Heartless Bastards – Stairs and Elevators (Fat Possum, 2005)
The Heartless Bastards are a Midwestern rock trio led by the diminutive but powerful Erika Wennerstrom on guitar and vocals. The band’s music is a raw but somewhat lumbering garage rock/bar band sound of a group that is just starting to find its feet and look for something to separate them from the pack of faceless rock and roll bands that clutter the CD bins. Wennerstrom has a truly powerful voice, and that’s really the band’s finest asset, as their musical arrangements are fairly pedestrian power trio rock and roll.
Wennerstrom’s lyrics do show flashes of inspiration on the original songs, particularly “Swamp Song” and “My Maker,” but most of the bands own tunes come off as somewhat generic. They makes its biggest impact on the cover of Junior Kimbrough’s “Done Got Old” that was also featured on the Kimbrough tribute disc Sad Days and Lonely Nights that Fat Possum released earlier in the year. It’s hard to imagine a young woman singing about an old man past his prime, but her voice is so powerful the band carries it off. It shows that the group has promise as they try to transition from bar band to nationally touring group.
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