Erika Wennestrom is the leader of The Heartless Bastards. Her voice has a feel somewhere between glossy velvet and charcoal flavored molasses; the top half can evince a strongly sharpened charm that can be projected at any time with ease, while the bottom half seems to have this relentless, high viscous, yet humble middle-American soul to it. These two feelings amalgamate into one powerful voice, the voice that leads this garage/blues/folk/rock band that originally formed in Cincinnati in 2005. Four solid albums later (the last two of which they wisely had produced by the talented Mike McCarthy), and they have become one of the preeminent bands of their genre.
For OurVinyl.TV the band decided to present itself in a more stripped down manner. Erika is accompanied by Mark Nathan (the other guitarist), and backing vocalist Heidi Johnson. True, without the rhythm sections these songs become more skeletal and it puts more pressure upon the vocalists’ abilities and the synergy between the two guitarists – luckily neither of these issues would ever present themselves as anything but a pleasurable challenge that this band can all too easily conquer.
“Got To Have Rock’ n Roll” is a track off of their album Arrow, which was released in 2012 and is their most recent release. Notice how the momentum slowly gains steam as the song progresses. You won’t even notice the lack of drums n bass by the midway point in the song. The vocal harmonies are right on, and the autumnal surroundings of Nashville only seem to bolster the emotive feeling of the song.
“Skin and Bone” is another track off of Arrow, and it is a song that really translates excellently into the acoustics & vocals only method explored in this session. The combined effort of the guitars and Erika’s singing pace endow to the song a certain swaggering quality within the melody. Heidi’s shaker is also a nice subtle effect, and Mark’s pickin’ near the end of the song sounds fantastic. With this song The Heartless Bastard prove that – sometimes – less certainly can be more.
“Could Be So Happy” is a track off of their fantastic 2009 release “The Mountain”. Again we are met with the wonderfully savory vocal harmonies, that follow directly behind the guitarists’ unflappably synced acoustic guitar strumming. This is a great song to play if you are in a calmer and more introspective mood, or if you want to actually create that mood for yourself.
We sincerely hope you enjoyed these! And remember, you can always find more videos like this at OurVinyl.TV.
Written by Sean Brna
OurVinyl | Editor