185 Clingman Ave. Asheville, NC 28801
– ALL AGES
– STANDING ROOM ONLY
Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer knew they had balked before they even got home. In the Fall of 2021, Joyner and Widmer—for a dozen years, the beguiling garage-pop pair known as Generationals—wrapped the second of two sessions in Georgia for a new EP. They’d opted out of the process of file-sharing they had used for years. Choosing instead to cut songs straight to tape in Athens, a spiritual epicenter for their brand of twinkling tunes. The results sounded great, but they didn’t think their songs were actually that exciting or up to snuff. Why busy everyone else with the rigamarole of releasing a record when they weren’t convinced by it themselves? Joyner and Widmer scrapped the sessions, relieved. The decision, after all, did not represent some existential crisis for Generationals, some what-are-we-doing-here panic; it was, instead, a validation of trusting their process and respective enthusiasms, of releasing great records rather than churning out substandard “content.” Before the veto was final, Joyner and Widmer were working on songs they already knew passed that test.
Heatherhead is the winning result of that restart. Effortless and endearing, as settling as a long hug from an old friend, Heatherhead is not only the best Generationals album yet but also the one that, after all these years, finds Joyner and Widmer at last epitomizing their sound. These 11 songs are no-fuss, no-filler manifestations of Generationals’ bittersweet beauty, of would-be rock anthems made to feel like cozy sweaters. Maybe it’s the way the thick riff of the indelible “Dirt Diamond” frames a vulnerable admission or how the taut rhythm section of “Hard Times for Heatherhead” buoys a smitten plea, but this record at large feels like Joyner and Widmer digging deeper into the juxtapositions that have long made Generationals so compelling—distinct but familiar, wry but warm, soft but pointed. Heatherhead is the record Joyner and Widmer have been pursuing from the start.
All was not lost down in Georgia, it seems, as the act of recording in the same room seemed to shake something loose for Joyner and Widmer. With Joyner still in the band’s hometown of New Orleans and Widmer now in Wisconsin, they’d grown comfortable passing ever-evolving tracks back and forth, adding parts or offering suggestions to one another as albums steadily cohered. They’d done compelling stuff that way, too. But after abandoning those in-person sessions, they decided to commingle ideas earlier this time. Joyner escaped the Louisiana heat in June 2022 by heading north, the two rendezvousing in Madison with loads of demos. They augmented one another’s takes in real time, shaping songs that fell together like puzzle pieces. When a tornado ripped through Widmer’s front yard and left them without power for days, they took it not as a sign to stop but as an invitation to just enjoy still being the buds in Generationals, drinking warm beer and listening to an emergency radio together.