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Clutch - Strange Cousins from the West


by Gary Schwind

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Any time Clutch releases a new studio album, it is an occasion for rabid fans of the band to rejoice. Clutch has released a couple live albums since its last studio album Robot Hive/Exodus. And while those are good, fans of this band are always happy to have new material.

Strange Cousins from the West opens up with a blues riff on slide guitar at the beginning of "Motherless Child." After that opening riff, the rockin' begins. Not that anyone should be surprised by that. Clutch has always been about the rock. The impressive thing about this is it doesn't take long to see why this is such a great band. Here is a heavy rock band that opens an album with a blues riff before launching into the rock sound the band has nearly developed. Suffice it to say that Clutch is always looking to keep its listeners on their toes.

And isn't that what a great band does? A truly great band should always be looking to incorporate new things into its music. As Clutch has throughout its history with horns, blues songs, harmonica, keyboards, etc. It would be easy for Clutch to remain relatively static and do exactly what is expected. And while Clutch has a pretty distinctive sound, one thing you cannot honestly say is that all of the band's albums sound pretty much the same.

One topic the band does revisit on this album is John Wilkes Booth, on the song "Abraham Lincoln." This song begins with a regimental drum part and refers to Booth as "assassin" and "coward." I will say this much. I don't know when history has ever rocked this hard.

If it is classic Clutch you seek, look no further than "Witchdoctor." This song is essentially everything you could want in a song from this band, including a fat guitar part and some organ to go along with Neil's powerful vocals. "Freakonomics" is another quintessential Clutch song. Big guitars, rapid-fire drums, and lyrics that will make you think. This song shows that Clutch can not only make history rock, but current events as well. What other band gives you that?

If you are a fan of the band, I doubt you will be disappointed with this latest effort. It is chock full of the heavy guitar riffs and intellectual (if a bit obscure) lyrics you encounter on any Clutch album. If you are not familiar with this band at all, this is as good a time as any to become a fan. That is, unless you are afraid you're going to get your socks rocked right off. Nearly twenty years and the band is still going strong. Keep it up, Clutch!


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