“The Band of Heathens” by The Band of Heathens

The Band of Heathens
The Band of Heathens
BOH Records
3 stars (out of 5)

The Band of Heathens was born at the legendary Momo’s in Austin, where its singers and songwriters Colin Brooks, Ed Jurdi, and Gordy Quist transformed their regular co-billings into on-stage collaborations. The Heathens quickly became heroes in the local club scene and started racking up Austin Music Awards.

The quintet (completed by bassist Seth Whitney and drummer John Chipman) continues its badboy persona and barroom vibe on its self-titled studio debut. Eleven originals harken a cross between 70s southern rock and Little Feat that’s unfortunately tarnished by white boy blues that sounds like, well, white boy blues.

Make no mistake: these guys and producer Ray Wylie Hubbard are much too talented to turn out the southern sound mainstream country won’t let us forget. However, when the smoke clears, the dust settles, and the buzz wears off, we’re left mostly with refrains like “I’ve got my heart strapped to my sleeve/I’ve got my sleeve tucked in my jeans/I’ve got my jeans tucked in my boots/I’ve got my boots walking back to you.” Not bad, but not quite.

The exceptional standout “40 Days” (with Patty Griffin) and the on-the-mark groove of “This I Know” and “Nine Steps Down” demonstrate what can be accomplished with a little less testosterone. Indeed, the Band of Heathens is capable of being so much better than the best bar band one’s ever heard.

by Tim Walsh

One thought on ““The Band of Heathens” by The Band of Heathens

  1. Tim,

    I know all music taste is in the eye of the beholder and “opinion.” For example, I hate RAP. So, here is my opinion of your opinion.

    IMO, you are doing a great disservice to this incredible album and band with your downgrade to 3 stars, it seems, because of ONE song you seem to think is not “great” — even though that same Heart on My Sleeve (which is tongue-in-cheek and not “serious”, btw) is now #25 as a single on the Texas Radio Chart. The purposely corny refrain from that song is NOT AT ALL what “we’re left mostly with”(??).

    What about Jackson Station, Second Line, Don’t Call on Me? I mean, you really like 40 Days, This I Know, and 9 Steps Down and seem to ignore these others (which are also “exceptionsl standouts”) to concentrate on your small problem with Heart on My Sleeve??… You really need to listen again (without the “smoke” and “buzz” this time).

    This album is a GREAT fresh sound that is not a boring with songs that are all different. This is unlike so many “one star lead singer” with backup band/vocals and songs that all sound the same except for maybe the one hit that might be on each of those type albums.

    IMO, you need to listen to their first two albums (and DVD) also… they are recorded “live” at Momo’s and at Antone’s. These guys are ultra-talented musicians who do not bore the listening audience. Go to a live show, and you will eat your words.

    Oh well, I guess this album’s meteoric rise to #5 on the Americana Charts this week means nothing either.


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