The Band of Heathens are an Austin based southern rock group with Americana, blues, gospel and country influences. The band formed in 2005 although only two of the original members (Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist) are still a part of the group. The group began as three individual guys at an Austin club called Momo’s. They would perform separately for awhile before they began to perform as a group. The bands first album which was self titled went to number one on the Americana charts in 2008 and the band has gone on to release four non live records since.
Duende, The Band of Heathens first album since 2013 continues to push boundaries and show off the bands different musical influences. Duende which is a spanish word means a quality of passion or inspiration. You can hear influences from the first song on the record “All I’m Asking” which sounds like an Americana track. This one is about a man trying to change a women’s mind. He is admitting his faults and promising that he is trying to improve as a person. All he is asking for is a second chance in this relationship. “Sugar Queen” is a fun, catchy southern rock song.
Next up we have a song where the man tries to explain to the women he loves how much he loves her in “Deep is Love.” The lyrics are a little bit generic and cliche but what stands out is again the catchy melody. In “Keys to the Kingdom” we get a deep track about a women who is never satisfied with what she has. This plays off the saying the grass is always greener. The woman in the story is married to a great man who gives her everything that she could ever want. She decides to leave him for a man who can give her more material things. Like on every track Ed Jurdi sounds phenomenal here.
“Trouble Came Early” is a straight rocker with infectious electric guitar and drum play. There are also some gospel influences with a choir singing in the background. This is about a man who loses it all including his wife who is packing her things to leave him in the second verse. Another great song on the album describes the social media culture of today in “Cracking the Code.” The idea is that when we are online we have all these friends. We take pictures and post on walls but, in the end we are truly all alone when we get off our phone. The song also criticizes the lack of face to face human interaction. We are too involved in our machines to realize this.
The last two songs on the album are “Road Dust Wheels” and “Green Grass of California.” Road Dust Wheels is about families leaving everything behind in Mexico to come make a new life for themselves in America. It gives a voice to the struggle of Mexican immigrants who frequently get blamed for all the troubles in American society without context or thought. Finally we get to “Green Grass of California,” a great way to finish off the album. The steel guitar in this song is something I wish they would do in more songs on Duende. The group beautifully harmonizes this song as opposed to just Jurdi singing. This is about the struggles of different groups of people in California. This song has a very relaxing vibe.
I found this to be a really good album which continues the string of good albums that I have reviewed this week! The Band of Heathens remind me of Jamestown Revival a lot which is another southern rock/Americana group. What stands out in their music is the vocals of Ed Jurdi as well as the instrumentation that has an infectious sound to it. Not every song connected with me but, I didn’t hear any songs that I deemed as bad. There were many songs that I thought were great on this album so choosing the best three was certainly a challenge.
Album Grade: 8/10
Best Songs: All I’m Asking, Keys to the Kingdom, Green Grass of California.
Who Would Like This? Fans of Southern rock, Americana and Jamestown Revival