Essential New Music: Heartless Bastards’ “Restless Ones”

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It would seem that Austin transplants Heartless Bastards have evolved into a band of unique focus—a smart, purposeful ensemble boasting one of the best rock singers of the 21st century. While vocalist Erika Wennerstrom has been the one constant and unifying force throughout its decade-plus existence, the group has solidified into a powerful, dynamic unit capable of a truly expansive sonic range, as evidenced on its fifth CD.

Clearly, Restless Ones is a statement of collective confidence and ambitious vision. From the opening bombast of “Wind Up Bird” to the final sampled strains of “Tristessa,” this LP displays a modern, muscular approach that ignores trends and enters into the realm of timeless, passionate songcraft. Wennerstrom’s whirlwind voice is beyond expressive—coupled with the Bastards’ straightforward instrumentation and equally inspired production values, Restless Ones represents some of the best rock music America has to offer this year.

—Mitch Myers