Reviews

Von Bondies

Whether or not you're into garage rock there's one inescapable fact: It's meant to be encountered live in a seedy and disgusting dive, not on an album played in your comfy little IKEA-furnished apartment. There's something about that loud, scummy guitar raunch, those teetering rhythms, and every rabid scream and wail that just cries out for the combined stench of cheap beer, sweat, and cigarettes, and the brilliantly frightening sense of impending disaster that only a packed room of music-incensed maniacs can offer.

Detroit's Von Bondies do their best to bridge the formidable gap between club venue and home stereo with Raw and Rare, a fifteen-song album culled from songs recorded for radio DJ John Peel's Peel Sessions at the BBC in November 2001 and May 2002 and a live hometown performance last July. The bulk of the material first appeared on the quartet's 2001 debut, the Jack White-produced Lack of Communication. As you can imagine, it's a raucous and murky amalgamation of Stooges-and-MC5-style punk rock mixed with a bit of dark, twangy psychobilly inspired by the Cramps and Gun Club. Singer-guitarist Jason Stollsteimer has got his feverish howls down solid, though the band would probably benefit from guitarist Marcie Bolen and bassist Carrie Smith stepping up to the microphone more frequently to balance out their frontman's vocal histrionics. If you're not over the garage thing yet and you don't mind this sort of ultra-derivative rock n' roll, Raw and Rare might light a fire under your feet. Still, it just ain't the same as being there.

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Michael Alan Goldberg