Congrats Clutch For Breaking Your Own Record

2013 band pic for Clutch, part of their promotion for the Earth Rocker CD

All I can really say is congratulations to my fave band on Earth, Clutch, for breaking their own record with the release of Earth Rocker last month.

In case you weren’t aware, Clutch set a record back in 2009 with their Strange Cousins From The West CD, which became the first totally independently recorded and released album to chart in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 Albums chart (chart peak position: 38).  Earth Rocker shattered this record by entering the chart at #15…getting glowing reviews from all over the place certainly hasn’t hurt, either.

Couldn’t happen to a better band, and if you haven’t heard the music, you’re missing out.  Check it out and/or buy it here.

 

Are You An Earth Rocker? New Clutch Is Coming…

Ladies and gents, it’s almost time for the greatest rock band of the 21st century to unleash their new CD, “Earth Rocker,” on the world.  From the sounds that Clutch has so kindly allowed to leak via YouTube and the Earth Rocker website, the new disc is going to be a welcome return to form after the somewhat disappointing (but still pretty good) Strange Cousins From The West in 2010.

Check out the lead track “Earth Rocker” and enjoy samples from the entire album in the second video.  2013 (The First Year Of The Rest Of Our Lives) is gonna be a good one for our fave earth rockers!

 

Clutch – Live in Flint, MI & Live in Melbourne, AU

2004 River Road Records              2007

I recently came across these gems from my favorite band online and I’m just stunned.  Though I should have known they would be excellent.

Both discs are worth seeking out if you’re a Clutch fan.  Being a proud veteran of numerous shows, I can confidently say they’re both fine documents of Clutch live and up close, and “Heard It All Before” is kinda special due to the fact that our fave Maryland boys recorded it live on their first Australian tour.

One of the discs, however, stands out as absolutely one of my favorite live albums of all time, and that’s Live In Flint, MI.  Recorded live at the Machine Shop in front of a rabid crowd, it documents a two hour show from the “Blast Tyrant” tour and features material from all their albums, as well as some cool B-sides like “Hoodoo Operator.”

The surprising highlights for me, though, were the tunes from the self-titled “Clutch” CD from 1995.  I was originally not a huge fan of that disc, due to what I feel is a powerless drum mix that doesn’t do Jean-Paul “The Master” Gaster justice, and really an overall mix that lacks power and crispness.  With said power and crispness, those tracks are my overall favorites here, with “Rock and Roll Outlaw” just leveling the place and “Tight Like That” translating well to a heavier live format and providing the perfect chaser for “…Outlaw.”   “Escape From the Prison Planet” and “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth” show up in powerful form here, as do “Big News I” and “Big News II.”

Honorable mention goes to “Walking in the Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks” and exemplify how well the inimitable Neil Fallon is able to make these older tracks work with his newer vocal stylings, as they were recorded with his old monotone growl on the studio versions.  The more modern Clutch tunes from “Elephant Riders” through “Blast Tyrant” sound as excellent as you would hope, too.

I’ve flown many, many times to and from Louisiana to spend time with my children and I can’t tell you how many times this has been my music of choice to get my mind off of my fear of flying.  Dozens easily.  One of those few live documents that actually makes you feel like you’re a part of the celebration not apart from the celebration.  The proudly face-melting mix makes you feel like you’re right there…you can almost smell the sweat.

For Clutch fans, this is a must have.  For the uninitiated, “Live in Flint, MI” is a great introduction to a superb rock band and will undoubtedly have you hungry for their back catalogue.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Clutch – Live at the 9:30 Club (DVD)

2010 Weathermaker Music

(note:  I wrote this right after the release of this DVD last year, but noticed that I saved it as a draft and never posted it.  Sorry…)

Being the total Clutch homer that I am, I pre-ordered my copy of this…just so I could get my own 2-foot long Clutch logo sticker which I now proudly display in my studio:) Clutch is the band that turns me into a 15-year-old again…when nothing mattered but music.

If you buy into the Clutch thang, you’ll undoubtedly be happy with this. First, you have the live show which clocks in at around 90 minutes. Clutch is a machine live…and you never know what the set list will be from show to show. Unlike so many corporate bands (Def Leppard comes to mind in a big way), Clutch doesn’t forsake their early material when it comes to their live shows.

In fact they celebrate it…and it’s testimony to their songwriting that early songs like “A Shogun Named Marcus,” “The House that Peterbilt,” and “Escape from the Prison Planet” sound even better today in a live setting with Clutch’s modern deep-fried groove and resident vocabularian Neil Fallon’s more melodic vocal stylings.

The latter song is on this DVD in full-force as our fave Maryland boys play their self-titled 1995 disc in its entirety in this live set. 1995′s Clutch album is a bit of an underground classic, but I never truly appreciated the songs until I heard them live. Truth is, I always felt the production on that album was way too thin…but man do these songs just burn live and it’s such a kick to hear a rabid crowd singing along to “Escape…,” “Spacegrass,” and my two faves “Rock and Roll Outlaw” and “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth.”

I could go on and on…and most of my friends are probably tired of me talking about Clutch. Lol   Just a wonderful band and a wonderful live document here.

The second CD is a 100+ minute documentary following Clutch on the road with both band and fan interviews. Loads of fun with a band that’s unbelievably humble considering how good they are. Listening to Jean-Paul “The Master” Gaster talk about drums is mesmerizing. A lot of thought goes into the sounds both he and the entire band make.

This is a band that cares.

We all should.

Rating:   5 out of 5

10 Most Truly Abysmal Bassists

While drummers are the gasoline for any band, it’s the bassist who manages the smooth melodic transitions from 1st gear to 2nd to 3rd to reverse and so on.  Bassists can stand out through sheer power, insane rhythmic sense, melodic creativity or sometimes a mix of the three.  In no particular order, these are the unheralded bassists who consistently command my attention in every song they touch.

1. Dan Maines (Clutch) – An absolute rock solid monster of groove with chops for days, he teams with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster to create what I believe is not only the most underrated but THE best rhythm section in rock.

2. Stuart Chatwood (The Tea Party) – Somewhat overshadowed at times by his bandmates Jeff Martin and Jeff Burrows, his bass work is loaded with creativity, melody and tasteful licks. Chats’ multi-instrumental talent only adds to my respect of his playing. Had the pleasure of meeting him and the two Jeffs back in ’95…very cool and gracious people.

3. Scott Reeder (Kyuss) – The only barefoot bass player I’ve ever seen (Tipitina’s in New Orleans on the Sky Valley tour), Reeder did some wonderful stuff with Kyuss and made full use of the creative freedom he had within the framework of their very jam-oriented sound.

4. Kib (4 Mag Nitrous) – Now I’m admittedly partial because I know the guy, but he just flat out rocks. Alternately powerful and melodic, he’s the kind of bass player you want laying the foundation for songs and has great live stage presence.

5. Lemmy (Motorhead) – Pure power. It can be argued that he’s no Geddy Lee, but the truth is the man pioneered an influential sound that started with his distorted/overdriven buzzsaw bass.  Influential across 3 generations.  He ain’t no slouch on the instrument, either.

6.  Vaughn Stokes (Hot Head Show) – From my fave new band this year and my fave album of the year, Stokes carries HHS’s songs with deft fretwork and an uncanny penchant for consistently interesting melody lines.  The perfect foil for Jordan Copeland’s twisted guitar riffs and one of the most fun bassists you’ll ever hear.

7. Muzz Skillings (Living Colour) – All of the attention in Living Colour’s heyday was focused on guitarist Vernon Reid and vocalist Corey Glover, while Skillings put his stamp all over Living Colour’s Vivid and Time’s Up CD’s

8.  John Nowlin (Barkmarket) – Chops and a penchant for hummable melodies amidst a wave of atonal guitar dischord in the labyrinthic quagmire that is a Barkmarket song, Nowlin provided the power and rock-solid foundation for said power trio along with Abysmal drummer Rock Savage.  Just a total blast to listen to.

9.  Liam Wilson (The Dillinger Escape Plan) – This guy has an even more difficult job than John Nowlin of Barkmarket, whatwith The DEP’s confounding song anti-structures and drifting in and out of actual melody.  Not an easy listen by any stretch of the imagination, but without a doubt a worthwhile listen for chops, craft and skill.

10.  Frank Bello (Anthrax) – From probably the most under-appreciated band of the Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth being the other 3), Bello won me over years ago with his ridiculously energetic performance on the “Oidivnikufesin” live video.   One of the few bassists of this genre who’s sound cuts through the mix, he has chops and an amazing ability to be a showman without losing the groove.

11.  Daniel Tichenor (Cage the Elephant) – Dude has chops and, like other Abysmal bassists, a melodic sense that complements every song.  One of the things I love about this young band is their obvious musical intelligence with regard to all things classic rock from Dylan to Hendrix to Zeppelin.   Tichenor’s bass work on “In One Ear” has a nice little homage to Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” (either intentionally or unintentionally) and is a nice example of his knack for finding just the right bass lines for CTE’s songs.  Onstage he almost plays the straight man with all this madness going on around him.  Cool beyond his years.

Honorable Mention: Robert DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots), Pete Trewavas (Marillion), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth)

Clutch – King of Arizona (LIVE)

I just discovered this gem on YouTube.    From the sound of this and “The Dragonfly,” they should release this show as a live disc.

Just another example of why Clutch is my favorite band.   Just plain magic.

Enjoy Abysmally…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xno6MXcNdIw&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x234900&color2=0x4e9e00&border=1]

10 Most Truly Abysmal Band Names

And here it is!!!   This is the long-awaited list of the Top 10 Most Truly Abysmal Band Names…band names that are cool, funny, clever, crazy or whatever, as long as they’re memorable but not a household name.

Take a look, have a laugh and click on the links…you just might find your new favorite band!

woo1. Tricky Woo – Because I don’t know what the hell it means…and it makes me laugh!  Thanks to my bro Paul Ledoux for introducing me to this band.

mudhoney2. Mudhoney – Just gotta love a grunge band name taken from a Russ Meyer film.  It actually is a good descriptive for the gooey, sludgey sounds the band still makes to this day.  Great call, Darren.

neds3. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – The name just makes me smile.  I don’t even know exactly why…it just sounds cool.  Thanks for the suggestion, Greggo!

frost4. Celtic Frost – One of my all-time favorite band names…just really cool with a real mystique about it.

MC5. MC 900 Ft Jesus – Originally a team with DJ Zero (now out of the music biz since 1995), I’ve always thought this was the most OTT rap name ever.  The name was taken from a sermon in which Oral Roberts claimed that he had received a vision of a 900 foot tall Jesus, who commanded him to build a hospital on the campus of Oral Roberts University.

cage6. Cage the Elephant – Because it’s unique…and SO open to interpretation.  I  hope they’re around for a long time.

gruntruck7. Gruntruck – I remember seeing these guys open for Circus of Power (another cool name) at the Varsity Theatre in Baton Rouge, LA back in ’95 (calling Paul Ledoux!).   Just a cool sounding name that also describes their sound quite well.  This inclusion dedicated to lead vocalist/guitarist Ben McMillan, who died from diabetes on January 26, 2008.

bark8. Barkmarket – Another one that I love because it makes me crack a smile. Totally fun band name and quite the radical sound to go with it.

skinny9. Skinny Puppy – There really is nothing more to say.  I mean really…   Thanks Darren for reminding me of one of my fave band names from my college days.

wfn10. World Famous Nobodies – Maybe I’m biased ‘cuz it’s the band I’m in, but when my bro Paul Ledoux came up with this name I thought it was the coolest name I ever heard. And it never fails to make me crack a smile to this day.

wellhungarians11. The Well Hungarians – I know nothing about this band except that they’re a country band…and I don’t care.  I just can’t stop laughing.  As you’re reading this, I’m probably still laughing.  It’s your fault, Greggo!

Honorable Mention: Melvins, That Petrol Emotion, Curve, Swell, Amorphis, Clutch, Toadies, Atomic Bitchwax, Killer Dwarfs, Kyuss, Revolting Cocks, Liquid Jelly Monkey Love, Mercyful Fate, Monster Magnet, Strapping Young Lad, Morphine, Trouble, Obituary (THE perfect death-metal band name), Machines of Loving Grace, Spot, Ween, Zen Engine, Ancient Chinese Penis, Prong, Missing Persons, Camper Van Beethoven, Circus of Power, Butthole Surfers, Green Jello, Afghan Whigs, Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Jodie Foster’s Army, Meat Puppets, Jimmy’s Chicken Shack, Winona Riders, Big Audio Dynamite, Chumbawamba, Snot, Dead Kennedys, Lard, 1000 Homo DJ’s, Pig Face.

Special thanks to Greg “Greggo” Liebrand and Darren “Darro” Cochran for some truly Abysmal recommendations.

Clutch – The Dragonfly (live video)

There’s just something about this song that does it for me.  Studio version on The Elephant Riders CD is good, but live this song just smokes.  Tim Sult’s guitar intro is just too cool, then the band kicks in.  Enjoy…and check out the lyrics while you do.   Just brilliant!


 

Lyrics to The Dragonfly:

Could’ve been a swan on a glassy lake.
Could’ve been a gull in a clipper’s wake.
Could’ve been a ladybug on a windchime,
but she was born a dragonfly.

In the sun she warmed her wings
and listened to the cicadas sing.

“The trees are all bending
in one direction
because of something…”

Cross-pollination by the legs of bees in the spring
is a beautiful thing.
Oh when the sun goes down,
the fireflies come out.

In a pond crept a slimy thing
that hummed a theme from the Rites of Spring.

Pity the mate of Queen Mantis,
so content, but so headless.
Katydid nothing but shiver and cry,
as did the dragonfly.

In the shade the gypsies spin
Among the cloves, they drop their skin.

“…beyond the hedgegrove,
over by the willows,
deep in the shadows…”

Regeneration occurs at a furious speed
beneath the white oak tree.
Oh when the sun comes up
the moon buds fold up.

In the sun she warmed her wings
and listened to the Rites of Spring

Could’ve been a swan on a glassy lake.
Could’ve been a gull in a clipper’s wake.
Could’ve been a ladybug on a windchime,
but she was born a dragonfly.

Clutch – Blast Tyrant

   2004 DRT

And the greatest American rock band of the 21st century returns with an album that amazingly tops the incredible Pure Rock Fury.  Blast Tyrant is widely regarded as Clutch’s best album and you’ll get no argument from me, this CD and the follow-up Robot Hive-Exodus combining for an unstoppable one-two punch that constantly finds its way onto my media player in repeat shuffle play.

Once again, from the kick-ass opener ‘Mercury’ to the closer ‘WYSIWYG,’ Clutch just piledrives through their strongest batch of songs to date.   If I have to pick personal highlights from an album of nothing but highlights, I’d have to say my faves are stompin’ classic “The Mob Goes Wild,” “Spleen Merchant,” “Cypress Grove,” “La Curandera,” “(In the Wake of) The Swollen Goat,” and “Subtle Hustle.”

I’ve liked Clutch ever since the Transnational Speedway League album and Neil Fallon is the ultimate king wordsmith in the history of rock, but damn if it doesn’t seem like a major light switch was flipped on with the Pure Rock Fury album.  It’s like the 90′s chronicled the gifted 4 in the search for their own unique muse and with the coming of the millennium they’ve found said muse.  This is a band on fire with an album that truly is an embarrassment of riches.

There’s not a wasted moment on here, as Clutch creates a masterpiece of groove-heavy rock steeped in the best of classic rock sensibilities and given the woofer-chomping punch of modern production.   A classic and an absolute must for any rockhead.

Rating:  5 out of 5

Clutch – Pure Rock Fury

  2001 Atlantic Records

Even though Clutch has been quite a fine band since their inception in the early 90′s, it was with 2001′s Pure Rock Fury that they really hit their stride and found their own unique voice.

I remember the first time I listened to this disc and how thoroughly blown away I was…and still am.  From the opening jam of American Sleep to the live closer Supergrass, the band has you in their…um…clutches and they just don’t let go.  The production is crisp and powerful as Neil Fallon and company serve up riff after riff, hook after hook and lick after lick mixed perfectly with razor sharp, butt-shaking grooves and a liberal dose Fallon’s own unique, intelligent and humorous wordplay.  Throw in some hot southern fried chicken grease and you’ve got yourself a meal.

Quite frankly, if I were an alien from another planet just arriving on earth and someone played me this CD (or ANY Clutch CD really), I’d say “I want more of THAT!”

If you’ve never heard this disc and you like groovin’, classic, heavy and melodic jam, prepare to become a Clutch fan.  For as great as this CD is, unbelievably it only gets better after this with Blast TyrantRobot Hive/Exodus, and From Beale Street To Oblivion, establishing Clutch as, in my humble opinion, the greatest American rock band of the 21st century so far.  Never before have I heard a band combine everything I’ve always loved about heavy rock with an undeniable intelligence that is sadly missing with a lot of bands.   Never, that is, until now.

Turn it up loud and get lost in the sound!

Rating:  4.5 out of 5