Review : A.A. Bondy - When the Devil's Loose
PitchforkWhile A.A. Bondy realizes that acknowledging his tenure as Verbena frontman Scott Bondy could help shift a few units, that doesn't mean his former life is a point of pride. This is how a writer describes Bondy's indie-rock days in the singer/songwriter's Fat Possum bio: "He told me that he used to go by the name Scott and had played in a Rock'n'Roll group went by the name Verbena. I asked him what that was like and he muttered something about being an infant in a crib full of bats." Still, for A.A. Bondy to now exist, Scott Bondy had to go through that ill-fated bat-crib phase. And despite the sonic differences and the name change-- the A.A. stands for Auguste Arthur-- there's an obvious through-line to be drawn between then and now. Where the old Bondy took his cues from all sorts of rock'n'roll progenitors (classic and otherwise), the new Bondy cribs notes from the blues and country folks that influenced those rock'n'rollers. And where the old Bondy would sometimes show his hand too blatantly, the new Bondy is playing his cards with greater aplomb and much greater skill. When the Devil's Loose, A.A. Bondy's second album, is evident of this ever-growing skill. But that's not to say there isn't room to grow.
In many ways, When's the Devil's Loose is nearly the same as 2007's American Hearts. Bondy's warm and weathered moan is used to good effect, abetted by some down-home instrumentation and a fair helping of flattering reverb, all in the service of songs that do their damnedest to recall a more agrarian time-- coal burning in a train furnace, rivers running free, pines dancing in the moonlight. Loose puts its best foot forward right from the start, with "Mightiest of Guns". If any tune on this album deserves to be called "Dylanesque" (possibly the most unbearably portentous modifier/ honorarium thrown in Bondy's direction), it's this one, with its plainspoken torrent of elusive yet evocative images-- "And the shadows go like ghosts across your rope/ Or take the world and burn it in a spoon." Each verse offers its own portrait of quotidian drama enlivened by Bondy's wracked croon and tasteful strokes of arcing guitar. The rest of the album offers downtrodden pleasures in a similar vein-- see the elegiac "To the Morning", or the player-piano balladry of "On the Moon". Even when Bondy's band kicks up its heels, as on the relatively ebullient "I Can See the Pines Are Dancing", it's doing so through a weary hard-livin' haze. Still, the music never suffers for the song's overall sorrow. Where Loose does suffer, if only slightly, is in its words....full text
CulturebullyThe reason that people are enamored with the singer-songwriter concept is that we all love the idea of conveying our innermost thoughts, hopes, dreams, ruminations, and beliefs through music. Yet, despite such desires, most of us don’t possess the talents necessary to shape words and melodies into the proper form, or at least not a form that will have people singing along at a show, fashioning a mixtape, or spend hours upon hours teaching themselves how to play guitar—all because of one single, memorable, unforgettable song. While the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and others sing about feelings and situations shared by many members of the music-loving public most of us can’t craft the thoughts and chords into a coherent whole that others will appreciate.
What makes A.A. Bondy stand out from his fellow guitar-strumming contemporaries is his ability to pair his beleaguered voice with a brand of road-weary folk rock that’s intimately accessible, without sounding stale or hackneyed. Opposed to indulging in the sort of overtly passionate melodrama that passes for emotional transparency these days, When The Devil’s Loose finds Bondy singing song after gut-wrenching song, yet doing so with a strength that gives his pathos that much more depth. He doesn’t have to belt out his lyrics at full volume, wailing on his guitar with tears in his eyes and a bleeding heart on his sleeve, for listeners to connect with his songs, to believe that what he’s singing is oh-so-true....full text
AlterthepressScott Bondy, better known as A.A. Bondy, is a native Alabama nu-folk singer/songwriter who played in 90's rock/grunge band, Verbena.
He's set to release his forthcoming sophomore album "When the Devil's Loose" September 1st on Mississippi-based Fat Possum Records. Although Bondy has received mass amounts of praise from indie publications, and SXSW goers alike, he has oddly enough remained mainly under the radar. He recently wrapped up a tour opening for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and is kicking off a headlining tour on September 8th in Boston.
"When the Devils Loose" features 10 affective and infectious tracks with straightforward lyrics that brilliantly create a vivid world of emotion and tonality. Its portrayal of the human struggle is mesmerizing, and the album instantly becomes one to reflect on past, present, and future....full text
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