Monday, March 07, 2005
I figured I should out my bias here before the vast journalistic shadow conspiracy that is the "blogosphere" finds me out and posts screaming indictments of my character online.
So it's true: the Carlsonics are friends and friendly acquaintances from college. We're patting each others' backs here--one of them helped get me my job, and if sometimes I like the people playing the Carlsonic's music better than I like the music itself, (everyone has an off night, folks) you readers just might get a glowing fudge-job. Deal with it.
The folks in the C-sonics have provided me with a living wage, free liquor and some top-notch entertainment, and they're a really friendly bunch of people. This makes it really hard to seriously criticize them on this highly trafficked and well-respected blog.
On the other hand, The Heartless Bastards could act like a bunch of premenstrual wolverines and I'd still use every last ounce of my power to get their music to the people.
They opened for the Carlsonics a month or so ago, and I still can't stop screaming about them. They looked like this completely normal, standard boringish band when I walked in the club, and then they finished tunig up and their rhythm section knocked me to the floor like a wave at the beach. I turned around, ready for just about anything but the sound of tiny little five-foot-nothin' Erika Wennerstrom's huge heartbroken voice channeling Axl Rose, Lynrd Skynrd and the massive sadness of rock n'roll heartbreak...I honestly lost my breath. I could feel my chest sort of hitch, and my eyes were all watering, I didn't know if I needed to cry or shout or what.
Half of me wanted to just stand there and get hypnotized by the Bastard's mournful, bluesy rock, and the rest of me wanted to reach over the bar and pour a bottle of whiskey all over my face.
The Heartless Bastards combine the rough beauty of an ugly teenager overflowing with unrequited love, the massive rock of waves hitting the sand and all the small-town warmth of loving waitress at a truck stop calling you "hon" and not charging you for coffee and pie. Every time I hear them I think of all the people that have loved me and how much I love them, and how this time, I'm gonna do a better job of showing it.
Then I need a drink, really, really badly.
They're on Fat Possum Records, the last channel to a dying breed of Delta blues musicians...labelmates include Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and the Black Keys. Merely existing on Fat Possum is to be among the annals of truly American and truly great musicians. Clicking the link above or this link right here will take you to some free downloads of their music..."Runnin" gives me the chills.
Now that music is about ten years past Nirvana, there's a clot of bands crisscrossing the States in a busted-up van, bringing their modern take on throwback retro-rock to tiny towns everywhere. Since everyone can have a band, everyone does. From a critical perspective, not everyone should, but the Bastards are a shining exception.
Rock music has splintered into subgenres and sub-sub-genres and the stuff on the radio doesn't do a damn thing for your soul. It is my sincerest hope that the Heartless Bastards climb up there past the White Stripes into the shining silvery halls of bands everyone loves and nobody is ashamed to sing along with: Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Hendrix, and every other blues-influenced act that knows how to break your heart and tell you it's gonna be alright with every song.