The Ponys Celebration Castle

[In the Red; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: punk, garage rock, neu wave, post-punk, inside-a-barrel roots rock
Others: early Lords of the New Church, Zeros, Come Ons, Interpol, The Constantines

Chicago's The Ponys are a four-piece playing dense two-guitar garage rock all over the country, touring almost constantly, and sharpening their some dance/more rock jams. Celebration Castle is the band's second full-length, coming hot on the heels of 2004's Laced with Romance. Celebration Castle is a bit more angular and angsty in comparison with the band's last record, which they make clear on opening salvo "Glass Conversation," which pounds away for more than four minutes of nervy yellin' and half-buried solos. "Another Wound" sounds more like the material on Laced with Romance, churning itself into noisy froth by mid-song. Other standouts include the mid-tempo minor-key sing-along "We Shot the World" and closer "Ferocious," which lets us down easy, relatively speaking. The Ponys aren't doing anything particularly new, and frequently sound like a lot like your average (if particularly winsome) local scene favorite, but that's part of their charm. They have the singer who can't quite enunciate anything clearly, prettily reverberating guitar echo chambers (recorded by Mr. Steve Albini), and they bleed zealousness and rock n' roll spirit, whatever that is. I've heard mixed things about this band's live show, but this record is solid and merits a listening, particularly for fans of similar straight-ahead rockers like the Constantines. I think I'll go see 'em.

1. Glass Conversation
2. Another Wound
3. Today
4. I'm With You
5. We Shot the World
6. Shadow Box
7. Discoteca
8. Get Black
9. She's Broken
10. Ferocious