on 5 October 2009
The way to experience Clutch, as you will read constantly, is live (I will duly find out for myself 2nd November). I got into this band early this year and have been on a Clutch collection drive ever since. For those who have heard little of their back catalogue the band can be a little misleading. If you go off recent releases such as the blusey 'From Beale Street To Oblivion' you may find the early albums a bit difficult to access. This is due to the punishing nature of the songwriting (loud, aggressive). However, Clutch albums are typically slow burners and repeated listens are well rewarded. The self titled second album is a classic and most fans are divided between 'Robot Hive/Exodus' and 'Blast Tyrant' as the pinnacle (thus far) of the band's career. However, listened to in isolation, 'Stange Cousins' is an instant classic. I LOVE this album and it stands up against anything in my collection. If you like classic rock, classic riffage, brilliant musicianship (drummer John Paul Gaster and guitarist Tim Sult are incredible) then you will love this. The songwriting is never obvious with Clutch, Neil Fallon's lyrics are intelligent and quirky and you sometimes feel that he is amusing himself and challenging you to notice. This is especially refreshing in this current X-Factor/Pop Idol covers of 'baby, baby' type pop era. Also, who could ignore that huge, voice? Clutch should be legends but for those like me who can still get tickets, still buy the albums and are enjoying the unique, no frills, honest and down to earth approach that Clutch employ, we probably prefer it this way. 'Shot Down' (track 2) has been in my head ever since I first heard it. The Sabbath-esque riff for 'Abraham Lincoln' has to be in the running for riff of the year. Meanwhile - the single '50,000 Unstoppable Watts' might just one day be the best epitath for this Maryland outfit. Clutch have been preaching to the converted for years now (because take it from me, once exposed, you are quickly converted)and all of us hope that their epitath is down a long and distant dusty road into the future. Brilliant album. I doubt I will hear a better new release this year. Buy the CD because the packaging is the most imaginitive I have ever seen and the lyric sheet is especially helpful!!
on 22 August 2009
Clutch may be far from a household name but there cult following in the music scene is growing with each release- and with good reason. Clutch represent good wholesome, ballsy Rock N Roll with a heavy dose of bluesy attitude and stoner groove. This, there ninth album following on from the critically applauded 'From Beale St. To Oblivion', is to a extent business as usual for the band, but boy business is good. While fans may miss the presence of organist Mike Schauer, the infectious (and more than ever) blues tinged guitar and drumming coupled with Neil Fallon's commanding vocal work and surreal lyrics should keep the ears happy.While not as exciting as past efforts, 'Strange Cousins From The West' is a strong addition to a back catalogue that is growing in strength and musical maturity with each release. Sit back, grab a beer and Enjoy.
on 12 July 2009
I recently read an interview with Clutch's front man, Neil Fallon, in which he talked about how their sound harkens back to the 60's/70's blues infused rock. He mentioned that it's not that they're being retro, but that this genre of music is timeless.
Timeless is probably the best word to describe Clutch. They don't fit with the trends, they don't change their music to appeal to others, they just get their heads down and rock.
This release, along with all other Clutch releases, is a collection of fine songs without fault. Some songs are better than others, but this album is consistently good. On first listen, every song will have you tapping your toes and nodding your head, but on repeated listens this definitely grows on you (which is the case with most Clutch records), and just gets better and better.
If Clutch can just continue as they always have done, they can do no wrong.
on 24 July 2009
You always know where you stand with Clutch. For years, the Germantown quin/quartet have been peddling straight, no chaser riffs coupled with preaching-from-the-pulpit guttural roars, and they've become something of an underground phenomenon. Not quite stoner rock nor 70's throwbacks, Clutch have remained true to the groove since forming in 1990. This, their ninth album, continues the bands current fascination with all things blues, something they explored with some depth on their previous album (the magnificent `From Beale St to Oblivion').
Being a huge fan of the group, and having followed their output from their self-titled sophomore album all the way to 2007's `...Beale St', I greet any new Clutch material as reverentially as if it were the second coming (I imagine Neil Fallon would be delighted with that imagery). So when the album arrived (three days before the official release, thank you very much Amazon), I took my time taking it apart, admiring the artwork, scanning Fallon's atypical `so bizarre this man's either a genius or a madman' lyrics and staring lovingly at my new shiny gold disc. Too much? Yes, it probably was. The artwork and lyrics impressed, but it wouldn't be worth a damn if the music inside didn't hit the proverbial spot. So...the album.
The first thing that hits, as `Motherless Child' lumbers into view, is how, well...flat it all sounds. Sure, the groove was there, and `...Child', `Struck Down' and '50,000 Unstoppable Watts' move along at a decent pace, but there was nothing that sank in, nothing that had the bite of `Blast Tyrant' or the inherent whisky-soaked catchiness of `...Beale St'. Clutch sounded a little bored, like they'd discovered the blues and hadn't liked what they'd found. `Abraham Lincoln' (ironically) gears things up a notch by being a laid-back lament for the late prez; all military drumming and brontosaurus-sized riffage. `Minotaur', however, seemed like a clutch (ahem) of good ideas in search of a song. `The Amazing Kreskin' and `Witchdoctor', whilst ably demonstrating what great musicians these guys are, made no lasting impression whatsoever. `Freakonomics', `Algo Ha Cambiado' and `Sleestak Lightning' round the 11 song set off with great chorus hooks a plenty, but little in the way of the killer song writing that made `...Beale St', `Pure Rock Fury' and `Elephant Riders' such brilliant albums. The only song that stood out amidst all the mediocrity was `Let a Poor Man Be', an impassioned cry for help set against trademark, groove-alicious Clutch riffs. All in all, disappointing.
But wait! Slowly, whilst admiring the awesomeness of `...Poor Man', the hooks started to sink in. `Motherless Child's off-beat drumming and slide-guitar riffs started to make sense, to slot together in a way that recalled the Clutch of old. The simple-as chorus of "anthrax, ham radio and liquor" in '50,000 Unstoppable Watts' began to sound like an anthem rather than a tired rehash of well-trodden ideas. `...Kreskin', `Witchdoctor' and `Freakonomics' showed themselves to be brilliantly written songs, full to the brim with well-crafted hooks and world beating choruses. And the only way that `Sleestak Lightning' let's itself down is that it just isn't as strong an album closer as `Mr. Shiny Cadillackness' from `...Beale St'.
My advice, for what it's worth; give it time. This album reveals itself favourably only after multiple spins. My initial disappointment has been replaced by that feeling I get whenever Clutch get into the groove - hot damn! The album's good, and I could use a stiff drink.
on 21 July 2009
A few months ago I was introduced to Clutch by my youngest son who had purchased the "Exodus" album and expressed his appreciation to the extent where he allowed me to "borrow" it and "see what you think"! Much to my undoubted disgrace the album has never been returned.
I have just spent the distance travelling from said sons home in Kircudbrightshire back to my own home, a distance of some 111 miles, listening to the latest addition to my collection, the above advertised newy from the superb "Clutch".
Poncey phrases as "eclectic" and "strangely different" may be issued from some quarters, but most certainly not from here. Make no mistake this band are different but in no sense strange. They need your attention and very soon to make them huge.
The wonderful change from the normal verse, chorus, verse, chorus middle eight, repeat to fade is gladly nowhere in evidence. I hate to make comparisons and having just said that, as is obvious here comes the comparison, the only other band that make or should I say made music anything like this were a band I heard many decades ago who went by the name of "Max Webster". Wonderfully different from anything that you may have heard before. The blending of the lyrics into the time signatures definitely requires a brain or brains operating on a level way outside the norm.
If you are tiring from the above mentioned "norm" give your auditory sytem a shock and introduce it to quality that will change your view? and hopefully put a huge grin on your face and a little giggle in your heart knowing that music is alive and in the best of rude health with the band called Clutch
on 9 September 2009
clutch for me are one of the only bands in the world that do what they do with that extra touch of class that elevates them above the baying pack,they are confident,assured and know how to rock out while blending southern rock with a stoner like vibe along with their trademark off kilter lyrics courtesy of the main man neil fallon.
I found this album to be a little dull in places,some of the slow tempos fail to ignite any passion within me and towards the end it dies off.The album starts with some great promise,granted their isnt anything as blinding as 'burning beard' or 'the mob goes wild' on here but there is some real quality.
This album has been on my mp3 player since its release and i havent listened to it as much as i have with their last 3 albums for example,it doesnt beg to be listened too.
This is good,if not a little safe but for the first time in a long time clutch have taken their foot off the pedal.
Clutch's ninth studio album Strange Cousins From The West is a brilliant release from a consistent and hardworking band who know exactly what they and their fans want, and deliver it well every time with a few new twists to stop it becoming stale.
Strange Cousins From The West opens up with an incredible triple strike of bouncy, catchy rock numbers before slowing down and trying new things. `Abraham Lincoln' is something of a new territory for the band, a lumbering song full of constant snare drums that perfectly evokes the time period in which the lyrics are set.
The album is absolutely full of creative and fun music, from the twangy opener `Motherless Child,' to the rocking closer `Sleestak Lightning,' which is a fantastic new take on their Jam Room track `I Send Pictures.'
Highlights for me include the almost-title-track `Minotaur,' which sounds like no Clutch track that has come before it and `Freakonomics,' which almost has the same sort rallying power as the band's fan favorite `The Mob Goes Wild.'
As always, the lyrics and vocal performance from Clutch's incomparable front man Neil Falon are phenomenal, taking you down bizarre trains of logic, making poetic statements that genuinely impress you and full of absolutely unique similes. The man has mastered the art of story telling through music in a way few could ever hope to match.
Some Clutch fans don't like the band after they started modernizing and some don't like the band after they brought in the blues influences, but if this is the case I'd urge you to give the album a fair few listens and allow it to grow on you. Even if you would prefer a different musical direction, there is no real arguing with J.P's astounding drumming or Tim Sult's subtle and precision riffing. Strange Cousin's is a brilliant quality release for fans, even the production and packaging are amazing, a brilliant warm sound and a creative and interesting jigsaw style box with evocative and interesting imagery.
Overall; the band are all phenomenal musicians, with an utterly unique feel and brilliant chemistry. Strange Cousins From The West harnesses that chemistry really well and is a very strong release from the band, I would even go so far as to say it rates among my personal top three Clutch studio albums.
Ps. Be sure to use your cd on a computer to download the free bonus track `Metro Liner Special,' which fits perfectly with the rest of the album.
on 29 June 2009
I managed to obtain a prerelease copy and have had it on in the car for a while now. First few listens are always about getting used to the songs, but it occurred to me also that there is a noticeable lack of progression in this clutch of songs (geddit?). It's not as instantly accessible as Beale Street with the kickass pairing of "Progress" and "Power Player" or as diverse as "Robot Hive/Exodus", so it's always going to have the odds against it to stand out. There are still some good tunes on here - my favourites are "Minotaur" and "Struck Down" - but it does feel like this should have come earlier in their recent blues-heavy sound. Gone are the Hammond and the mouth organ as well, can't say I miss them too much, they'd established the guitar base of their sound way too much to add major new elements. Anyway, not a bad record (they're still more interesting than many many other rock acts), but not gonna be a classic.
on 19 July 2009
I apolgise in advange for Using an odd sounding metaphor to review this album but this odd collaboration word does it justice.
This New Clutch album is alot like a Bar of Chocolate. Hearing about it makes you want to go out an buy it, whatever the weather. When it arrives it is treated with respect, almost a ceremonial moment. Admiring the artistery and package innovation while setting your mind on the contents. Then when you listen (It is not adsived to eat this CD) it, it is gives you the same pleasure you expect and that feeling of satisfaction. Though unlike a bar of Chocolate this feeling lasts longer than 15 Minutes.
Away from any kind of Metaphors this album is a great mix of clutchs' artistry. Including heavier songs such as "Motherless Child" then showing their diversity in the 'Extraordinary' "Abraham Lincoln".
By no means is this album a life changing event but i do feel (as a big clutch fan) It will lift up any mans (and womens) spirits.
on 14 July 2009
The first thing you notice about this album is the strange packaging and artwork, it's like a cross between freemasonry and origami, but once you get into the album you get a real treat from one of the best bands around today. My favourate track is Sleestack lightning but struck down and 50 000 unstoppable watts are excellent tracks too. I dont think many fans will be dissapointed.