A.A. Bondy

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To get ready for the All Hallow’s weekend here’s a playlist of what we think are genuinely creepy songs. With only a few exceptions, they’re mostly low-key acoustic songs, the kind you might hear around a campfire, somewhere far out in the woods. Only a couple deal with “monsters” per say (one mummy and one vampire, respectively), the rest are centered around the real-life kind of monsters – bloodthirsty sociopaths on hellish road-trips, spurned-lovers who become violently unhinged, and nightmarish butchers who come for your children in the night. A lot of the tunes are pretty, but if you listen close, these songs will keep you up at night…

mp3: Elliott Smith – Son of Sam

mp3: Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer

mp3: The Decemberists – The Rake’s Song

mp3: Mason Jennings – Jackson Square

mp3: Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska

mp3: Josh Ritter – The Curse

mp3: Joshua James – Farmer From The West

mp3: Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

mp3: A.A. Bondy – Oh The Vampyre

mp3: Johnny Cash – Delia’s Gone

mp3: Kings of Leon – Joe’s Head

mp3: Okkervil River – For Real

mp3: The Decemberists – Shankill Butchers

mp3: Mason Jennings – Isabella Part II

mp3: Sun Kil Moon – Glenn Tipton

Also, on a less creepy note, here’s a Halloween-themed video for Jeremy Messersmith’s quite beautiful “A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard”. Happy Halloween!

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2009 Top 25Well it’s that time again. It’s been a good year in music for sure – so much so that we’ve bumped our list up to 25 albums this time around, and even then we were having to painfully cut out some clearly great records.

Remember, this list represents our favorite albums of the year, not necessarily the best albums of the year. If we had to pick what we thought were the very best albums critically, this would probably be a very different list. But we’re no critics, so that’s not what we’re going to do. These are simply our very favorite albums of the year – the ones that made us laugh, cry, dance, smile, press repeat, wet our pants, etc. This is what we’ll remember when we look back on 2009.

Here we go:

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IMG_3067 - CopyWe made another trip down to Bloomington for yet another great show last night, this time A.A. Bondy and Elvis Perkins In Dearland at the Video Saloon. Bloomington is now 4 for 4. Good work everyone! Keep it up!

Bondy was relaxed and playful, cracking wry jokes between songs and laughing at the screaming co-eds running around outside the venue (oh college). He weaved his songs into a dense atmosphere, letting each song fade in and out and hang in the air as his band made their way through the short set. There was a lot of fuzz – showing that Bondy hasn’t totally forsaken his Verbena days – especially on his completely rocked out take on “Killed Myself When I Was Young”. I may have been pumping my fist on that one. It was pretty awesome.

As great as it was to see A.A. Bondy, it actually ended up being Elvis Perkins who really made my night. A few years ago I really enjoyed Ash Wednesday, and I listened to his new record once or twice earlier this year, but that’s about as much as I know about Elvis Perkins. Well after last night’s set, I’m determined to mine the depths of Mr. Perkin’s music – because he’s making some, and it’s amazing. His band (which is only three plus Elvis) is perfect, jumping from horns to upright bass to squeeze box to guitar to one of those drum-and-cymbal-on-your-chest-contraptions (you know? kind of like this?), and they made this amazing music gleaned from the early annals of recorded American music. Their takes on the old Sacred Heart traditionals “Weeping Mary” and “Weeping Pilgrim” were nothing less than inspired, and those were just the covers! Really. You can count me as an Elvis Perkins In Dearland fan. Because wow. That was great.

mp3: A.A. Bondy – The Mightiest of Guns
from his Daytrotter Session (Download the whole set at Daytrotter)

mp3: Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Doomsday
from the album Elvis Perkins In Dearland (iTunes/Amazon)

The setlists and a few blurry photos after the jump…

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I fell for A.A. Bondy after hearing his Daytrotter session last year. In that five song set, only one track was from his (fantastic) 2007 record, American Hearts. The other four were brand new, but they resonated with me in a way usually reserved for songs already canonized - like I’d been hearing them my whole life. They shook me and made me listen to them over and over. Bondy’s gravelly voice and amazing guitar skill transported me to another place in time, the way the best kind of folk music is supposed to. The last song in particular always made me stop what I was doing and just listen. From its droning harmonica intro to its last repeated lines, that song carries a weight that’s absent in a lot of music - the kind that’s hard to pin down, but demands your attention and invites your hard contemplation, if you’ll give it. It’s a weight that permeates most of Bondy’s music, especially here on his sophomore record, When The Devil’s Loose.

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