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Song Premiere: Heartless Bastards, 'Gates Of Dawn'

Heartless Bastards' fifth album, <em>Restless Ones</em>, comes out June 16.
Courtney Chavanell
Courtesy of the artist
Heartless Bastards' fifth album, Restless Ones, comes out June 16.

For Heartless Bastards, rock 'n' roll entails a lot of heavy lifting, most often in the form of hundreds of club shows each year. It's a work ethic reflected on the Ohio-born, Austin-based band's albums, as singer/guitarist/powder-keg Erika Wennerstrom sets her rugged wail against the efforts of musicians churning out muscular blues-rock.

Typically, this isn't a band prone to periods of extended relaxation, which makes the four-year gap leading up to Heartless Bastards' forthcoming fifth album all the more surprising. But the collection, out June 16, is titled Restless Ones for a reason: The band spent much of that stretch touring and otherwise traveling, and didn't settle down long enough to record new material until late in the summer of 2014.

With the help of producer John Congleton, Restless Ones mixes the polished proficiency of a hardened road band with the inventiveness of musicians who remain in hot pursuit of new ideas. In this first taste of the record, "Gates Of Dawn," Heartless Bastards' big, bluesy sound feels slick and streamlined, with choruses that get grander and grander as the song chugs along.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)