Voice of Action’s Mark Henning is no stranger to the music business by now. In fact, he has been actively making music since at least 1993, when he fronted the band Zoom, and indie rock outfit with a strong math-rock sound in their songs (and also called Lawrence, Kansas its home base!). After disbanding and leaving only two albums and a single to act as the legacy for Zoom, he co-founded his second act called the National Trust with bandmate Neil Rosario in the late 90’s, which eventually got signed to the prestigious Thrill Jockey Records. This band met its fate in 2005, after the duo released…two albums and a single.
All of this backstory is necessary, because it gives some context to this new project by Henning, Voice of Action. Signed to Lotuspool Records, the band consists of Mark Henning on lead vocals and guitar, Jeff Panall (Songs: Ohia) on drums, and Alissa Hacker on bass. Right off the bat, the opening track “Ups and Downs” lets the listener know what they’re in for. Dirty, crunchy guitar tones, riffs aplenty, and no intention on keeping influences a secret.
The nine tracks on this self-titled album all have more or less the same goal in mind: give the listener some riffs, some faux-bluesy vocals, all in roughly the same amount of time, which is to say, monotonous. The word “faux” is intentional, because it’s obvious that Henning was aiming for his vocals to soar with angst and prowess in the vein of Jim Morrison, yet he comes about a quarter as close, and ends up sounding more like the yell a soccer player might let out while feigning an injury (see track 7, “Slip on the Wall”). Henning’s vocals are easily the biggest distraction from what are nine well-performed tracks for those who enjoy tight, nuts and bolts, riff heavy rock and roll. Not only the vocals, but the lyrics have a couple eyebrow-raising moments as well. Case in point is track 5, “Blinded By Love”: “Hundred dollars here, hundred dollars there, can’t feed my kids, can’t do my hair.” Wait, hold on, Mark, are you admitting you aren’t able to support your children in song form? Now that is rock and roll.
It is almost astonishing that a man who has released music for the amount of time Mark Henning has, and the result is this album. On the bright side, there is much room for perfecting the Voice of Action sound going into (what Mark Henning’s trend predicts to be) their next, final album, and obligatory single.
Recommended If You Like: Queens of the Stone Age, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Kinks, Spoon
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Ups and Downs), 3 (Sell Everybody Out)
Do Not Play: N/a
Written by Christian Lemesany on 10/24/2018