Crowjack - Ruins Speak

Crowjack was formed in 1998 by singer/songwriter Rod Lutes as a solo project. Over the last 25 years, he’s released two EPs, and his debut full-length, Ruins Speak. Rod played in cover bands in the Midwest for years before deciding to write and record original music. Leaning heavily into the Hard Rock/Blues Rock realm, he’s put together a nice sound, bringing a lot of excellent tonality to the forefront of their style.

Band Members:

  • Rod Lutes– Vocals
  • John Wagner– Guitars/Drums/Keys
  • Christopher Michael– Guitars
  • Chad Gettman– Bass
  • Steve Dunch– Bass
  • Johnny Matacic– Percussion

Fall 2022 on Razz Records


  1. Ruins Speak
  2. Lords Of The Land
  3. She’s So Evil
  4. Merry Go Round
  5. Season Of The Witch
  6. Snooze you Lose
  7. Drowning And Drooling
  8. Mission Mind Control

The title track starts the album with an upbeat tone and tempo. The vocals are all clean but get pretty gritty, keeping the voice in line with the main riff, not the upbeat lead work. The rhythm is well done, hanging out with the riff and keeping in touch with the guitar work. In contrast to the title track, “Lords Of The Land” has a slightly slower, darker lead guitar tone, though the tempo and texture of the track is very similar. Odd sound effects give this song a bit of whimsy.

About halfway between those two songs is “She’s So Evil,” a pretty cool mid-tempo rocker with some great tonal fills on guitar. The rhythm is mice and melodic, and the vocals have a nice variance. I like the backing vocals on this track a lot. This song has a bit of a Desert Rock feel to it as well, giving it a Bluesy/Desert/Hard rock trio of tones that blend really well. The betrayal in his voice fits the lyrics of the song beautifully.

“Merry Go Round” has a really cool bass line. The subdued guitars work to accentuate the rhythm, reversing the typical sequence of things. Granted, this does not last the entire song, but it is nice when it happens. Then, “Season Of The Witch” rolls in and returns to the happier guitar work again. The differences in tone they use from one song to the next give this album a lot of room to work. The variability in tempos, styles, and textures gives Crowjack a ton of space to roam, letting them play anything they want without sounding out of synch.

For “Snooze You Lose,” the guitars go a little deeper, exploring darker sonic areas. Feeling like the song is about missing out on something, the tuning, and tempo inspire a little dread, creating a musical sense of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). “Drowning And Drooling” has more of the darker tones, but this one has more keyboard sounds and bass influencing the sound, giving it a bit of an eclectic sound. The guitar strums through the chorus are a distinct contrast to the leads through the verses. This song is interesting. I feel conflicted by the differences you hear between the guitars and the changing rhythms.

The album wraps with “Mission Mind Control,” another darker song tonally. The voice spends more time in a higher register than in some of the other tracks, Rod’s vocals have a lot of range, and he uses it well. He can go with or step away from the guitars, choosing where to harmonize and where to create tension to accentuate the lyrics.

Crowjack is an interesting band. They’ve been active sporadically, yet somehow sound like they’ve been together for years. The music is an eclectic blend of styles that all work well together. While you hear mostly Hard Rock, there are elements of Desert and Blues Rock, but they also stray close to Beach Rock with some of their phrases and patterns. There is a lot of room for them to play, and they use that to maximum effect, writing in various tempos and tones. There is a little bit of something for everyone who likes those genres.

MZ Ratings:

  • Musicianship
    • Guitars – 8
    • Rhythms – 8
    • Vocals – 9
  • Songwriting – 8
  • Production – 8
  • Overall – 8.20