One Foot in the Ether
It was the kind of thing that Austin nurtures so well: A chance assemblage of unknown songwriters began sharing the stage and then evolved into something larger than the sum of its parts. The Band of Heathens became a hometown favorite and released a couple live albums. Their lineup solidified (songwriters Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist, and Colin Brooks, along with rhythm section Seth Whitney and John Chipman), and they logged so many hours performing together that they started finishing one another’s sentences. Then the genial, easy-to-digest roots rock of their eponymous 2008 studio debut took Americana radio by storm, gaining the band legions of new admirers across the country. The follow-up, One Foot in the Ether (BOH), is easily their most accomplished work to date. Like any act that hones its craft onstage, there are elements of pandering: Rhymes sometimes feel too obvious, licks and melodies a bit too familiar. But there’s no denying the appeal of the group’s soulful rocking swagger and lock-tight arrangements. These guys won’t change your life, but for a while they might give it a real groove.