n their 2004 debut Laced With Romance, Windy City quartet the Ponys made a significant ripple with an album that Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore was raving about. Now on their second effort Celebration Castle they have made a splash with an album chock full of guitar-fueled, post-punk delights with razor sharp melodies on a long-player that is blanketed with the magic studio touch of none other than Steve Albini. Fronted by Jered Gummere, whose voice reflects the tone of Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch and the Cure’s Robert Smith, I didn’t think that this was an American bred band when I heard them for the first time last year on a college radio station. But regardless of which side of the pond they hail from, it’s all good, because the curse of the sophomore slump has spared the Ponys and graced the overall music world with what is quite possibly the best album under that is under the hype radar for 2005.
The very weighty “Glass Conversation” comes charging in with a barrage of snaps from Nathan Jerde’s snare drum. Cut from the Brian Ferry cloth is “Another Wound” with its dirty jangle-pop and a mid song blast of feedback as the arty power pop of “Today” has a groovy organ that loiters around.
Gummere’s girlfriend/bassist Melissa Elias makes her presence well known on Celebration Castle with a voice that contains both attitude and swagger. She proves that she can stand tall alongside the first ladies of the punk and indie world whether it be Patti Smith on “Shadow Box” and “I’m With You” or Sleater-Kinney with her brash and bouncy screaming in “She’s Broken.”
The surf-twist of “Discoteca” makes for a rather slick tune as Gummere warbles about having to squirrel away pennies to buy cigarettes (much like I did in middle school) and other witty complexities in “Get Back” amidst the sunshine-pop organ licks. But coming from a city with a massive abundance of some of the worlds best blues joints tends to rub off on a person, which would explain the fantastic mouth-harp throwdown.
As I mentioned before, the Ponys have released two fabulous albums, the first of which should be as sought after as much as this one. If they can pull off a third album with the same caliber of musical fortitude as its two predecessors, the Pony’s will be a post-punk dynasty in their own right. So forget the Bears, everyone in Chi-town should raise their beer mugs high and salute “Da Ponys.”
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