Review: The Band of Heathens
Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1
By Doug Freeman, Fri., March 11, 2022
The Band of Heathens' Good Times Supper Club offered a rare bright spot in the pandemic, as the local quintet dished online jam sessions with guest stars that swapped as much laughter as songs. The virtual events highlighted BoH in their sweet spot – loose and having fun – which hasn't always come across on their records. Ten-cover set Remote Transmissions, Vol. 1, captures that Good Times spirit with guests and material that push the outfit into adventurous territory that hasn't really been tapped since 2011's grooving Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster's Son. White Denim's James Petralli sets the LP's tone by putting Little Feat's "Rock and Roll Doctor" on a rapid boil, Ray Wylie Hubbard digs out the bluesy underbelly of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone," and the band scorches a wicked backing as Margo Price shovels the grit of Lucinda Williams' "Joy." Some cuts play a little too safe ("Tumbling Dice," with Nicki Bluhm, feels subdued for Jagger's lasciviousness, and Butch Walker moans a great but fairly faithful take on Bob Seger's "Night Moves"), but most hit deliciously unexpected (Robert Ellis' mellow drawl of Tom Petty's "Walls"; Hayes Carll's woozy Dylan with "The Man in Me"; Midland's Mark Wystrach crooning Marty Robbins' "El Paso City"). No surprise that BoH impressively inhabits the tunes, but the project expands their sound and energy with revitalizing versatility.