If you've ever seen Kevin Devine in concert, chances are you've encountered Brian Bonz . The curly haired scamp to the far right of the stage, beat boxing during "I Could Be With Anyone" and cracking jokes throughout the entire set? That's Bonz for you. Doing double duty as leader of Brian Bonz and the Dot Hongs as well as synth-ing his way into Kevin Devine's Goddamn Band, Brian Bonz is fresh off a solo tour opening for Nightmare of You and has just released his first full length album, From Sumi to Japan.
Full of well composed, accessible indie pop and featuring guest spots from Devine and Brand New front man Jesse Lacey, Brian Bonz delivers an album that's more akin to Broken Social Scene than the Brooklyn crew he hangs out with. The immediate standout second track, "Judy and the Alpha Queen," is a catchy bit of dreamy, melodic sci-fi pop which might not work on paper but after one listen, it's near guaranteed that you'll find yourself whistling the infectious opening riff.
The deceptively pretty melodies that tie all the songs on From Sumi To Japan together tend to hide the dark edges of Bonz's lyrics. "Kid Shit" is a lullaby until you recognize the underlying themes of alcohol abuse. "Dee the Dinosaur" is musically soaring and dreamy but lyrically it's full of a underlying sense of longing and tragedy. When Bonz steps out of his comfort zone, the results are quite memorable as evident on the dark "Christa McCauliffe's Cacophony (Reprise)" and the late album track "The Batman Song," both of which are seductively well composed, noisy bits of indie bliss.
From Sumi to Japan is a perfect late night record. Atmospheric while keeping enough pop catchiness to keep it from bordering on ambient, Bonz's surprisingly pretty voice is the driving force here and the album, as a whole, is a perfect example of how production values, when utilized correctly, can be a musician's best friend.
From Sumi To Japan is out now on Favorite Gentleman Records.