THOSE HEARTLESS BASTARDS DID IT AGAIN

Before we begin our descent into the end of 2015, let’s take a minute to reflect on one of the lesser-noticed stand out albums of the year: Restless Ones by Heartless Bastards.

After more than a decade of releasing music, Heartless Bastards have earned their status as a staple in the Blues-Rock scene. Lead by the bellowing vocals and songwriting skills of star frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom, the band returned in June of this year with their latest record, Restless Ones. A bold follow-up to their acclaimed 2012 record Arrow, Restless Ones showcases a sound that is aged and refined while still maintaining the freshness and garage nostalgia we have come to expect from the group.

While Wennerstrom seems to have hit her stride with Restless Ones, the road to now has not been without its fair share of obstacles. Often plagued by a rotating line-up of band members, personal turmoil, and writer’s block, Wennerstrom channeled all of that energy into an album that can only be described as liberating.

Born out of material composed mostly on the road, it is no surprise that Restless Ones feels instantly like a road-trip soundtrack. “Wind Up Bird,” the first track on the album, hits the ground running with an array of power chords that function like the instant gratification of a school bell. The album then delves into the critic’s choice single “Gates of Dawn,” a declaration of rebirth that is straightforward in its message and craft. Bouncing tracks like “Hi-Line” and “Journey” act as serious feel-good numbers that draw upon images of fresh break-ups and long stretches of open road.

If you are looking for the next album that is going to change the nature of music forever, Restless Ones may not be the one for you. But if you’ve found yourself craving an hour of shimmeringly-produced, feel-good rock and roll, look no further than the Bastards’ latest. This album has the anthemic power of The Black Keys (an early supporter of the band) and the escapist lyrical content of a modern Bruce Springsteen. The combination is flawless.

With a one-in-a-million voice that croons and cries with remarkable depth, Wennerstrom is back. And if Restless Ones is any indication, she is here to stay.