Well, here's a shocking revelation, a Clutch album is an "Album Of The Week" on Heavy Planet, this one being their new album entitled "Strange Cousins From The West". With Clutch being one of my favorite bands of all-time I just couldn't resist, and this one does not disappoint either. No keyboard, no harmonica, just kick ass rock and roll, the way only Clutch can do it.
On their ninth studio album, Strange Cousins From the West, Clutch takes a back-to-basics approach while still continuing down the heavy blues-rock trail they’ve been blazing since 2004’s epic Blast Tyrant. Notable in his absence is keyboardist (and unofficial fifth member) Mick Schauer, who had played with the band since 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus. According to Clutch’s publicist, Schauer hasn’t been in the band since 2007, which, in retrospect, would explain why Opeth’s Per Wiberg was handling keys on the latest Bakerton Group album. Schauer’s absence hardly makes Strange Cousins a failure, but it reinforces how big a part of the band’s sound he had become in recent years.
On a positive note, Tim Sult fans will be thrilled with this album. The void left by Schauer means Sult has more space to fill, and he does so admirably. Several songs even feature two guitar solos as Clutch inches steadily closer to jam band status. Many of these songs, from the first single “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” to the blues dirge “Abraham Lincoln,” seem ready-made for live improvisation. Strange Cousins isn’t a radical departure from the sound Clutch has honed on their last few albums. On song like ”Struck Down” and “Let a Poor Man Be,” Clutch trots out the bouncy, Southern-fried riffs and subversive, sardonic lyrics that we’ve come to expect from the veteran band. It’s that rare breed of music that simultaneously makes you want to shake your booty and throw the horns.
Ultimately, the only thing keeping Strange Cousins from being a bona fide masterpiece is that Clutch have set the bar so high for themselves with their previous releases. Fans who love the last three albums will likely miss the keyboards, and fans who are still clinging to the hope that Clutch will return to the sound of their self-titled masterpiece won’t find much hope here either. Strange Cousins should find a place on a lot of year-end Top Ten lists, and deservedly so. It’s hard to imagine that ten other albums will come out this year that are better than this. But in the pantheon of Clutch albums, Strange Cousins falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. (Mike R. Meyer, StonerRock.com)
01. Motherless Child
02. Struck Down
03. 50,000 Unstoppable Watts
04. Abraham Lincoln
06. The Amazing Kreskin
08. Let a Poor Man Be
10. Algo Ha Cambiado
11. Sleestak Lightning
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Video: 50,000 Unstoppable Watts