Review: Album Review: The Pondarosa Glee Boys – Awake – An album for a generation, ready for a music revolutionFebruary 16, 2020
When you think of bands founded in 1978 your mind visualises the punk rock scene that led to the heavy indie we love today. Old school pioneers of a pre-indie era that got forgotten in the wave of insidious pop, and relentless monotone ballads. However, it’s not that I long to go back to a time when I looked good in leather and got wasted on a school night. Bands like The Ponderosa Glee Boys have survived the barrage of money-making corporates and have made it to a point in time where original music played with thought-provoking meaning is again listened to by the young, faithful and influential alike. Raw and merciless tracks mirroring a life that at best is complicated and at worst mundane.
Founded in Liverpool in 1978, The Ponderosa Glee Boys come from a punk heritage and were part of Liverpool’s scene, whose nucleus was at Eric’s, an infamous Liverpool live music venue. Masters of a live gig, The Ponderosa Glee Boys were signed by Liverpool’s independent label Inevitable Records. Quickly establishing a cult following they started to gain radio play. In 1980-81 taking part in the John Peel sessions on Radio 1. Moving onto different projects within the music industry Pondarosa Glee Boys stopped gigging in 1982.
Reforming in 2017 to perform at a charity event for the homeless in Liverpool, there was a resurgence of interest in their sound. Recording the single Awake on the Eric’s 77 label The Ponderosa Glee Boys received acclaimed reviews of their new tracks. In 2018 they recorded the album Awake on PunkTown Records releasing the album in December 2019, there is talk of a second album in 2020. The current Ponderosa Glee Boys line up is Carl Eaton (Vocals), guitarist Mike Mooney (Echo & The Bunnymen, Psychedelic Fur), bassist Phil Hartley (Super Fast Girlie Show, Space) and drummer Mark Robson (Rain, Psycamesh).
Awake kicks off with Liar, a politically driven track that starts with a clip from one of Trumps ludicrous speeches. Launching straight into a righteous guitar driven reply, Ponderosa Glee Boys defiantly reject the notion and turn the tides back, guitars laughing with controlled sanity. Carl’s vocals dry and dark pointing a razor like finger of disapproval, lyrics jumping to the drumbeat. There is an infectious chorus with a driven tempo that moves through the track, guitars mocking as the lyrics wrap themselves around the drum and base.
A distant beat pushes into the path of the base in The Light Pours Out of Me. The base smooth and cool against the beats. Glorious punk rock guitar riffs take the centre stage creating an earworm that resonates inside your head. The vocals dismissive and insolent, another texture to the delicious layers of musical genius. The drum carries the track forward with constant head twitching rhythms, guitars almost shouting, the base punching through with the vocals raising the bar yet higher. Guitar solos surf into the track with a wave of rock riffs crashing into the punk style vocals, a melting pot of energy, the ear worm digging deeper. The Light Pours Out of Me awesome.
These Are the Day’s is everything I love about music, wrapped up in one track. It has a darkness of mood that reaches out its cold hand and holds you tight, transfixed by its grip, you don’t want to break free. The lyrics bleed through the layers of dirty guitars, the vocals touching every nerve in their bleakness. The base toys with the drums as the guitar tells’ its woeful tale breaking out into screams, filling the track with energy. These Are the Days melts, reforms and melts again reshaping through every section, introducing new sounds and emotion. Carl has the most unique vocals that twist as the tempo changes, feeding from the dirty riffs and circling drums. This track makes me want to see The Ponderosa Glee Boys live.
The base stomps in creating the backdrop, Take a Good Look at Yourself. Vocals honestly delivered with a slap of irony. The guitars siren a warning, drums smashing through picking up the melody that webs its way through the chorus. Vocals soften but push harder with realism, running parallel to lyrics that mirror a confused and complicated life. I love the way the guitars break out with a gorgeous harshness that gives that ear worm a sharper cutting edge. Again, Ponderosa Glee Boys design layers of sound, pulled together perfectly in this hard-hitting track, delivered with a gentle wrath of realism.
Awake is a 10-track album with a punk rock edge. Comin’ To Get Ya! has punk aggressively stamped on it, with an anti-establishment finger up attitude. It’s Sick with its merry go round riffs and hard guitars, pushing punk into a rock juggernaut, with no fear. So Cold and Can You Feel My Pain lowering the tone with a trip into that awkward place we all avoid; yet live with, next to or in. An underlying anger in youth replaced with a fury in age, a white noise in the head. Wake Up has a haunting line that runs through it. Unashamedly rock guitars and vocals set on fire with rage. It’s got an early goth feel and breaks the punk rock boundaries with blasé, moving between the genres. So Much Better, an electro punk rendition shouts out. The guitars running through a concrete street in the dead of night. Vocals resistant and defiant in pursuit.
Awake encompasses everything that was great in punk rock before downloads and Spotify, whilst stepping unwavering into this new brutal world we live in. Unbending in its delivery The Ponderosa Glee Boys have produced an album for a generation, ready for a music revolution.
Purchase the Album via PunkTown Records