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Clutch Book Of Bad Decisions

2018 Weathermaker Music

Decisions, decisions...

Clutch - Book Of Bad Decisions

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Some 27 years into their career, Clutch have carved out a niche of their own in the music industry that few others could ever hope to replicate. With a lineup that has essentially remained unchanged since their early days, the band have weathered both the test of time and the major label machine—all without suffering a drop in quality or focus.

Unlike most artists this deep into their years, Clutch currently sit firmly behind the wheel of their own destiny. From running their own label to headlining their annual ‘Earth Rocker Festival‘, they have earned the privilege of being cited as a genre descriptor themselves thanks to decades of hard work and relentless touring. Sure they may not have any hardware made of precious metals to show for it, but they definitely have the stripes.

Even now, the group defiantly go against the grain. Rather than place their new material under lock and key to keep it away from YouTube‘s prying eyes, they instead frequently roadtested numerous songs from this album live over a year in advance. In an era where aging musicians frequently hide their diminishing chops behind studio software, Clutch opted to record this latest effort live in the studio, with all members playing together.

Dripping with the band’s rowdy brand of southern fried rock and bluesy groove, “Book Of Bad Decisions” still packs on thick coating of chunky metallic crunch. In a way the rawness to the music found here almost recalls their “Jam Room” album. While the production is certainly miles ahead of that opus, the live-themed performances on hand possess a refreshingly off the cuff feel—even if the songs themselves are well practiced.

While the band turn up the funk influences this time around, a more noticeable shift is found in how sardonic and relevant the lyrics feel. The essential division that has heated America to a boiling point seems to have weaved its way into the album. But for his part, frontman Neil Fallon approaches it with sarcasm and crafty allegory. He may feel topical, but he isn’t preaching.

Honestly though, at this point, his vision for becoming a rock n’ roll president that he outlines in “How To Shake Hands” does seem kind of utopian. If that’s too on the nose for you though don’t worry, there’s still songs like “Hot Bottom Feeder“, which is essentially a recipe for crab cakes set to music.

Those may seem like bizarre lyrical choices, but Fallon‘s gift of gab still finds him chewing through some colorful tales. Another thing that stands out about “Book Of Bad Decisions” is the weight it carries. While it thrives on the get up and go attitude the band have showcased throughout the better part of their career, it also feels more anchored and meaty than recent works.

Outside of the horn-laced funk tinges of “In Walks Barbarella“, there’s the piano-aided honky-tonk tinged swagger of “Vision Quest” and a slowburning ironic rumination on American poet Emily Dickinson that packs a chorus far more memorable than it should be. Throughout it all the rhythm section in particular shine with inventive parts that saunter in and out of the pocket with ease.

One complaint some fans may find though is that while there’s a number of ‘good’ Clutch tracks presented here, there’s only a few that truly feel memorable. That is not to say that “Book Of Bad Decisions” is full of, ahem, bad decisions. But there are a few stretches where it’s not the most enticing page-turner.

Still, it’s hard to see any fan of the band walking away empty handed. It’s a fairly enjoyable listen that ‘s only real downfall is having to stand up to some of the impossibly high marks the band have set themselves in the past. Sure you may not go from cover to cover every time you listen, but you’re guaranteed to have more than a few favorite chapters.

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