Showing posts with label Ponderosa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ponderosa. Show all posts

Aug 6, 2012

New Americana Singles - Early Impressions

Dirty Guv'nahs - 3000 Miles
This is a mid-tempo rock anthem that I'm not completely sold on after a couple of listens. It sounds a little like the band might be edging towards Kings of Leon-type arena rock. That gives me concern since, well, that whole thing didn't turn out well for KOL, at least as far as their image and my enjoyment of their music goes. I've heard the Dirty Guv'nahs forthcoming album is supposed to be really strong so I'm holding out hope for a little southern rock goodness coming down the pipe. "3000 Miles" is decent, but I hope it's not indicative of the band's direction.

The Avett Brothers - Live and Die
This sounds like a continuation of where the band was headed with their last album, I and Love and You. That move toward more pop melody and less intricate strings didn't bother me so much, though I certainly prefer the livelier madness of earlier tracks like "Die Die Die." "Live and Die" is well-played though, and very catchy. It has a warmth that tells me the band is moving in a natural direction, not guided by commerce.

Ryan Bingham - Heart of Rhythm
I know a lot of people love this guy, and honestly, I loved Mescalito, but nothing since has lasted me past 5 or 10 plays. "Heart of Rhythm" is a heartland rocker that's way more Mellencamp than Texas troubadour, but it works for Ryan as he's always been more of a rocker. This tune is pretty sneaky. I didn't like it at first, but in the course of listening to it for this review, it has crept into my mind and changed my opinion completely. It seems tossed together and haphazard, but that's part of its charm and the hook is simple but contagious. I had nearly written Bingham off, but "Heart of Rhythm" has me at least mildly interested in what's to come.

Ponderosa - Navajo
This week's iTunes free single from a band whose 2011 album, Moonlight Revival, finished in my top 10 of the year is an utter let-down. Way too much production, not enough song quality. I described them as the Black Crowes by way of Muscle Shoals with a lead singer whose vocals were "stirring." So what'd they do? Bury that superb voice in reverb and take every ounce of southern rocking out of their sound. Yep, Ponderosa is now an indie rock band, apparently. I'm not saying this is a horrible song - it's growing on me. I'm saying this isn't what I expected or wanted from these guys. I'm not one of those fans who cries sell-out about bands who change their sound….slowly. Ponderosa has made such a violent shift in sound that it's artistically jarring and doesn't feel honest. At least they didn't go towards a more commercial sound, I suppose. I may come around on this tune and Ponderosa's genre jump, but for now, I'm not happy.

Dec 29, 2011

FTM 101 Best Albums of 2011: 1-50

My tastes were more oriented towards roots-music this year than any in recent memory and The Damn Quails put out a stunning debut that satisfied my yearnings like no other. The unique voices of Bryon and Gabriel combine for divine harmonies and their writing is the class of contemporary bands that fall into the "red dirt" scene, or nearly any scene for that matter. There isn't a weak song on the offering and what's more, nearly every tune spent time lodged in my brain on replay at one point or another. Brilliant work, epic even. Best songs: All of them, but if you must have 1 or 2 …"Fool's Gold" and "Mary" always slay me.

Wrapped around the undeniable song of the year, "Codeine," is an album that more than pulls its own weight. Isbell fans may have hoped for something louder, but what they got was an artist-defining gem of a southern rock and soul record. Strong lyrics, excellent musicianship and plenty of easy-to-love melodies make this an album most anyone can appreciate, and true music lovers will adore. Best tracks: Codeine, Alabama Pines.

The boys went and growed up on us. While Hellbound Glory is still infatuated with the darker subjects - addiction, dysfunctional families and death, in particular - their songwriting has improved a great deal since their last album. Not that it was ever bad. It's just that this time around the songs are better developed. The hooks are hookier and the subject matter comes across more naturally - it no longer feels like they're trying to shoehorn in every deviant behavior and curse word they can, just because they can. This is a band on the rise and with material this good, they may eventually break down the wall between alt and country. Best tracks: Better Hope You Die Young, Knocked Off the Horse.

What else is there to say about Hayes? Rapier wit. Songwriting that recalls the greats of country and folk music. Memorable, affable voice. Actually has something to say. Just enough weirdness to keep him a little mysterious. Check, to all of those. This guy's the real deal; one of the few artists I'll buy an album from without hearing a single note. He never disappoints, never rests on his accolades. Thanks for another winner, Hayes! Best tracks: Another Like You, Chances Are.

Jimbo calls this "catfish music," and I see no better way to describe it. Confederate Buddha is a melting pot for southern music - R&B, rock, folk, country and swamp soul, all mixed, matched and sifted out at different times on the record. Mathus' writing is in turns poetic, straight-forward or abstract, all expertly crafted and emotionally performed. Best tracks: Cling to the Roots, Aces and Eights.

Bonnie Raitt, Janis Joplin and Neko Case in a blender vocals. Transgendered Hayes Carll songwriting chops. That was weird. …this album is great. 
Best tracks: Are You Ready to Die, Hell's Bells

The in-demand producer of #6/former hair band member/former 90's alt-rock band, the jack - nay master - of all trades turns in this hook-driven smorgasbord of power pop, hard rock and jangly country-flavored rave-up goodness. This album alongside #8 would make a killer party soundtrack. Best tracks: Synthesizers, Suckerpunch

If this is a sellout, I wish every artist who's been accused of such had such a well-done betrayal of ideals. The Black Keys expand their blues rock sound to (bluesy) glam rock and power pop without missing a step or making it sound contrived. Sometimes you just need to turn off your inner-critic and enjoy. Fun, fun, fun! Best tracks: Gold on the Ceiling, Nova Baby

Adele somehow straddles the huge divide between modern pop and "old people" soul music with great success. Even the songs that lack lyrically are made great by Adele's huge (but never diva-esque) voice. There hasn't been an artist in some time that brought together so many people in mutual admiration. This is a chick album that dudes can be unashamed to love. It's an old-school album that kids can groove to. Excellence. Best tracks - Rolling in the Deep, Someone Like You.

Sounding like the Black Crowes by way of Muscle Shoals, Ponderosa is a super-talented band of southern rockers who mostly steer clear of the clich├ęs of the genre. Kalen Bush's lead vocals are stirring and the harmonies take their sound over the top. Ponderosa isn't reinventing the wheel here, but what they do, they do very well. Best tracks: Old Gin Road, Devil on My Shoulder.

13. Stoney Larue - Velvet
15. Ryan Adams - Ashes and Fire
16. Pistol Annies - Hell on Heels
17. Wilco - The Whole Love
18. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Scandalous
19. Mastodon - The Hunter
20. Will Hoge - Number Seven
22. Miranda Lambert - Four the Record
23. Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
24. Justin Haigh - People Like Me
25. Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra
26. Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
28. Bon Iver - s/t
29. Sunny Sweeney - Concrete
31. Bad Meets Evil - Hell (The Sequel)
32. Left Lane Cruiser - Junkyard Speed Ball
34. Big KRIT - Return of 4Eva
35. The Decemberists - The King is Dead
36. F*cked Up - David Comes to Life
37. Merle Haggard - Working in Tennessee
38. Eli Young Band - Life at Best
39. Adam Hood - The Shape of Things
41. Glossary - Long Live All of Us
43. Blitzen Trapper - American Goldwing
44. Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
45. Cody Canada and The Departed - This is Indian Land
46. The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow
47. George Strait - Here for a Good Time
48. Robyn Ludwick - Out of These Blues
50. Jason Boland and the Stragglers - Rancho Alto

Feb 4, 2011

YouTube Gems: Ponderosa

Here's a great 3 for 1 YouTube clip - 3 great tunes from southern rockers, Ponderosa. Their album Moonlight Revival is one of my early favorites of 2011.


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