The Von Bondies

Lack of Communication

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Amid the national and international focus on Detroit's garage rock scene, the Von Bondies emerged with this very strong full-length debut. Lack of Communication succeeds, like much of Detroit's garage rock scene, by sounding reminiscent of bands of the past -- in this case, the MC5 and Gun Club -- while still standing on its own merit. The album must also contend with the huge shadow of Jack White (White Stripes), who had not only become a high-profile figurehead for the Detroit garage rock revival, but took the Von Bondies under his wings and acted as producer on Lack of Communication. That said, Jason Stollsteimer's vocals are to Jack White what Gene Vincent's were to Eddie Cochran: cut from the same cloth, but slightly more forceful and aggressive (the analogy is all-around high praise, yet still surprisingly appropriate). The album is also full of the sort of distorted-guitar hooks and heart-on-the-sleeve tales of relationships in the dirty city ("Cass & Henry," "No Sugar Mama") that will be endearing and expected by fans of the Detroit garage rock revival. As such, the band pushes the mold just enough to avoid pure derivation: the four-piece setup allows for more interesting interplay than the de rigueur striped-down blues setup; Marcie Bolen and Carrie Smith are given many opportunities for shared vocal duties (the chorus of "Going Down" in particular stands out); and Don Blum's drumming somehow swings while playing what is essentially forceful, straight-ahead rock. Furthermore, as a final, hidden track, Bolen takes lead vocals on a well-executed cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me." Beginning with the prominent, opening title track, the Von Bondies don't so much smolder on Lack of Communication as they do burn, and, in the process, nimbly straddle the line between being fresh and familiar.

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