Restless Ones – Heartless Bastards (Partisan Records) reviewed by Dave Franklin

11035317_10153138127363954_1688550623573989000_nThe music business is like a party and there is nothing better than the thrill of being at a party that you weren’t invited to, the knowledge that you could get found out anytime soon. That must be how Heartless Bastards feel about their place in the scheme of things, waiting to get found out and making the most of the situation in the meantime. From the point of view of the other partygoers they are the strange bunch in the corner who seem to be having more fun than anyone else and who, if truth be told, have actually livened things up to the chagrin of the more straight-laced hosts.

Since being signed a decade ago thanks to a chance meeting with Black Keys drummer, Patrick Carney, Heartless Bastards have sought to refresh the sound of rock and roll, take the same building blocks available to everyone else, blues, indie and a sort of underground college rock vibe, but use them to build interesting new shapes, shapes that are both pleasing and surprisingly unique, shapes that have other bands wondering why they didn’t see those same possibilities in their own blueprints.

Restless Ones, continues that quest to tip rock on its side, to blend accessibility with oddness, poeticism with an often jarring tangentalism. And if past albums, The Mountain in particular, managed to thread a old-time folk vibe through their songs, now in their current incarnation as a quartet, the sound is more direct, heavier, more of the now, or at least the alternative now shaped bubble that they inhabit.

The combination of Erika Wennerstrom’s tantalizing voice, filled as it is with equal amounts of angst and melancholy, and the non-conformist nature of their songs, often blunt and direct, sometimes experimental and windswept, is a brilliant combination and Restless Ones could just be the album that sees them invited to the party proper…..though they would probably just laugh at the idea, drink all the beer and run off into the night looking to find fun on their own terms.

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About Dave Franklin

Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.
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