Shawn Lee & Clutchy Hopkins Clutch of the Tiger

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Taking a break from his regular Ping Pong Orchestra moniker, Shawn Lee collaborates with the mysterious, and possibly fictitious Mojave Desert-dweller Clutchy Hopkins on Clutch of the Tiger. Regardless of who the supposedly elderly multi-instrumentalist Hopkins is, he and Lee make amazingly textured lo-fi tunes together. These jazz-inspired downtempo tracks are weirdly wonderful, pulling listeners in with the murky melodies created with dusty keys, sitars, accordions, and an abundance of random instrumentation. As un-formulaic as this album is, this isn’t free jazz–every song has a defined structure and drum base, even if songs like the funk-tinged “Dollar Short” feature numerous transitions. Bottom line: This devious duo pushes the boundaries of instrumental music without forgetting the importance of rhythm.