Album Review

From Lurgan, Ireland, The Bonnevilles

The Bonnevilles - Arrow Pierce My Heart

photo credit :: Peter Graham

The tones Andy McGibbon Jr. pulls from his guitars are steadily infecting my brain and subconscious. I even went so far as to pick up a cheap Danelectro ’56 U2 re-issue (not the band, get your mind out of the gutter!) to see if I can even get close, as I've seen one in his six-stringed arsenal. That said, my favorite garage, punk, and blues duo are very clearly the Bonnevilles of Lurgan, Ireland.

This, their third full-length, has only solidified that statement. Arrow Pierce My Heart is another instant classic, as was their debut record Good Suits and Fightin’ Boots ... not that Folk Art & the Death of Electric Jesus isn’t utterly consuming as well.

Having made their debut on American soil at this past year's Deep Blues Festival, tearing down Junior’s Juke Joint in live show fashion, and signing their latest record contract, it’s been a healthy half-year for The Bonnevilles.

As always, the Bonnevilles traipse all but lightly through surfy garage landscapes ala the title track and intermediary gem, “Erotica Laguna Lurgana” (in all its Link Wray-meets-Los Straitjackets glory). Heavenly chunked and crunched, it's full of hypnotic hill country licks, paired with the metal-edged drumming of Chris McMullan, and early punk rock aesthetics from both sides of the salty pond.

This music is like an arrow piercing my heart. Lovers of heavy licks and head-knockin’ back beats need apply in droves. McGibbon’s songwriting is never suspect, influenced from those before yet soaked and steadily glazed in a brine of “cheap beer and buckfast,” as well as personal stories, characters, and fore-warnings. This is simply a band that needs to be on any rock fan's radar. You'll want to dance and feel like a badass at the same time. Spin this record on your turntable and turn it up well past your comfort zone.

You’ll tend to find an acoustic gem or two on each of this band's records, and this time “Those Little Lies” is a folk-blues ballad equally hopeless as hapless, beautifully sad, lo-fi, and harrowing. Just in time for an emotional uplift comes “Learning to Cope,” which is uplifting in guitar noise and boom-bap, not necessarily lyrical content. “Eggs and Bread” is the second of those acoustic Easter eggs -- a simple yet ample and fitting sixth song. The sequencing comes off as impeccably planned. It would be easy to go through and ramble on each of these tracks, but I’ll save you. This is as solid and noisy a record as I can pick from my music collection.

Below is the cream of the Arrow Pierce My Heart crop, in my modest opinion, “I’ve Come Too Far for Love to Die” -- a prime example of their audible treats, beats, and tones. And of course noise, glorious noise. Andy McGibbon Jr. had this to say on the song:

"I've Come Too Far For Love To Die" is self-explanatory really. [You've] gotta hang on to the love, once that's gone, you've lost your humanity. It's amazing when someone you know falls in love. It changes them. They become the person they want to be, and that's cool. The song isn't about anyone in particular but an amalgam of friends we have in our lives. The protagonist in the song even expects love to save him or her from death."