Rock, December 2022

Sunrise On Slaughter Beach
Weathermaker Music CD WM144; LP: WM145

Clutch started out in the early '90s as a stoner rock band and traces of that era linger on in the theremin and psychedelic guitar of 'Skeletons Of Mars'. But they have since incorporated elements from blues, '70s heavy rock and '80s metal, which they have distilled into music of formidable potency. And unlike some of their hard-rock peers, their songs are essentially groove-based. Neil Fallon whips up the intensity like a preacher spouting fire and brimstone, with female backing vocals providing a lighter colour on 'Mercy Brown'. The excitement peaks on the driving rhythms and punchy metallic chords of 'We Strive For Excellence' and we are let down relatively gently by the soulful finale, 'Jackhammer Our Names'. MB


Robyn Hitchcock
Tiny Ghost CDTG07; LP: LPTG07

Hitchcock has a reputation of being an English eccentric and although he is in introspective mood here his thought processes still move in mysterious ways. 'The Shuffle Man' is filtered through The Beatles and Syd Barrett and set to a neo-rockabilly rhythm, but many songs are more low key – 'Noirer Than Noir' is fresh and limber, with spangly acoustic guitar, tuned percussion and dreamy vocal harmonies. His lyrical subjects include an existential tram journey across the universe and the death of Socrates, and he sings 'Respect the dead/you will be joining them soon' on a poignant 'The Man Who Loves The Rain', a song imbued with a love of life. MB


BMG 4050538807363; LP: 4050538806854

Pixies' fourth album since reforming in 2004 contains familiar elements: bulldozing rhythm guitar, crisp drum figures, and twangy lead lines that land between Surf and Country. Black Francis's feral scream has become tempered through age, but his lyrics are typically full of baffling non-sequiturs like, 'We done run out of all our tricks/We flew a plane with lion tamers/Back to Brazil in '66'. The songs are a tad slower these days but Francis claims that they tap into an 'extra special energy'. 'Haunted House' is full of structural twists while 'The Lord Has Come Back Today' – the tale of an uncertain second coming – is set to a supercharged pop melody. MB


Ninja Tune ZENCD286; LP: ZEN286

The debut album by the South London trio is an exciting hybrid that allies the power of monolithic synths and electronics to the drive and energy of Louis Satchell's super-tight drums. Josh Baxter sings on 'The Individual' with its whomping beats sounding like Acid House with disco drumming, but vocals are mostly handled by Ella Harris. Her casually declaimed lyrics over sequencers on 'Hero Man' invite comparisons with Factory Floor and their bass lines evoke New Order. PVA's sound is complex and multi-layered. On 'Transit', cool vocal melodies and piano notes hang in the air then are swept away by seesaw bass chords and syncopated drums. MB