New Heathens
6Jun/08Off

Review That I Missed…

A friend/fan e-mailed this to me today:

Review by Michael Berick

The NJ-based New Heathens definitely have an East Coast, rootsy bar band sound going for them, but they distinguish themselves with the character-rich tunes and their gritty sound. "Getaway Baby" opens their debut disc with an endearing blast of boozy, blue collar rock & roll. Rough-hewn guitar riffs and a pounding backbeat lend a Faces/Stones-type sound to this sweet, sweaty number. But the lyrics, about a woman's abusive relationship, are far more ambitious and interesting than the typical bar band fare. Singer/songwriter Nate Schweber displays even more of his street poet smarts in the second song, "141," which deals with a white kid moving to New York City and settling in Harlem. Schweber loves to write colorful, richly detailed songs that traverse the American scene. The moody, slightly Smithereens-like "Doomed Generation" follows Hunter S. Thompson's life from Kentucky to Colorado to San Francisco. "July 1, Near Helena, Mt" is a wild, rocking story about restless Montana teenagers, while "Goodnight Paterson" serves as an affectionate look at the decaying urban city of Paterson, NJ. Although a song like "She's Wasted" offers a pretty standard, although quite rocking, look at a girlfriend whose "second home is at [a] bar, Schweber digs deeper lyrically on numbers like "Back to Jesus" and "Kansas, Romeo." The former deals with a quest of spiritual happiness while the latter investigates a controversial Kansas rape case involving a mentally challenged young man. Guitarists Butch Phelps and Domenick Tiziano play key roles in the band as their muscular playing stands as a potent counterpoint to Schweber's (occasionally wordy) storytelling. Schweber's working man lyrics, the band's Jersey home and their old-school rock & roll sound might draw comparisons to early Springsteen, but the more apt comparison would be to New York punk-fueled roots rockers the Del Lords and the Hangdogs. Comparisons aside, the New Heathens' impressive first release is a powerful, memorable effort.

Read the full thing here.

My favorite were the reviewer's list of "moods" that fit the record:

Exuberant
Confident
Aggressive
Freewheeling
Earnest
Literate
Intense
Playful
Rowdy
Street-Smart
Passionate
Rousing
Yearning
Rambunctious
Irreverent
Rollicking
Sprawling

And the record's "themes":

Late Night
Guys Night Out
Drinking
Cool & Cocky

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