Clutch – Strange Cousins From The West

clutch-strange-cousins-from-the-west 2009 Weathermaker

I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for this disc to be released, and it seems like it’s taken me forever to get around to reviewing it.

First things first:  I’ve been a self-admitted Clutch homer since 2001’s “Pure Rock Fury” and personally they’re my favorite band.  That being said, this disc is much more the slow-grower than previous releases for my Abysmal ears.   Whereas I felt their last album “From Beale Street To Oblivion” was loaded with hooks while the guitar sound was more fuzzy than biting, the guitar cuts through the mix on “Strange Cousins…” in a way that’s reminiscent of the “Robot Hive” disc…probably due to the same producer overseeing things here.  Excellent choice.

At first I was rather underwhelmed, as none of the songs (save for instant classic “Struck Down”) reached out and grabbed me the way numerous songs on “Blast Tyrant,” “Pure Rock Fury” and “Robot Hive – Exodus” did on the first listen.   Then as I listened more, I was drawn in by the textures and subtleties of the music at hand and reached the conclusion that what we have here is yet another solid disc by truly great band.

The rhythm section of Jean-Paul Gaster (drums) and Dan Maines (bass) takes over right off the bat with the jazzy and labyrinthal timekeeping of opener “Motherless Child,” and lays down a furious funky groove immediately afterward on “Struck Down” before you can even catch your breath.

The riffs are cool and very much steeped in 70’s rock, but what is really evident upon repeated listens is guitarist Tim Sult’s playful manipulation of sound textures while keeping the riffs quite meaty overall.   Keeping with their working-man’s cool image, they throw in an excellent cover tune by Argentinian group Poppo’s Blues Band “Algo Ha Cambiado,” sung entirely in Spanish by the one-and-only Neil Fallon who sounds strangely comfortable singing in Poppo’s native tongue.   Rounding out the proceedings is knee-slapper “Sleestak Lightning,” with the trademark Clutch groove laying the foundation for Fallon’s always intelligent and amusing witicisms.  To wit:

West Virginia has its Moth Man,
Pan handlers’ got their Skunk Ape.
But I have a tazer and night vision goggles,
Costco rolls of black duct tape.
It’s got red eyes, it’s got razor claws,
It’s got green skin, no it ain’t a meth-head.
And after studying its behavior, objectively and critically,
I believe I have a reliable method.

Clutch once again is a world unto themselves and well worth the visit.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

CLICK HERE to buy Strange Cousins from the West

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