album reviews

The Von Bondies
Love Hate and Then There's You
Majordomo Records (2009)

Things are looking up for the Von Bondies. The group's latest release, "Love Hate and Then There's You" (its first in five years), shows no obvious signs of ill will or despair; instead, the album is full of uptempo, catchy power-pop tunes.

This, despite a career trajectory that changed dramatically after an infamous nightclub brawl in December 2003 between Bondies' frontman Jason Stollsteimer and White Stripes leader Jack White. With that soured friendship, the Von Bondies' ability to ride the White Stripes' coattails (White produced their 2001 debut and the two groups had toured together) was gone, the Von Bondies left major label Sire and then changed half of its lineup (bassist Carrie Smith and guitarist Marcie Bolen have since been replaced by Leann Banks and Christy Hunt).

On album-opener "This Is Our Perfect Crime," Stollsteimer's exuberance makes his howl of "We are the underground!" more of a manifesto than a resignation to his current state, and "21st Birthday" carries such a youthful energy that the Bondies sound more like a new group than one that has been through the industry wringer. Stollsteimer has found capable wing-women in Banks and Hunt. Their Donnas-esque supporting vocals on "Blame Game" and cooing "ooh-ooh!" on "I Don't Wanna" add a tremendous depth to the group's sound.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 February 2009, Page WE07
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