A few years ago, I had my windows open in my apartment on a nice, quiet spring night. All of a sudden, the Heartless Bastards’ “The Mountain” filled the room. The band was playing Stubb’s that night, and the sound seemed to carry all across Austin. Their music is custom-made for these kinds of open-air moments, whether it’s with thousands of fans or barreling alone down a Texas highway.
This year’s Restless Ones, the Bastards’ fifth album, is another excellent collection of countrified, muscular rock and roll. But beneath the swagger, frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom pens really open-hearted lyrics. “There’s no use trying to be what you want me to be,” she sings on “Black Cloud,” a lesson we can all forget, even the lead singer of a badass band. For over a decade, Heartless Bastards have stayed true to their core, and it’s paying off with the best music of their career. Download a Studio 1A version of “Black Cloud” below.