Guilty Pleasures: Verbena

The scene: You’re home alone doing some menial chore. It’s boring and takes a long time, but it has to be done. To make the experience a little less of a trial, you put on some music, something up-tempo. Something light. Maybe even something a little mindless. Before you know it, as your cleaning out the cat box or washing the dishes, you’re doing a little boogie and singing along at the top of your lungs.

The sound of snickering behind you stops you dead, and you know your partner/roommate/child will now never let you live down the fact that you were just jamming along to Counting Crows/Lady Gaga/the original cast recording of Cats. You’ve been caught indulging in a guilty pleasure. It seems everyone has at least one, even those who say they don’t (yes, okay, I do actively blush when I listen to Billy Squier). But why feel guilty? We can’t help the fact that certain sounds just move us. So let’s cleanse our guilt through confession.

My first confession is a complex one. Regular readers know by now that I feel no guilt at all about loving the music of A.A. Bondy (and if anyone does feel guilty about loving his music, I’d like to have a word with that person after class), but what I am a little less forth-coming about is my affection for the music of his former band, Verbena. And not just the first album, Souls for Sale, which is widely agreed by many – including Bondy himself, who is more than willing to forget his whole Verbena experience – to be a decent album, full of promise. I like all three albums. Yep, even the being-groomed-to-be-Nirvana major label debut, Into the Pink. (I… I, actually, prefer the latter two albums to the first one…) Like, really like them. Like, can be found listening to them at least once a week.

The complex part comes in that I only feel guilt about listening to Verbena because the man partially responsible for the music itself would seem to prefer that the music didn’t exist at all. I do not actively blush while listening to “Bang Bang” or “I, Pistol”. Indeed, I like those songs a whole fucking lot. “Dirty Goodbyes” is a beautiful song, reminiscent of the Greg Dulli school of dark piano ballads. “Devil in Miss Jones” is just, plain sexy. And “Way Out West” is an instant shot of energy.

Okay, sure, some of the lyrics are… well, let’s just say they don’t measure up to the words Bondy sings these days. And, admittedly, a lot of what I love about Verbena is the LOUD GUITARS AND SCREAMING factor, but what’s wrong with that? Sometimes after listening to a lot of lovely, pared-down acoustic work, you need a shot of noise, right?


Oh, whatever. I still like them.


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