As opposed to our favorite songs, or songs we'd like to think define our listening habits, taking a look at what a person actually listens to can be far more revealing. With that in mind, every Wednesday we ask an artist to take a look at the most-played songs in their iTunes libraries and share with us the results. We do this on the honor system, and we ask our subjects to share a few words about each song.
The Heartless Bastards have a cold-blooded name, but their music is anything but passionless. Led by the creative vision and surging vocals of Erika Wennerstrom (pipes that strike a rootsy chord between Lucinda Williams and Jolie Holland), the band takes on indie rock with a stripped-down, bluesy feel, and though an ever-rotating cast of members released four albums each with a distinctive sound of its own.
Their latest, Arrow, marries psychedelic guitar and dark alt-country themes with poppy refrains and driving rock anthems that fortify Wennerstrom's brawny vocals. When we caught up with the front woman to get her iTunes picks, no surprise, she shared some selections as solid as her approach to music. The Heartless Bastards play the Crocodile next Monday (4/9) with David Vandervelde and Brian Lopez.
1."Fade Into You," Mazzy Star: I never get sick of listening to this song. Hope Sandoval's voice is beautiful. I got to see her live for the first time a couple years ago. Awesome.
2. "Mickey Mouse And The Goodbye Man," Grinderman: Nick Cave rules. That's all I can really say. Bad ass song.
3. "Black Man's Cry," Fela Kuti Live With Ginger Baker: This live album blows me a away. It has such great grooves. Great party record.
4. "When the Devil's Loose," AA Bondy: I think he is one of the best contemporary songwriters out today. We've done some shows together and he's such a down to earth dude.
5. "What'd I Say," Ray Charles: I love driving to this song.
6. "Cosmic Dancer," T. Rex: Marc Bolan is one of my heroes. I love his voice and songs so much. I think I could probably listen to T. Rex everyday.
7. "All Tomorrow's Parties," Velvet Underground: Another one of my favorite bands. They've been very influential in my life.
8. "For The Sake Of The Song," Townes Van Zandt: I became familiar with Townes about 5 or 6 years ago, and he has easily become one of my favorite songwriters. He really tells some great stories in his songs. Happy, sad, beautiful, and comforting, he really encapsulates every emotion when I hear him.
9. "You Ain't Going Nowhere," The Byrds: I love the entire Sweethearts Of The Rodeo album, but this opening track is my jam.
10. "I Shall Be Released," The Band: Another song written by Bob Dylan coincidentally. Both The Byrds and The Band do such great versions of his tunes.