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brett southard

Album review: Leering Heathens - Leering Heathens (EP)

You know, working at NPR as I do, I’m surrounded by the kind of music that one would expect to hear at an NPR studio: lots of jazz and classical, folk and traditional sounds from around the world, and once in a while when we feel really crazy and want to throw caution to the wind, we might even go for some Lawrence Welk or Barry Manilow or even … hang on to your hats, people … John Tesh!
Those of you who know me know that my music palette is a little more diverse than that. Sometimes I like those kinds of music, sometimes I’m down for some blues, sometimes electronica is what I want to hear—and sometimes I just need to have guitars and drums and basses and vocals that will melt walls and leave paths of wreckage and destruction. This review is about such a band that is doing just that to unsuspecting listeners and venues in the Kansas City area.
Leering Heathens is a Kansas City four-piece consisting of Joshua Quint on vocals and guitar, Brett Southard on drums, Chad Toney on bass, and Josh Simcosky on lead guitar. The band has recently released its self-titled debut EP, and as far as introductions go, theirs is about as straightforward as it gets: We play rock music. We play hard rock music. We play loud hard rock music.
The EP opens with “Dry Country” and gives the listener a good dose of classic rock guitar with a chorus that lays a very heavy, driving groove. “Lurker” is more chunky, and Quint’s vocals on this track keep high focus and intensity without crossing the line into emo-scream. The instrumental “Muskstache” is a little quicker-paced but no less effective and riveting, and at this point I started to think this mini-album may have been conceived with the assistance of a few bottles of brown liquor – and as their cover photo on their Facebook page would indicate, I think I may be right. “Rodeo Macabre” highlights some definite Tool influence—very sinister and heavy, with exception of the auctioneer and the old-timey last few seconds, which are kinda cool, and “Hulls of Blood” closes out the record, the most melodic of the tracks but one that still has loads of hammer-and-tong guitar aggression.
Some bands play at maximum volume because that’s their one skill. They don’t have enough faith in their work so they think that if they burst your eardrums, that will be enough to punch their rock-n-roll card. Others play loud, but do so with enough control that you listen to them and realize that you’re listening to music—very, very loud music—and not just sound. Leering Heathens are solid members of the latter category. If you’ve been looking for serious, authentic, gut-wrenching, actual factual rock ‘n roll, this will be a very wise investment of twenty minutes of your life.
You know, I try to be a good guy as much as possible, but I guess being a Heathen isn’t always such a bad thing either.
--Michael Byars
Michael secretly loves the music of John Tesh, but we won’t tell if you won’t.
Be sure to get your dose of Leering Heathens’ gut-wrenching rock ‘n roll this Thursday, June 19, at Czar Bar. They’ll be opening up for Young Widows and White Reaper. Facebook event page.


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