PJ Bond - 22 April: Vienna, Austria (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

PJ Bond

22 April: Vienna, Austria (2010)

Shield/Black Numbers

The first time I saw (or indeed ever heard PJ Bond) was a few years ago at The Fest. Aaron Scott (of Attica! Attica!) was playing acoustic and asked if his Bond could sit in and play a song or two and I was happy to oblige. Right away, I was struck with Bond's forward and honest singer/songwriter nature, a style not incomparable to Rocky Votolato. After he played I managed to pick up a copy of his full-length, You Didn't Know I Was Alphabetical. After returning home, I was quick to put the CD on and hear the rest of Bond's collection. I was instantly let down. All the songs felt flat; even the song I had heard him play so emotionally live seemed drained of life and somehow boring. I have since made the assessment that while PJ Bond's recorded material has something left to be desired, his live show is "where the magic happens." Which is why I was so excited for his live EP, 22 April: Vienna, Austria.

As you might be able to figure out from the title, the album was recorded on April 22, during Bond's stint in Austria. What you can't infer from the title is just how essential this album is to really enjoying PJ Bond. The recording is simple but crisp, and features nothing more than Bond and an acoustic guitar going through six original songs and one NOFX cover. However, the simplicity of the production allows for the lyrics and emotions of the songs to really shine through. Bond goes through a gauntlet of emotions and styles, from the tired folk singer of "Grow Your Smile Wide" to scorn balladeer of "Stop Being Bad" (a song that sounds like it could be a pop song, despite the dark lyrical content). Bond even lends his soulful insight to NOFX's "Lori Meyers", with surprising effectiveness.

At only seven songs, this EP is unsatisfyingly short, but that's just about its only major drawback. PJ Bond is an artist who has always walked the walk (I urge you to check out his blog) but hadn't really seemed to talk the talk to match his devoted actions. 22 April: Vienna, Austria is an ideal vehicle for introducing listeners to PJ Bond and his honest, forthright music. With so many singer/songwriters playing the role of the vagabond folk singer, it can be daunting to listen to an artist who embraces the image (and indeed, lifestyle) so thoroughly. However, fans of the genre who invest the 20 minutes to listen to 22 April: Vienna, Austria are bound to consider it time well spent.