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The Band of Heathens Release Rousing New Single "Black Cat"





The Band of Heathens Release Rousing New Single "Black Cat"

 

Quarantine failed to shoot a dose of productivity into our collective societal vein, but there are some among us who are managing to come out on the other side of the shutdown with something to show for the time spent. This month, The Band of Heathens uncage “Black Cat”, the stirring lead single previewing their seventh studio album, titled ​Stranger​, due to be released this September.

The Heathens know a thing or two about serendipity; the three founding members shared billing at Momo’s as individual singer/songwriters and, according to bandmember Ed Jurdi, “organically” began playing together as The Good Time Supper Club. The band formed in earnest after a misprint in a local paper (and some clever guerilla marketing on behalf of ardent local fans) dubbed the group The Heathens, and the name stuck.

On “Black Cat”, The Heathens tackle serendipity of a more genealogical kind. As bandmember Gordy Quist tells it, “‘Black Cat’ is based on the true-ish legend of Augustinal Fonseca, the great-grandfather of an anonymous concertgoer.” The legend goes that Fonseca came through Ellis Island and discovered an “underground fighting ring in New York City around the turn of the last century” - and that he killed a panther in the ring after rising in the ranks. The Heathens are particularly adept at telling stories, true or otherwise, about strangers; considering the title of their forthcoming record, a special attribute of “Black Cat” is its nature as historical fiction in the very words of a stranger.

“Our friends at Song Confessional sent us the story from a ‘confession’ at the Newport Folk Festival,” Quist tells American Songwriter. The confessor claims to be Fonseca’s grandchild and that Fonseca lived to be 99 years old - and all the details unspool in the song, lovingly embellished by Quist’s pen. To helm production for the epic tale, The Heathens enlisted Portland native Tucker Martine, a former collaborator of The Decemberists and Modest Mouse.

“Black Cat” is fittingly slinky, with Quist’s mangled tenor navigating the sweeping drums in commanding sequences, framed by Jurdi’s falsetto issuing a stark reminder to the listener: “Know where you come from.” When focusing on where ​someone else​ came from, there is room to step back and breathe. Quist explains that the band is a “microcosm” next to their fans and that ​Stranger​ is a vehicle to demonstrate strangerhood within the music industry. If “Black Cat” is a harbinger for more lucid narrative-building from The Heathens, then we all might as well make ourselves comfortable.

-Mike Floeck

Published: July 30, 2020 |

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