Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on VOLK, an independent duo that describes their genre as one of ‘heartbreaking and shaking.’ Their newest release, a four track maxi-single entitled ‘Boutique Western Swing Compositions,’ is one of the the most compelling independent efforts I’ve heard in the last several months. Let’s face it, they had me at “recorded directly to analog tape.”
VOLK consists of Eleot Reich on vocals and drums and Christopher Lowe on vocals and guitar.
VOLK’s new release is best listened to via a vinyl press, but for the purposes of this review, I delved into it via the Sound Cloud stream that can be found below. The small collection is broken into two sides, which makes sense - again, it’s meant to be listened on vinyl. Side A opens with ‘Simple Western Song,’ a searing romp through electric distortion, powerhouse female lead vocals, and thunderous percussion. It’s a very raw sound; the simplicity of the production method is accented by the performance. No frills, no unnecessary production. It’s rock and roll in a pure, unadulterated form.
One could definitely draw some parallels through music of the last decade to bring oneself to VOLK. I’m sure they get the ‘White Stripes’ comparison a whole lot, and they’re certainly akin to acts like Shakey Graves, the Alabama Shakes, or perhaps Honey Honey. In its simplicity, ‘Simple Western Song’ sets up the rest of the EP elegantly, tying directly into ‘Just Anybody’ in a superb fashion.
Aside from the riff’s eerie similarity to that ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ riff from a few years back, ‘Just Anybody’ is firmly the stronger track of the first side. It fleshes out the duo’s lyrical chops a bit more, and tones down the instrumentation to let the fined tuned elements of the act shine. Once the percussion does explode, it’s a cacophony of indie rock lead primarily by the prowess of the lead vocalist. Her voice is exceptional and her personality in the tracks is an irreplaceable mainstay.
‘Revelator’s Bottleneck’ offers a tonal shift once you snap into the B side of the record. Now, the male vocals join in amidst a firm blues influence. That thick slide guitar sound is splendid, and the two performers accent each other well when both at the mic. I love VOLK’s attempts to infuse some fresh musings into Americana blues rock. The atmospheric finale, ‘Like A Fool,’ concretes their talent with an excellent culmination of their collaboration on one track.
They're worth checking out; the EP is superb.