Heartless Bastards

All This Time (Fat Possum)

Seeing that the attention span for band development is at an all-time low, it's jarring to hear a group artfully pushing its sound forward. In that context, the leap Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards have taken from their 2005 debut (Stairs and Elevators) could span the Ohio River. Stairs was a sturdy enough stomp through scruffy blues rock — but All This Time is so much more. "Into the Open" begins with plaintive piano before Erika Wennerstrom's riffs and her chorus croon on "Things are coming into focus" rise up. From there the Bastards turn their tepid 12 bars into swaying, string-scratched micro-epics, ("Searching for the Ghost," "I Swallowed a Dragonfly") and rolling, misty pop ("Brazen") like PJ Harvey demos woozily fashioned by a slumming Fleetwood Mac. The changes in Timearen't limited to Wennerstrom's bellowing wail sounding more willing to cuddle; the rhythm section is looser, able to swing the predominantly whiskey waltzes into the shimmering songwriting shifts ("Finding Solutions," "Came a Long Way"). If the Heartless Bastards still have the nighttime blues ("No Pointing Arrows," "Valley of Debris"), they're brighter now, closer to the dawn than dusk. Eric Davidson

Details

The Heartless Bastards perform on Friday, Jan. 26, at 12 Galaxies at 9 p.m. Admission is $10; call 970-9777 or visit www.12www.12galaxies.com for more info.

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