REVIEW: CLUTCH – “Book Of Bad Decisions”
Written from nostalgia, fond memories and a few tall tales, Neil and the guys come at you live and in your ears. Recorded with the incredible Vance Powell (Jack White, Raconteurs, The Dead Weathers, Chris Stapleton) at the helm. At the famous Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN. His years of working on the road with the lovely Tammy Wynette has crafted the art of the “LIVE” Sound. As it shines through on this record. One thing Clutch is, it’s a live band. After 12 studio albums, this I think is the one that stands out as the most all in the room, right in your face feel to it. ‘Book Of Bad Decisions’, due out September 7th on the bands own label Weathermaker Music. They went back to the books and made a few great decisions with this one.
Book of Bad Decisions is a 15 track Mecca of classic Clutch. Recorded with the full band in one room it gives it a different pulse. They all bounce off the energy of each other. Very fresh and organic to hear Vance captured live clutch on album so perfectly. Neil has said that walking into the studio on this one they already had 14 tracks down and ready to go. With extra time, still on the board they put together one extra track on the fly. They spent about three weeks total recording in Nashville. Inside this action-packed record, I still hear this country vibe to it, not sure if that was written into those tunes originally or if it was a vibe that just moseyed its way into the studio. They bleed blues but I swear I hear some country and some world jungle rhythms at times. Loving it all.
Usually on an album review I’ll go track by track, but I feel like to appreciate this album you yourself need to listen to it a few times until the rhythms start to grow inside you. Once that feeling starts, the songs start taking you to another level. So, what I am going to talk about is the three tracks you can get now on pre-order. When you order the new album, you will get immediate access to those new tracks. Additionally, you will receive an automatic download once the whole album is available September 7th 2018. Well with the first song “Gimme the Keys” being the lead of track for the album it’s also the perfect Firestarter to kick it all off. Neil had a conversation where he said “I’m not particularly nostalgic” says Neil Fallon, “And I’ve always avoided that, but after 27 years of this, I realize that there is a wealth of stories to look back upon as lyrical fodder, As the saying goes, “You don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been”. Not all songs reference our collective experience as a band, but Book of Bad Decisions seemed like an apt name for these various chapters, whether factual, fictitious, or somewhere in-between.
So, with “Gimme the Keys” it’s about one of their first tours back around 1991 when they were still making their bones on the road. A special show in Lawrence Kansas was a low point and gave the song its title. All over a missing microphone, swarming drunks, and playing in the middle of corn fields. Time to get outta dodge, and quick it seemed. This track is balls to the wall from start to finish. With all Clutch albums, this one has a heartbeat and it breaths. They will bring you to a high and then either drop you off a cliff or let you down gently. Either way it’s always a wild ride.
The second track on this album I’m gonna chat about is a funny cheeky song called “How to Shake Hands” while working on a cover of another song that didn’t quite work out they came up with this brilliant pleaser at the perfect time in the US political scene. Even though Neil seems to shy away from politics this one seemed to have came to easily. I believe this is also one of those tracks that you can just feel that the guys had a blast writing and recording it all it has a fun up beat feel to it. I love how some of their music can sound so dark and vicious and other songs can feel so fun and uplifting. This is a fun ass song. Talking about what he would do if he ran for president. One word “Priceless”.
The last track I’m going to touch on is the most amazing thing I have ever seen and heard. Now we all know these boys are from Maryland and they love their crab in those parts. Well “Hot Bottom Feeder” is literally a receipt for crab cakes, and they sound delicious. Now I’ve read a few online reviews of the receipts and people are digging it. Maybe a cookbook next year from the guys. But for real this jam starts off with this super cool delta blues style intro and then flips into this fingerpickin and then drops into some heavy fuzz and a great meal plan. If you get the opportunity to catch the video for this one do it and set your PVR to record it as it plays the full directions on how to make these Hot Bottom Feeders. I know these guys are a bunch of smart dudes but this jam is fucking insanely fun and amazing all rolled together.
So, that’s my tease for the “Book of Bad Decisions” from Clutch that’s coming out September 7th. If you can’t get enough and your dying for more Clutch, who isn’t dying for more Clutch? Head over to their website and check out the cool inside the studio video blogs the guys did while recording the album. I think it gives you all the classic things you want in a great Clutch album and it also gives a very live and personal experience into a side of them we don’t see too often. Turn it up loud and often!!