How can they win Best Rock Group and Best Album of the Year two years in a row at the Cincinnati Entertainment Awards and still be featured in Tom Moon's "The 'Overlooked 11' of 2006" on NPR? Moon has the right idea, and I know I put them on my top 10 list, so who dropped the fucking ball here? And so, somewhat subliminally, my mind starts thinking that maybe it's Ohio that's holding them back.
But would they be as good, would the songs sound as sweetly powerful, if there was nothing quotidian to transcend? If they were ensconced in a Hollywood bubble of yes-men attesting to the brilliance of every note? I mean, Jesus, someone in Los Angeles convinced A Simple Plan that they don't suck. Band members could get lazy if they didn't have to make an honest living, though I'd have to add that's what's so damned appealing about the Heartless Bastards: there's something honest and unassuming, something unpremeditated about their songs. Despite their name, their music clearly comes from the heart. More precisely, it comes from the hearts of working-class Ohio musicians who haven't been feted by the same painfully out-of-touch A&R assholes who learned nothing from Nirvana's momentary pimp-slap of the artistically bankrupt LA record industry: you can't fabricate honesty.
"I really don't need a lot," Wennerstrom sings on "Blue Day." "Just trying to hold on to what I got." *
With Beaten Awake and Ride the Blinds
Fri/26, 9 p.m., $10
2565 Mission, SF