“All This Time” on AllMusic.com

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Posted 25 Mar 2010

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