Clutch album "Book of Bad Decisions" Reviewed by Taco Mouth
Holy Shit!.... Weaponized Funk coming in hot!
I don’t write much these days, and have only written one other review in my life (20 years ago Faith No More “King for a day/fool for a lifetime”). This at times felt like a book report with a looming deadline. Regardless of any of that nonsense, Clutch’s twelfth studio album is just as intense and rocking as their first. Ever since my first listen, “Book of Bad Decisions” has been a record full of catchy blues riffs and classic storytelling that will not leave my head.
Kicking off with a short ambient/psychedelic jam, just to seconds later hit us in the chest, “Gimme the Keys”, immediately sets the tone for the rest of this journey. The record continues with some trademark Clutch storytelling, and groovy/bluesy riffs reminiscent of old Sabbath (an influence actually later referenced in “A Good Fire”). The title track keeps the blues rock coming. My music grooming has always made me hesitant in enjoying most straightforward 12 bar blues, but this one steps above and keeps it interesting, with psychedelic sprinkles and some more of that great storytelling.
“How to Shake Hands” is hands down my favorite. Noisy, chaotic, and sarcastic. Character traits of all my favorite music. The tension and sense of urgency throughout have me on the edge of my seat and rocking from beginning to end. And the tongue in cheek scenario would definitely get my vote. I fucking love this song.
The horns could be seen as a production indulgence on “Barbarella”, but they’re so good and bring the song to the next level, making “Weaponized Funk” the P-funk style anthem it is. Funk with Clutch’s unique hard rock, yarn spinning style. And then we’re back to in your face, boogie storytime, “Vision Quest” is a fun tale of a few drinking nights with Death. “Weird Times” comes in hard, upbeat and rocking. Riffy as hell, And then we bring it down and dark and groovy…. What other band in the world can scream “Emily Dickinson!” with such success… god damn… groovy and even psychedelic at the right times. “Sonic Counselor” brings us another P-Funk Anthem Chorus.. But with spacey breaks only clutch could bring together. What better way to discuss modern church? Clutch brings shuffle madness to the story of “A Good fire”. “Ghoul Wrangler” keeps the shuffle, but more classic John Lee Hooker this time. They keep these themes going throughout the rest of this rocking adventure with even more classical blues conventions brought in later in the album. They bring it down and all together at the end with “Lorelei”, A brooding, spacey cool down after the marathon sprint of the 14 previous songs. Packed with 15 songs!, there is no filler here.
The tones and production throughout the record are perfect. Straight forward, no nonsense, loud, and in your face. The whole record has the driving intensity of a live show, urgent and energetic, without ever-losing the groove. Regardless of being a definite “hard rock” band, Clutch has proven themselves again and again to be a contender in the history of american funk and blues. This record is an amazing blend of classic funk shout anthems, classic Clutch angst, and a southern tent revival. Even after close to a hundred listens to write this, I’ll have this in my heavy rotation for a while.
Written by Shawn Hammer guitarist from Taco Mouth.
To check out other photos, interviews and reviews on clutch please see links below.
Photos & live review of Clutch in Nashville.
Winter Tour 2017: http://www.revelatorshow.com/concert-photos-2017/clutch
Neil Fallon interview
Jean Paul Gaster interview.
Clutch album review by Chad Nicefield from Wilson: