Strange Cousins from the West

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The first Clutch studio release in over two years, Strange Cousins from the West is their ninth studio effort; their second recorded with producer J. Robbins at his Magpie Cage Studio in Baltimore, MD; and their first original studio release on their self-owned label, Weathermaker Music. If you're familiar with Clutch at this point in the band's career (after almost 20 years), there aren't too many surprises; it's another album filled with greasy, bluesy, down-home stoner rock. One slight variation this time around is that keyboardist Mick Schauer isn't on board -- bassist Dan Maines, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster, guitarist Tim Sult, and vocalist/guitarist Neil Fallon recorded as a four-piece -- and the lack of a Hammond organ and the stripped-down production give the album a rawer, more organic, and more spatial feel. This leaves more room for the beefy bass tone and delirious lyrics ("Anthrax, ham radio...and liquor!") to shine, but because the grooves are a touch slower and more restrained, Strange Cousins from the West is a step down from their last three albums, From Beale Street to Oblivion, Robot Hive: Exodus, and Blast Tyrant. Even if it's a little less lively, it's still pretty typical Clutch: always heavy, always solid, and ideal background music for driving a semi-truck through a swamp.

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