Today’s experiment comes to us from GermantownMaryland.
Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Clutch+Robot+Hive+Exodus/65381581
Read about the Band here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clutch_%28band%29
Fun Fact: Clutch’s 3rd album was called Elephant Riders which was a civil war inspired album. If you like today’s offering check it out – it’s definitely a different spin than Titus Andronicus.
|Clutch – Robot Hive/Exodus
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 4
|Clutch – Robot Hive/Exodus: 3.5 stars
Precon: No idea. Sounds like an early 2000’s Darkness type band.
Favorite Track: 10001110101
Hot licks, pretty a$$ kicking. Is this blues metal? Or blue metal as it were.
A million ways I could go with all the nerdy fantasy references, but these like to rock more than anything so I’m giving them a rock elemental.
Magic the Gathering Card: Subterranean Spirit
|Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
Preconceived Notions: Never heard of ‘em….at all. I’m nervous
As Listening: This kind of sounds like what I imagine it a collaborative effort between Rush, The Doors and Red Hot Chili Peppers to make a musical about Dungeons and Dragons would sound like. Or possibly, what would happen if you tried to make a soundtrack from snippets of conversations at a Lord Of The Rings, well really any, convention set to a blues-rock.
After Listening: Although it feels kind of all over the place, this album was a lot of fun. I don’t know how often I’ll listen to it as a whole after this, but I did add Gravel Road to my singles playlist, so I’ll be revisiting that one for sure. The combination of styles just works really well and, like I said, although the lyrics were lacking any type of cohesion, I can’t complain about a song that’s verbose. I would be really curious to see what a concert with these guys looks like.
Favorite track: Gravel Road
Overall: I’m giving two 4’s in a row. I feel unimaginative. I hope someone picked a terrible album for our next one so I can change my track record.
|Preconceived Notions: Back in the day, oh the hazy summer of 1994 or so I saw Clutch live at Toad’s as the opener for a bill that included: Fudge Tunnel, Fear Factory, and was headlined by Sepultra. I had heard some stuff from Clutch before then and wondered how exactly they fit in….welp, after the 1st few notes the guy in the front row got spun around, headbutted, and broke his nose. I spent the rest of the set trying not to slip on nose blood. Ah the things we treasure from our youths. Anyway, this was my pick, but it’s from an era of the band a little different from those days of yore. As Clutch has evolved as a band they have gravitated away from an overtly aggressive tone toward a more southern rock vibe. As I detest southern rock in general – obviously Clutch offers the listener something beyond that.
After Listening: This is a rock album, and it’s a great one. Maybe I’ll be in the minority here, but I have always envisioned Clutch as the spiritual successor to American Rock music. They’re definitely not influenced by the indie rock scene, and they don’t take anything from our brothers across the pond either. Instead this album is a display of classic rock backbone, country imagery (mostly in the form of redneck references), and blues jams. Frontman Neil Fallon was a lit major and he is always keen to drop a lyrical barrage of well “versed” vocabulary, with involved wordplay on any number of topics from paranoid laden conspiracy theories (which he often presents in such a way that he’s clearly conveying the paranoid aspect over the concern), multi-faceted assaults on organized religion (without “preaching” against one specific belief system), and a great deal of subtle self depreciation. The delivery of these lyrics is also unique, in key for sure- but often coarse and eschew of measure – a match for the music in energy intensity if not always congruent in mood.
The music keeps Fallon’s lyrics from becoming too esoteric: instead it’s honest, grounded, and lots of fun. Throughout out their entire career Clutch has always kept a rhythm section of powerful import – and it doesn’t stop at bass and drums it trickles out through the guitars and keys as well – sometimes this rhythmic presence is in lockstep like on Burning Beard where there are clear and sharp ends to musical phrases – and even the lyrical cadences conform to the structure. Other times the rhythm gets layered outward –as the opening of Gullah demonstrates – you get one phrase entered by the guitar, another back beat of that by the traditional bass and drums, and then finally the keyboard producing drone notes to build your anticipation “start moving on the Serengeti, get ready Freddy, see how they run”…
Note for note nothing Clutch produces is extremely complex in nature – and it’s the arrangements of the songs that tie in several simple elements together – 100011101 starts out for example with a large soundscape dynamically, and then quickly dies to a stripped down form over the numerical chorus so that you can better hear the jagged guitar behind it. The 100011101 almost then mimics a chant –and becomes a rhythmic element in itself to contrast against the guitar. Then for the verses we’re back to an aggressive large soundscape. It’s these little teases of dynamics, rhythm and structure that develop the pieces.
Overall 5.0 To me, Clutch has just about everything you want in a rock band. And in particular their maturing sound over the years has produced some outstanding albums in the 00’s. The best way I can put it is that Clutch is a band that has mastered the “flow” of its music. They have subtle genius at pulling together their parts and letting them expand outward – light touches that can produce heavy music.
I’m always baffled these guys don’t come up more when we get these lists of Rock albums and such from the past 20 years, I’m guessing nobody pays much attention to them b/c ironically they don’t really have a style that’s anything other than rock – they don’t have an angle of slacker rock, or britt rock, or art rock….they’re just sort of Clutch. Maybe critical society at large pushed them to the side of fringe rock/metal after their 1st few albums (which also have several redeeming qualities) and never bothered to check back in.
But to me, if it’s a warm summers day and I have access to some beers and a back porch – I’m tossing this on and cracking them open. God Bless Rock n’ Roll.
|Clutch. Robot Hive/Exodus
Preconceptions: I don’t know Clutch songs. Here’s the problem—their name sounds like really awful hard rock. I know that’s unfair, but its just true. All I can think of is bad and cheesy hard rock, bandannas and one of those Calvin pissing on _____ stickers. I’m probably wrong, but whatever. Let’s find out
After Listening: Definitely not the cheesy awfulness I was thinking it might be. This album kicks some ass, in fact. I like the lead singer’s style. At times he even employs that spoken word type thing. At those spoken wordy type moments, Clutch sounds like a more badass and lyrically abstract version of The Hold Steady. There are also some really sick guitar riffs on this thing, like on pretty much the whole album. It’s kinda balls to the wall in that sense, and I did it, mostly. I couldn’t absorb all the lyrics in just this one listen, but I dig the songwriting approach. It’s somewhat outside the box and that’s cool. I’m glad I now know what Clutch is all about.
Favorites: Tripping the Alarm, Pulaski Skyway, Circus Maximus
Overall: 3.87 Stars
|Clutch: Robot Hive/Exodus
Preconceptions: I know very little about Clutch. I think it’s that metal-ish band that my friend Jim was really into in the 90s. I am pretty sure that the cute Ace of Cakes chick is the singer’s sister. Also, I was fairly certain they sucked.
After Listening: Baltimore, huh?
Engaged: Gravel Road, Gullah, 10001110101, 10,000 Witnesses
Overall: Robot Hive/ Exodus sounds like the soundtrack to the annual Alabama Mensa Society Barbeque & Firearms Expo. At times it sounds like an in-joke I am not getting, but it’s far less metally and jockrockish as I had been led to believe. The singer has the standard 90ish alt-rock voice but there is a groove and sense of fun backing him that your Layne Staleys and Scott Weilands didn’t have. The addition of the organ to the 90s hardrock formula really lifts this up above their contemporaries. Maybe that’s why they had less radio play and more longevity. Clutch = Rage Against The Machine + cheap bourbon & snake handling cults – White boy Rap & Amnesty International pamphlets. I probably wouldn’t play this album a lot at home but I’d definitely see them live. Not sober, of course. So far, this is the surprise of the season for me.