The Band of Heathens - Stranger Vinyl LP
The Band of Heathens Stranger Vinyl LP
Austin, TX's The Band of Heathens return with Stranger, their most inventive release to date. The follow up to 2017's critically acclaimed Duende, the band recorded this new effort in Portland, OR with producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse). The result is something different – a more airy, intimate atmosphere, with added emphasis on songcraft and intricate arrangements set in a spacious sonic landscape that reinvents the band's sound.
These are songs stripped of pretense, but teeming with the emotion borne of personal experience, as has been The Band of Heathens' method from the very start. Stranger moves off into a new place, but still echoes the group's artful songwriting and multi-layered narrative observations.
Songs like "Vietnorm," inspired by bassist Jesse Wilson's stoned viewing of Cheers, noting the arrival of George Wendt's character Norm, and the rhythmic "Truth Left," which takes on the politicization of information, enforce the social criticism the band has begun to increasingly tackle in its music, while still striving for inclusivity. The British Invasion by-way-of the Everly Brothers sound of "Dare" examines the notion of "fake news" vs. "good" and "bad" news, while "Call Me Gilded" focuses on how language itself functions to define reality, concluding actions speak louder than words, in love and life.
"South by Somewhere" and "Asheville Nashville Austin" each deal in different ways with a favorite topic of The Band of Heathens – life on the road and the pull of home. The former is about reinventing yourself without selling out or chasing trends, while Jurdi describes the latter as dealing with "travel and mobility, but also individual identity." The thumping percussion and eerie organ in "Black Cat" takes a real-life podcast tale about the son of a seven-foot Portuguese immigrant to New York City at the turn of the century who helped build the Brooklyn Bridge and later killed a panther with his own hands in an underground cage match and sets it to an expansive, psychedelic tune that creates its own apocryphal universe.
The album closes with a yin-yang, one-two punch for the current zeitgeist. The Dylanesque "Today Is Our Last Tomorrow" is reminiscent of a woozy "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35," a rousing rockabilly tune that is BOH's version of R.E.M.'s "It's The End of the World As We Know It," feeling fine in the face of apocalypse now. Stranger turns out to be an apt metaphor on both a meta – it's an apt description of the current world – and personal metaphor in our increased estrangement from one another in silos defined by economy, politics, race or religion.
The Band of Heathens Stranger Track Listing:
3. Black Cat
4. How Do You Sleep?
5. Call Me Gilded
6. South by Somewhere
7. Asheville Nashville Austin
8. Truth Left
9. Today Is Our Last Tomorrow
10. Before The Day Is Done
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