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Clutch | Strange Cousins From The West | review | rock | Lollipop


Strange Cousins From The West (Weathermaker Music)
by Martin Popoff

I do believe, sweet soul sisters, that this is my lowest rated Clutch album in years, or likely ever, cos man, as much as I love the whole idea of Clutch, and Neil's tripwire lyrics, and the packaging (sweet lordy: A fold-out digi with die-cut flaps, poster, and cork as a disc holder), this new one is a little light all over. First off, the production is not massive, but actually kinda Tom Allom/British Steel. And second, the songs are both not heavy and kind of simple, as if what we've got is a Clutch demos record, before the salad dressing was put on and a few songs got chucked. Weirdly, even the mellower stuff is played with weak-tea electric guitars, like when Metallica plays ballads, that sort of "we're too lazy to change the arrangements" thing. So everything sounds kind of small and close and not powerful. Still, this is Clutch, so all manner of swampy, bluesy, stoner rock is there and amusing, topped creatively with lyrics like Les Claypool fronting Blue Oyster Cult. But yeah, musically, we've heard all these retro-'70s Clutch tricks before (and surreptitiously, like if you seek them out, through a few dozen Swedish stoner rock albums over the years), and with a much better drum sound and more sizzle and more excitement, on previous albums, most notably Blast Tyrant, which roars. Weird, in the previous absence, it sorta felt like it wasn't really time for a new Clutch album, and then one this one arrives, and it doesn't stomp around the stage like the hoary, beard-pullin' jam band Clutch are. Instead, Strange Cousins seems like some kind of make-do snack before, hopefully, the next gnashing, slashing blues metal monster beast feast.


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