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Heartless Bastards at One Eyed Jacks

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PHOTO BY FELICIA GRAHAM
  • Photo by Felicia Graham

If any nonmetal band deserves an unalloyed heavy-metal pedigree, it's the Heartless Bastards. The Austin, Texas-based quartet is led by witchy singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom, who reaches deep into her throat for every vocal, delivering her wavering lines somewhere between a bray and a howl — cold, hard lines about odysseys through concrete and steel, spilled blood and tasteless lead. A lumberjack with an electric guitar, Wennerstrom also knows how to lay down a lick, as the first four bars of any of her songs can attest. But these Bastards are, at heart, a purebred, unvarnished heartland garage band, one that has steadily shed its "Female Black Keys" billing on each of its three Fat Possum LPs. "Can't do the things I used to/ Because I feel old," Wennerstrom cursed on 2005 debut Stairs and Elevators, clenching a saw-toothed blues riff. On 2009's more moving The Mountain, backed by strings, mandolin and lap-steel guitar, her limitations become a defiant affirmation: "Hold on/ To what you know." It's a rare display of self-awareness from a rock band more reckless than Reckless Kelly but less explosive than The Exploding Hearts. Tickets $12. — Noah Bonaparte Pais

June 17

Heartless Bastards

10 p.m. Friday

One Eyed Jacks, 615 Toulouse St., 569-8361; www.oneeyedjacks.net

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