Label: Unsigned Website: Brian Bond’s latest opens with sparse organ and electronic blips, a non-committal intro that, mercifully, makes way quickly to a few reversed guitars and the warm, gentle voice of the New Jersey singer-songwriter. The first two tracks proper introduce us to an assured, mellow artist with a good command of melody and the propensity to alternate between morose ballads and the more uplifting. It’s the kind of stuff you’d be really impressed by at an open mic night. If you are acquainted with vocalists such as Chris Garneau, whose fragility and sense of innocence is echoed weakly herein, then you have an idea what to expect. Brian Bond enunciates admirably, but this serves only to highlight generic musings on self criticism and love. So why do I dig it quite so much? Without descending into psuedo-journo, let it suffice to say that sometimes the phenomenon I’ve recalled is more than a simple guilty pleasure. There is nothing so bad about Brian Bond that it’s good; just incredibly solid melodies, a little touch of folk in his harmonies, and the odd minor shift and sweet lick to set him a little apart. Maybe it’s the quality of the production and the knowledge that this guy is verifiably unsigned, with a bulletin on his Myspace proclaiming that his new album is finished, and that he’s selling them via cheques and paypal from a box in his room? Maybe it’s the sudden inclusion of a female voice that makes you instantly forget about another relatively bland guitar riffs, suddenly blue grass and slide guitar? Whatever it is, this is a satisfying effort, and one that I genuinely hope is heard by more people than those familiar with his Myspace. Considering some of the pap that is promoted and distributed by record labels, then it would be a sad injustice if Brian Bond doesn’t get signed soon. With a little direction, a little more experience, and the confidence to indulge more fully the little flashes of inspiration and divergence that are evident here, this man will be a great songsmith. In the meantime what we have here is an album that will never make you roll your eyes, wish for a rock-out, or the reassuring red light of a stereo on stand-by. Rating: 7/10 You can download Brian Bond's Ten Thousand Songs EP here!