Garage rock rarely evokes such soulful and cosmic visions, incorporating so much of what makes American music a still-bright beacon. Witness the stirring, swampy vocals and guitar-handling of Heartless Bastards founder Erika Wennerstrom. After securing a slot alongside the Black Keys on the Fat Possum label in 2004, and then putting out a sophomore effort, All This Time, that proved stellar debut Stairs and Elevators wasn’t just an anomaly, the 28-year-old Wennerstrom moved from Cincinnati to indie hotbed Austin.
Rolling Stone’s Smoking Section has already hailed the opening title track on the Bastards’ third album as the single of the year. The rest of the CD holds down the fort with wide-ranging power, the strongest element of which is Wennerstrom’s liquor-soaked Lucinda Williams-y whine. Spilling into equal shares of old-timey rural ditties (“Be So Happy,” “So Quiet,” “Had to Go”) and Janis Joplin-esque barnstormers (“Early in the Morning,” “Wide Awake,” “Witchy Poo”), The Mountain builds like the Heartless Bastards’ fast-budding reputation for rocking your ass right out of the chair.
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