Heartless Bastards Record Review
Restless Ones (Partisan)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., June 12, 2015
Restless Ones continues the Heartless Bastards' quest never to repeat themselves. Arrow in 2012 expanded the Austinites' reach and reputation with rock hard grooves, departing from introspective nature and country influences on 2009's The Mountain. The psychedelic blues overload of Restless Ones opener "Wind Up Bird" immediately sets the band's fifth LP on a new path. Readily apparent is the fact that frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom's songwriting has reached another peak. Nodding to the vinyl version, the disc breaks into two halves. Defiance and glam hooks line "Black Cloud" early on, but the five songs of Side B find the Heartless Bastards at their most incisive. There's the bracing "Into the Light," on which Wennerstrom brings to mind another Ohio native, Chrissie Hynde. The breezy guitars and pleading nature of "The Fool" firmly juxtapose the heaviness echoed all over "Eastern Wind." Ending with the breathing pulse of closer "Tristessa," its title taken from a Jack Kerouac novella, haunts appropriately restless. The combination of Wennerstrom's singular vocal style and the Bastards' multilayered guitars remains both lyrically commanding and musically transcendent.