Monday, November 10, 2008

Verbena - Into the Pink (Capitol, 1999)

"Wearing their animosity on their sleeve, Birmingham, AL-based Verbena bear more than a slight resemblance to Nirvana with their gritty, aggressive rock and singer/guitarist Scott Bondy's soul-bearing vocals. Bondy began playing with Les Nuby (drums) and Daniel Johnston (bassist) when the three were in high school in the early '90s. Ann Marie Griffin (singer/guitarist) joined the trio, called Shallow, and shared songwriting duties with Bondy. Nuby left the group and was replaced by original Remy Zero drummer Louis Schefano. The band renamed itself Verbena and released the EP, Pilot Park, on Merge. Nuby rejoined the band a year later. Verbena's debut full-length, Souls for Sale, attracted attention from Capitol and Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, who agreed to produce the band's major-label debut, Into the Pink. In 1999, Johnston left the band, making Verbena a trio once again. It would be another four years until Verbena would rise again. In 2003, Nuby, Bondy, and Daviston resumed schedule with Capitol for their third album, 2003's La Musica Negra, which continued the band's move towards straight-ahead rock."

"Verbena's 1999 album Into the Pink completes the group's transition from a Memphis soul/indie-pop hybrid into a straight-ahead rock outfit. Indeed, with Scott Bondy's sardonic drawl and buzzsaw guitars and Les Nuby's insistent drums at the forefront, Verbena resembles a souped-up, glossed-over version of the 1990s' most revered rock band, Nirvana. Adding to the sense of deja vu is Dave Grohl's production work, which dips into the polish Butch Vig applied to Nevermind. Though bassist/vocalist Anne Marie Griffin's vocals sweeten "Prick the Sun" and "Baby Got Shot," and ballads like "Lovely Isn't Love" and "Big Skies, Black Rainbows" add some sonic diversity to the album, most of Into the Pink sounds like forgotten mid-'90s grunge. Despite their lofty aspirations and patronage, Verbena just aren't as interesting as that other power trio whose name ends with '-na.'" ( 


jon sutton said...

...and now Scott Bondy is offering recordings under the moniker of AA Bondy. Check 'em out, he's really doing decent stuff, still.

j said...

That blurb is an utter crock of self important music critic crap. "Into the Pink" took the remnants of a long stagnated "grunge" sound and gave it a breath of fresh air. Verbena did no wrong.