Heartless Bastards, Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears, Les Americains

For the recording of Heartless Bastards' third album, The Mountain (to be released on Fat Possum Records in January), Erika Wennerstrom had to come to Texas to find her dream Ohio band. The singer-guitarist left her previous lineups behind when she set up camp in Austin to work with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Patty Griffin). And, by chance, she found a new/old rhythm section from Dayton, Ohio—drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebaugh—who had worked on one of her early demos.

The Bastards' trademark sound is still based on majestic blues-rock riffs over Wennerstrom's lost-and-lonesome yowling, but there are new folk and country shadings with the occasional use of banjo, mandolin and pedal-steel guitar.

"I don't want to fall into the wicked sun," she confides as reverb waves of roots-rock guitar ripple through an austere landscape. Even with the newfound siren wail of slide guitar, the upcoming album's title track still rests on the mighty shoulders of Wennerstrom's sludgy-fuzzy guitar and powerfully assured singing. What's new is the epic, almost psychedelic way the guitars fuse together as the song marches grandly and slowly off into a Western sunset.

Austin's soulful Black Joe Lewis and Dallas' own Les Americains open.


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