Heartless Bastards

The Mountain

Between her unapologetic wail and her thirst for classic-rock rawness, Erika Wennerstrom and her band Heartless Bastards have long been the perfect estrogen-spiked complement to their current touring mates and erstwhile label mates, the Black Keys.

This, Heartless Bastards’ third album, finds them mellowing a bit, and like the Keys’ latest, Attack & Release, adopting extra instruments to flesh out a previously spare sound.

Notably restrained in her singing here, Wennerstrom sounds more in line with the charred, country-blues croon of Jolie Holland, and the album’s heightened folk vibe culminates in the aptly titled “So Quiet” and the extended mandolin jags of the nearly eight-minute “Witchy Poo.”

The Mountain is richly recorded and impressively disciplined, but fans may miss the throaty rabble-rousing and barreling blues of the Bastards’ early days.

Doug Wallen, Philadelphia Inquirer