Clutch: Double-Vinyl Reissue of Blast Tyrant Due Feb. 28

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 9th, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster

You’re not about to hear me start complaining that Clutch are doing a 2LP reissue of their 2004 outing, Blast Tyrant. I recall thinking at the time that their DRT Records debut was their best album yet, perfectly nailing the middle ground between the overly smoothed Elephant Riders and the rawer-than-it-needed-to-be Pure Rock Fury. Even now, “Subtle Hustle” was easily among the high points of my New Year’s Eve. But what I’m not seeing in the press release below is any news of a new album.

Sure, a Blast Tyrant reissue is great — I know the CD one they did last year through their own Weathermaker Music certainly was — but with a spring tour booked and European festivals in the summer, when can we expect a follow-up to 2009′s Strange Cousins From the West? That’s what I really want to know.

Three years and no new Clutch is a long time. Just saying. In the meanwhile, here’s this:

Weathermaker Music has announced the date of Feb. 28 as the official retail release for the Clutch double-vinyl edition of Blast Tyrant. This 180+ gram expanded vinyl contains 16 songs and includes six mini-posters taken straight from Blast Tyrant’s “Atlas of the Invisible World.” Each illustrated poster is sized 8.5″ x 11″ and depicts one of the various characters featured within the Blast Tyrant storyline. Prior to Feb. 28, the double vinyl edition of Blast Tyrant is exclusively available via clutchmerch.com.

In Clutch tour news the guys are about to confirm a North American Spring Tour. Dates will be announced in the coming weeks. Clutch will also be returning to Europe this festival season. The band has been confirmed for the Sonisphere Festival in Madrid, Spain, on May 26 and the Peace and Love Festival in Borlänge, Sweden on June 29. Additional festival appearances are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

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Live Review: Clutch in Flint, Michigan, 07.23.11

Posted in Reviews on July 25th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

It was the last night of the big trip to Detroit. The Patient Mrs. and I had seen some friends, done a lot of touring around the city, drank no shortage of Motor City Brewing Works’ Ghettoblaster and other assorted local brews, and I figured the best possible way to cap being in Michigan was a drive to Flint to catch Clutch at the Machine Shop.

Seeing Clutch in Flint was something special because of the much-enjoyed Live in Flint, Michigan live CD, but also because the timing of the trip had meant I didn’t get to catch either their stop in Brooklyn or the two boat shows they did on a cruise liner around Manhattan (though they did have the exclusive t-shirts from the latter for sale with their merch). These things happen. I also got married on a night they were playing Starland Ballroom. Sometimes schedules conflict, but the chance to see them in a place they deemed supportive enough to record a live album there wasn’t one I was going to pass up, so to the Machine Shop we went.

The venue was basically a cement box, and on the walk inside, I saw several bumper stickers that said, “The driver of this vehicle owns a gun” in varying clever ways. One was just the word “Flint” in all capital letters with a handgun replacing the ‘L.’ At times like that, I always have to remember to keep my wiseassery in check. In any case, the bikers outside seemed to have security in check. Inside, it was crowded and hot and though the reformed trio incarnation of C.O.C. had been slated to support Clutch on the tour, there was on stage some reggae-influenced Sublime-sounding band who were very much not the Animosity lineup.

C.O.C. had, as Clutch vocalist Neil Fallon later explained, pulled out of the tour for “medical reasons.” Pretty vague, and no appendectomies were mentioned, so I don’t know what the deal was. They didn’t play. The douche rock band, whose name I never caught, ran through their set and seemed to appreciate the crowd, but it just wasn’t my thing. Several drunk dudes standing immediately to my right ate it up, so I guess there’s that.

Clutch came out in good time and kicked into a set half-full with surprises. They opened with “Sea of Destruction” from Slow Hole to China, and “Promoter (of Earthbound Causes)” from Blast Tyrant was especially cool to hear, and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster led “Mercury” jamming right into “Child of the City” from From Beale Street to Oblivion. The single, “50,000 Unstoppable Watts,” from their latest album, Strange Cousins From the West, was right on the money, “Immortal” thrilled the crowd and a plugged-in blend of the acoustic and electric arrangements of “Tight Like That” from the self-titled was ultra-grooving — bassist Dan Maines in the pocket while Fallon and Tim Sult doubled up on guitars — but “Animal Farm” sounded slow coming out of “Struck Down” and overall, the band looked kind of tired.

And if they were, it’s certainly understandable. The aforementioned boat shows were basically comprised of two full gigs in one night, with a show the night before and one the night after in Pittsburgh. I don’t think Clutch have taken significant time off from touring since Strange Cousins From the West was released in 2009, but no matter how used to it you might be, five shows in four days — with another one still to come the day after before finally getting a night off — is a lot. Still, part of me can’t help but think it’s time Clutch got off the road, took a month or two away from it, and came back to write another album.

If the “The party’s over/You all got to go/The wolfman is coming out” (or thereabouts) chorus to the unnamed new song they played is any indication of the level of morale — which, admittedly, it could just as easily not be — then yeah, maybe it’s time to step back on the gigging and focus on the creative side of the band for a while. That said, Clutch never fails to satisfy as a live act, and the Machine Shop show was no exception. That new song sat well alongside “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” in the band’s latter-day bluesy style, and the biggest surprise of the evening came as they began to round out the set and threw in “Subtle Hustle,” one of Blast Tyrant‘s catchiest and least-celebrated songs. It’s a personal favorite, anyway.

They ended the pre-encore set with “Electric Worry”/”One Eyed Dollar” from From Beale Street to Oblivion and came back after long enough to let the room cool down a little to do a few acoustic cuts. Fallon once more joined Sult for the ensuing three songs, which felt more like a miniaturized second set than an encore. The first cut they played, I didn’t recognize, but featured heavy lyrical mention of Abraham — could be new, could be a cover, could be old and reinterpreted, but so far as I could tell it wasn’t “Abraham Lincoln” or anything else from the back catalog. They followed that with “Basket of Eggs,” originally from Jam Room and more recently the title-track of the bonus acoustic EP from the Weathermaker Music reissue of Blast Tyrant, and finally closed out with “The Regulator.”

Kind of a morose note to end on, especially when I’ve seen other Clutch shows that cap more like a party than a concert — the time they were joined on stage in Atlantic City by then-touring partner Scott “Wino” Weinrich for “Red Horse Rainbow” comes to mind — but I like to think it was more the band’s knowing how in their element they were and how much the crowd was willing to go with them that let them make a few unexpected turns for the night. I mean, it’s one thing to get on stage, blast out “Burning Beard,” “Big News I & II,” “Elephant Riders” and “Careful with That Mic” — and nothing against that; I’ve seen and enjoyed that many times from Clutchbut though exhausted, they also seemed completely at ease. Why not relax and do something different when you’re among friends?

I was out of the Machine Shop on the quick and back to Detroit, from which I’d launch the long ride back to New Jersey that was then looming overhead. No regrets, though. If anything, I lost more sleep being excited about the show afterwards than I lost by going, and The Patient Mrs. was kind enough to start the drive in the morning anyway. Definitely it was the right choice to make.

More pics after the jump.

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Clutch DRT Reissues: The Groove Triumvirate

Posted in Reviews on June 6th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster



Of the to-date nine albums in the discography of Maryland groove rockers Clutch, the three full-lengths they released on DRT Records represents in many ways their most interesting and expansive stretch of material. From 2004-2007, Clutch released three highly-varied albums and began the process of maturing from their rougher-hewn, heavier early days into the blues rock powerhouse they’ve since become. This period of the four-piece’s development is captured on three distinct CD reissues from their own Weathermaker Music label, boasting double-disc, expanded-digipak artwork editions of Blast Tyrant (2004), Robot Hive/Exodus (2005) and From Beale Street to Oblivion (2007), along with a companion disc of bonus material from each. The band’s legal disagreements with DRT – the label headed by Gentle Giant multi-instrumentalist Derek Schulman – resulting in their reclamation of the rights to the albums here find their resolution. One recalls that From Beale Street to Oblivion originally came in a jewel case with the artwork so misplaced that Clutch elected to sell the Canadian version on tour. Well, with the Weathermaker versions of these records, that won’t be an issue. From the art (gorgeous for each) to the releases themselves to the fan-gem bonus discs, these are about as complete documents as longtime followers of the band could ever hope for.

It’s worth noting as well in terms of artwork that Clutch’s most recent offering, 2009’s Strange Cousins From the West, was also given special treatment as an LP with some of the most appealing art I’ve ever seen this side of one of those glass-case $250 Boris limited edition boxes, and that cut-slipcase ethic extends to the digipaks here, continuity of aesthetic being an obvious focus for both the band – Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass) and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums) – and the team behind Weathermaker Music, most notably label manager and longtime devotee Jon Nardachone. Blast Tyrant comes with a silver embossed ink depiction of the cover’s curious figure and is perhaps given the most reverence of the three reissues, if only for its including the Basket of Eggs bonus disc, which boasts the January 2011 acoustic sessions in which Clutch reworked older material – “Tight Like That,” an unplugged live version of “Drink to the Dead” from 2001’s Pure Rock Fury and Blast Tyrant’s own “The Regulator” – and set it alongside new cuts “Box Car Shorty’s Confession” and “Basket of Eggs” and a host of pre-Blast Tyrant demos that includes different lyrics for “Cypress Grove” and the unreleased songs “Walpole Man” (from which the back half of “Army of Bono” comes) and “Steve Doocy,” as well as rawer working versions of “Promoter” and “La Curandera” from the album proper. This alone is a boon for aficionados and worshipers, but the Chon Hernandez illustrations in the 20-page lyric booklet (dubbed “Blast Tyrant’s Atlas of the Invisible World Including Illustrations of Strange Beasts and Phantoms”) are no less a selling point. With  Blast Tyrant alone, Clutch prove that if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.

As to the record itself, Blast Tyrant was in many ways a culmination and a new beginning for Clutch. In 2004, it was their first album since leaving Atlantic Records, the first album they recorded digitally – Neil Fallon is said to have laid down his vocal tracks in Jean-Paul Gaster’s living room, and the liner notes confirm it – and in many ways, the first time the balance between heft and clarity was perfected in terms of their production. Where 2001’s Pure Rock Fury was rougher-sounding and 1998’s Elephant Riders overly smoothed out, Blast Tyrant (produced by Machine) was the proverbial third bowl of porridge that was just right. Aside from some of their most memorable songs and live-set staples like “The Mob Goes Wild,” “Cypress Grove,” “Promoter (of Earthbound Causes)” and “Profits of Doom,” Blast Tyrant showed Clutch’s burgeoning sonic breadth with the quiet, contemplatively morose “The Regulator” and “Ghost” and their prowess for raw boogie on “Subtle Hustle,” which even as basically a filler track still came across powerful and irresistibly fun. Their propensity for jamming, since much developed on tours and in their The Bakerton Group instrumental offshoot project, showed itself in the form of the short “Weathermaker” interlude and the album-closing afterthought “WYSIWYG,” and the rush of opener “Mercury” and the gang-chanted chorus of “Spleen Merchant” almost go without saying among Clutch fans.

Obviously the band themselves think highly of Blast Tyrant as well, otherwise the acoustic cuts on Basket of Eggs would probably have just been included on one of the other three albums and the demos paired with live tracks or something else. As the most recent output on any of these albums – Robot Hive/Exodus includes a DVD of the “Burning Beard” video as well as Clutch’s complete set from the Starland Ballroom date of the 2005 Sounds of the Underground tour in Sayreville, New Jersey and From Beale Street to Oblivion culls live tracks from a BBC session and some material that previously showed up on the limited Live at the Hi-Fi Bar release and the video for the hit single “Electric Worry” – Basket of Eggs could have easily been a separate EP release, and it’s the most definitive showing here of where Clutch are today, creatively speaking. “Box Car Shorty’s Confession” is a Cousin Joe blues cover, and “Basket of Eggs” from 1999′s Jam Room follows stylistic suit, and it’s in the reinterpretations of older material that Clutch really shows their blues-laden drive. “Tight Like That” alone is worth the cost of the entire release for its slide-guitar and rearranged vocals (the track was initially released on 1995 landmark self-titled LP), but “Drink to the Dead,” which was recorded in 2001 – a full decade earlier – is somewhat more awkward and “The Regulator” seems like it’s trying to insert blues lines where they don’t fit. Sult’s guitar, Gaster’s drumming and Maines’ bass are masterful as ever (the latter standing out particularly with the added room left by the absence of guitar distortion), but Fallon’s vocals are unsure in their placement in the midsection, and I’m left wondering if Clutch wouldn’t have been better off maintaining the atmosphere of the original song and simply stripping down the arrangement – though I’m also willing to allow I’m hardly impartial in this case, being a tremendous admirer of the regular album version. Sandwiched between the upbeat 12-bar “Box Car Shorty’s Confession” and the start-stop “Basket of Eggs” stands out some, but is no less awkward than the “Cattle Car” demo version of “Cypress Grove” in that it’s just not what someone familiar with Blast Tyrant would be used to hearing.

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Clutch Interview: Neil Fallon Updates on Reissues, Touring with Motörhead, the New Album, and More

Posted in Features on February 17th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

This is the third Clutch interview to be posted on this site in the two years it’s been active (here’s one with guitarist Tim Sult and one with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster). Coupled with the talk I had with bassist Dan Maines about the last album from jammy Clutch offshoot The Bakerton Group, and the Q&A that follows with vocalist Neil Fallon will mean that all four members of the band have been featured on The Obelisk one way or another. Total coverage.

While I wish I could say the occasion serving as impetus for ringing up Fallon was the impending new Clutch album — which is about due but still won’t be ready to go for some time from the sound of things — instead it’s a tour. Now, Clutch touring is no more “news” than are the crabcakes in the band’s native Maryland except in the particulars of where and when the crowd needs to show up, but when you hit the road alongside gen-you-wine legends Motörhead for a massive US run that you’ve in fact delayed writing your next record to undertake, well, I think that’s worth chatting about. I know if I was touring with Motörhead, I’d want to talk about it.

I found the same to somewhat be the case with Fallon, who is notoriously terse in interviews. He’s not impolite, not a dick by any stretch, but hardly one to sit and pontificate on the band’s history and future. It stands to reason that with the massive work ethic Clutch have displayed over their years on the road, writing and recording, and launching their own Weathermaker Music label on which their former DRT Records catalog — Blast Tyrant, Robot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street to Oblivion — is in the process of being reissued and which put out their last offering (2009′s Strange Cousins from the West), Fallon would be more about the doing than the talking.

Nonetheless, from the road in Minneapolis, the singer took some time out to talk about reinterpreting older tracks acoustically for inclusion as bonus material on the impending Blast Tyrant reissue, progress writing new songs, playing with Motörhead and tour openers Valient Thorr, his growth as a vocalist, and more. It’s not a long conversation by the standard of some of what gets posted around here, but it’s always great to check in and find out what Clutch are up to next.

Unabridged Q&A is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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What to Look Forward to in 2011, Pt. 2: Rampant Speculation

Posted in Features on January 18th, 2011 by H.P. Taskmaster

Please don’t think I’m breaking any news here one way or the other about any of these releases. This post is basically just me talking about albums I’d like to see this year. Some have been formally announced, some just alluded to, but if these and the records listed yesterday were all that 2011 had in store, we’d probably still come out of it on the winning side.

Once again, the headline says “Rampant Speculation” and that’s what this is. Maybe in reading it, you’ll agree with something, maybe you’ll disagree. Either way, any comments are appreciated as always.

Let’s have some fun:

YOB: Sad as it is that Oregon doom forerunners YOB had to cancel their appearance at Roadburn and European tour, one can only hope their follow-up to 2009′s blistering The Great Cessation comes out that much sooner as a result. It will be interested to hear where the band goes stylistically. Guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt had plenty to be pissed about going into the YOB reunion, following all that Middian/Midian legal nonsense, but now that that’s through with, will he bring the same kind of vitriol to bare in the songwriting? Hopefully it’s not too long before we find out.

Colour Haze: They’re one of the classiest bands on the planet, and their last album, All, was hands-down my favorite record of 2008. They’ve released the Burg Herzberg two-disc live recording since then, but it’s time for new album, and according to the last Elektrohasch Schallplatten, it’s not far off. All had a more live, more organic feel than anything Colour Haze ever did before — the snare drum’s reacting to the bass and guitar rumble like a nod to everyone listening that it was done with everyone in the same room — and I’m looking forward to hearing how they try to top it.

Clutch: 2010 saw numerous reissues and the usual insane amount of touring, but in 2011, it’s time to see where the next stage in Clutch‘s ongoing development is leading. Maybe they’ll continue the blues-laden path they’ve taken on their last couple records, or maybe they’ll decide it’s time to confuse the hell out of everyone and do something completely different. Aside from being an astounding live act, Clutch are a fantastic group of songwriters, and it’ll be exciting to get to know a new batch of tunes both live and on disc.

Elder: Their self-titled was some seriously riffy business, and I haven’t heard the follow-up yet, but all accounts from those who have say it’s a more ethereal, more open and stonery sound these young Massachusetts rockers have taken on, and that’s just fine by me. MeteorCity is supposed to have the release out later this year, and I have the feeling that when ti finally hits, it’s going to catch a lot of people off guard, in a good way. Hard not to expect big things for a band like Elder, who have so much potential.

Dixie Witch: When it’ll be out, I have no idea, but Dixie Witch‘s fourth full-length will be the band’s first without guitarist Clayton Mills. His tone and natural bluesy shred was a huge part of what made Dixie Witch‘s prior offerings so killer, and by the time the album gets out, it’s likely to have been five full years since they released the excellent Smoke and Mirrors. This one’s long overdue.

Argus: True, I said I’d only list five bands, and these Pennsylvanian metallers make it six, but I’m genuinely curious to hear what they come up with for their Cruz Del Sur label debut. I dug heavily on the trad doom of their Shadow Kingdom Records self-titled debut, and vocalist Butch Ballch (formerly of Penance) never fails to deliver, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out.

There’s other stuff too: Olde Growth, Hour of 13, Wo Fat, Graveyard and a slew of albums that may or may not happen in time for December to roll around. Again, this is just the stuff I want to hear, so if you’ve got anything on your mind or something I should look out for, leave a comment. There’s nothing better than being exposed to new music.

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Frydee Clutch

Posted in Bootleg Theater on December 31st, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

New podcast alert!! New podcast alert!!

So help me Robot Jesus, I will have the second part of the Best of 2010 podcast up this weekend. If you missed it, the first part is here. I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow or Sunday, but one of these days…

Lots to come next week. Monday we’ll close out December and I’ll give the astounding final numbers for the month. Rest assured, my mind is blown by the success of the forums, and even if you’ve been paying attention to the tallies I’ve dropped here and on Facebook, I think yours will be as well.

We’ll kick off 2011 with a look ahead at some of the highlight releases allegedly on deck for the next few months, and I still have those “Best Of” posts I want to do, so I’ll see if I can’t get a few of those out the door as well. I’m supposed to be interviewing Laura Pleasants of Kylesa on Monday too, so keep an eye out for that, and there’s always reviews, Buried Treasures, On the Radars and the rest.

Until then, I wish you the happiest and safest of New Year’s Eves, and all the best wherever you are as 2010 bleeds into 2011 with all the smoothness of a Colour Haze track. We close out the week (and the year) with Clutch, because sometimes you just gotta have that groove, and because fishin’ ain’t what it used to be.

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And Furthermore, Clutch

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 2nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ah, Clutch news. What’s it been, two full weeks? Still in the midst of their tour with Black Label Society (I’d say it’s a strange fit, but Clutch has toured with Slayer and System of a Down, so put to scale, it makes as much sense as anything else), the venerable Maryland rockers have announced their ceremonial New Year’s Eve show, set to ring in 2011 at The Orange Peel in the incorporated jam band hippie commune known as Asheville, North Carolina. The PR wire has the details:

Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, Dan Maines, and Jean-Paul Gaster will say goodbye to 2010 the same way they began it 365 days prior, kickin’ out the jams on the big stage. Asheville, North Carolina‘s The Orange Peel will be the site of veteran rock band Clutch‘s traditional American New Year’s Eve performance.

In recent years the four piece Maryland hard rock act has LOUDLY rang in the New Year with epic performances in such great American cities as Detroit, Washington DC, Baltimore, Flint, and Grand Rapids, MI. Tickets are available exclusively to fanclub members beginning today, and will be open to the public this Friday. Next week, Clutch will announce a short December tour which will lead up to this special NYE date, as well as the support package which will accompany the band on the road.

2010 has seen Clutch release a plethora of well received international audio, video and digital product via their new label Weathermaker Music, including notable double disc reissues of From Beale Street to Oblivion and Robot Hive/Exodus. The expanded double disc edition of Blast Tyrant will be released in January 2011, with further details to be announced next week at weathermakermusic.com. Weathermaker will also be issuing forth special vinyl editions of all three reissues, to be ready for turntables in the Spring.

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Clutch Reveal Robot Hive/Exodus Reissue Info, Post Huge Amount of Tour Dates

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Yeah, this came in on the PR wire a day or two ago, but give me a break. I’m a working man now. Plus, I think it’s been a whole two weeks since there’s been any Clutch info on the site, so it’s not like you were hurting. Whatever. You’ll live.

Unsurprisingly massive update about an unsurprisingly massive reissue, plus tour dates after the jump. Check it:

Clutch have announced the track listing for the expanded-dual disc edition reissue of Robot Hive/Exodus which will be released worldwide on September 28 through Weathermaker Music. Currently out of print, Robot Hive/Exodus was at one point the band’s largest selling title of the decade due to the strength of its three extremely powerful yet diverse singles, “Burning Beard,” “10001110101″ and “Mice & Gods.” In addition to upgraded artwork and new “digi” packaging, this expanded edition will feature a bonus DVD which includes a classic 33-minute outdoor performance recorded on location at the Sounds of the Underground festival in July of 2005 in Sayreville, NJ. Also included is the Jeremy Hunt-directed “Burning Beard” video clip, which was the first ever Clutch single to reach the “year end” Top 10 most played on MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball.

In total, the Robot Hive/Exodus reissue contains 23 songs and over 90 minutes of music. This is the second of three planned extended double disc reissues, as Weathermaker has already released From Beale Street to Oblivion in July, and plans to issue forth the Blast Tyrant package in November. For the über-Clutch fan and/or retro rocker, Weathermaker will see to it that all three releases will make their way onto limited edition vinyl.

On September 22nd, Clutch will embark on a nine-week tour with Black Label Society and Children of Bodom. In addition to 40+ dates with Zakk Wylde‘s widely popular hard rock act, the veteran rock band from Maryland have just announced six headline concerts that will be placed within the Fall tour, giving their North American fanbase close to 50 opportunities to see the band perform a combination of classic Clutch material as well as current fan favorites like “50,000 Unstoppable Watts,” “Let a Poor Man Be” and “Abraham Lincoln” from the band’s latest, Top 40 soundscan charting, “Strange Cousins From the West” full-length album.

Robot Hive/Exodus Reissue Tracklist:
Disc 1 (CD)

The Incomparable Mr. Flannery
Burning Beard
Gullah
Mice & Gods
Pulaski Skyway
Never be Moved
10001110101
Small Upsetters
Circus Maximus
Tripping the Alarm
10,000 Witnesses
Land of Pleasant Living
Gravel Road
Who’s Been Talking
Disc 2 (DVD)

Mercury –Live Sounds of the Underground
Profits of Doom –Live Sounds of the Underground
Mice & Gods –Live Sounds of the Underground
Gullah –Live Sounds of the Underground
Burning –Beard Live Sounds of the Underground
Impetus –Live Sounds of the Underground
The Mob Goes Wild –Live Sounds of the Underground
Gravel Road –Live Sounds of the Underground
Burning Beard video clip

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Clutch: Acoustic EP Due Before the End of the Year

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 22nd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

If you consider the end of the Robot Hive/Exodus record and how obviously into playing the bluesier material Clutch has been over the last couple years, this was kind of a long time coming. Nonetheless, it’s killer news that Clutch are going to be recording an acoustic EP. Here’s the report from Blabbermouth, and a video of the song “Fixin’ to Die,” which is a Bukka White cover and, as Neil Fallon readily admits, the source of some “Ship of Gold” lyrics for sure:

According to Metal Insider, Maryland rockers Clutch will enter Magpie Cage Studios in Baltimore with J. Robbins around July 4 to record approximately half a dozen songs for an acoustic EP, to be released before the end of the year. Some of the titles being considered for the effort include a song called “Fixin’ to Die” as well as stripped-down takes of “Abraham Lincoln,” “Electric Worry,” “Regulator” and “Tight Like That.”

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Clutch Interview with Jean-Paul Gaster: Doing Like the Fortune Tellers Do

Posted in Features on May 27th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Clutch have a new and recently reviewed DVD out called Live at the 9:30, which means I have two of my very favorite things in the world: a new Clutch release and an excuse to interview the band. This will be the third Clutch-related feature The Obelisk has done in its 15 months of existence counting the Bakerton Group chat with bassist Dan Maines last February, and though that might seem like a lot (it is), they keep kicking ass, so I feel fully justified.

On Live at the 9:30, which was filmed at the club of the same name in Washington D.C. as part of Clutch‘s New Years string of shows this past December, the venerable four-piece play their entire 1995 Clutch album, making it a treat for the fans beyond the normal gig. Encompassing that set, which also includes a few tracks from their latest, Strange Cousins from the West, and a couple closers, the DVD set also contains a second disc titled Fortune Tellers Make a Killing Nowadays that documents Clutch on the road in Fall 2009.

Especially after watching the scene in that documentary wherein he describes the ins and outs of his kit and how using different drums can affect the outcome of an entire song, I wanted to chat with drummer Jean-Paul Gaster (also of Scott “Wino” Weinrich‘s Wino solo band) about the shows and the opposition between looking back on everything Clutch has accomplished and looking forward to what’s still to come.

Incidentally, what’s to come includes an unsurprisingly hefty load of touring throughout the summer and autumn, followed by the recording of a new album. In June, Clutch perform an acoustic set at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, and they’ve got reissues planned for the three albums released via DRT Records this past decade — Blast Tyrant, Robot Hive/Exodus and From Beale Street to Oblivion. So yeah, lots to look forward to.

Q&A with J.P. Gaster is after the jump. Please enjoy.

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Clutch Know What Time it is, Make a Killing on Live at the 9:30

Posted in Reviews on May 18th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

One can’t help but wonder if, now that fabled Maryland groovers Clutch have their own label in the form of Weathermaker Music, this won’t just be their new album cycle: a studio release, a butt-load of touring, a live release, some more touring, some more touring, a studio release, a butt-load of touring, and so on. If that’s the way it’s going to go from here on out, I can hardly complain, since as any Clutch fan will tell you, the band kills it live. This was last documented on the Full Fathom Five CD and DVD releases, and the band changes up the approach with the Live at the 9:30 DVD by playing a special set and including a bonus documentary about the band on tour in 2009.

Any Clutch devotees, I’ll pause here to allow time for squealing with delight…

Now that that’s out of the way, Live at the 9:30 — filmed at the club of the same name in Washington D.C. on December 28, 2009 — catches the band supporting their July 2009 offering, Strange Cousins from the West (their first self-released studio album), but perhaps more notably, the set that night included the entire 1995 Clutch album. You remember Clutch, Clutch, right? Boasting such classics as “Big News I,” “Big News II,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw,” “Texan Book of the Dead,” “Escape from the Prison Planet,” “Spacegrass,” “I Have the Body of John Wilkes Booth,” “Tight Like That,” “Animal Farm,” “Droid,” “The House that Peterbilt,” “7 Jam” and “Tim Sult vs. the Greys” – which is, by the way, every song on the record – it’s one of the most formative releases to come out of the ‘90s as regards underground groove-based heavy rock, and it sounds no less vital today than it did at the time of its original issue. Yeah, that one.

In addition to this jammed-out landmark of landmarks, Neil Fallon, Tim Sult, J.P. Gaster and Dan Maines also include “50,000 Unstoppable Watts,” “Struck Down,” “Minotaur” and “Let a Poor Man Be” from Strange Cousins from the West as openers and “The Regulator” from 2004’s Blast Tyrant and “Gravel Road” from 2005’s Robot Hive/Exodus as closers. The whole affair is mixed by Andrew Alekel (Fu Manchu, Fireball Ministry, The Company Band, etc.) and filmed courtesy of Agent Ogden, captured on multiple cameras and suitably well-edited without, like the band itself, going over the top or lacking class in that “music video” kind of way. Of course, the test of any concert DVD is how long you can stand to sit and watch it without wanting to get up to get another drink, go to the bathroom, pick the laundry up off the floor or whatever else to secondarily occupy your time, and I’ll admit my bias here as a Clutch fan, but Live at the 9:30 fared better than most. Just putting it in the player is a big step as far as I’m concerned.

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Clutch’s Live at the 9:30 Double DVD Out Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on May 11th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Live at the 9:30 isn’t the first live Clutch release, but it might be the most comprehensive, what with the full-length documentary about the band on the road and all that. And if there’s one thing Clutch fans enjoy unto perpetuity, without end, it’s watching them play live, so it gives me joy to present the PR wire news that Live at the 9:30 is out today via the band’s own Weathermaker Music imprint (yeah, I’ll get a review going asap). Dig it:

Veteran rock band Clutch have issued the dual DVD set “Live at the 9:30″ through their own music label Weathermaker Music, today, Tuesday May 11th. This fan friendly $19.98 priced DVD set features a 90 minute concert DVD as well as a two hour road movie called Fortune Tellers Make a Killing Nowadays which includes classic Clutch footage from 1991/1992, never before seen band interviews, and unreleased music.

“Our fans have been longing for something like this for over a decade!” exclaims Weathermaker label manager Jon Nardachone. “Our director/producer Agent Ogden captured the band performing a 19-song set which includes a molten-hot version of the entire self-titled release! He then subsequently produced the quintessential Clutch road movie, which we wrapped up in one mega-DVD set!”

Clutch, along with their jazz-rock instrumentalist alter-ego, The Bakerton Group, will take to the road in June and July in support of the internationally released DVD and the Strange Cousins from the West CD. The 22-date tour will take both Clutch and The Bakerton Group through the US, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Italy, and the UK.

Clutch Live:
USA

6/04 Huntington, WV @ V Club
6/05 Lexington, KY @ Buster’s Billiards & Backroom
6/06 Toledo, OH @ Headliner’s
6/07 Urbana, IL @ Canopy Club
6/09 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom
6/10 Little Rock, AR @ The Village
6/11 Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo as The Bakerton Group
6/12 Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo as Clutch
6/13 Montgomery, AL @ Strange Days
6/14 Houma, LA @ The City Club of Houma
6/15 Beaumont, TX @ Whiskey River
6/17 Greenville, SC @ The Handlebar
6/18 Norfolk, VA @ Norva
6/19 Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock
Europe

7/16/10 Tönsberg, Norway Slottsfjell Festival
7/17/10 Tromso, Norway Bukta Festival
7/19/10 Goteborg, Sweden Sticky Fingers, Top Floor
7/21/10 Athens, Greece AN Club
7/22/10 Milan, Italy Magnolia
7/23/10 Pinerella Di Cevia, Italy Rock Planet
7/25/10 London, England High Voltage Festival

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Clutch Unveil DVD Trailer, Start Taking Preorders

Posted in Bootleg Theater, Whathaveyou on April 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Clutch‘s Live at the 9:30 double-DVD is due out May 11. As per the PR wire, here’s the trailer and preorder info:

The official presale for Live at the 9:30 kicks off today at Indiemerch.com. The dual disc DVD from Maryland‘s most beloved rock band Clutch features both a 90-minute concert performance, as well as a two-hour road movie with rare footage and plenty of insight to the band’s storied 20 year history. Fans ordering the Agent Ogden produced DVD through Indiemerch.com between today’s date of 4/23 and the retail date of 5/11, will receive a 24″ Clutch logo sticker, autographed by all four Clutch band members: vocalist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean Paul Gaster.

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A Baker’s Dozen of Clutch News

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 14th, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

…Seriously, it’s a lot of news. If news was a thing you could number, it would be at least 13.

And what would 2010 be without a slew of Clutch releases, I ask you? It would hardly be a year at all. The hard-touring, hard-recording, hard-hitting Maryland rockers have a bunch of reissues coming, and as previously reported, a nifty double DVD due in May. Says the PR wire:

2010 will prove to be the busiest calendar year in the career of veteran rock band Clutch. Building on the Top 30 Billboard chart success of 2009′s Strange Cousins from the West (Weathermaker Music), the Maryland based quartet will internationally issue a brand new epic DVD set called Live at the 9:30 in mid May. This 200-minute double-disc concert film will be sold at the fan friendly price of $19.98.

Disc one features a 90-minute full-length concert filmed with seven hi-definition cameras last December at Washington DC‘s legendary 9:30 Club. In addition to newer fan favorites like “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and “Let a Poor Man Be,” the concert film’s first disc includes an electrifying version of the 1995 Clutch self-titled release in its entirety. An audio version of the full 19-song concert will be exclusively available through iTunes on May 11th.

Disc two is the 110-minute feature film Fortune Tellers Make a Killing Nowadays, which takes a behind the scenes look at Clutch “on tour” city by city in 2009. This “bonus disc” is not limited to recent Clutch happenings however, as it includes rare band interviews as well as vintage never before seen footage documenting much of Clutch‘s history from 1991 to the present. Both discs were directed and produced by Agent Ogden, who first worked with the band, on 2007′s Full Fathom Five: Video Field Recordings.

In support of the tour dates and the forthcoming Live at the 9:30 DVD, as well as the current Strange Cousins from the West CD, Weathermaker Music will release the new single “Let a Poor Man Be” on May 3rd, with an accompanying video clip and a rare promo only EP featuring unreleased material.

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Investigative Report: New Clutch Live at the 9:30 Double DVD Due May 11

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 23rd, 2010 by H.P. Taskmaster

Here’s the cover:

We all knew Clutch had a new DVD coming via their new label Weathermaker Music, but unless I’m mistaken or there’s some malfunction in the PR wire (have to call a mechanic), this is the first time I’m seeing the cover of Live at the 9:30 or hearing of a release date. Good news in any case, since May 11 is sooner than anything after that, and the sooner the better.

Probably a safe bet this video won’t be included on Live at the 9:30:

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