BAND OF HEATHENS

THE DOUBLE DOWN- LIVE IN DENVER VOL 1 & 2

2012-05-21

This Austin, Texas based six-piece is at its best live as evidenced by the fact that this two disc set noses its live release count ahead of its studio output. On this broad ranging set recorded over the course of two consecutive nights, the band jumps from rock to blues to country to rootsy Americana with a great mix of tunes that sound familiar yet are all originals. "You’re Gonna Miss Me" kicks off disc one with a loose limbed jam that recalls Little Feat and even the Spin Doctors with its funky guitar and keyboard grooves. "Somebody Tell the Truth" travels the same path with a long guitar solo evoking the Dead. "Golden Calf" shows another side of the band entirely with its foreboding, mysterious feel. "Say" starts out like a slice of pop but then morphs into Americana and features some earnest vocals that recall any number of rock anthems. "Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled" and "What’s This World" feature the band in Eagles territory with rich harmonies, earnest sentiments and a Southern California country vibe while "LA County Blues" gets closer to the soaring richness of the Jayhawks which is achieved again on the introspective "Nothing to See Here" that starts acoustic and lean and builds into a rocking wall of sound. "Right Here With Me" and "Should Have Known" lope along at an unhurried pace but with a sinewy groove that would fit well on a JJ Grey & Mofro disc. Disc two features shorter tracks with slashing guitar that recalls Exile era Stones, "Jackson Station" and "I Ain’t Running", southern soul rock, "Talking out Loud" and "The Other Broadway", atmospheric rock that would fit neatly on a Mark Knopfler solo disc, "Judas ‘Scariot Blues", acoustic powered jams, "Nine Steps Down", organ-drenched gospel, "Shine a Light", and a swampy ode to the "Second Line" that could have been laid down by the Subdudes. "Gris Gris Satchel" sounds straight out of the Band’s early catalog while the military cadence of "Free Again" is an ironic counter-point to the lyrics. Even though the material on this sprawling set is wide-ranging the band effortlessly negotiates all the twists and turns with glorious vocal harmonies and stellar instrumental interplay. Flat out terrific, this is American roots rock at its best. Smitty

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