Clutch -- From Beale Street to Oblivion
Memphis, Tennessee’s Beale Street is considered by many to be the world capital of the blues, so it only seems fitting that the world’s most honest-to-God rockers, Maryland natives Clutch, have name-checked it for their latest full-length on DRT Entertainment. A band that once came off as a hardcore punk band with southern twang have evolved into an entirely new creature, a blues-rock band whose sound has much more in common with Howlin’ Wolf (whom they incidentally covered on 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus
) than the Dead Kennedys. Perhaps the best part of Clutch’s evolution is the fact that from one album to the next, the variation is slight, and yet from 1993’s Transnational Speedway League
to Beale Street
, the sounds are worlds apart.
As for From Beale Street to Oblivion
, it just might be the most consistent album Clutch has ever released. The opening one-two punch of “You Can’t Stop Progress” and “Power Player” is a violent force to be reckoned with, showing that songs drenched in Hammond organs and blues licks can still pack a mighty punch. The band members are all virtuosic for their respective instruments, and the chemistry that they’ve developed over the last fourteen years is evident. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, bassist Dan Maines, and organist Mick Schauer provide a flawless backbone for the whirring guitar work of Tim Sult, and singer Neil Fallon’s trademark lyrical cheekiness comes through in songs that poke fun at religion (“Rapture of Riddley Walker”, “Opossum Minister”), elitism (“When Vegans Attack”), and even the Bush Administration (“Mr. Shiny Cadillackness”). And as if the fact that Clutch are now totally inundated in the blues wasn’t evident enough, Five Horse Johnson singer Eric Oblander appears on three songs…as a guest a harmonica player.
In all actuality, From Beale Street to Oblivion
isn’t a huge departure from Robot Hive/Exodus
, but it is what is sure to be a very important step in the ever-evolving beast that is Clutch. We can only hope that all of the steps they take in the future are as beneficial to their sound as the ones they’ve taken thus far.
Addendum: The Wishbone Ash-esque lead harmonies played by an organ and a guitar in “White’s Ferry” may be the greatest musical accomplishment of our time.
Yeah, I wrote it a while ago. Fuck off.