by Brian Baker
Posted In: Reviews
, Music Video
at 12:53 PM | Permalink
Remember the first time you saw Erika Wennerstrom sing in front of the Heartless Bastards and watched amazed as she pummeled her guitar and sang with a ferocity that made her neck veins dance like a cobra in a snake charmer’s basket? Brittany Howard approaches her role fronting Alabama Shakes with a similarly wrought intensity and to a familiar result. Like the Bastards and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Howard and Alabama Shakes channel ’60s Blues Rock with a contemporary edge on their excellent full-length debut, Boys and Girls. It’s not hard to play spot-the-influences with the Shakes, as the broad experience of the individual members found them looking for the commonalities between James Brown and Otis Redding and Led Zeppelin and AC/DC while working up an early set list. The mega versatile Howard finds them easily with a fluid guitar style that can be Doo Wop sock-hop one minute (“Heartbreaker,” the title track), elephant-gun recoil the next (the Joan Armatrading-steered-by-Jimi Hendrix howl of “Be Mine,” the loping groin kick of “Hold On”). Vocally, she wails with the hellhound authority of her Soul and Blues influences while pushing the needle into Rock God territory; comparisons to Janis Joplin are not the least bit out of line. Boys and Girls would be an impressive accomplishment from a band in its middle period, but it’s made all the more amazing considering the Shakes have only been together for three years and this represents only their second release. Howard and her cohorts in Alabama Shakes have an impeccable sense of Blues Rock classicism and an exciting sense of how to give it a good rowdy slap into right now.
by Mike Breen
Former local band plays "Parted Ways" on O'Brien's TBS show
Former local band (now based in Austin, Texas) Heartless Bastards continued its late-night chat show promo rounds in support of its latest album, Arrow, with an appearance on TBS's Conan. The band performed the Arrow track "Parted Ways" on the program last night. Check it out below. At the end, Mr. O'Brien proudly says, "Thank you, Heartless Bastards … I always wanted to say that!"
by Deirdre Kaye
Posted In: Live Music
at 02:31 PM | Permalink
Friday appearance in the now-Texas headquartered band's hometown area lacks usual specialness
It’s been eight and a half years, four albums and an almost entirely new set of members since Heartless Bastards began performing as a new band in Cincinnati's small clubs. This time around, the Bastards came back to their breeding ground as an Austin, Tex., band and played to a packed house at Madison Theater in Covington.For all intents and purposes, Saturday’s Heartless gig was very much a “homecoming” gig. As such, there are certain things one expects (and usually gets when the Bastards come home) — lots of heart, extra banter with the audience and, most importantly, one hell of a show. Going in with those expectations was probably a terrible idea. The concert was, at its worst, disappointing and, at its best, just OK.Anyone who noticed the night’s schedule started off disappointed when they realized Heartless Bastards wouldn’t be on until two hours after the listed showtime. Openers Hacienda were actually amazing, just as they were when they opened for City and Colour at Bogart's a few months back. But after Hacienda rocked out, the road crew took 20 minutes to set up the stage, followed by more than 10 minutes of absolutely nothing. Once the crowd was finally graced with the presence of the band, frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom spent another five minutes testing her vocal mic. Shouldn’t that have been done in sound check? Or, at the very least, during the 10 minutes of nothingness? Even drummer Dave Colvin sat leaning forward on his drum kit, staring at Wennerstrom with what appeared to be very little amusement.When they finally kicked into gear, the show wasn’t bad. The Bastards sounded close enough to their albums to show they are a decent band. A good portion of the crowd was made up of dancing fans who seemed unfazed by the initial delay. The night was heavy on songs off of Arrow, the Bastards' lean, stirring new album just released Valentine's Day. Wennerstrom recently told Billboard, “I feel like this is the strongest record I’ve ever done.” And she’s right.The live experience, however, was lacking on Friday night. Seemingly devoid of love and respect for the audience, the show was hopefully just a rare off-night from a band that usually kills it in front of their old hometown's still-very-much-dedicated fans.
by Mike Breen
Heartless Bastards and Gringo Star, plus Today in Music with Manic Street Preachers and Paris Hilton vs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Music Tonight: With the release of Arrow on Valentine's Day, soulful rockers Heartless Bastards have returned to their home away from home — the touring circuit — and tonight they're back in Greater Cincinnati, their home before their current home (Austin) and the town in which they were birthed. Arrow is the Bastards' finest release yet, a return to the crunchy Rock & Soul of their first two albums, largely leaving a lot of the rootsier leanings of their third release, 2009's The Mountain, behind. The new album is also the first on its new label home, Partisan Records, a Brooklyn-based/artist-run indie. If you want a little afternoon appetizer before tonight's big show, head to Shake It Records in Northside this afternoon. The Bastards are slated to make an in-store appearance at 1 p.m. and play some tunes from the new record. And if you're unable to catch the band at all today, you can at least see them play one tune live — on Wednesday (Feb. 22), the band returns to Late Night with David Letterman.Arrow is scoring great press so far, including positive nods from Rolling Stone, Paste, Pitchfork and … well, pretty much every outlet you can think of. It's nothing new for Erika Wennerstrom and Co. — I don't recall ever seeing a scathing review of anything the band has done. (Read CityBeat's other show preview here.)Tonight's show at the Madison is open to all-ages and starts at 8 p.m. with fellow Texan rockers Hacienda. Tickets are still available ($17) but don't wait too long to get yours, The band's shows in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh this weekend have already sold out — a "former-hometown homecoming" show would seem likely to do the same. Here's a clip of the band performing on Chicago radio earlier this week.• Atlanta Indie rockers Gringo Star are at MOTR Pub tonight for a free, 10 p.m. show with local openers Fists of Love. The band has been praised widely for its take on classic British Pop/Rock, mixed with Southern soulfulness and a punkish frenzy. Gringo's latest album, Thank Yer Lucky Stars, which came out last fall on NYC indie, Gigantic. Here's the latest video from the album, "Come Alive," the best Lego music video since that White Stripes one.
Feb. 17 • Madison Theater
0 Comments · Thursday, February 9, 2012
With 2009’s The Mountain, Erika Wennerstrom and Heartless Bastards transformed themselves from a great garage-stained Indie Blues outfit to a world class Rock band. The contemplative nuances of The
by Mike Breen
Austin-via-Cincinnati quartet readies fourth album, Arrow, for early 2012 release
Cincinnati-spawned rockers Heartless Bastards relocated to Austin, Texas, a few years back, but in our minds they'll always be Cincinnati's. The band seemed to share that view. After the group performed on David Letterman's show after the move, singer/songwriter/guitarist/fearless leader Erika Wennerstrom corrected the talk-show host when he referred to band as being from Austin. So I got a little misty-eyed when I received a series of press releases yesterday announcing some major news in Heartless Bastardsland. The words "Cincinnati" and "Ohio" were nowhere to be found in the press releases. I guess they are officially, as their press corps now designates them, an "Austin, Texas-based band." (Sniff, sniff.)But local Bastards fans and friends hold no grudges and should be incredibly proud of the band's impressive success. And those fans will be thrilled to hear that the group's fourth album, titled Arrow, is due to be released on Valentine's Day, 2012, the first project from the HBs' new record deal.
0 Comments · Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Chris Sherman (aka Freekbass) and his Funk band (aka Freekbass) maintain one of the most consistent touring schedules of any band based in Cincinnati. Soon, Freekbass (the man, not the band) will be getting a lot busier, especially if his new "all star" group takes off. His new trio (With DJ Logic and Steve Molitz) gets its official debut Saturday here in Cincinnati.
Fifty reasons why real music fans were lucky to live in Cincinnati in the ’00s
3 Comments · Wednesday, December 23, 2009
As we approach the beginning of a new decade, I decided to try to think of 100 reasons why I've enjoyed covering Cincinnati music over the past 3,650 days. At first I was worried I might not be able to come up with enough. A couple of hours into an "off the top of my head" list, I considered changing it to 1,000 reasons. After some hard editing choices, I've managed to squeeze the decade down into 50 items.
Dec. 26 • Southgate House
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The Heartless Bastards had fans stacked on top of each other last Christmastime at Northside Tavern (or so legend has it, since I couldn't get in) when they played a free two-night stand. You'll have to pony up some dough this year, but the Bastards will again be home for the holidays (from their current headquarters in Austin) on Saturday.
2009 MidPoint Music Festival persevered and thrived despite the rain
3 Comments · Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Now in its eighth year, MidPoint 2009 faced rain each of its three nights. But, in a testament to how much the festival's reputation has grown since its inception, attendance hardly seemed impacted by the grey, wet weather. Even on the Thursday opening night (traditionally the "slow" night of the event), a steady drizzle didn't stop local and regional music fans from packing the clubs, tents and makeshift venues.