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A.A. Bondy: Believers [Digipak]

Track List

>Heart Is Willing, The
>Down in the Fire (Lost Sea)
>Skull & Bones
>123 Dupuy Street
>Surfer King
>Twist, The
>Rte. 28/Believers
>Scenes from a Circus

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

"A.A. Bondy is a repentant '90s rocker whose third album of deceptively austere alt folk is ludicrously gorgeous, vaporous, and reverb-caressed, like the hushed, almost unbearable intimacy of pre-fame Cat Power. Light, expert touches conspire to liberate Believers from the NPR ghetto: the dirt-road motorik pulse of "The Heart Is Willing," the soft concussions of distortion on "The Twist," a delirious vein of vintage slowcore (Idaho fans, rejoice). Bondy's voice is strong and true and inconsequential -- Lord knows if anything he says actually means anything ("I can not be here today," etc.) -- but it all sounds enormously profound. We need to find a way to smoke this." -Spin Magazine

"The new Believers, out Sept. 13, sounds more fleshed-out: Less nakedly fatalistic than its predecessors, it also finds Bondy reasserting himself as a bandleader. This isn't singer-songwriter fare, but rather a full band in fine form, crafting evocative songs with a fully realized sense of place to them. In languid ballads like "Skull & Bones" and "Down in the Fire (Lost Sea)," the place Bondy evokes still seems located somewhere near oblivion. But the music that surrounds him this time around chimes subtly and warmly — even majestically." -NPR

"The album has the same dusty atmosphere as a Brightblack Morning Light record, all brushed snares and decaying spaces between the notes. There is a quietly epic aspect to the central spine of the ten tracks. The songs do not rush to choruses or false bombast, but the low impetus does not lead to a lack of thrills or pleasure. The album propels itself along on the creaking intensity brought about by Bondy’s half-broken voice, the unfussy guitars, and the streaks of pedal steel." -Rhum.org

Album Reviews:

Spin (p.72) - "[The] album of deceptively austere alt folk is ludicrously gorgeous, vaporous, and reverb-caressed..."

Magnet (p.53) - "[H]e weaves a palpable atmosphere into the album's 10 songs, crafting a set that drifts and sighs like Brian Eno or David Lynch had a say in its creation."

Q (Magazine) (p.123) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'The Twist' finds Bondy forlorn, his poetry laden with heavy-hearted imagery..."

Album Notes

Personnel: A.A. Bondy (vocals, guitar, piano, organ); Benjamin Lester (piano, drums); Macey Taylor (organ).

Recording information: Mant/Kingsize Studios, Los Angeles.

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. Bondy's songs on Believers aren't much on narrative specifics, but he sure knows how to create an ambience, and there's a sorrowful beauty in his vocals that's tremendously effective; while he never sounds for a minute like he's forcing himself, this ranks with the very best singing Bondy has done in the recording studio to date. Rob Schnapf, who co-produced Believers with Bondy, has given this music a spacious tone that's the aural equivalent of a classic film noir, with the moon gleaming off rain slick streets, and it's a superb match for Bondy and his songs, fusing beauty, mystery, and menace at all turns. While many of Bondy's previous albums found him openly emulating the sound or aural details of some other artist, Believers sounds much more like Bondy has simply followed his own muse for a change, and the results reveal his confidence was well founded -- these ten songs are full of elusive magic and Bondy and his collaborators have made an album that's long on mystery but satisfying enough to make it worthy of repeated investigation; you're not likely to hear a new album that sounds better after 1 A.M. than this anytime soon. ~ Mark Deming


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