band of heathens Duende (digipak CD, £12.50)label: Blue Rose
The title of The Band of Heathens' fifth studio album (and eighth overall) marks their tenth anniversary as a group, and it certainly applies to its overall theme about the collective search for connection and communion in a technology-fuelled world increasingly splintered, distracted and lonely. As band co-founder Ed Jurdi, who first learned of the term, explains, "It's the essence of the artist," or as partner Gordy Quist says, "It's a word we don't have an equivalent for in English, Artistically, that's where we tried to set the bar, to do what this band does best." Indeed, Duende lives up to those high ideals, a stylistically diverse effort that takes a leap beyond their last, more acoustic, introspective effort, 2013's Sunday Morning Record, with an eclectic batch of material that shows where The Band of Heathens has been, but more importantly, where they are going. "I feel the album brings together all our influences, everything we've done over the years as a band," explains Jurdi. "We've touched on every part of our career… our roots, some singer/songwriter contemplative stuff, some high-energy rock 'n' roll. It's all us, the record we were supposed to make. Ten years later, that's what keeps us coming back." Engineer/co-producer Jim Vollentine (Spoon, White Rabbits, …And You'll Know Us by the Trail of Dead) helped the album's diversity sound coherent, adding unique touches such as mellotron and drum machines to the loping rockabilly of tracks like "All I'm Asking." Duende is The Band of Heathens playing to their strengths, unapologetically constructed as an old-school 10-track, two-sided vinyl album. With Duende, the proof is in the results. Let them change your mind.
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