Über Heartless Bastards
Ohio is cool because the state produced this very band. A lot of Ohio's indie bands sound like bar rockers; the Afghan Whigs, the Black Keys and Buffalo Killers all fit this description. So do the Heartless Bastards. In the early '00s, the Bastards became the talk of Cincinnati with their crunchy, bluesy fusion of garage rock and power pop. People especially fell for singer, songwriter and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom. The shadowy qualities lurking behind her voice, her persona and her aesthetics are blunt and gritty, like an abandoned parking lot whose surface has crumbled into a gnarled constellation of weeds. With help from the Black Keys, the group secured a deal with Fat Possum Records. Their first two albums, Stairs and Elevators and All This Time, are more or less studio interpretations of the band's killer live show. In contrast, 2009's The Mountain is a gutsy stab at evolution. Made after Wennerstrom relocated to Austin, Tex., where she put together a new lineup, the album finds her adding touches of British folk and country rock to the band's hard rock sound.