The Clutters prove their rock 'n' roll staying power is no coincidence 

Bones Brigade

Bones Brigade

It's been almost a decade since Rolling Stone's David Fricke characterized The Clutters as a "Nashville anomaly" for being a "straight-ahead garage-rock band" in a city best known for other sounds. (He did this while praising their 2005 debut, the uniformly excellent T&C.) Earlier this month, the very same Rolling Stone dubbed Nashville the "best music scene in America," and while the write-up doesn't mention The Clutters — who recently celebrated their 10th year as a band, no mean feat — it paints a picture of a city in which they are no more anomalous than a transplanted Grammy-winning Ohio blues-rock duo.

From JEFF the Brotherhood to Turbo Fruits, PUJOL to Heavy Cream, there is no shortage of garage-y rock bands in Nashville now. But if they're no longer an anomaly, The Clutters are no longer a "straight-ahead garage-rock band," either: "Finer Things," the opening track of their latest, Breaking Bones, features a serrated synthesizer that dials their sound forward from the Farfisa-driven '60s of T&C and Don't Believe a Word toward something akin to the sonic world encapsulated in singer Doug Lehmann's voice — an adenoidal yowl that lands between Bon Scott and Billy Corgan, though neither as salacious as the former nor as sourpussed as the latter.

If you pick up a distinct back-in-black vibe on Bones — as in the chord-crashes of lead single "Under Suspicion" — that could be because Lehmann fronts an AC/DC cover band in his spare time. "I Wanna Be Known" is a classic obsession song delivered over a slinky riff and sung in roughly the same meter as the AC/DC classic "Livewire": "I'm gonna get up early / I'm gonna go to bed / I'm gonna eat all of my vegetables / Run a comb through my head / I'm gonna do all that I need to do / For you to be aware / I wanna be in your business / I wanna sit in your chair." Side note on "Suspicion": Cowbell hasn't sounded this necessary in a long, long time.

Elsewhere, "Our World Is Gone" coaxes a Pixies vibe out of the "Baba O'Reilly" chord progression, with spine-tingling results, and "Never Know My Name" explores a slower, more pop-melodic tack before opening up the throttle. Top to bottom, Breaking Bones is lousy with good songs, classic-rock chops and effortless cool. Not many bands can still cut a path through straight-up rock 'n' roll and make it their own quite like this. And if that means The Clutters are still an anomaly after all, more power to them.

Rating: 4.0/5



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