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Dustin Welch: Whisky Priest

Odds are most people familiar with Dustin Welch's background — his dad is acclaimed writer/performer Kevin Welch — probably thought Welch's debut album would aim for the center of the singer-songwriter market. No way. Backed by his regular band of young Austin hardcases, Welch's Whisky Priest has all the muscle of a band of Vikings on a raid and makes more noise than the Goths sacking Rome. With its monster drums, vocal repetitions and out-of-my-way attitude, the title track finds a mind-locking rhythm as Welch seems to spit the entire song out without taking a breath and his cohorts manufacture huge, chunky layers of rock. "Heartbreak" stomps in heavy boots much like Alejandro Escovedo at his wildest and edgiest, and Welch throws off amazing lines like "See that fish hangin' on the wall / If he'd kept his mouth shut, he wouldn't be there at all" like a prophet shouting at his flock of wavering believers. When he does take it down a notch, he still convincingly seals the deal. The brilliant Mark Germino co-write "Two Horses" delves as deep into ego and psychological growth as any song ever has. The torrid final two tracks, "Green Badge" and "Poorhouse," sound like the Pogues with their war paint on. Whisky Priest gives literate, thinking-man's rock a good name again. Some debut.

 
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