Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
Fat Possum

The awesome name of this Ohio vs Austin trio may suggest an onslaught of muscle depleting metal but this mountain is a creaky hollow littered with ramshackle hovels cluttered with minimalist cowpunkratered blues veering betweeen creepily calm Appalachia and clanking death knell caterwauls. With Erika Wennerstrom's quivering keening vocals recalling the distinct and ethereal air of Puerto Muerto's Christa Meyer or the spark of a less sultry Lucinda Williams, even a more adrift Gillian Welch, their name is misleading as they work on the reverse by bringing warmth to cold climes. There's nothing particularly warm or fuzzy though, these woozy woe-fuelled fables are winter chills but are sweetly sinister - see the sing-song Could Be So Happy or Nothing Seems The Same. The rudimentary set up does slightly disappoint at times (Out At Sea, Early In The Morning) as they verge too much into hackle rising, pointlessly ploughed Led Zep / White Stripes / Black Keys terrain though there's enough whimsical, mystical instances such as the ultra twisting, lulling banjo-ladled Had To Go, the prairie wife left on the homestead fiddle-led lament So Quiet and the desolate slide-riddled title track opener to make simplistic comparisons to others encamped on the same side of the river quake outta town in their shit-filled britches.
Stu Gibson

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