Heartless Bastards

Like Corin Tucker or Jolie Holland, Erika Wennerstrom has the kind of "great voice" that can overwhelm her songs. Yet when sound and song lock, as on 2006's neck-chilling Radio K totem "Into the Open," the epiphany can seem almost casual or half-conscious. The Dayton/Cincinnati guitarist of Heartless Bastards is an anti-stylist so blunt and guarded that "punk blues" makes her sound fancier than she is—really, she's just channeling something bigger than skills or attitude can accommodate. After two very good raw rock albums, Wennerstrom scrapped the original lineup for the perfectly human reason that her relationship to bassist Mike Lamping ended (though I miss thunder-roll drummer Kevin Vaughn). She moved to Austin, Texas, and reformed the trio with a couple of Dayton friends who'd actually played on early Heartless Bastards demos, making the forthcoming The Mountain (Fat Possum) a reunion as well as an acoustic expansion: I know I hear Chrissie Hynde in there among real or imagined Ohioan influences (the Black Keys, the Afghan Whigs). The songs have yet to take, but the sound will flatten you. With AA Bondy. 18+.
Fri., Nov. 14, 8 p.m., 2008

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