Prior to listening to Pawn Shoppe Heart, my exposure to The Von Bondies had been rather lacking, and the only reason I was even slightly familiar with their name was the same reason anyone else was: Jack White. If you don't know what I'm referring to, it is best it stays that way and let The Von Bondies music speaks for itself (which it does quite nicely).
The Von Bondies are straight out of Detroit, Michigan and feature Jason Stollsteimer (guitar, vocals), Marcie Bolen (guitar), Carrie Smith (bass), and Don Blum (drums). The quartet initially gained publicity through their cameo on the Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, a Detroit-centered compilation masterminded by Jack White that eventually led to a record deal with Sympathy for the Record Industry and an opening gig for the White Stripes. In 2001, Jack White continued to father the group by producing their debut full length, Lack of Communication. Their signing with Warner Brothers led to the release of Raw and Rare in 2003, but it was not till the aftermath of the garage rock revival and their public estrangement from parent figure Jack White that their climb to fame was truly piloted. The group was finally given an opportunity to step out from the shadow of White and they wholeheartedly took it by handing production duties to ex-Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and releasing Pawn Shoppe Heart.
As weary as I am of the mere mention of what is termed as "garage rock", I have to admit I really dig this album. It's rough and grainy, but alternatively, fresh and enthusiastic. There is a lot of energy, and all it takes is a listen to the opener, "No Regrets", to get an accurate feel for the album. The music offers a perfectly blended palette of rock bravado, punk, and blues. Singer Jason Stollsteimer is given enough room this time around to extend his throaty vocal musings across the five minute long account "Maireed". Bassist Carrie Smith takes over temporarily on the noteworthy "Not that Social" and also offers her vocals on "The Fever" and "Crawl Through the Darkness", tracks which alternate the lead between Smith and Stollsteimer, a oft tread gimmick that works in their favor due to the uncompromised fervor and stamina retained throughout each. "C'mon C'mon" is clearly the standout song of the collection, as well as the most polished.
Pawn Shoppe Heart is a cumulative effort, full of raucous attitude, stomping beats and shit man, fuck all this adjective bullshit, listen for yourself.
8.5 / 10
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