The Band Of Heathens
Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
If we judge music the way we judge beer these days – based on drinkability, The Band of Heathens’ Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son would land near the top of the list. It goes down well from the first taste to the finish. Though their are specific stand out tracks such as “The Other Broadway,” “Medicine Man,” “Should Have Known,” and their bone-chilling version of the Levon Helm staple “Hurricane,” it’s an album that begs to be listened to from start to finish.
The Band of Heathens’ third studio LP takes off with “Medicine Man,” which captures the album’s essence with its easy, simple, rhythmic guitar and catchy piano riffs, layered with direct, funk-inspired lyrics & vocals. Following “Medicine Man’s” swamp rock feel, TBoH ease you into Ed Juri’s vocally-driven “Should Have Known.” Juri’s voice alongside the swinging tune evokes a cross between the Allman Brothers and The Band. The bluesy-Americana track closes by breaking down into handclaps, tambourines and chanting – a nice touch that ties into their heavily Louisiana-influenced sounds.
The high energy continues through “Polaroid,” and then stops you dead in your tracks with the heavy, rootsy of “Enough.” Colin Brooks, yet another capable vocalist in TBoH, brings the album into full funk, half-singing, half-chanting, “You’ve got enough love to make your baby…” The remarkable, almost gospel song, “The Other Broadway,” swirls with organ and striking, echoing vocals by Gordy Quist. “The Other Broadway” exemplifies a modern day old-soul song, and is mirrored by the final two tracks on the album, “Hurricane” and “Gris Gris Satchel” – a masterful ending to a record with such musical diversity.
Throughout the funk-filled, soul-searching ride, the band lays down beats and repetitive piano and guitar riffs that render you utterly incapable of standing still, and then they paralyze you with striking vocal harmonies and raw, almost uncut devotionals. Top Hat Crown & The Clapmaster’s Son promises to keep your attention and delivers on that promise – so drink up!