The Ass Ponys Some Stupid With A Flare Gun
Review by Ed Parker
The Ass Ponys are the punkest country band on the planet. They do not have much in common with other popular alt-country bands like Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Lambchop and all the others. And with a name like Ass Ponys, they obviously do not take themselves very seriously. The Ass Ponys specialize in songs containing twisted stories about common people. "Pretty As You Please" is a suicide ballad and a strange choice for an opening track, and of course the subject of "X-tra Nipple" is people with extra nipples. Besides strange subjects, the lyrics are typically quirky like "You've never had a rhyme or reason/ a duck insisting that it's rabbit season" from "Your Amazing Life" and from "Sidewinder", "the dirt farmer's wife/ is hanging her laundry on the line/ she's wasting her life/ but other than that she's doing fine." Their music is unmistakably based in country music but also has many elements of punk. "Swallow You Down" rocks nicely and "X-tra Nipple" is punk enough to sound like vintage Pere Ubu. Chuck Cleaver's voice even sounds uncannily like Ubu's David Thomas, with some Neil Young mixed in. Cleaver's voice is very high and distinct, making the Ass Ponys' music sound even stranger. But the Ass Ponys are not a weird joke band either. Their music is just a little quirky and still each song has a great hook, with "Casper's Coming Home" and "Astronaut" featuring especially potent choruses and "Sidewinder" featuring wonderfully close harmony. Somehow the Ass Ponys have taken this plethora of elements and baked them into a big chunky shepherd's pie of great, dynamic music that could be one of the best albums of the year.
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