Heartless Bastards Album Review

OVERDUE REVIEW: ‘Restless Ones’ by Heartless Bastards (+ Ticket Giveaway!) Coming to The Social, Orlando, Fl | February 24, 2016

by • February 5, 2016

Restlessness afflicts thinking people. Not quite anxiety necessarily, but restlessness. A desire to create anew. Heartless Bastards has been crafting their exclusive brand of Americana-infused garage rock for nearly thirteen years. Erika Wennerstrom’s androgynous howl welling up from some reservoir of guttural melody. Thirteen years is long enough to rest on one’s laurels. Yet, Heartless Bastards continues to evolve, each album sounding less like the last.

Garage rock played over Americana, spliced with indie-folk. Music that builds with a latent sexuality, obvious to the listener but not overtly begging for attention. The rhythm moves at a pace in tune with the needs of its dance partner, but at times when you least expect and most desire, it punches you in the cheek hard enough to make you stumble and catch yourself, maybe with fingertips on the ground.

Restless Ones is their most recent album. It’s lyrics invoke mythology and fantastic landscapes, reading like a Led Zeppelin song when printed on a page.

Went through the cold, cold wind of the eastern snow/Oh, there was a silence comfortable/There is nothing left to say, to say.”

The line toed by Heartless Bastards on this record is worthy of Kevin Spacey a la Kaiser Sosay. It is most certainly a rock n’ roll record, but with the sensibility of a great folk effort, equally believable and important in either world. There is a video for the song “Hi-line,” the fourth song on the album, featuring Bushwick Bill, of Geto Boys fame (“Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangsta”), as a promotor trying to pitch Heartless Bastards. He comically describes them as hip hop, country, whatever. This is the band you need, whoever you are; he pushes accurately.

I have awoken/The footsteps sound of thunder/I’m such a heavy load”

Restless Ones goes hard while maintaining its down-to-earth accessibility. Much like Shows I Go To favorites Lake Street Dive, the band transcends genre while remaining firmly grounded in American roots music.

Moments of Alberta Cross come through, hints of Cake, all carried along an underlying current of gritty rock.

I go out to the sun/And I go on”

The chugging bass line of “The Fool,” complimented by atmospheric effects, brings a fullness to the effort. If there is a consistent theme, it’s that of fullness. Every song on the album is bursting with flavor, not necessarily of the same shade, but recognizably of Restless Ones.

Heartless Bastards channel their restless energy into a work deserving of mention among 2015’s best. In a year that saw legendary efforts from Jason Isbell, Leon Bridges, My Morning Jacket, and Alabama Shakes, the spirit of Restless Ones by Heartless Bastards belongs.








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“Moments of Alberta Cross come through, hints of Cake, all carried along an underlying current of gritty rock.”TICKET GIVEAWAY: See Heartless Bastards on Feb. 24 at The Social 🙂

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Heartless Bastards Restless Ones Album Review by Jason Earle, edited by Matthew Weller. 

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