Release Date: Sep 13, 2011
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Believers sees A.A. Bondy complete a phoenix-like rise from the flaming fuselage of a stalled career as a major label artist. Having experienced the fickle nature of the music industry with failed grunge experiment Verbena in the late Nineties, the Alabama troubadour retreated, as so many wistful musician types do nowadays, to a barn in the Catskills mountains near New York.
Not a man given to shouting when he can whisper, Alabama native Auguste Arthur Bondy has crafted a sublime set of quietly seductive alt-country-influenced melancholia for his third solo album. Treading a path between Wilco at their most introspective and the spare style of Cat Power, Bondy gives his songs plenty of room to breathe, the results being quite often spellbinding, particularly so on the achingly slow "Drmz" and motorik opener "The Heart is Willing". "Surfer King", meanwhile, sounds like an undiscovered Motown gem, albeit one delivered at half-speed.
Though not the type of artist to stop you dead in your tracks, A.A. Bondy does have the power to slow you to a standstill. His barely awake tempos, haunting Twin Peaks guitar notes and languid vocals make everything feel like a lucid dream state somewhere on a lonesome highway. In our era of immediacy, this quality feels invaluable.
Review by Marcus J. Moore.
Former Verbena vocalist A.A. Bondy summoned up a compelling late-night mood on his 2009 album When the Devil's Loose, and for 2011's Believers, Bondy's music has crept further into the darkest hours of the early morning, conjuring up a sound that lurks somewhere between consciousness and a dream. Bondy's songs on Believers are simple to the point of sounding spectral, built around his gracefully elemental guitar figures and washes of piano and organ, and bassist Macey Taylor and drummer Benjamin Lester let the performances move like the tides, easy but strong.
How much does a folk artist have to extract from within himself to align with a precise frame of mind? Since he traded the electric guitar in favor of acoustic resonance, A.A. Bondy has been steadily distinguishing himself from crossing the modern folk heroes’ beaten path. In doing so, acknowledging that the only way to achieve some form of identity is by attuning to traditionalists such as Dylan and Cohen.
Listening to “The Heart is Willing”, the ominous opening track of A.A. Bondy’s latest album Believers, one gets the impression that Bondy is the type of guy who spends his nights creeping around the outskirts of town in a battered ’85 Dodge Ram with a loaded six shooter and a bottle of Old Crow in his lap and the devil riding shotgun. With its pleading guitars, crackling percussion and horror movie organs, the song invites us to jump in the back of the truck for a journey into the very heart of darkness.
There is a familiar ache and pulse to AA Bondy's third album of lonesome Americana; a nagging sense that the singer-songwriter has mastered all the aspects of his chosen music but failed to inject them with much personal character. His songs are full of beautiful sounds: tense guitar notes unravel with a quiver in The Heart Is Willing; tears spill from a pedal steel in DRMZ; The Surfer King begins tentatively, notes pattering like the first drops of rain, before showering you in a wash of gentle, glowing melodies. What's missing, however, is the surprise, the oddness, that's born of idiosyncrasy – and without that, Bondy's music has a tendency to sound repetitive, even droning.
A.A. BondyBelievers[Fat Possum]Rating: A.A. Bondy has always been something of an itinerant: Not only does he tour almost constantly, but he wanders even in his downtime. He hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and since then has made his home in New York State and Mississippi. For him geography is ….