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The Jesus Ponies - 'Conditional Love Casino' Album Review


1. Come Along For The Ride

2. Online

3. Kar Krash

4. Saints

5. MFC

6. Cut

7. Mary Goes Around

8. Inhaler

9. Leave It to Me

10. Olde White Ghost

Do you remember back to a time when Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden pummeled the music industry into submission, changing the musical landscape of Rock forever? Do you love the sound of retro and vintage equipment? Do you enjoy the sound of two friends creating music that they love just for the sheer hell of it?

Then the Jesus Ponies could just be your new favourite band.

The Jesus Ponies are primarily two musicians, Byron Carrick and Ben Hall who both share lead vocal duties as well as an array of guitars on each song. Their debut album, "Conditional Love Casino", has been slowly gestating in the dark recesses of their minds for the past couple of years, layers of prime-Sabbath riffing balanced with some fine hints of some Punk approach and attitude. And I like it. Oh I like it a hell of a lot.

The album lures you in with 'Come Along For The Ride', a riff that constantly taps away at you like a finger on your forehead whilst Byron try to seduce you into the Ponies vehicle of choice before everything fully kicks in just over a minute in producing a song that beats you into submission with a vocal that sounds like a hybrid of Jim Morrison, Iggy Pop and Chris Cornell, before descending into a bizarre conversation between two guys talking about love as someone covers Bad Company in the background.

'Online' starts a bit more understated and gentler than it's predecessor, giving Ben his time to shine with his first main vocal. Ben is a solo musician in his own right, releasing previous albums "Move" and "Bright Side/Dark Side", both of which have certainly influenced the feel of this song. It's a lot more relaxed and gentle, allowing your senses to be soothed before 'Kar Krash' comes along and just slaps you back awake. The song is certainly a lot punkier and heavier, reminding me of the Melvins with an absolute killer solo, dripping in feedback and noise that gets the hair on the back of my neck standing to attention.'Saints' drops the pace back down with Byron delivering a wonderfully smooth vocal.

The punkier vibe returns with 'MFC' which wouldn't sound out of place if it was by Jello Biafra. The bass drives 'Cut', a fast paced, vocally distorted beast of a song along at a furious pace. 'Mary Goes Around' mellows everything out a bit and is one of my favourites on the album. If you were given it cold you would probably say think that it was an unreleased track from "Down On The Upside", one of Soundgarden's finest albums. Again the music, lyrics and vocals make it sound like prime Chris Cornell, only a lot less screechy and more psychedelic. The Cornell comparisons (and I mean this in a good way) are there on 'Inhaler' too.

The album closes with Ben Hall taking over the microphone for the final two tracks. Mike Bolenbach, owner of Full Well Recording Studios and honourary Pony, adds some great production polish to 'Leave It To Me' as he does with the entire album. There's some great sounds and performances he's coaxed from the performers (who are finished off by Phil Janzen and Gary Bruzzese on drums and Bryan Dague on bass). The acoustic led 'Olde White Ghost' closes off the album in style, all space, reverb and jangling guitars, Ben's vocals sending shivers up your spine. An outstanding closer, especially on headphones.

The album is only available to buy or stream digitally, although you can buy a purple splattered vinyl version from Bandcamp (the Ponies being audiophiles have had a limited batch pressed). This is the perfect way to listen to it, as well as looking at the cover art, a cool piece by the late artist Michael Maglich (Byron's step father) from the series "The Top 40 Of The Prehistoric Southwest".

I don't know what they're putting in the water down in Arizona, but it certainly needs to be delivered world wide, and these Ponies the perfect delivery team.

Review - Scott Hamilton

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