Review: Heartless Bastards - "Arrow"
Being one of singer Erika Wennerstrom's bandmates in the Heartless Bastards could be a mixed blessing. They're a better-than-average bar band fronted by the powerhouse vocals of Wennerstrom, who can wail like the second coming of Janis Joplin as easily as dishing up the honey like Lucinda do (I even hear some Amy Winehouse moments in there). The songs? Most are decent but unremarkable rockers with a sprinkle of roots-rock here, a dash of blues-rock there, some Dusty inspiration, like I said....a really good bar band, but with a singer you won't likely forget. There are a few standouts on Arrow, which drops tomorrow - "Simple Feeling" recalls the bluesy psychedelia of Cream and Screaming Trees and Wennerstrom performs all sorts of wonderful vocal acrobatics in the breezy soul-pop of "Only For You." Also notable is the seven-plus minute closer "Down In the Canyon," in which the Bastards take Neil Young's Crazy Horse and ride it hard. Apparently no one could talk Wennerstrom out of the album's worst misfire - opening it with a six-plus minute snoozefest, appropriately titled "Marathon." Wennerstrom herself writes all of the songs, so her band can't be faulted for the lack of truly memorable material here. But seriously, with a talent as great as hers, she could toss them under a bus and not break a sweat - just ask members of the Bastards' many previous lineups. Pick Arrow up and use it for your next road trip - it makes fine company.