splendid > reviews > 3/24/2004
The Von Bondies
The Von Bondies
Pawn Shoppe Heart

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Crawl Through the Darkness"

Buy me now
Just as the world readies itself to close the door on Motor City rock 'n' roll for the second time (the first time, you might recall, was in 1973), along come the Von Bondies, kicking the fucker off the hinges and injecting their hometown with an impassioned zeal it hasn't seen since the Stooges held court at the State Theatre. The only real obstacle they face on the eve of their worldwide coming-out party is whether or not they can escape the shadow of their (former) friends and tourmates The White Stripes and forge an identity of their own.

Aside from being the band's major-label debut, Pawn Shoppe Heart already has the hype machine on overdrive as a result of lead singer/guitarist Jason Stollsteimer's barroom fracas with Brother Jack White. Big Jack might have won that particular battle (have you seen the pictures?), but Stollsteimer and his troops have won the war; Pawn Shoppe Heart is the most electrifying album to have trawled its way out of the Detroit gutter in ages, effortlessly showing up White's own White Blood Cells in the process.

You can practically see Marcie Bolen and Carrie Smith workin' their torn Marc Bolan gear as they tear through the glittery fury of "C'mon C'mon", and in the grease-fried soul of "Crawl Through the Darkness", drummer Don Blum does his damndest to keep up with Stollsteimer and Bolen's stampeding guitars. "Poison Ivy" is two minutes of psychotic, riff-driven mania that clutches a slippery melody for dear life, and "The Fever" winds a furious bassline around tag-team vocals and Blum's hyper-manic pummeling. The rollicking "Been Swank" (a homage to Soledad Brothers drummer Ben Swank) swipes a trick or two from Screamin' Jay Hawkins' playbook of electrified blues boogie, and the closing title track is bathed in Ten High whiskey and a lifetime's worth of broken promises.

If the band occasionally sound clumsy in their transformation from wet-behind-the-ears garage merchants to swaggering seventies arena-soul stars, then so be it; if a few awkwardly vacant moments like "Broken Man" and "Right of Way" are the only downside of such a metamorphosis, we should pray that all bands of their ilk ditch their torn denim and garage dirt in favor of rhinestone-encrusted riffage and purple satin blouses.

Alongside the Soledad Brothers' Voice of Treason (which for some ungodly reason has yet to receive a stateside release), Pawn Shoppe Heart looks set to usher in the second-wave of Detroit's musical renaissance -- an era in which the riffs are still vintage, but the players tossing them off have swapped the cozy confines of the garage for the impersonal bombast of the arena, and sound all the more righteous for it.



Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber


The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz



The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau


Gary Noland

Tommy and The Terrors


Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770



Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano

Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!

Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!

That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo

Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.