During some of the better moments of All This Time, the second album from Ohio’s the Heartless Bastards, one gets the feeling that this trio could be the Midwestern cousin of PJ Harvey — not Polly Harvey the singer and songwriter — but the bone-shattering power trio named for the bandleader on Dry and Rid of Me. While frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom doesn’t particularly sound like Polly, she conjures up a similar degree of gale-force vocal impact and plays a not-dissimilar variety of dirty, elemental electric guitar, while her rhythm section (Kevin Vaughn on drums and Mike Lamping on bass) calls up a massive Wall of Sound and energy behind her. But a few spins of All This Time makes it clear the similarity between the Heartless Bastards and PJ Harvey is a matter of similar musical philosophy rather than conscious emulation, and that Wennerstrom has a flinty, down-to-earth lyrical perspective that reflects the experiences of someone who was born and raised in Ohio (and still works a day job when not on the road). All This Time makes a powerful virtue of its muscular, no-frills production, and Brian Niesz’s engineering, which allows the individual elements to stand out while still coalescing into a unified and gloriously dangerous whole. All This Time swings with the force of a heavyweight champ, but there’s an unpretentious intelligence, compassion, and cautious hope in these ten songs, and the Heartless Bastards bring them across with an elegance that belies their muscle; they know how to say a great deal with a little, and that’s a large part of what makes this album worth hearing. - All Music Guide
Posts Tagged ‘all_this_time’
The Heartless Bastards’ debut was one of my favourite records of 2005; Stairs and Elevators was a raw, vigorous effort. Much of it was recorded without any intent of releasing it (at least on the part of the musicians). The band reminds me of P.J. Harvey (a comparison that’s been made by others). If they ever play Ottawa the promoter should get The Banditas to fill the bill. Though the band’s sound is growlier and thicker, there’s something about the Heartless Bastard’s music that puts me in mind of The Replacements. There’s some of the same passion, and not an ounce of pretense in the lyrics.
Anyway, on to All This Time, their latest, which I like even more. I grabbed a copy at Birdman Sound a week or so ago. Right from the first track it’s plain that the Heartless Bastards have stepped up their game. Into The Open has all the hallmarks that made Stairs excellent, most particularly guitarist and singer Erika Wennerstrom’s powerhouse voice, but there’s also a potent grip on dynamics in evidence as the band shifts with aplomb between piano-dappled verses to the gritty crescendo of the choruses.
There’s also a great production job, courtesy of Brian Niesz. I’d compare his esthetic to Matthew Smith’s. Like the Outrageous Cherry frontman and producer, Niesz goes easy on the multitracking and effects, but administers a fair dose of reverb to stop the fuzz and rumble from getting too cloying and muddy. I gather most of his work is in producing live stuff for radio; just the kind of guy you’d want for a stripped down but powerful sound.
In the studio with Heartless Bastards recording their sophomore LP “All This Time.”