The Von Bondies

Pawn Shoppe Heart, Sire / Reprise
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The Independent Culture

The Von Bondies' greatest claim to fame is probably the beating that fellow Detroit rocker Jack White reportedly dished out to their singer Jason Stollsteimer, but Pawn Shoppe Heart should change all that. I've no idea what sparked their little contretemps, but perhaps it had something to do with Stollsteimer's dissatisfaction with White's and Jim Diamond's production of The Von Bondies' 2002 debut, Lack of Communication, which he felt didn't adequately represent the power of the band's live shows. This time around, former Talking Head Jerry Harrison is at the helm - maybe an odd choice, but he has managed to capture fully their melodic muscularity (as illustrated a few seconds into lead-off track "No Regrets" when the opening chords expand to fill the available space, inducing a momentary frisson of panic in the listener). The Bondies tap into the classic Detroit raunch-rock sound of the MC5 - a wild cataract of heavy guitar rock with the swaggering momentum of Motörhead and the ebullient glam stomp of Sweet compressed into brief bursts of maximum impact. Stollsteimer's lyrics bring a wry edge to the familiar rock'n'roll frustrations in songs such as "Tell Me What You See": "No one takes you seriously when you're 24/ No, you really haven't lived life yet/ So you ain't got no regrets".