the title tune, “All Out,” which fires out of the gate with a drag-racing them. Luneau’s opening solo show the band is out to win with this spirited, stop-time R&B. The blues kick in strongly with “High Stress, Low Money,” which percolates as LeClerc complains about being out of work and on the verge of landing a job when his faithful auto blows a gasket.
A layered horn line opens “Can You Dig It,” a deep-in-the-pocket ballad that comes across with a Big Easy feel as it confronts critics and states clearly that the band plays the blues its own way. The horns fade quickly to allow guitars and rhythm to drive the message home. The feel continues in “Bad Luck,” which gives Loiselle space to shine before LeClerc lists the reasons he no longer feels like “the strongest man alive,” including getting drunk and having his hair cut against his will and having his brand new horn damaged when a bar owner knocks it to the floor.
The band revs up again with “V-Twin,” a swinging love song that compares the high-power engine with the beating of the singer’s heart when he and his lady touch. The message continues in the stop-time “Kiss in the Moonlight,” but takes a bad turn with “Hard Times” after an apparent late-night fight. The sounds calm dramatically for “Once or Twice,” a ballad that features LeClerc and brings the theme to a close as it delivers a plea for understanding.
The horns kick things into high gear again for the powerful “Get Out on the Road,” which brightens the mood and leads into the swinging instrumental, “TorqueFlite,” before “Push Me Away” – the only blues-rocker in the set – takes full blame for all of the relationship issues confronted previously.
Available via Amazon, Spotify and other online retailers, All Out is a pleasant surprise. It fires on all cylinders if your tastes run toward horn bands and sounds of the big city.