Clutch - Strange Cousins From The West
Weathermaker Music
Bluesy Hard Rock
10 songs (44:58)
Release year: 2009
Clutch, Weathermaker Music
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The ninth Clutch full-length kicks much ass, as does everything released under that name, yet it’s not quite amongst their best. We’ve been spoilt, us Clutchheads, with a run of albums as good as Pure Rock FuryBlast TyrantRobot Hive/ExodusFrom Beale Street To Oblivion, for each of which a serious argument could be made for career best status, all excellent pieces of Rock which will still be talked about in ten years’ time. It seems, however, that this run is over, and whilst Strange Cousins From The West is a damn good album, it’s not quite up to being mentioned with those other masterpieces. The first to be released on the band’s own label, Weathermaker Music, it’s sure to get complaints from long-term fans, and it’s taken a good few listens for your humble wordsmith not to feel even slightly disappointed with it.

Of course, Clutch being slightly less than amazing is still more than worth your time, as proven from the one-two opening hit of Motherless Child and Struck Down; the former continuing the Blues Rock approach of Beale Street with more of the band’s typical quirkiness, mixing Stoner psychedelia and Classic Rock-ing out perfectly, the latter sounding as if someone in the Clutch camp has been listening to early Queens Of The Stone Age, the catchy guitar-driven tune pausing only for two brief yet extremely fun instrumental sections. Fine, first single 50,000 Unstoppable Watts is the closest thing yet to Clutch-by-numbers that we’ve heard yet, but the band are still doing their best to experiment with their chosen genre, the opening drum rolls of Abraham Lincoln rightfully suggesting an unusually sombre track for the band, the ensuring Southern-fried dirge sounding like something you might have heard in a bar soon after the President’s assassination.

What really impressed is, as ever, how far Clutch are from toning down their sound or ‘selling out’. Since the first moment they were launched into stardom after some executive realised that the Rock world needed a band with songs like The Mob Goes Wild, the Maryland four-piece have remained true to their music above all else, and Strange Cousins From The West is as full of the band’s now-trademark experimental quirks as any of the past four releases. The subtle riff-trading and varied percussion of Minotaur, the Funk-imbued smoothness of The Amazing Kreskin, even Freakonomics, which could have come straight from Beale Street, so smooth and classic Clutch-y is it.

If there’s a real fault here, it’s that Strange Cousins... doesn’t rock out so much as past releases, doesn’t have the same high ratio of awesome songs that make you want to drop everything and dance. It’s a laid-back album, perfect for the fan who has grown older with the band and doesn’t quite party as much as before, but can still appreciate a good bit of Rock when he hears it. Really, Clutch are a professional group who could easily have stopped challenging themselves years ago, yet Strange Cousins... is another album that holds itself far and above the mainstream morass that is radio rock, and whilst it may take a few listens to appreciate, ultimately Clutch haven’t dropped the ball yet, and that’s what matters.

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Killing Songs :
Motherless Child, Struck Down, Abraham Lincoln, Let A Poor Man Be
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Clutch that we have reviewed:
Clutch - Earth Rocker reviewed by Goat and quoted 81 / 100
Clutch - Robot Hive / Exodus reviewed by Goat and quoted 94 / 100
Clutch - Blast Tyrant reviewed by Goat and quoted 87 / 100
Clutch - From Beale Street To Oblivion reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
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