Roots rock doesn’t get any rootsier than some of the stuff on this second album from New York band The New Heathens. Their debut “Heathens Like Me” sizzled and burned with an energy borrowed from the likes of The Stones, The Faces and Graham Parker. On this outing they have moved to a more classic Americana rock vein, due in part perhaps to having Eric “Roscoe” Ambel in the producer’s seat.
Anyhoo, Crybaby is a blistering opener that would not be out of place on the new Jason and the Scorchers release. Other stompers include Pig Pen, a muscular celebration of a night on the town and Proud Highway, a classic driving song the title of which alludes to the late and great Hunter S Thompson (who was also referenced in their first album).
Able to rock with the best then , The Heathens have a mellower side which is also evidenced here. I Thought You Were My Friend is a chunky country ballad while Don’t think I Can’t stop has a ringing Byrds’ like guitar chiming throughout it. They top it all on the closing song, Bastard Like Me which is a simple, short confessional with singer Nat Scheber, accompanied by acoustic guitar and accordion, admitting to past failures in a heartstopping fashion.
All in all this is a great little album, a step up from their first and a joy to listen to.
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