SETTING SUN - Kim Volkman and The Whiskey Priests (self released)
You couldn't be in a band with Ian Rilen without a lot of the incorrigible bugger rubbing off and so it is with Kim Volkman's second solo album, "Setting Sun." Ex-Love Addict and post-Rilen X member he may be, but Volkman charts his own course through the seamy underbelly of Melbourne's gutter-level blues rock scene and the result is pretty damn satisfying.
While opening your album with a Led Zeppelin cover is a risky move, Volkman pulls it off with "Poor Tom" because it sounds nothing like the original. Zep's shuffling blues is de-constructed and fashioned into an intense, high-tensile storm of guitar and bass. And so it goes for 10 more tracks that span the field from rasping boogie ("Devil's Coat Tails") to sparse blues-turns-mid-tempo-rock ("Setting Sun") and quasi speed-metal ("Only Money".)
Three of the 11 cuts push the six-minute mark - when they seize on an idea, Volkman and his Whiskey Priests aren't afraid to stretch out - and it's an album that never stands still. The un-named instrumental that closes it bears more than a passing resemblance to Sonic Youth in its textured twists and turns. Volkman has a "guitar player's voice" that will rule him out of the Vienna Boys Choir but that's how we like it around here. If you want to quibble about that, go listen to something with pitch correction and close the door on your way out..
There's a trio of great songs at the heart of "Setting Sun". "You And Me" pairs Volkman with dark chanteuse Crystal Thomas and gives rise to some stinging guitar soloing. "Honey Jar" finds the man at the edge of his vocal range and channeling Ian Rilen to good effect. "Mexico" rides a rumbling bass line and showcases the guitar weaving of Volkman and bandmate Tim Deane.
Fans of the fairly obscure will pick the song "Ejection" as a '70s single for sometime Hawkwind collaborator Robert Calvert, but it's also the slightest of the tracks herein. Volkman and Co have enough material of their own.
Props to The Whiskey Priests who truly sound like a band and not a bunch of hands hired to play Volkman's songs. Producer Michelle Dilevski pulls a fearsome bottom end and places the guitars squarely in the middle of the soundscape. The other elements are anything but incidental but there's ample transparency to let them bleed through. - The Barman
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