Music, City Picks

Heartless Bastards w/ These United States

When: Mon., May 21 2012

When they first emerged in the mid 2000s, singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom’s Heartless Bastards were a bloozy bar-band power trio prone to hard-hewn boogie. Wennerstrom’s grainy vocals fit the then-Cincinnati-based act’s Midwestern rock bluster, balancing chunky distortion-laden rumble and somewhat droning, deep-seated grooves. When her relationship with bassist Mike Lamping went south, Wennerstrom broke up the band and moved to Austin, Texas. She recorded the Bastards’ third album, The Mountain, with session players. Their musical backgrounds drew the music in the direction of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s country-rock as well as Southwestern rock’s typical ambling languor. After its completion, Wennerstrom assembled a full-time touring band as they grew to a quartet for the latest, Arrow. It represents a unvarnished back-to-basics approach and a successful attempt to capture the band’s furious live energy. The less-is-more aesthetic finds particular purchase in the guitars, where Wennerstrom stayed largely on the acoustic, leaving lots of real estate for Mark Nathan’s electric. “It really separates Mark’s guitar sound and mine and adds a lot of space, but it’s full at the same time,” Wennerstrom explains, citing T-Rex as the gambit’s inspiration. As The Mountain was largely written before the move, it’s Arrow that’s truly the break-up album, with a poignant dose of “what now?” evident in tracks like “Parted Ways.”

Chris Parker

Price: $16, $14

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