Gimme Grit Over Grammy

grammyI love music and I work in TV so watching the Grammy Awards is sort of a given … especially on a Sunday night in February.  It’s sort of an exercise in frustration though … most of the bands that I really appreciate these days are makin’ a livin’ a long way from the glitz of the Grammy stage.  That doesn’t mean the folks with the nominations are any less committed or admirable .. (okay, a lot of them are) .. but awards for the arts are always equal parts luck and skill.

I love the fact that M.I.A. hit the stage, nine months pregnant, and on her due date.  You’ve got Radiohead and the Jonas Brothers in the same venue … just for the sake of weirdness that works.  Plus the thoughtful intensity of Death Cab For Cutie, alongside the knuckle-dragging idiocy of Kid Rock.  All part of the fractured world of iTunes singles, and music consumers with very few loyalties.

heartlessSo, on a day when the alleged best of the best was being celebrated what was I listening to?  That would be Heartless Bastards.

Erika Wennerstrom is the voice and pen behind a bar band that blends lo-fi roots rock, with high minded determination.  Yeah, her voice is more gritty that pretty, and you immediately get the impression you’re listening to someone who has something to say … not someone just trying to grab attention.

The band’s new CD “The Mountain” is as solid as its title.  It’s a sadder-but-wiser collection of songs that doesn’t lose its sense of optimism or humor amid the heartbreaks and setbacks.  “Could Be So Happy” is a good example … a straightforward acoustic ballad about longing for better days.

I’m gonna see what tomorrow brings/I’m gonna take it to the world outside

“Hold Your Head High” is another standout.  You can listen to some of their tracks on the band’s myspace page, and I hope after visiting you’ll invest a few of your hard earned entertainment dollars.

Heartless Bastards got their start in Ohio, and are now part of the thriving Austin, Texas music scene.  “The Mountain” was produced by Mike McCarthy who works with Spoon, and it’s easy to see why he’d be drawn to working with Wennerstrom.  Like Spoon’s Britt Daniel, she’s playing up to the audience not down to it.  It makes you feel like you’re more than a fan … you’re a kindred spirit.


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