Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pony Trash - S/T

Pony Trash are one of my favourite new bands for one very good reason – they made me aware of a genre I had no idea actually existed – post shoegaze. As anyone who knows me (or, in fact, has even just skimmed through some of the artists I’ve reviewed on here) will know, this was essentially Christmas come early for me. I love post ANYTHING, and shoegaze has essentially been my mistress since I first heard My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless back in my young teens, so, unsurprisingly, Pony Trash gave me tingles before I had even heard the opening notes of this nifty little EP.

Luckily enough, said opening notes just so happened to be pure bliss for me. Gentle drums and a relaxed, psychedelic-tinged bassline open first track “Submarine”, only to be joined by delicately strummed guitar chords, and both male and female vocals, singing surprisingly audible lyrics. I was expecting this track to be instrumental, purely on how solid the instrumentation is by itself, but the vocals fit in exquisitely, and I find myself liking them more and more with. The guitars early on have a really shimmery feel about them, with enough sustain to leave a gentle wall of sound in the background after each strum.  However, it’s the bass that really stands out for the first 4 minutes or so of the track, keeping things going ever so gently, yet firmly. Around the 4:30 mark is when the guitars really shine though. They take centre stage in a flurry of distortion, in what I can only describe as the most laid back wall of sound I have ever heard. In my humble opinion, of the entire EP, they really got it right making this the opener.

Things get a bit more rock ‘n’ roll on “Down To The River”. Well… You won’t quite be throwing the horns and slam-dancing into your friends to it, but it’s a bit more up-tempo than its precursor. Wailing guitars (still drenched in sweet, sweet reverb and distortion though) screech in, before the other instruments jump in and roll along like some form of super-stoned juggernaut. The female vocals also drop out of the limelight, only coming back to add some floaty “ooh”s here and there. This was one subtle little touch that I LOVE. The guitar parts are the real focus here though. The whole song is a lot more blues-rocky than one would expect (or at least than I expected), but with Pony Trash’s signature tones, sound quite unusual, albeit in the best possible way. The solos here though are one of my favourite parts of the whole EP. The PERFECT blend of just rocking out and ethereal wall of sound. A real treat for those of us who would rather watch our shoes all night than dance. Almost makes me want to learn to play guitar… Almost.

“The Weight Of The Night” carries on a lot of the sounds and themes of “Down To The River”, but is slightly more laid back and ethereal. This is where the shoegaze influences really get layered on thickly, the guitar creating a near constant wall of sound throughout. The bass yet again nearly steals the scene though, similar to “Submarine”, but the guitar is just undeniably lush. It was after listening to this track the third time that I knew I HAD to write about this EP. Pony Trash have not only got a unique sound that is all their own, but it’s very easy to identify little things that give away all of their collective influences. They’ve basically managed to master the elusive art of appealing to fans of several genres, while never actually committing to any one single genre itself. Also, their sound is very much their own, and I admire when a band can achieve that more than anything else in the world.

Alas, I digress, and there are two more songs to go. “Inner Worlds” is again a very mellow, reverb-led affair, but it’s the vocals that really stood out here for me. The female vocals in particular are very reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, and, it may just be me, but the guitars seem to have even more effects present than previously audible. “Inner Worlds” sounds quite similar to the rest of the EP, but I don’t mean this in a bad way. More, it sounds almost reassuringly familiar, while still bringing new things to the table. I feel as if I shouldn’t like it as much as I do, if that makes any sense. Regardless, it’s a very pretty little piece of particularly psychedelic shoegaze that I’ve listened to far too many times over a cigarette at night. God damnit I LOVE this genre.

And for the closer, Pony Trash left their most sombre track for us to spiral out to. “Dry Your Eyes” starts at a snail’s pace and never really goes far beyond, with slow, steady floor toms leading the gently strummed guitar and (uncharacteristically) austere bass along, under faintly audible moaned vocals. “Dry Your Eyes” is all the more impressive considering how different it is to the rest of the EP while still sounding entirely like it belongs exactly where it is. It’s an excellent way to finish up, and one of the more exciting tracks on here in my opinion. The vocals in particular really grab your attention more and more with each subsequent listen. And believe me, this EP really should be listened to start to finish a few times before you make any real judgements about it. I keep finding more and more reasons to like Pony Trash each time I give it a spin.

To sum it all up, Pony Trash are a fine little band that excellently represent post shoegaze, which may well be the coolest genre EVER (seriously, you really have no idea how happy I am that this is a real thing). The Pony Trash EP is interesting in that I can see it going down well with fans of Hendrix or Pink Floyd just as easily as fans of The Sisters of Mercy or Joy Division. All I can really say to adequately sum up the whole affair is it’s one of those records I’ll be listening to before bed for quite a while.


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