Portland, Oregon has long been hailed as a reliable source for great alternative American bands but few will ever sound so British as The Heatheners. In November 2011 they released two EPs which I’ve reviewed together, since they are inseparable in terms of style and quality as well as time.
It’s immediately apparent that the first two tracks on ‘Slow Lineage’ – ‘Afterglowing’ and ‘Quite The Ordeal’ – speak of the innocent times of The Wild Swans and The Lotus Eaters. The singing is of the pure, English variety with matching idiosyncratic lyrical matter, whilst the guitars jangle as if caught forever in an endless summer. ‘Iroquois And Mercury’ and ‘New Nephilim’, on the other hand, represent the more insular, experimental side to the group which pitches them as a modern day Eyeless In Gaza.
The second EP begins in much the same positive manner as the first but the close harmonies on ‘Backwards Halo’ are particularly enchanting. In another parallel with ‘Slow Lineage’, the songs takes an increasingly darker turn. ‘Nocturnes’ then concludes with the ringing, mysterious ‘Heimlich Maneuver’.
Even down to the Factory Records’ period arrangements, The Heatheners teeter on the verge of early-1980’s pastiche but their music possesses a ghostly resonance and authenticity. Intriguingly, their biographical info is minimal which makes one wonder whether this is a new act or some old hands showing beginners how it’s done.
Wild Swans, The Lotus Eaters