The Band of Heathens: One Foot in the Ether

RIYL: The Band, Little Feat, Kings of Leon

After evoking obvious reverence for classic Americana on their self-titled studio debut, the Band of Heathens morph their roots rock regimen with hints of blues, soul and a swampy moan. The allusions to the Band are still there of course – the new album’s “L.A. County Blues,” “What’s This World” and “Look At Miss Ohio” instantly reaffirm those references – but this time around they expand their palate, journeying up the Mississippi with “Golden Calf,” emulating an old-time gospel choir on “Shine a Light” and taking a funky furlough via “You’re Gonna Miss Me” and “Somebody Tell Me The Truth.” Varying the pace from unassuming shuffles to tattered refrains, the group colors the arrangements with rustic embellishment – banjo, Wurlitzer piano, dobro, mandolin, lap steel and forlorn vocals – clearly enhancing the set’s distinct retro feel. An able demonstration of genuine down-home resolve, One Foot in the Ether provides the band taking a sure step forward.

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