Thursday, March 21, 2013

Clutch: Earth Rocker

There's nothing particularly interesting going on around here, but I'll give you the run-down anyway.  My three-year-old has an obvious future in meal planning: his idea for tonight's dinner involves celery, carrots, and lemonade (yum!).  It's still fucking cold as fuck outside, which might not be that bad except a) it's spring and b) I categorically refuse to continue to wear my heavy coat, which means I freeze my ass off every time I go outside (what can I say?  I'm nearly as stubborn as my three-year-old).  And... that's about it.

As promised, today brings yet ANOTHER band that I had never heard of before this week, which is especially embarrassing in this case, since Clutch was formed in 1990 (!) (from Wikipedia).  Despite the band's twenty plus years together, however, Earth Rocker is only their tenth studio album, and as far as I can tell from the multitude of interviews I sifted through this morning, it has a faster, less bluesy sound than the bulk of their stuff.  According to this interview with lead singer Neil Fallon over at Metal Paths, part of the influence for this departure came from touring with Motorhead, and part of it, from another interview on Loudwire, was just for variation and at the behest of their producer Machine, or as Fallon explained "we’ve been a band for 22 years and it’s easy to get into a comfort zone. We pushed ourselves out of that a little bit with Machine’s help."  Of course, as a mom, I also have to point out that Fallon has a 2.5 year old son who likes the band's music (so did my almost-two-year-old), and as a recreational music blogger, I also have to point out that he's a fan of Graveyard, aka my basement band.  And that's a wrap on that part, at least.

Which brings us to the music.  I am not gonna lie - the first time I cued up this album, I enjoyed the first thirty seconds of the first song, and then Fallon's gravelly, almost-metally voice stopped me in my tracks (what can I say?  it was like 7 am - I just wasn't ready).  Naturally, then, the second time I started it, I was a little bit wary.  It only took about thirty MORE seconds for me to quickly grow to appreciate this record's metal/boogie/blues/RAWK sound, however, and about one more song before I was seriously in the groove.  Because this album is not only awesome, filthy fun, but despite its unabashedly enjoyable, rock 'n' roll-hook-heavy sound, it's also a fascinating combination of genre influences - the only two bands it reminded me of, after all, were Rage Against the Machine and George Thorogood (don't ask me to explain that, because it doesn't actually SOUND like either one of them).  Except with more swing, and, like certain wines, just enough of a barnyard vibe to give it some spunk.

So let's talk tracks.  Virtually every song on this thing is awesome, but I picked a couple of favorites nevertheless.  First, there's "Crucial Velocity", a hard-charging, gritty, and fun metal rocker that revs up with the growl of distorted guitar over a truckin' drum beat ("People keep saying you got to quit all your lyin'/But cheatin' and lyin', people, is all I've ever known").  Then "Gone Cold" is a standout on the record in more ways than one - not only is it by far the slowest, artiest, swaggiest number on the thing, with a shuffling beat and a hushed, scene-setting guitar, but the lyrics are also delivered in a speaking tone except for the deep-throated chorus ("Swan boats/And daisy chains/Can't seem to recall/My true given name").  Finally, I would be remiss not to mention "Cyborg Bette", which is the closest thing I've ever heard to swing metal, with a loose, rambling beat and a seriously hook-y, rock 'n' roll guitar that lopes like a bear and squalls like a hurricane ("Cyborg Bette, you're as cold/You're as cold as ice/Cyborg Bette, you never treat me/You never treat me right").  Basically, if you like harder-edged music tinged with a dirty, organic glee, you should check this record out.  Because it is b-b-b-bad to the bone.  (that was too much, wasn't it?  damn it.  sorry.)

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