Pool Party

Athens, GA

(New West Records)

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“Athens band switches styles and comes up the better for it”

For a few weeks I thought there were two separate bands named after a shitty restaurant chain, but no, there is just one. Ponderosa’s first album had the classic Southern born-to-boogie sound in spades. Their second album, Pool Party, is not that. At all. It isn’t even honest to call it a follow-up; it’s more like an all-out re-boot. They’ve replaced the influence of old Southern bands like the Allmans with new ones like My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses.  If there was anything cynical or careerist about this transition then who cares?  Because Ponderosa sounds good doing it.

The first couple of things you notice about Pool Party are the layered vocal harmonies and reverb-soaked everything, which we’ve heard before, but there is so much more going on here that makes the record worth your time. Rightly admired producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev) earns his pay on this guy because the album has a haunted, removed sound where you think you hear dulcimers, some exotic Indian bowed instrument and layers upon layers of sounds hidden underneath each song.  Repeated listening to “Get a Gun,” with its overloaded drums, disorienting ending, flutes and shifts between major and minor modes, reveal how packed with ideas this album is. Yes, many of the songs on Pool Party build to a huge crescendo, but people give the drummer (Darren Dodd) some props because he makes the whole over-the-top explosive climax feel new and exciting again.

Produced by Dave Fridmann

Mixed by Dave Fridmann & Tony Doogan


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