Following Paul Westerberg, Akron's The Black Keys and Cincinnati's own Thee Shams to the label are the Bastards, who are "Blues" like Black Sabbath was (which is to say, not exactly, but the influence is there). Singer/songwriter/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom (a native of Dayton) leads the trio with her slashing, fuzz-buoyed guitar work and the kind of old-soul voice that transfixes immediately. You'll hear a lot about this voice as Stairs begins to build steam; early reviews (though not the glowing three-and-a-half star one in the current Rolling Stone) have already compared her to Janis Joplin, Chrissie Hynde and Patti Smith. Wennerstrom's guttural, androgynous purr-n-growl is completely of her own making and bears little in common with any of those legends. But by being so singular and riveting, she sets herself up to fit nicely next in line.
Wennerstrom's songs are deceptively primitive and simple, but she delivers them as if wringing the last few drops from a nearly bone-dry washcloth. Songs like "Swamp Song," "Pass and Fail," "The Will Song" and "Gray" are hypnotic rockers with serpentine melodies that wrap around the wooly structures like a new scarf (it's warming, but it can be used as a strangulation device at a moment's notice).theheartlessbastards.com)
More Local Notes
· The "Rock Against Muscular Dystrophy" concert takes place Saturday at the Southgate House in Newport. The show is being organized by Scott Preston, who put the show together in honor of his infant nephew Brody Hammons, who was diagnosed with the disease recently. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Parent Project MD, a nonprofit that helps MD sufferers survive and thrive into adulthood. Wojo, Steven Gregory, Emily Strand, Elizabeth Russell, The Newbees, Whitney Barricklow and The Walker Project will be joined by Boston's Fluttr, Chicago's Family Groove Company and The Shantee lead singer Mike Perkins for the 8 p.m. show. See brodyproductions.com for more info on the cause and the concert.
· With the recent announcement that the BarrelHouse Brewing Company in Over-the-Rhine has been sold and closed, the monthly Acoustic Artist Series slated for Thursday has been moved to the York Street Café in Newport (York Street booker Justin Lynch says he hopes to host the event, which celebrates its third year anniversary this week, from here on out). Slated to appear at the free, 9 p.m. showcase are Patrick Gilligan, the Matt Shadley Band, Kohai, Noctaluca, Ashley Peacock and Buckra.
· Speaking of reacting to live music discombobulating, some local music fans have organized a multi-act festival to fill the void left by the cancellation of the Jammin' on Main street fest. On May 13 and 14, Neon's will present several of the best from the local scene on three stages, with the Rhythm and Blues Café around the corner also participating. The Cathedrals, The Sundresses, Ruby Vileos, Cari Clara, Moth, The Stapletons, Culture Queer, Screaming Mimes, Buckra, Star Devils and Wussy are just a few of the bands announced as participating in the fest.