Monday, August 17, 2009

Clutch - Strange Cousins From the West

Strange Cousins From the West

Several years ago, a directionless young lady about a decade my junior tried to turn me on to Clutch. I didn’t listen, not trusting her taste. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have dug the Maryland band’s 90s work anyway – Clutch didn’t exactly invent nĂ¼-metal, but it inadvertently had a hand in it. But I jumped on the runaway train with the mighty rawk juggernaut that is Pure Rock Fury, and have been ridin’ them rails ever since. Since that album is probably the band’s – hell, maybe anybody’s – ultimate heavy rock statement, Clutch has spent the succeeding albums exploring subtlety, leavening the big-ass riffs with a swinging, fluid groove derived from the blues. Indeed, you could make the case that on Strange Cousins From the West the group has evolved from its stoner/hardcore hybrid into an eccentric blues rock monster. Regardless, it’s still the songwriting that lifts Clutch up from the muck ‘n’ mire – the combination of frontdude Neil Fallon’s witty wordage and Tim Sult, Dan Maines and Jean Paul Gaster’s graceful stomp & slash is one of the rock world’s more potent brews. Check The Amazing Kreskin, Freakonomics and 50,000 Unstoppable Watts for some primo thud. Wrapped in a beautifully designed cover that makes getting the physical product more than a prelude to uploading, Strange Cousins From the West is very hip (not hipster) classic rock.

- Michael Toland

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