Heartless Bastards are a band filled with surprises and mysteries, both purposeful and unintended. When I first discovered the cleverly named group, I can recall my initial impression that they were an impressive combination of blues and an oddly twangy grunge led by a assertive and strangely pitched male lead. As I turned to YouTube to take a look at some of their live performances, I was shocked to find that Heartless Bastards’ was led by a woman, and a talented one at that. Lead singer Erika Wennerstrom may have a deep tone, but it is equal parts rugged as it is casual. She sways between hard to reach pitches that other vocalists often dream to reach, yet does so so easily it’s as if she was simply talking to the audience. That cursory tone fits well with the lyrics of each song, as Heartless Bastards commonly assert a message that is direct, yet just so happens to have catchy instrumental hooks as collateral damage.
After a while this band and “Only for You” in particular got buried among the various hidden gems within the depths of my music library, only to arise when the almighty gods of shuffle decided that it was the appropriate time. After falling to the wayside, they unintentionally surprised me once more at a fairly unexpected time. Picture this: it’s the dead of winter. I’m sitting on a beat up futon in a college dorm drinking disgracefully cheap beer with a group of half a dozen pals. What would you typically imagine a group like that blasting through their subwoofers? Pop hits? Ignorant trap? Maybe some 90’s throwbacks? Normally all of the above would be valid…but not that day. My head shot up as the drawn out guitar rifts at the onset of “Only for You” left me just as fascinated as I was confused. “Who the hell is playing music right now…?!” I said to the room of companions who were perplexed by my confusion. My friend Thomas looked at me with a smirk on his face and said “I’ve been trying to up my hipster music game.” Spoiler alert: if you ever say that sentence to me, be prepared for me to geek out harder than Kanye West watching a Kanye West music video.