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The Band of Heathens
One Foot in the Ether
Review By Steven Stone
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  The Band of Heathens reminds me of a thirties-something slacker reincarnation of Little Feat. It combines the syncopated sideways swing of that seminal ‘70s group with the organic textures of a modern-day Americana band.

One Foot in the Ether is The Band of Heathens' second release. Their first album garnered more awards than a cowpile has flies. It sat at #1 on the Americana Musical Association's radio chart for 34 weeks and even received ink in The Wall Street Journal. But the Heathens have easily handled the pressures of trying to equal their first album's success. This album, recorded during breaks in their rigorous touring schedule, which included more than 250 dates during the last year has far more cohesiveness than you would expect.

Not many bands, regardless of genre, have three front men who all write songs and sing lead vocals. You would think this three-pronged creative approach would make for schizophrenic music, but without their different vocal timbres it would be hard to tell who's songs are whose. Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist, and Colin Brooks all possess similarly diverse and eclectic musical personalities. It also helps that together they play an extensive arsenal of instruments including guitars, keyboards, mandolin, lap steel, and slide piano. Bandmates Seth Whitney on bass and John Chipman on drums and percussion supply the band with a solid rhythm underpinning.

I mentioned Little Feat as a major influence on the Heathens' musical style. When I played “You're Gonna Miss Me" for a friend of mine who had never heard the band before, he immediately and confidently said, “That's from a new Little Feat album!" The Heathens' lead slide guitar and New Orleans influenced backbeat treads upon the marshy musical low ground that was first discovered by Little Feat. But the Heathens push further into the swamp to create their own unique peninsula of Americana.

 

 

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