PJ Bond & Communipaw

Where Were You?

Written by: TL on 23/05/2015 15:09:39

PJ Bond is a songwriter from New Brunswick who, despite playing a style that's more country than anything else, has appeared regularly in punk rock circles, playing FEST in Florida and getting reviews here both on his own and with his band Communipaw. Living the unpredictable life of an underground performer, it's been several years since Bond made an actual album happen though, yet here we finally have him back with "Where Were You?", on which Communipaw has also been reassembled to make the recording happen.

Where PJ's previous solo record was mostly acoustic, Communipaw has allowed "Where Were You?" to be built mostly on electric full band arrangement, yet the style is still old-fashioned and country to a fault. Twangy notes wind themselves around softly played chord-based foundations and tempos are kept relatively casual, setting a mood that often border on being a bit hokey or kitsch.

Bond distracts you from this by being a deft songwriter with a deceptive charm though. You hear it already in the opening track "Everglades", which starts out sounding like the story about a newcomer in a town making excuses for getting involved with an unfaithful woman. Yet it eventually takes an obscene twist when the character offers to take his rival "down to the Everglades for you", hinting at a somewhat absurdly romantic, murderous intent, which is in comical contrast to the song's otherwise naive pop feeling.

In general, the first half of the album's eleven tracks are surprisingly catchy and enjoyable, despite the laid back country sound. "Broad Street" delivers an infectious chorus amidst bar room Americana, voicing the sentiment of having had enough of some ex and her mother. "Calm In The Corner" and "Seer" then offer more warm and contemplative tunes, reminiscent of Bond's considerably more famous contemporaries Ryan Adams and Jason Isbell, and particularly "Seer" stirs interest, prompting the listener to also wonder "What did that woman say, when she read your cards?" In "'87 Broadcast", the album has both its fastest and perhaps also catchiest song, circling around the hook "The radio kept us honest" while recounting the story of a young getting into music.

After "Hellfire" though, which has memorable lines yet perhaps a too meandering tempo, and "The Better Option", which returns to the kitschy pop of the opening, the album does feel like it dips a bit in quality. It could be because eight to ten tracks to listen to where things stay 100% predictably country simply wears down one's attention, but it just feels like "Neighborhoods" and the following couple of songs lack some of the quickly growing presence of the previous handful.

In short, "Where Were You?" is an album that at first can sound a bit predictable and trivial because of it's traditional country sound, yet for the majority of the time, PJ Bond actually makes up for this with his songwriting and storytelling personality. Only towards the end does the first impression actually seem to hold somewhat true. Bond's comeback album then, is not a perfect record, but it's certainly one that delivers plenty of songs that are really pleasant to listen to, and which you can easily see yourself singing along to, should you get the chance to catch the singer live.

Download: Broad Street, '87 Broadcast, Calm In The Corner
For The Fans Of: Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell
Listen: facebook.com/pjbondmusic

Release date 04.05.2015
Black Numbers / Xtra Mile Recordings

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