Commentary and photography by Jeff Rey
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And I may say to you, we knew where
the Bona-Roba's were.

- William Shakespeare, Henry IV
The term “bona roba” loosely translates from Italian slang as “good stuff.” But as no less a wordsmith than Willie the Shake used it above, it also describes a nicely tarted-up lady, which I guess means about the same thing. The four guys from Queens known as Bona Roba offer up the good stuff with a sound that is trashy, sexy, and damn it, the finest example of true garage rock on the NYC scene. And if your hips don’t involuntarily react to the primal beat of a song like “In the Cut” … well sorry, but you just might be dead.

These tattooed, dirty white boys have got a brand new 12-song album out called
Reach In and Get Her that is probably gonna draw all sorts of comparisons to the Vines and the Hives and of course the Strokes. And I guess if they got a proper fashion makeover they just might be all over MTV and climbing the charts with those other pretty bad boys. But though they have been featured on MTV (via being the wild card finalist for Little Steven’s Underground Garage competition), don’t be lookin’ for them to be gettin’ their hair styled and gelled anytime soon, or to take the stage attired in the latest cool metro look . Bona Roba is about the music – played live, basically three chord rock punched flat-out, dripping with sweat and panting with pleasure. Sort of like good sex. And though this is easily accessible music, cleverly written with hooks aplenty and memorable choruses throughout, there’s nothing pop about the sound. It simply rocks. And it does a good deal of rolling, too. All the good stuff.
Reach In & Get Her
We got an issue with Bona Roba’s new album. Namely, “Operator” from their absolutely thrashing demo doesn’t appear here, but we do get spirited new reprises of the sexed-up “In The Cut,” the thumb your nose at it glory of “Williamsburg” and the stutter strut of “Cunningham Park.” And among the rest of the twelve songs are some very hot tunes, but the standouts may be the slower paced, bluesy dynamics of “Getting Down” and the surprising ballad “Playing Records,” a very sensitive, involved and soulful piece that Bona Roba pulls off with the same apparent ease as their rockers. So this is what a real rock album sounds like.
Bona Roba (from top): Neal LaFanta, vocals/guitar; Domino Abbracciamento, guitar; ; Luc Carl, drums; Philip Sesso, bass/vocals