Clutch - Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths

Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths

"Jesse James couldn't even handle it, started looking at me like I was Sanskrit"

Before becoming the fun loving blues metal/hard rock poets that Clutch has made themselves, they were a lot sludgier and aggressive, but the band's lengthy titled debut of Transnational Speedway League: Anthems, Anecdotes, and Undeniable Truths is still 100% Clutch.

This is some of the most intense and exuberant sludgy sounding metal I've ever heard, with songs like A Shogun Named Marcus and Rats screaming with aggression, speed, and personality. Binge and Purge takes a more doom quality, before having an explosive climax with lines of "Come on motherfucker, come on motherfucker, let's throw down" which may be the most angry the band's ever been. (Though the delivery of "RRRAAAAATTTS" in the aforementioned Rats is pretty balls-out crushing too) Some songs take a more post-hardcore sounding sludge sound, like Earthworm and Heirloom 13, these sound like nothing else the band's done, but fit in well and it's cool hearing Clutch master such a different style.

Clutch are already masters of personality and songwriting, and Neil Fallon already a lyrical wordsmith. He's said in interviews that he writes lyrics for a song and a melody, rather for them to really have to mean anything beyond being a part of the song. Underworld does similar in the techno world, and I love both bands doing it. It brings some of the best and most creative lyrics and songwriting out there. A rampaging opener like A Shogun Named Marcus is made both relentlessly aggressive with the music and a lot of fun with an infectious chorus. The grungy groove of Walking in the Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks is made even better with fantastic lines like "Well I crashed a Cadillac through the Gates Of Hell and returned with a Fistful Of Dollars" and "Jesse James couldn't even handle it, started looking at me like I was Sanskrit". They're a huge inspiration to me as a lyricist.

Despite being different musically and overall more intense, Clutch's debut is still completely a Clutch album. It would just take a bit of a switch in sound to arrive to where they are now, because the band's personality and pure songwriting talent is all here.

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty

Beastie Boys
Hello Nasty

"One two one two, this is just a test"

Hello Nasty is like no other hip hop album I've heard, it's like an exploration in various sounds and samples but always with the Beastie Boys' fun loving attitude. Its got such a busy sound with everything going on, but it's never overwhelming even with the 22 songs on the album.

Remote Control, Just a Test, Intergalactic, and Putting Shame in Your Game are probably my favorites, Just a Test especially being one of the B-boy's most underrated songs. They've got such great flow, and their rap bravado is contrasted by fantastic moody and ominous samples, and it gives it such a cool sound. The electro-rap of Intergalactic rightfully was the album's biggest hit, and it's impossible to not love the delivery of "let the beat...mmmDRRROP".

One of the strangest parts of the album are the neo-psychedelic songs that are completely devoid of hip hop, though there's a psychedelic element throughout the album. These songs include Song for the Man, Song for Junior, and I Don't Know, and they all fit in and sound great.

Hello Nasty is a bit of a grower, but once it hit, it hit. One of the best of both the B-boy's and hip hop as a whole.


Mount Shasta - Who's the Hottie?

Mount Shasta
Who's the Hottie?

Noise Rock will always be noisy, hence the name, but the levels of noise vary from band to band. Mount Shasta has much of the noise in the vocals, to the point of them being indecipherable yelling with no melody or anything whatsoever. It's best described as what Tad Doyle overdosing on crack would probably sound like. Once you get used to it, they just become part of the sound.

Those riffs though, that's where this album shines like no other. The album is an instant hook, with opener Gimp's riff catching my ear on such a primal level that I knew this was gonna be good. The riffs are of a classic grunge fashion, switching between bluesy metal riffs that Blue Cheer would be proud of and raw garage rock pounding that would make The Stooges take notice. Sometimes it'll go in a more atmospheric drawl in parts of a song to contrast with the bluesy aggression of the rest of the song, which works wonders in Near Famous Jackass and Raw Meat Lincoln Style.

Originally intrigued by the cover art that looks like some obscure 60's cartoon, I found a great riff album. Good stuff.


Nazareth - No Mean City

No Mean City

"Call off your dogs for I am no fox"

While Hair of the Dog is probably Nazareth's definitive album, No Mean City is the apex of the Scottish heavy metal band's sound before switching to a more pop rock style in the 80's. No Mean City, while including a few softer rock songs as the band always has, is perhaps the band at their most vicious.

This is heard best in the closing title track, with its menacing atmosphere. McCafferty is at his most aggressive, especially with the caustic delivery of such lines as the aforementioned that opens up this review. That coupled with the proto-black metal rapid atmospheric guitar riffing, makes for an ominous finale. Claim to Fame as well, this time a heavy stomp, is a great surge of anger through song.

Songs like Just to Get Into It and Simple Solution (The latter's probably my favorite on the album) makes me wonder why they dropped the metal come the 80's. Simple Solution especially, sounds like it could've come straight from an 80's metal album. Its infectiously catchy chorus brings it right up there with Saxon and Judas Priest classics as one of metal's best melodies.

Like other late 70's heavy metal albums, No Mean City has a perfect balance between the bluesier 70's with the sound of the beginning of the next decade. One of the band's best, and an end of an era, for the band wouldn't bring metal back into their repertoire until much later.