Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Von Bondies album review

The Von Bondies
Love, Hate and Then There’s You
(Majordomo/Shout! Factory)

Hailing from Detroit, The Von Bondies formed at the beginning of the decade. They rode in on the garage rock wave, gaining attention after Jack White invited the band on tour and contributed to their bluesy, volatile 2001 debut, Lack of Communication. Two years later, White and Von Bondies leader Jason Stollsteimer severed ties when a nasty nightclub brawl led to lawsuits and arrests. A major label deal resulted in 2004’s uneven Pawn Shoppe Heart. It spawned the minor alt-rock hit “C’mon C’mon” (also the theme to Denis Leary’s FX-TV series “Rescue Me”) and teetered unconvincingly between punk/pop, jazz rock and garage sounds.

After a long hiatus, the group is back on track with Love, Hate and Then There’s You, helmed by the amazing Butch Walker and others. Everything kicks off with “This is Our Perfect Crime,” propelled by careening guitars and rambunctious Replacements-styled drum work. Stollsteimer has described these songs as sinister. No kidding. “Shut Your Mouth” melds a Smashing Pumpkins-style guitar crunch with a defiant chorus asking “can you say a good word about us?” and bassist Leann Banks provides ominous backing vocals.

Among the picks to click are the roaring, mid-tempo “21st Birthday,” where Stollsteimer gets dismissive (“never gonna have to see your pretty face again…there’s nothing worse than a happy soul mate”) and some fast-paced tracks where the male/female vocal dynamic works well amid power pop territory (“Blame Game,” “Accidents Will Happen”). Also noteworthy: a brisk and bratty “She’s Dead to Me” (think of much missed L.A. rockers Redd Kross).

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