Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Of the four songs that the squeezable and adorably youthful Brian Bonz taped for this session, only one of them is pegged as having a very specific nostalgia tied to his childhood memories. "Terror In The Bonneville" is not about Little League or a first crush - though some of that could be invisibly included in the fogged remembrances. It's about the memories that turn lovably fuzzy, that feel like slow-motion camera work, as if they're panning from the scenery flying by to a young boy in a dirt-stained tee-shirt, staring out a backseat window, cracked as far down as it can go (so, still halfway closed), smelling the country air as it bathes him and fucks with his shaggy, oily, unkempt hair. As the shot lands on the boy trying to strain his way out of the window, we're not sure what he's thinking, other than a chain of "oh boys" and a sizing up of the heights of the skyscraping trees, perhaps some tougher questions about what happened to that opossum splattered dead out on the graveled shoulder. Most songs are rooted in the past tense, for it's how we recognize them, how we know them - once they've already rustled through us, taken what they needed, hopefully leaving a little mint or some wise accident behind to remember them by. They get rusty and they chip and fade into forms of themselves, but we remain true to what we believe to be their original outlines. Bonz tells us that the song is based on those summers he had when he was younger - and who here can argue that it was the summers of our youths that we recall the most of any periods of our lives - the road-tripping vacations with the rest of the family and the visions of a big city entrusted to urban romanticism. "Terror In The Bonneville" is a song that reminds us of ding-dong ditching, of running away in load shoes, down a silent street, of feeling as if the hot weather will never change into anything different, of never, ever getting older and having to change the way we behave. It's a song that reminds of windows we've accidentally broken with thrown rocks. It reminds us of sizzling power lines and subway tracks. It reminds us of slowly licking a rare ice cream cone, trying to beat its rapidly melting body to our hands.
The Brooklyn-ite, Bonz, first came to the Horseshack with Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band and he's been known to pal around with the hearty emo-ists Manchester Orchestra. Here, he was joined by tourmate John Nolan of Straylight Run and the results are about what you'd expect, a twisting of the recorded versions of these songs into even more passionately rendered instances of monumental causes and monumental effects, as they originally existed - nominally. Bonz sings gracefully, as if all of this happens in due time, as if the importance of it all sneaks up on you and hushes you right down into some kind of unspoken awe. It's as if a readjustment has taken place and we're suddenly cast again as bystanders, amazed at the people we've met and all of the things that we've taught each other along the way. Bonz's music feels as if we're taken back and asked to look more carefully, discovering all that we once missed.