by Kelcy Salisbury
So back about two months ago I was asked to give a listen to a new band, and consider reviewing their material. The band called themselves Proud Cut Ponies, and my initial thoughts were, #1 "Oh great, another Texas/Red Dirt/Outlaw country band that thinks they're doing something cool and original" and #2 "At least they appear to have a sense of humor, based on the name". It took a little while before I even bothered to listen to the Lubbock, TX based bands EP, and even longer to finally get around to reviewing it (sorry but my real world job takes up a little bit of time). I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by Proud Cut Ponies...and I wonder how many people outside their current fan base will get all the levels of the joke in their name (the Angel Dust reference is the easy part, for you city folks at least).
My overall impression was that the band immediately reminded me of the John D Hale Band (a criminally underrated country band out of Southeast Missouri if you're not familiar). The story-telling brand of songwriting is quite similar, and that's a good thing in my book.
I didn't hear a single song about floating the river, or how awesome it is to be from Texas...another positive on the first listen. Cigarette seems kind of familiar, perhaps a bit too much so, but Corby Owens sells it with all his might in the vocals, the guitar work is more than adequate, the drumming is solid and the song works. My only complaint with it was that the bass was hard to find in the mix, although it could have been due to the relatively low quality speakers I heard it on. Jesse James opens with a buzzing riff that sounds like it borrows heavily from Heart's "Barracuda", which seems a bit off-putting at first given the subject matter of the song. But again the band means what they're doing and the sincerity with which they sell the song makes it work. This tune is the one that most calls John D Hale's songwriting to mind. It's simple, straightforward, even blunt, but it's also very effective at painting the picture of the story it tells. The EP closes with Guitar Hero, which is easily the strongest song of the set. The songwriting is very good, Corby Owens' voice is better suited to this song than the previous two and the music is perfectly suited to the song. It's extremely well done & it sold me on the EP & on the future possibilities for Proud Cut Ponies.
Proud Cut Ponies are Corby Owens on lead vocals, Drake Hayes on Bass, Jamie Berryhill on lead guitar, and Roy Stout on drums. You can check them out and hear their songs at www.facebook.com/proudcutponies . I've heard a rumor that tee-shirts and other merchandise are available as well, so if you've ever wanted an "I Love PCP" shirt (and who doesn't need one of those for the family reunion? I know I do) they can help you out with that. Seriously, these guys are a cut above the vast majority of new music I've heard coming out of the TX/OK scene in the last few years so give it a listen.
Not sure of a release date for the EP, but we'll let you know. For the time being, check them out here: http://www.reverbnation.com/proudcutponies for tour dates and other information.