Heartless Bastards Stairs and Elevators

With Erika Wennerstrom’s assertive yowl in the foreground, the Heartless Bastards have a sturdy anchor to cling on to. It’s a good thing too because if it weren’t for her commanding, androgynous voice, the trio’s brand of mighty bar-rock might be completely forgettable. This isn’t meant to discredit the formidable rhythm section that backs up Wennerstrom’s insistent, chugging guitar, but it’s her compelling voice that makes the band run. An equal mix of Jack White and Johnette Napolitano, Wennerstrom gives songs like "Gray” and "The Will Song” the guts they need to transcend the ordinary. The same can be said across the board for Stairs and Elevators — an excellent opportunity to soak in the Heartless Bastards’ rumbling blues. (Fat Possum)