If you like Nick Drake’s chillingly introverted masterpiece, Pink Moon, then you may want to continue reading. A.A. Bondy’s music is similarly spare, dark and penetrating. Much of it features just Bondy on acoustic guitar singing of sadness and loss. “Of The Sea” tells of a suicide pact between lovers – by drowning. You get the idea.
Bondy, the former front man of the indie rock band Verbena, hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and has released three solo albums since 2007. His sampling of the Rolling Stones’ “I Just Want To See His face” on the track “Rapture (Sweet Rapture)” initially piqued my interest; the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, on which “I Just Want To See His Face” appears, is one of my all-time favorite records.
But Bondy’s best track, for my money, is “A Slow Parade” from his second album, When The Devil’s Loose (2009). It is subdued, yet bristling with a restrained energy. I am including two versions of it here (that’s how much I dig it!) since I couldn’t decide which one to feature. The first is a live version that builds to what for the unbelievably mellow Bondy is a furious climax of harmonica and distortion-filled guitar. The second is the studio version which includes some textural piano fills, more elevated vocals on the first chorus, and a longer guitar solo to ride things out.
Truth be told, both versions would benefit greatly from significantly longer guitar solos. It’s a painful tease how short they are. I hear traces of Lou Reed in Bondy’s guitar solos – they are not technically difficult, lots of simple, single notes, but those notes are all well placed. We just need more of them!
Here’s the live version.
And here’s the studio version.
And here’s a live version of “There’s A Reason” from Bondy’s consistently excellent first album, American Hearts (2007).
Bondy’s music isn’t for the everyday (at least I hope not). But when you do feel a need to turn inward, it provides a great soundtrack.