Getting Better All the Time
Paul Kopasz and the Weathermen have long been a Kentucky rock 'n' roll staple - if Kentucky had its own Townes Van Zandt, well, that's Paul K. And the scary part is, he's from Detroit. The guy has more than 30 albums under his belt, for crying out loud, and he keeps on cranking out quality stuff in addition to playing shows, doing his singer-songwriter gig at Air Devil's Inn every Wednesday and curing cancer (OK, that last one isn't true).
Maintain Radio Silence is the latest addition to the Kopasz catalog and in addition to having a damn cool title it's also quality stuff. It's a dark and yet colorful rock 'n' roll album that sounds as if it was born of too much whiskey and too many nightmares.
His Velvet Underground and Nick Cave influences are worn prominently (not surprising) with this new collection of material and the gritty sound occasionally has a far-away, echoing quality to it - as if it were recorded in the 1960s under the influence of hallucinogens. Paul K's muscle-bound, gritty voice remains in fine shape, even though there is plenty of wear on the treads. Honestly, it fits the music perfectly.
This is perfectly evident on a dirty, hazy and bluesy cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Run Through the Jungle" - impressive and interesting. One has to wonder if Kopasz isn't expressing some political sentiment with this choice.
There are also 14 fine original tracks, including a spoken-word story of a car thief named Teddy Franklin who, Paul tells us with a straight-ahead delivery, is as "cute as a s**thouse rat." The story is comically blunt and captivating, even though no music is involved.
The earnestness in "A House is Not a Motel" is a highlight here as well - Kopasz absolutely shreds on this one and Jason Bradley's bass playing is so dead on that it's scary. One of my personal favorites on the album is the bizarre and funny "Clown Shoes," which vaguely has a 'Jonathon Richman meets Lou Reed' feel even as it borrows a melody from the Tennessee Ernie Ford classic "16 Tons."
"The Great Deceiver" is another notable track, a dark ballad in which Paul K's voice and words reverberates and drips with cynicism. And yet there is also an emotional pull with this song that is difficult to deny. When backing horns come in so unexpectedly at around the halfway point, it will dump you on your head.
When the last acoustic guitar chords fade out, the listener is then hit with the driving "No Difference," a screaming, dark rocker with the excellent lyric, "The finer things in heaven / are the lesser things in hell / I can't see any difference now / but it might be too early to tell." The tune is less that two minutes long, but it packs quite a punch.
I could gush all day about this album, but the fact is you won't appreciate it unless you hear it. And hear it you should. You are free to download it over at www.paulkweathermen.com. Why wouldn't you?