Godspeed You! Brave Kamikazes
Alt-rock/punk crooners The Von Bondies wax rhapsodic on the merits of being lovelorn and angsty on their EP entitled We Are Kamikazes. The disc opens up with “Pale Pride,” Jason Stollsteimer’s vibrato-filled vocals seemingly instigating a fight between British punk and Jimmy Eat World.“21st Birthday” and “Wake Me Up” bring back ghosts of the band’s garage-rock revival past with an almost Brit-pop tinge. The former ode to everyone’s magical age includes a very Stones-worthy chorus while the latter almost pays homage to the Oasis brand of shaker/tambourine/bell-heavy pop.
We Are Kamikazes closes with “I Don’t Wanna,” another Oasis-fest. Perhaps if the listener were to imagine Stollsteimer’s voice in a British accent it would make this track more fun, but it still stands firmly on its own. Overall, this short release gets an all-out-rocker stamp of approval.
A hearty follow-up to this 2008 EP (and sharing three of its songs), The Von Bondies come strong again with Love, Hate, and Then There’s You. Setting the energy level for the album, “This is Our Perfect Crime” opens with a clinking calamity of percussion eventually snapping into a punk anthem of sorts. Stollsteimer explodes with classic melodies even behind a Strokes-like megaphone filter.
“Only to Haunt You” begins with ghost-like oohing later contrasted by a more frantic Stollsteimer chorus sounding strikingly familiar to their 2004 hit “C’mon C’mon.” A respectable nod to the ’90s a la Kurt Cobain, comes a-grungin’ in “She’s Dead to Me” as the female band members take the mic alongside Stollsteimer. The track plays out like an homage to “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” incorporating its classic four-chord intro and marble-mouthed chants masquerading as actual words.
With no ballad in sight, “Earthquake” and “Modern Saints” close the album by maintaining its rebellious tone. Despite the lack of dynamic, The Von Bondies need not let down their defense as singalongs and pop singles are just what this album needs. The only obvious quirk is the punk-rock riot theme blaring throughout the tracks, leaving listeners asking, “Which songs are about love? About hate? About you?” In a time where post-millennium garage-rock revivalists fell victim to ’80s chic and hipster madness, it seems rock’n’roll doesn’t stand a chance in 2009. At least The Von Bondies keep at it without giving in.