Heartless Bastards, Alberta Cross, Redgrave | Metro | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Heartless Bastards

Heartless Bastards

Courtney Chavanell

Heartless Bastards, Alberta Cross, Redgrave 

When: Wed., Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $22.50, $20 in advance
Spend 30 seconds with any of this bluesy alt-rock band’s four full-length albums up to 2012’s Arrow and be floored by the sheer presence of leader Erika Wennerstrom. Her brawny but sultry voice—one-half tortured, one-half triumphant—wails above and beyond any of the twangy guitar licks or dragging and swaying rhythms, and regardless of how hard the rest of the Heartless Bastards push, it always sounds like she’s eyeing the catwalk of an arena stage, ready to strut down it alone as her Les Paul leads the way. And while the band still very much knows on which side its bread is buttered, the new Restless Ones (Partisan) is noisier and more prone to My Morning Jacket-style explorations of light-show rock than previous efforts—the opener, “Wind Up Bird,” devolves into a dirge of delay-heavy slide guitar and jam-out drumming, for example. Far removed from the down-home, acoustic-happy band that played their first show in a tiny Cincinnati dive bar (they’re currently based in Austin), the Heartless Bastards can now write a glam-rock jig in the sideways style of Sparks without ever not sounding like themselves (“Into the Light”), and Wennerstrom hasn’t lost a whit of her magnetism.
— Kevin Warwick
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