Hobo Rocket

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Considering that both bands share members and a similarly psychedelic mindset, Tame Impala are often the introductory gateway drug for the less established Pond. However, it's on 2013's Hobo Rocket that the little-brother band starts to establish its own unique identity. Armed with a desire to rock harder than they did on their former outing, Beard, Wives, Denim, or Tame Impala's textural Lonerism, heavy guitar fuzz takes the group's sound to a darker place. Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, Joseph Ryan, Cam Avery, and Jamie Terry have been playing together for a while by now -- this being Pond's fifth official outing -- and their chemistry shows, made evident by some seriously extreme shifts in signatures and dynamics. Choice cuts "Aloneaflameaflower" and "Giant Tortoise" both demonstrate this range, propelled by crystalline, echo-laden vocals in slow, dreamy verses, before breaking hard into crazed drumming and fist-pumping Sabbath-influenced guitar riffs. While the fidelity is blown out to the red and hooks aren't as obvious this time (nothing is as instantly hummable as "When It Grows"), the Australian five-piece's arrangements are more schizophrenic and articulately structured, so it's a nice return to the spacy weirdness of their earlier outings when special guest Cowboy John (who is credited as a mystic, wanderer, and eccentric) takes over on vocal duties for the title track, slurring on about riding the cosmic express to find a horse with wings. Wide-eyed wonder still intact, there's a lot of depth to explore in the 30 minutes of Hobo Rocket, from bombastic glam, to chugging stoner rock, to colorful psychedelia -- all of it odd as usual.

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