Red Pony Clock

God Made Dirt

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It's not hard to be wary of an album that leads off with the words "My friends were all afraid things would change when I finally got laid," especially when it also includes a song called "There's Nothing Wrong with Getting High," but while these might seem like symptoms of a group of enlightened frat boys having their idea of fun, Red Pony Clock are thankfully up to something a good bit smarter and more interesting than that on their debut CD, God Made Dirt. Led by Gabe Saucedo and Tony Prudhome and accompanied by close to a dozen friends and co-conspirators, Red Pony Clock's music is a loose but ambitious amalgamation of horns, keys, strings, guitars, percussion, and assorted noisemakers that suggests Frank Zappa's level of ambition but with Camper Van Beethoven's brand of chops and a similarly goofy sort of musical wanderlust lurking amidst the wheezy horns, clunky keyboards, and shaky but sincere harmonies. While there's a lot of humor on God Made Dirt, there's not a lot of purposeless silliness; the hapless indie rockers of "Don't Forget Who Your Friends Are" all but cower in recognition of their fate, the luckless sad sack of "The Hardest Half" is far too normal a guy to not be easily recognizable, and "The World" flirts with being moving in its portrait of a life that's flawed but full of possibilities. When they're being silly, Red Pony Clock do so without sounding foolish, and even when it seems as if they could use another rehearsal or two, the pieces fit just well enough to make it the picture work; this is smart music that doesn't bother being pretentious, and fun that isn't afraid of life's weighty stuff. A promising and surprising debut.

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