Erika Wennerstrom’s Heartless Bastards began in garage-rock, but have been moving steadily into the twang, especially with 2009’s The Mountain (QRO review) and now Arrow. But the Akron, Ohio native doesn’t just rest on a country accent and a pedal steel guitar, like so many in today’s over-stuffed alt-country scene. Instead, Arrow picks up the twang on the relaxed backswing.
“Parted Ways” is the wryest piece on Arrow, but Wennerstrom similarly doesn’t feel the need to over-twang on such numbers as the resigned “Marathon” or the up-down grit “Late In the Night”. She presents her rock ‘n’ roll as is, with no need to further prove its authenticity, or to restrain herself (she’s no easy-to-market pretty-country songstress). Wennerstrom is comfortable in her own skin, and is able to work different stances, like the slow & dark “The Arrow and The Beast” or bigger race “Simple Feeling”, though she can sometimes overdo it, like the backwoods “Low Low Low” & seven-and-a-half minutes power twang-grind “Down In the Canyon” to close things out.
Wennerstrom’s Heartless Bastards were discovered by fellow Buckeyes The Black Keys (QRO album review), and previously were on the same label – but Arrow is their first on the more country-tinged Partisan Records. They haven’t completely left the Rust Belt for Appalachia, but are just comfortably riding the Ohio River wherever it takes them.
MP3 Stream: “Parted Ways“