The last time we heard from the Quaker City Night Hawks, they were traveling the country in sup-port of their Lightning Rod Records debut, El Astronauta, an album that mixed the greasy strut of 1970s rock with doses of down-and-dirty Texas blues, science fiction, and Bible Belt boogie. The guys were Texans by birth, but their music whipped up its own geography. With its spacey, southern stomp, El Astronauta could've been the soundtrack for a road trip across the American desert…or even the house music for a weekend night at the Mos Eisley Cantina.
2018's QCNH ramps up that diversity with 10 new songs rooted in vintage R&B grooves, Stax-worthy funk, and guitar-fueled psychedelia.
"We've always been a rock & roll band," says Sam Anderson, who splits the band's singing, songwrit-ing, and guitar-playing duties with David Matsler. "There's a big '70s influence and a strong southern element to everything we do. With this record, though, we're exploring the sounds we've haven't touched upon as often. It's the deepest we've ever gone into our influences, and the widest range of sounds we've ever tied together."
QCNH is tied together in more ways than one. Recorded at Niles City Sound (where Leon Bridges tracked his Grammy-nominated debut, Coming Home, several years earlier) in the band's hometown of Ft. Worth, the album weaves a handful of signature riffs and melodies throughout multiple songs, filling the tracklist with a common strand of musical DNA. The result is a boldly heterogeneous al-bum that still functions as a cohesive whole, produced by White Denim's Austin Jenkins and per-formed by a group of road warriors who smartly balance their strengths — Anderson and Matsler's hook-driven songwriting; drummer Aaron Haynes raw rhythm; the band's blend of Tex-Mex desert rock and street-smart, big-city bombast — with their desire to explore and experiment.
Built upon a series of live-in-the-studio performances, these tracks shine a light not only on the band's songwriting chops, but their strength as a road band, too. Many of the tunes were debuted on tour, where their arrangements could be shaped and sharpened according to an audience's reaction. As the music evolved on the road, so did the Night Hawks' lineup, which has weathered a handful of lineup changes since the band's formation. QCNH focuses on the band's creative core, with Ander-son, Matsler and Haynes producing their strongest work to date.
Balance. It's the key to any band's survival. After weathering years of ups, downs, and lineup chang-es, Quaker City Night Hawks reach a rare kind of balance with QCNH. It's an album that rocks as hard as it rolls. An album that nods to the band's past while pushing off toward a new future. An album that reintroduces Quaker City Night Hawks as a 21st century band inspired by — but not defined by — the best parts of previous decades.