Paul K. & The Weathermen – Achilles’ Heel
Paul K. has paid his dues. On Achilles’ Heel, his third domestic release after a decade of self-produced cassettes and five full-length albums released by the Dutch/German label Silenz, K. sounds as though the nearly schizophrenic roles he has led (debate scholar, junkie, family man, poet) have left not only the brand of a perennial outsider but a potent aura of conviction.
Recorded in a single session, the album opens with a knockout blast of punk energy drawn from the dark intelligence of Patti Smith and Television. This welcome breath of honesty and vitriol allows for more of life’s gritty reality than today’s cartoon-inspired acts, from Green Day to John Michael Montgomery, could ever admit.
Throughout the album, K. and the Weathermen veer from a violent lurching guitar sound (“Internet Worm”) to a gentle country lilt (“Cold Summer Night”) and soul-seasoned singalong (“Golden Opportunity”). The album’s strongest cuts (“Everything’s Forgiven”, “Roses For the Rich”) combine these musical approaches in a singular vision, augmented with a violin track reminiscent of Desire-era Dylan and the vocals of Nicki Beuhrig, which beautifully complement K.’s paranoia-tinged voice.
In addition to the promise of prizes for those who can solve its orignial crossword puzzle cover (created by Paul K. himself), Achilles’ Heel offers a performance not held back by the rather thin production. On cuts such as Townes Van Zandt’s “Tecumseh Valley”, which rounds out this collection after 11 originals, this apparent weakness actually works to emphasize K.’s comprehension of misfortune.