Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Pond - Hobo Rocket

Hobo Rocket

Released 2013 on Modular Recordings
Reviewed by Graveyard Poet, 07/09/2013ce

Hailing from the most remote city on earth, Perth, the western Australian band Pond are psychedelic warriors of the 21st century. Formed by Nick Allbrook, former bassist of Perth's more famous psychedelic band Tame Impala (the brainchild of frontman Kevin Parker) and featuring the mercurial guitar of Jay Watson (who is also a member of Tame Impala), Pond came to critical attention last year with their album Beard, Wives, Denim. Pond's talent is their rowdy, reckless, and rebellious wildness and their preference for massive cosmic jamming. And, on their newest album, Hobo Rocket, the sky's the limit.

Hobo Rocket sounds like the vocals and messy energy of early Flaming Lips (Telepathic Surgery era) on a blitzed, balls-to-the-wall bender with Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, and The Stooges.

"Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide" catches you off-guard right away with its rubbery, spastic, and funky bassline, and almost tribal percussion, building and building and building into an off-the-wall caterwaul which is punctuated by a woozy Hawkwind-style saxophone solo buried in effects as the blasting beat comes roaring back in full throttle.

"Xanman" is a silly and glammy fuzz stomper which is also undeniably catchy and irresistible in its hyper, frantic theatrics. Nick Allbrook's vocals are screamed and shouted along to the stop-start rhythms and it's a hell of a fun party track.

"O Dharma" slows everything down into a serene acoustic realm surrounded by a floating, Eastern spiritual ambiance. Nick's lyric "If you motherfuckers don't like it, you can all get out" is a mantra of sorts and the song is made transcendental by the massed vocal harmonies chanting "O Dharma" in a blissed-out trance. Then, the song really soars midway through--the ambient electronic rhythms burble, flutter, and fly upwards. A sitar droning in the background is the icing on this celestial cake.

"Aloneaflameaflower" is a rude awakening from this summertime daydream as the dog day sun and heat mirages burn a hole in your skull and the band bludgeon your senses with their doomy, Sabbath sludge, noisy and chaotic, volcanic churning Kyuss-style stoner rock, with audio needles bleeding into the red zone, as Nick Allbrook yelps and yowls like a nerve-damaged punk rocker in an alleyway.

Distant bells, distorted and tolling, announce "Giant Tortoise" with the drum kit cracking into full gear as Jay Watson unleashes his most monstrous riff which is alternated by mellower vocal passages and is the greatest groove on the album--huge, towering, mountainous soundscapes.

The title track, "Hobo Rocket", is really the only throwaway track on the album, as it comes off as a bizarre and ridiculous outtake but, at the same time, it's a wacky and zany ride which is infectious and hard to shake off. A crazy guy named Cowboy John, described in the liner notes as an artist, mystic, wanderer, and eccentric, who had previously spent 20 years in a mental institution, was sleeping on the band's couch and they coaxed him into the studio.

The closer of the album, "Midnight Mass", is Pond's most experimental and darkest track, starting off innocuously enough with more of Nick Allbrook's strained Wayne Coyne vocals and stop-start rhythms before becoming riddled with mysterious, ominous, and occult vibes as the snaky and sinister instrumental outro, soundtrack to a nocturnal Satanic ritual, hauntingly echoes and buzzes off into oblivion.

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