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The Von Bondies – Unwittingly uniting future parents since 2002

Posted by April 11th, 2004 No Comments »

The Von BondiesPawn Shoppe Heart
Sire Records
By Sybil Rohlf

My love affair with garage rock started with Detroit natives The Von Bondies. Just over two years ago, my brother, an artist living in Brooklyn, mentioned a group of pouty-faced kids who opened for the White Stripes at a show in New York. Taking his advice that this must be the newest, hip-est band, I promptly caught their headlining slot at a dark, greasy bar in Milwaukee called The Cactus Club. Opening for The Von Bondies that night were two local Milwaukee bands and The Soledad Brothers.

I had never seen anything like them. Two girls, Marcie Bolen on guitar and Carrie Smith on bass, and two guys, Don Blum on drums and Jason Stollesteimer on guitar and lead vocals, complete with scowls, floppy hair and attitude. They sped through most of the songs on their first album, Lack of Communication, before the set was cut short by problems with Stollsteimer’s guitar. I left that night with a CD, which promptly overtook all the folk singers and hippy jam bands that had somehow, inexplicably, made up my musical repertoire at the time. Apparently the rocker in me hadn’t yet had a chance to break free.

The Von BondiesPawn Shoppe Heart
Sire Records
By Sybil Rohlf

My love affair with garage rock started with Detroit natives The Von Bondies. Just over two years ago, my brother, an artist living in Brooklyn, mentioned a group of pouty-faced kids who opened for the White Stripes at a show in New York. Taking his advice that this must be the newest, hip-est band, I promptly caught their headlining slot at a dark, greasy bar in Milwaukee called The Cactus Club. Opening for The Von Bondies that night were two local Milwaukee bands and The Soledad Brothers.

I had never seen anything like them. Two girls, Marcie Bolen on guitar and Carrie Smith on bass, and two guys, Don Blum on drums and Jason Stollesteimer on guitar and lead vocals, complete with scowls, floppy hair and attitude. They sped through most of the songs on their first album, Lack of Communication, before the set was cut short by problems with Stollsteimer’s guitar. I left that night with a CD, which promptly overtook all the folk singers and hippy jam bands that had somehow, inexplicably, made up my musical repertoire at the time. Apparently the rocker in me hadn’t yet had a chance to break free.

I had the pleasure of catching The Von Bondies again several months later at The Crocodile Cafe, again supported by The Soledad Brothers. Fueled by several drinks I swaggered right up to Stollsteimer, sat down, and introduced myself. Throughout the conversation that ensued, I was amazed that he held none of the rock star holier-than-thou attitude that tends to go hand-in-hand with newfound fame. We even touched knees. I was smitten. That night was sort of the “beginning of the end” of my life, musically and otherwise, here in Seattle. One could even say, to some stretch of the imagination, that I found myself in my current state of being knocked up because of that show.

So what does any of this have to do with The Von Bondies’ new album? Well, not a damn thing, really. Not a thing other than to illustrate that one band or one show or one great album can really change a person’s life. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon.

The new album, Pawn Shoppe Heart, had me roped in from its conception. It is, after all, The Von Bondies. On a new label (Sire Records) with a new producer (Jim Diamond), Pawn Shoppe Heart is much slicker than its predecessor. That just so happens to be the blessing and the curse of this album.

On Lack of Communication, produced by Jack White (in his pre fist-fight days), Stollsteimer just let his heart bleed and bleed all over songs like “In the Act,” ”with little production interference from White. This lent a sense of rawness to the album; perfect in it’s lack of perfection. Stollsteimer seems to have moved on from most of his hurt feelings and the band has expanded it’s musical abilities to include cheekiness, like on “Been Swank,” about Detroit-scenester and fellow musician Ben Swank, and harmony fills the album’s first single “C’mon, C’mon.” Lyrically, I enjoyed “I’m Not That Social,”, which features Carrie Smith explaining, “I’m not that social/just a good drinker.” 

The only time the album truly affected me like the band was, indeed, The Von Bondies that I had fallen in love with, was on the title track. This time around the band will, hopefully, start getting more of the recognition they deserve and step out of the shadow of their better-known Detroit natives.

All in all, this album simply lets the band flex its muscle. – (7/10)
 

 Stollmeister: Hot, talented, and most likely to be beat to death by Jack White.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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