The Clutch of today is not the same as the band who released “Passive Restraints” or “Transnational Speedway Anthems” back in the day. Their fans have grown up, and so have they. After making one of the best straight-up rock albums in a long time with “Blast Tyrant”, Clutch began to experiment more with blues and an almost “classic rock” style of music on “Robot Hive/Exodus” and then ventured even farther into that territory with their last LP, “From Beale Street To Oblivion”.
This new album, “Strange Cousins From The West” definitely seems like the next logical step in that direction. The new album is “rock”, but probably not in the way that top-40 radio has classified “rock” these days, but rock in the way that I think it used to mean. The band is obviously making the kind of music they enjoy playing and hoping that their fans will follow them along for the ride. Judging from the reaction some of the new stuff got when I saw them in concert a few months ago, I’d say that the fans approve.
For me, the sweet spot of this album begins at song four, “Abraham Lincoln” and continues through “Minotaur” and “The Amazing Kreskin” There aren’t any throw-aways on this album, and even stuff that I found myself kind of resistant to at first, like “Witchdoctor” wound up winning me over in the end. The main riff for “Abraham Lincoln” has been stuck in my head for days too…
Obviously, I’m a Clutch fan, but if you enjoy this, be sure to check out their instrumental stuff, released as The Bakerton Group, because it’s some good stuff too. If the only song you know from Clutch is “A Shogun Named Marcus”, then you have a lot of catching up to do, because the band has only gotten better and evolved their sound into something much more unique over the last 19 or so years. If you get a chance to check them out live (they tour heavily) I would also say DO SO.