“All This Time” review:

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Posted 25 Mar 2010

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.

- National Capital Rock