THE CLENCH – Walking in the Devil’s Tracks
Sheffield. Land of steel, unemployment and a rich music heritage. It was also the city where I spent my Uni years so me, Sheffield and music create something of a musical Venn diagram. The Clench can go firmly in to the little bit where all three circles coincide along with the Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley, the Longpigs and Pulp. A word of warning though, the Clench don’t have much in common with those either Sheffield luminaries (although the tremolo guitar present on this album is also employed by Hawley and the Monkeys from time to time). You see, the Clench are ploughing a very singular and very lonely furrow but it’s definitely one worth ploughing.
From the outset, Walking in the Devil’s Tracks is dripping in cinematic atmosphere, wailing slide guitars and bass lines so dirty you wouldn’t introduce them to your sister. Then there are the drums; urgent, punchy and with a quality that sounds like someone beating the roughest old kit in the world but making it sing. This combination makes for a beautiful racket that staggers the police enforced straight line between Country, Blues, Rock and Bluegrass. But if the music is swaggering, whiskey swilling, womanising beast then there must be something or someone that drives it forward. There is. That someone is singer Joe Meredith who slides slickly between Nick Cave’s baritone grumblings and Jon Spencer’s Blues howl with the ease of a man who simply has to sing these songs. Songs like Roadhouse, Gotcho Disease and Crawlin’ Back to You show off the band’s more raucous side but there is depth here too. All Those Things could easily grace a Mariachi El Bronx and 1000 Dead Cowboys should be used in the closing scene of the next Tarantino film (as long as it isn’t Inglorious Basterds). You can’t help but wonder if Jack White didn’t get hold of a copy of this CD when trying to get inspiration for his new album.....just sayin’.
If, as a band, you’re going to pick a style that goes beyond your music in to the titles of your songs, your imagery and your ethos then you had better be pretty damn good. The Clench have gone on all in and the gamble has paid off. Walking in the Devil’s Tracks is a great debut and a consistently strong album – no filler here. My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that I wish they’d had more time. This album was recorded in just 4 days at the famous 2Fly Studios and you can’t help but feeling that given at least a couple of weeks then this album could have been even better (a couple of tracks are crying out for some Tijuana Brass or a male voice choir, trust me). That’s hardly their fault thought is it? Times is hard and cowboy has to make a living somehow right? RIGHT!? Right.
http://www.reverbnation.com/theclench or download the album from iTunes