The Jesus Ponies - 'Conditional Love Casino' (Self-Released) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Ben Hughes   
Monday, 12 June 2017 04:30

The Jesus PoniesThe Jesus Ponies feature the core of Ben Hall and Byron Carrick, two friends from Arizona and 'Conditional Love Casino' is their recently released debut album. Both share vocals and guitar duties… other than that there doesn't seem to be much information around, so it's up to the music to do the talking.

 

I've had this album for a while to be honest; it's been a slow burner for me and for one reason or another I haven't got around to giving it the time it deserves. But following the recent death of Chris Cornell, one of grunge's last surviving heavyweight frontmen, it seems quite fitting that I return to an album where the ghost of grunge, and Cornell especially, rears its plaid covered torso on more than one occasion.

 

The chugging riff and crooning, laid back vocals of opener 'Come Along For The Ride' invites the listener into the stoner-shaped, desert rock world of The Jesus Ponies. QOTSA immediately comes to mind as images of sand swept highways and searing heat transport the listener to their Arizona homestead. Crushing riffage follows and gives the feeling that we might be on to a winner here.

 

But The Jesus Ponies are not a one-trick pony (sorry, I couldn't resist!) and the different vocals give diversity and texture to an album that while certainly Grunge flavoured, has variety. From tripped-out, space rock groovers that mashes up Pink Floyd with Monster Magnet to great effect ('Online'), onto laboured guitar/drum workouts with narrated verses and rousing, chanted choruses ('MFC'), there is much to enjoy.

'Kar Krash' is Cobain doing desert rock with pummelling, dirgy rock riffage, that leads to an almost ironic dumb-ass, rock star chorus. Again, 'Cut' with its distorted vocals and punk as fuck delivery nods it's head to early Nirvana.

 

Then, in between all this, we have laid back dreamy vocal harmonies that add texture and depth. Another Grunge heavyweight comes to mind on the emotive and brooding 'Mary Go Around' as the ghost of Scott Wieland is seemingly channelled through the haunting vocal performance that croons over a simple, seductive guitar riff. Another example that in music, sometimes less is more...simply beautiful.

The Seattle flavoured 'Leave It To Me' could be a Temple Of The Dog outtake and along with the previous 'Inhaler' brings to mind Cornell's songwriting and vocals. Maybe it's just recent events that fuel these comparisons, but that is what I hear and it's all good.

 

Acoustic led closer 'Olde White Ghost' is on another plane entirely. Stripped of distortion, instrumentation and production, this song stands alone with just a guitar and vocal harmonies, along with 'Mary Go Around' probably the strongest song on offer. An understated, yet beautiful and emotive guitar line intertwines with the strumming as vocal harmonies sing as sweetly as the east coast 60's ghosts were singing themselves. A chilled, yet beautiful climax to an album that offers much in emotion and musicianship.

 

If like me you feel the hairs on the back of your neck raising on more than one occasion during playback of 'Conditional Love Casino' then it's certainly job done for The Jesus Ponies. An album that will make you think and make you feel, and you will certainly want to play again and again.

 

Available on blue and black splattered vinyl while stocks last, 'Conditional Love Casino' is completely self-funded and I feel you would be crazy not to jump on this album sooner rather than later. 

 

  • 'Conditional Love Casino’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

 

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