Sunday, November 22, 2009

Distant Relatives . . .

The stagnant, murky green waters of the Tone Farm have once again been coerced into tidal motion by our resident heavy / alt rock guru James Reetz. For his most recent contribution, Mr. Reetz delves deeply into his bag of tricks to procure a true gem: Clutch. If you haven't heard of them, all I can say is that you should. Not since the glory days of Soudgarden and Stone Temple Pilots has a hard rock band left such a vast, highly-radioactive blast radius. Daring, twisted, and unconventional - yet at the same time totally familiar. You might not know what to make of what you hear - though it's all but a given that your musical geiger counter will sustain permanent damage. Lead suits are highly recommended. - - J.

I must first admit that I am a follower when it comes to discovering new music. I didn't know about Motley Crue until Shout at the Devil. I had to be introduced to G n' R by my cousin - months after "Appetite for Destruction" hit the shelves. I'm just now hearing some of the best 70's rock due to the diligence of our most esteemed blog proprietor (THANK YOU MR. NELSON!). Still, when I hear something new (new to me at least) I have an ingrown desire that it be great. I want to know the exhilaration that people experience from seeing a band in it's infancy that eventually sets the rock and roll world on it's ear. Can you imagine what it was like for teenagers to see Motley at the Whiskey in 1980? My 2005 discovery of Clutch mirrors this tale in many ways. I was immediately obsessed. 10001110101 was coming through my stereo (from Robot Hive / Exodus) and I couldn't believe my ears. Was that a Hammond organ I was hearing? Was this the future of rock or the past? One call to the radio station and a trip to the store and my hopes of a fledgling discovery were crushed. Clutch had been at it for (12) years at that point. The good news . . . there was lots of incredible Clutch to catch up on.

Strange Cousins from the West is the next step towards . . . I'm not sure what. Never before have I struggled this much to classify and describe what a band does or where they fit. The album is original and fresh and diverse - - and yet undeniably Clutch. Overall, I find that the album is exactly what I was hoping for - yet at the same time very surprising and rewarding from track to track. The first song, Motherless Child, breaks down your door and announces Clutch's arrival with clean guitar power and angst filled lyrics. After that, you're treated to metal infused, blues tinged punk, funk, and soul - - flavored with tiny little bits of folk and country. Diversity is an album with songs entitled Minotaur and Sleestak Lightning. Neil Fallon, once a gifted lyricist is now a brilliant vocalist who's musings will make you think as well as spark your imagination. Insane or genius, maybe both. In my opinion, Abraham Lincoln is the feature song on the disc (although 50,000 Unstoppable Watts is the first single). I mean - who writes a song about Abraham Lincoln? Clutch does, that's who and probably no one else. The song is haunting and catchy; simple and groovy. Why write a song about this man? Fallon offers up a small window into the psyche that is unique to him in a recent interview: "Writing lyrics can be a whole lot of fun because you're given license to completely lie to everybody. I can imagine myself as someone else and say whatever I want."

Thank the stars that Clutch was crowning from the abused womb of hard rock right about the time Metallica was perfecting the commercialization of metal (read: selling out). A quote from another review of Clutch sums it up best, "Though they don't always hit the mark, that Fallon and company take the risks they do is far more commendable than the endless repetition of so many other bands" (unknown author). The fact that the quote is from 2004 and holds true on a 2009 album and all the others is a testament to the greatness of this group of regular joes. by James Reetz

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