When The Band Of Heathens left their native Austin to travel to Portland, OR to record Stranger – their first album since 2017 – with producer Tucker Martine, they had no idea they’d be releasing their most powerful and compelling work into a world with no tours due to COVID-19. A true challenge for a band that has made its name on the road, but through the power of Zoom and their fanbase (5-nights a week of virtual performances, mixing private fan-only shows with public ones), they persevered and got their music out into the world.
“We’re really fortunate that we have been able to turn directly to our fan base during the pandemic,” says co-founder and guitarist Gordy Quist. “At first it seemed strange until these walls started to come down and we realized how connected we are by the fabric of the music.”
The fabric of the music – fantastic, emotional songs with interwoven, intricate arrangements within a sonic palette that leaves room for every instrument to breathe – sets Stranger apart from previous BOH releases. A collection that defies a single description, Stranger kicks off with the Roots Rock groove of “Vietnorm,” before defining itself with the Pop/Rock of “Dare” and the dangerously sinewy, Blues-infused, slightly funky “Black Cat.” Stranger continues with the strong ballads “How Do You Sleep?” and “Gilded,” followed by an assemblage of equally strong tracks that intertwine every style from Country to straight-ahead Rock, all colored with perfectly blended harmonies.
As 2020 came to a close, The Band Of Heathens’ Stranger was firmly ensconced on the JBE charts, with strong support from Lightning 100, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Colorado Sound, KPND, WAPS, Sun Radio Austin, and more. With a 45-date national tour set for the fall (with the hope touring is back in full force by then), 2021 is set up to be BOH’s breakout year.
Photo by Jason Quigley