Ass Ponys


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"Last Night It Snowed" begins as a gentle ballad, caressed by a quiet piano and sung with a heartfelt longing. Of course that's before an electric guitar kicks in, bringing a cowpunk assault down upon the unsuspecting listener's ears. What follows is a fairly eclectic and somewhat depressing alternative country album released by Checkered Past, the label that "loves misery." Like labelmates 16 Horsepower, the Ass Ponys' dour disposition seems incapable of finding much hope and sunshine in the world. The subdued opening of "Donald Sutherland" lifts the spirits a bit until Chuck Cleaver sings, "When the moment finally comes/I could be the trigger, you could be the gun/That blows out the back of my skull." Of course odd lyrics come part and parcel with Cleaver's point of view, mixing cultural references -- Big Macs, the TV series Kung Fu -- with deep philosophy. An acoustic guitar lays down a nice base for "Dried Up," a standout track that vividly contrasts being young and alive to losing one's edge and "drying up." "Baby in a Jar" is a fun track, recalling the warped world of the Bad Livers. While Lohio has a number of promising moments, one cannot help but feel that a trip to the Caribbean or perhaps a healthy dose of Prozac would help to lift the Ass Ponys' sagging spirits. Fans, however, will be pleased that the band has survived a bout with a major label and is still offering its unblinking vision of life in the gutter.

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