Heartless Bastards: Erika Wennerstrom (vocals, guitar, piano); Mike Lamping (bass instrument); Kevin Vaughn (drums).
Audio Mixers: Chris Coady ; Bruce Watson ; Steve Girton.
Recording information: Newport, KY; Quad Recording, New York, NY; The Money Shot, Water Valley, MS.
Dayton, Ohio's Heartless Bastards are anything but that. Even though the trio's thudding garage-rock is straightforward and mightily familiar, it is possible to hear the passionate human heart beating beneath the formula right away. Comprised of drummer Kevin Vaughn, bassist Mike Lamping, and guitarist/singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom, Heartless Bastards bring sincerity, self-reflection, and integrity to their music, yet never once compromise the punch and muscle of their attack.
Wennerstrom's sleepy siren vocals, which convey both vulnerability and self-possession, are the band's calling card, but the true secret weapon here is the strength of her tunes. Her lyrics about doubt ("New Resolution"), identity ("Autonomy"), and searching for "a higher ground" ("Runnin") are cut by an unrelenting rock & roll edge. True to the aesthetic of the group's label, Fat Possum, Heartless Bastards keep it raw and grungy, framing Wennerstrom's songs with no gloss whatsoever. STAIRS AND ELEVATORS is an auspicious debut, and announces the arrival of a promising indie outfit.
Rolling Stone (No. 969, pp.109-10) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "[Erika Wennerstrom] sounds like she's wailing on the shoulders of giants...Heartless Bastards are a small-town band who are ready to show the big city no mercy."
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