Heartless Bastards

Record review

Phases & Stages

Heartless Bastards

All This Time (Fat Possum)

This isn't a blues album. Yes, it's on Fat Possum, the home of Cedell Davis, Hasil Adkins, and R.L. Burnside. Yes, Erika Wennerstrom sings the blues. Yes, the guitar yelps. Yet this isn't a blues album. Instead, Heartless Bastards' sophomore LP is a triumph in reality. It's frustration on 2-inch tape; irony-free, without effect, and absolutely true. Wennerstrom's 5-year-old Cincinnati trio believes in basics. Her belting voice pierces stage lights and smoke to smack you across the kisser. Last year's Bastard debut, Stairs and Elevators, was only a glimpse into what this 27-year-old volcano can do. S&E tiptoed around the eruption, but All This Time throws caution to the wind. "Into the Open" kicks Time off with a teasing, girly refrain, only to match the piano melody with Wennerstrom's guttural purity and drummer Kevin Vaughn's rat-a-tat. "Searching for the Ghost" is more Cat Power than Angela Strehli, Wennerstrom seductive and powerful in her fortitude. The title track matches wits with "I Swallowed a Dragonfly," both trading pop with riff. By the opening strum of closer "Came a Long Way," Wennerstrom becomes the spotlight, a beacon of rock stardom. Her lyrics flow uncomplicated, her voice bounces off the walls, but Erika Wennerstrom is a diva without the gown. She's true, proud, and sad. Hell, this is a blues album.

***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Saturday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Trampled by Turtles
Life Is Good on the Open Road (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Oct. 12, 2018

Texas Platters
Nakia
Blues Grifter (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Sept. 28, 2018

More by Darcie Stevens
Phases & Stages
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz! (Record Review)

April 3, 2009

Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish

March 20, 2009

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle