"The Mountain" (Fat Possum; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I started with this band's debut disc. I missed the middle offering but I'll bring their 2009 release up to the forefront. The same lead is still here but a new band covers both wings. The music is still good but the guitar that went on for days has seemed to mellow.

Erika still has that Robert Plant voice and she also mixes in some country crooning; this disc expands more in a country theme than their first one did. They've grown musically and try new approaches to their style. The blues can still be heard along with the garage guitar sound. It's original and unique, I guess that's why I like it.

Although their first disc was full of guitar hooks, this one isn't as full on. It could be the new band or that they are just getting used to each other. The soulful sound from Erika is awesome and she does it with such passion that you can feel it your bones.

Faves; "The Mountain," "Early In The Morning," "Witchypoo," and "Sway."

Heartless Bastards (the new line-up): Erika Wennerstrom: guitar, vocals; Marc Nathan: guitar; Willie "Maceo 2" Rhodes: guitar; Billy White: bass; Doni Schroader: drums; Zy Orange Lyn: violin, mandolin.

For more information, check out http://www.theheartlessbastards.com or http://www.myspace.com/heartlessbastards.

"Stairs and Elevators" (Fat Possum; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

"Stairs and Elevators" is old time rock'n'roll. Heartless Bastards could be placed in the same bin as The White Stripes but without the hype. With a lead singer and two guys banging on their instruments with fervor, this band could help to save a dying breed of rocker. Dayton, Ohio is the home place of Heartless Bastards.

The guitar is muddy but bluesy. Erika, the lead singer, has the voice of Robert Plant and the vocal gruff of Janis Joplin. It's an interesting overall sound. The drums never overpower and the bass flows along with every song.

It takes a couple of listens because this is part garage rock and part blues club music. It may be too new to those who are brainwashed into what they like and forget about trying something new. I'll admit it was new to me but I'm glad I gave it a chance. The vocals will hold you while the guitar is raw yet tamed.

This is a quote from their website: "Stairs and Elevators made the New Yorker's list of under appreciated pop records of 2005." Now doesn't that make you want to find out more?

The best songs here are "My Maker," "Pass and Fail," and "The Swamp Song."

Heartless Bastards: Erika Wennerstrom - vocals and guitar; Kevin Vaughn - drums; Mike Lamping - bass.

For more information, check out www.heartlessbastards.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 05 Jun 2022 15:54:51 -0400.