The Bakerton Group – El Rojo – CD Review

The Bakerton Group aka Clutch
The Bakerton Group (aka Clutch)

Rock band Clutch collectively released a new CD from their side project band, which  some claim is an alter ego of sorts called The Bakerton Group.  Focusing mostly on instrumental music, the four-some recently, with help from Per Wibeg of Opeth, released El Rojo. The outcome of this CD strays slightly from the stoner rock but travels more so down the jam band style of music with elements of jazz and blues.

The Maryland rock act Clutch has been rocking out since 1990 and although they never reached the mainstream level, they have a huge fan base and have sold tons of albums as well as toured the world.  Their hard work over the years got them where they are today including a following of fans, more of a cult following as Clutch does not get played on the radio much nor do they have countless music videos for their material.  The band, which barely slows down, tours constantly and has eight albums under their belts.

The Bakerton Group was formed around 1999 by the members of Clutch perhaps to just try something different and expand their musical creativity.  Their first EP titled Space Guitars was released in 2000 and is still available for free download on the band’s website.  It was not until 2007 when a full length self titled album was released on River Road Records.  El Rojo marks the second release by the band and this time has been released on Clutch’s very own label Weathermaker Music.

The Bakerton Group is more of a rock jam session that will appeal to more than just one type of fan.  It’s easy to compare the sound to Clutch as all four members contribute. I admit that while listening to some tracks I was waiting for Clutch lead singer Neil Fallon to bellow out over the music.  While listening though I had to keep reminding myself El Rojo is an instrumental project full of a surplus of music types.

With El Rojo being my first taste of the Bakerton Group, I did not know quite what to expect other than instrumental songs.  Starting off the CD was “Time Horizon”.  All I could think of was how Clutch sounding the track was.  Being as big of a Clutch fan as I am, I was glad to hear the music, and it rocked, but my first taste of this side project was nothing out of the ordinary to me.

The CD really didn’t hit me until “Bien Clasico” played with intermittent crazy saxophone playing that even John Zorn would smile at.  The song had sort of a Disco Biscuits feel at times sans the electronics blips and bleeps.  The potent organ solo on “Life On Lars” was something worth listening over and over again.  “M.(F).H.S.” became  predictable sounding at times but turned out to be one of my favorite jams on the entire album.

I could not help but smile while listening to “Work Em” as perhaps Neil could not control himself as he just screamed out in the middle of the song finally giving me that total Clutch fix I was yearning for.  Whispering robot sounds added to the fun of this track not to mention the length of the song.  If there is any song on the album you want to preview to get a taste of what the Bakerton Group sounds like, this is a perfect song to start with.

For those of you who think the songs on El Rojo might be Clutch songs that never made it to one of their CDs, you are to a degree correct.  El Rojo to me was more intimate Clutch music that usually only can be heard behind closed doors when the band just feels like rocking out and not going to plan.  This is the music you only wish you could have heard before perhaps as a b-side or as filler at a live show.  The music is solid, composed, and extensive at times making for a great CD to just sit back and listen to.

The Bakerton Group will be touring with Clutch in support of El Rojo.  Technically speaking Clutch will be touring as The Bakerton Group opening for Clutch.  Does that make sense?  Who cares.  If you are a fan of Clutch you will love the Bakerton Group and should not pass up the opportunity of a full forced night of music when they hit your city.  If you are not a fan of Clutch but appreciate good musicianship, you too should at least sample the CD, you might just like it.

-For more info on Clutch and The Bakerton Group check out www.pro-rock.com

-Head over to The Bakerton Group’s website and download the Space Guitars EP for free.

-For some extra content plus info on The Bakerton Group plus other Clutch projects check out Brooklyn Vegan.

-Here are some videos of The Bakerton Group from past shows:

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