Copyright ©2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARTED WAYS")

HEARTLESS BASTARDS: (Singing) And the wind, it blows through the atmosphere and the air is filled with dust. Such a far collection within every direction to places I've already been.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

That's a track off the new album from the band Heartless Bastards. Our critic, Tom Moon, says it may be the group's fourth effort, but it's the first album to fully capture the voice of lead singer Erika Wennerstrom.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: It's true - you can still get by in rock and roll just on the strength of a great voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARTED WAYS")

BASTARDS: (Singing) Out in the space, I'm alone with the only hum of the wheels. They are carrying me home to the...

MOON: It usually helps if said voice has something interesting to work with. And, on the three previous records by Heartless Bastards, that wasn't always the case. This time, every song comes with a powerful, almost magnetic, melody.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOW LOW LOW")

BASTARDS: (Singing) (Unintelligible) ease the pain (unintelligible) where you'll never be the one to (unintelligible) low.

MOON: Singer Erika Wennerstrom has this way of transforming ordinary words into majestic creations. She lingers over some of her phrases, elongating syllables, bending and twisting them until you wonder if she could possibly string them the same way twice. There are times when it sounds like she's caught the essence of rock and roll in a bottle.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOT TO HAVE ROCK AND ROLL")

BASTARDS: (Singing) I know whenever you're feeling down, well, you got to have - got to have - you got to have rock and roll.

MOON: This new Heartless Bastards album is the product of a sojourn. Wennerstrom says that, when she began work on it, she struggled to focus, so she hit the road, heading out from her home in Austin, Texas on long drives to upstate New York and the Pacific Northwest. These melodies came to her while she was driving. She knew they were keepers when she got back in the car and could remember them hours later.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONLY FOR YOU")

BASTARDS: (Singing) It's been a while since I felt this way about someone. I'd really, really like to know you. More I know you, more, all your eyes sing a song to me and I really, really like to move to it. Oh, I do. Oh...

MOON: There's a profound restlessness running through these new Heartless Bastards songs and it's not just in the words. It's there, magnified in Winnerstrom's rough, rousing vocals. It sounds like the road, with all its wear and tear, suits her.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONLY FOR YOU")

CORNISH: The new album from Heartless Bastards is called "Arrow." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONLY FOR YOU")

BASTARDS: (Singing) All your eyes are spinning 'round my head and (unintelligible). All your eyes are spinning...

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.