Heartless Bastards: 'The Mountain'

Ohio garage rockers the Heartless Bastards, led by singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom, get their West Coast Flower Power groove on with their third album, an alternately fiery and morose collection that recalls Canned Heat and Jefferson Airplane. (Just check the album cover if you have any doubt of the band's affinity for acid country-rock.) Wennestrom's voice is a genuine force, big, throaty, and clear, and it's easy to get sucked into the hypnotic pace of The Mountain; the trance-like quality of her singing is emphasized by Doni Schroader's pounding drums and the textured, humming guitars. But there's also something a little mystical about her approach, and not in a good way—the band's at its best on The Mountain's one flat-out rocker, "Early in the Morning," but elsewhere the songs threaten to disappear under an overly earnest tidal wave of New Age-y repetition.