March 22, 2017

Hard drums, psychedelic organs, and tacos. Within the first twenty seconds, the video for “Pre Vintage” from Clutchy Hopkins and Fat Albert Einstein covers all the crucial elements. It follows an urban cowboy elder statesman through the blurry streets of East LA, waiting for the bus and boarding in black and white. Strings cue to add a strange alchemy of symphonic grace and unsterilized grit. Mariachis amble through crosswalks, close ups of mustaches on murals, the old man hunches forward on public transit, slinks past spray painted bubble letters. The skyscrapers of LA are wreathed in smog, a distant zone apart from the body shops and bridges averse to pedestrian traffic.

There’s a subtlety to the video directed by Devin Horch and Sonia Hernandez. Ostensibly nothing happens, but the combination of subtle menace and hypnotic disorienting funk mirrors the sense of dislocation and alienation so easy to feel in a city where obscene wealth and extreme poverty co-exist in such close proximity.

This is the LA that outsiders don’t often see, the grit under the civic fingernails, the click of worn heels on well-trodden concrete, the deceptive melancholy. It’s an ideal match for a beautiful record that gracefully covers a ton of ground — ranging from desert rock to brass knuckle beats, sinuous funk and stoned West Coast jazz. Chris Daly wrote the full review, so I’ll point you there if you’d like to know more. But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, don’t sleep on this record. It’s both vintage and new, timeless and right on time. Give Clutchy and Fatty a mural or at least a mariachi backing band.

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