Vic Bondi (Articles of Faith, Redshift, etc) tells us about the music he loved in 2022
Vic Bondi of influential Chicago hardcore vets Articles of Faith (and other bands like Alloy, Jones Very, Report Suspicious Activity, and more) recently released the debut album by his band Redshift, Worst Timeline Possible. Alongside bassist Michael Catts and drummer Adam Gross, it finds Vic staying true to his hardcore/punk roots and also bringing in a Dick Dale/Link Wray-inspired surf rock twist (Redshift also put out a Link Wray cover right before releasing their new album). It's a cool record and you can stream it below.
Vic also spoke to us about the music he loved most this year, some of which came out this year and some of which came out decades ago. He also filled his list with interesting commentary, and explained why '60s music resonated with him so much this year. Take it away, Vic...
VIC BONDI ON THE MUSIC HE LOVED MOST THIS YEAR
Is 2022 the year that optimism came back? It kind of feels like it now, at the end, but the beginning of the year was part of an incessant stream of foul events that began in 2020 with the pandemic. Every band this spring hit the road to bring music back, and almost all of them had to cut their tours short because of Covid, until everyone got sick and then better and the herd moved on.
I saw Gang of Four in the spring and my second thought, after “they can’t do this without Andy Gill,” was appreciation that a sixty-six year old man could hop around on stage and smash a microwave in the service of this marvelous effort to have a show and return to normal.
This was the year I finally got Covid, and I guess being on the other side of that buys you some optimism. By fall, bars and clubs were open again, my band was playing every other weekend, and it felt better.
Elon is setting his money on fire and Elizabeth Holmes and Harvey Weinstein are going to jail and Alex Jones has to cough up the dough for the vomit he spews; the Ukrainians are kicking Putin’s ass and the GOP didn’t steamroll the entire country (sorry, Florida), so, maybe, yeah, cause for hope.
Optimism probably is the reason a lot of my music listening was partially stuck in the early/mid-sixties, which before Vietnam was pretty optimistic between surf, the Beatles and Motown. They could afford it back then. Their disposable income went to Ventures records; our expropriated income goes to putting billionaires in space. And what does it say about us if you have to go backwards to grab the possibilities of the future?
Anyway, I’ll take it. Here’s some silver linings:
Helms Alee: Keep This Be The Way (2022)
Probably my favorite live Seattle band. Live, Hozoji is just unstoppable. If a band is only as good as its drummer, then Helms Alee is very, very good. My favorite song on the record, though, is the downbeat, dreamy “How Party Do You Hard.”
The Jokers, “Tabou” (1963)
I spent a lot of free time this year digging up obscure surf bands and mining their best songs. The Jokers were from Belgium and most of their back catalog is dismissible, but they hit the nail on the head with this spooky take on '60s stroll.
The Delstroyers: 10,000 Ways to Die (2022)
Great Seattle surf band–this record is pretty hot.
Dick Dale, “Esperanza” (1993)
Dick Dale was the real deal, and his playing effortlessly borrows from Arabic music, Spanish cantos, Tin Pan Alley and a half-dozen other sources to make some glorious SoCal gumbo. “Esperanza” was on my turntable all summer, a late hit of his, and proof that surf never dies.
Branford Marsalis, “Berta, Berta” (1992)
This January first is 160 years since the Emancipation Proclamation was signed and I’ve been listening to a lot of old prison songs recorded by Alan Lomax as I read Edward Baptist’s incredible survey of slavery, The Half has Never been Told (2014). “Berta, Berta” is Marsalis’s update of a song Lomax recorded at Parchman prison camp in 1947, and when the hammers come down it cuts to the bone. What that song carries in historical burden is heavier than any other music I heard this year.
DITZ, The Great Regression (2022), Bob Vylan, Bob Vylan Presents the Price of Life (2022), and Yard Act, The Overlord (2022)
Is it anarchism? Is it noise? It’s a grand, slabbering, throbbing set of spastic shitscreaming that updates Crass and all that belligerent fuck your status quo British low-fi punk. Makes me feel good that angry is still original.
Dionne Warwick, “Windows of the World” (1967)
The Bachrach/David/Wrecking Crew records from the Sixties were on par with the sonic innovations of Motown and the Beatles, highly professional and completely unforgettable. This song was on heavy rotation for me in part because it copped bossa nova in the service of a protest song masquerading as a pop tear-jerker.
When I was in the studio this past year, I’d come home at one or two in the morning and put on Get Back or McCartney 3-2-1 to decompress and so now I’m a McCartney guy and I was wrong and he was the musical genius of the Beatles. He was also their optimistic soul, and wrote their most buoyant songs, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Eight Days a Week,” “Good Day Sunshine,” and “Penny Lane.” John had the cynical cache, and for years it was hard to for me get past the dreck McCartney’s written, like “Silly Love Songs” and “Ebony and Ivory,” but come on, he’s written more number one hits than anyone in history, so he gets a pass for dismal dancehall washouts like “Martha My Dear.”
He’s a genuine force of nature and so my wife and I took a second mortgage for nose bleed seats at his show this summer and he was charming and engaging and played three goddamned hours at 80 years old.
It was the strangest experience I’ve ever had at a concert. It felt more akin to visiting the Lincoln Memorial than a show: it was monumental, and it didn’t really connect at a human scale; it was more like watching glaciers calf. But then he stood on a stage in an arena by himself and played “Blackbird,” with his voice strained and braided with age, and he pushed that song into something transcendent and beautiful.
So yeah, I’m going with Good Day Sunshine, and optimism.