The Heartless Bastards Are Back with Three New Songs
It’s been a while since we heard from the Heartless Bastards. Their last album was in 2015, which is far enough in the past to assume they were defunct. Then, out of nowhere, in 2020 came a new single “Revolution”. Another one came out in early 2021 and now a brand-new single just this week. The new song “Photograph” came packaged with the other two songs, “How Low” and the previously mentioned “Revolution” to create a three song EP, also entitled Photograph.
To those unfamiliar with the Heartless Bastards, you have my sympathies but there is time to correct that problem. They are an unusual mix of garage rock, country, and psychedelic. That may sound off to the younger crowd but to your elders, that sounds like the late 60’s music scene in a nutshell. These three songs bring in more early prog rock elements and amp up the psychedelic sounds, at the expense of the rock and country influences. This subtle change gives the band a more mature sound that fits the subject matter, especially “Revolution”, better.
The first and newest song on the EP, “Photograph”, starts with an outright southern rock riff. Don’t let that fool you as it quickly evolves into a 60s psychedelic song which further changes into progressive rock and back to psychedelic. There are numerous tempo changes as well, giving the song a more epic feel to it. The drumming especially is very prog rock, with slow heavy beats and the use of cymbals to create atmosphere. At the beginning, the song has that folk psychedelic sound like the post-Sandy Denny Strawbs or Family. It eventually transforms into a more Pink Floyd-like prog rock/psychedelic sound, finally resolving back into a 60s psychedelic song. If you aren’t craving some weed by the end of this song, then you haven’t been paying attention.
“How Low” is more of what you might expect from a Heartless Bastards song. It has a 70s pop sound with 90s pop country elements. There are the requisite country harmonies and that “oh uh oh” lyric like 90s Shania Twain. While “How Low” doesn’t lean in as heavy on the psychedelic sound, it maintains that nice mid-tempo, mellow feel that you see in the other songs on the EP. This is the song you want to hear at a festival after a bit of the aforementioned weed.
Finally, the EP closes with 2020’s “Revolution”. The song starts with an acoustic background and solo bluesy voice at the fore. The electric instruments come in slowly as the volume rises, much like a Doors song. In fact, the rising chorus of “The revolution is in your mind” could have been an outtake from Morrison Hotel. Also like the Doors, the song starts bluesy but keeps getting more psychedelic. Eventually it transforms into something that a Jefferson Airplane fan would recognize, as the chorus rises into shouts of “Revolution”. As the name implies, the song picks up that late 60s vibe of change through revolution and transports it into the present. The message is the same, the delivery similar, but this is not a retro song.
It had been five years since we heard from the Heartless Bastards before “Revolution” cam out. Now, we have three songs in the package. Could this mean a new album could be expected soon? You bet! The album A Beautiful Life is due out on September 10th. I can’t wait. A lot of bands have picked up on prog rock and psychedelia of late. Recent releases from The Lightning Bugs, London Grammar, Greta Van Fleet, and St. Vincent have all flirted with prog rock and psychedelia. The Heartless Bastards have clearly embraced and doubled down on these genres. That makes their next album something to be anticipated.