Release Date: Aug 6, 2013
Record label: Modular Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Pond have completely lost it. They've lost their minds, lost their idea of structure, and have completely lost their crippling "Aren't those just the guys from Tame Impala?" association. While most will immediately lump all of those Perth bands from down under together, it should be Hobo Rocket that splits that nonsense and allows Pond to be noticed for making one of 2013's most entertaining listens of the year.
Psych and garage musicians go to great lengths to recreate the analog past. Therefore, there must be a crap-load of bruised egos screaming in jealous rage, because a group of kids on the West coast of Australia have perfected a sound that many have dedicated their careers to. Tame Impala guru Kevin Parker gets the bulk of the press, but Pond are likely the nucleus of Perth's forward-thinking (and backwards-sounding) rock scene.
What happens when a million heads collide? A Perthadelic mind-splurge, that’s what. To simplify matters, let’s start with just two: Kevin Parker and Nick Allbrook, Tame Impala’s singer and ex-bassist respectively, and the two biggest heads in the burgeoning Perth psych scene. Whenever Parker was locked away to single-handedly pull Tame’s albums out of God’s nostril, Allbrook was busy with his own astral pop projections.
Review Summary: A psychedelic freak-fest.For anyone who isn't quite familiar with Perth's cosmic wunderkinds, Pond have steadily been gathering a lot of mainstream recognition as distinguished gurus in the current re-blooming of the psychedelic mindset. Although Pond shares most of its members with Tame Impala, and even cater to a similar demographic, each band offers their own distinctive brand of '60s-inspired psychedelia. In fact, it's almost like we're being given two different stylings of the same entrée.
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.
With Tame Impala trailblazing the way across the globe for Australian psychedelic rock, their less heralded Perth cousins Pond have been consistently releasing similar neo-psychedelia since their 2009 debut Psychedelic Mango. Indeed, no sooner than Hobo Rocket hits stores but another album is due to swiftly follow, with Man It Feels Like Space Again having been part recorded at the same time. There are strong ties between the two Perth bands, with two of Pond’s current line-up also being members of Tame Impala; a third, frontman Nick Allbrook, recently quit his Tame Impala bass duties only to be replaced by another Pond member, the non-bassist Cam Avery.
Pond shares three-fifths of its membership with Perth, Australia's Tame Impala and plays a similar breed of psych rock, so if you were swept up in the hype of TI's last album, Lonerism, you've already got an entry point into Hobo Rocket. But it's hardly a clone of its breakout brother. Sure, Pond have a similar interest in the classic period where blues, folk and pop artists started experimenting with acid, but they're much more Zeppelin II than Sgt.
Pond's Hobo Rocket is an exercise in organized chaos. When the band organizes its classic rock tendencies, hammering down power chords and feeding a hunger for severe fuzzy guitar freakouts, it makes for a perfect storm. Here, the '70s merge with today, creating timeless songs that get inside your head. .
I requested this as I liked the Portland, Oregon, trio with this name which in the early ‘90s released three overlooked albums on SubPop. Hoping for a comeback or at least a lost record release, I opened the download link to learn that Hobo Rocket is the fifth CD from this Perth band, founded five years ago and aiming now for an American breakthrough. Sharing ties to fellow Australian psychedelic revivalists Tame Impala, this resembles their neighbors’ newest record Lonerism strongly, as three members are in both bands.
Including two current members of Tame Impala and one ex-member in Nick Allbrook, Aussie band Pond are a slightly jokier but no less productive relation to their more successful alter ego. Allbrook recently described their fifth album (since 2009, with another already in the can) as being suitable for "weddings, bar mitzvahs and falling backwards off not quite fatally high balconies". Don't try that at home, but they certainly provide something for every occasion as Hobo Rocket rampages through psychedelia, funk, 70s soft rock, grunge and even a shuffle rhythm in sprawling opener Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide.
Any band currently making ol’ fashioned psychedelic pop-rock will be measured against Tame Impala’s modern masterpiece Lonerism and Pond has it especially tough: the Australian group shares two members with Tame Impala and is likely to be considered a side project even though Hobo Rocket is their fifth album. In fact, when Pond frontman Nick Allbrook left Tame Impala to focus on his various projects, he was replaced by another current member of Pond. So while there isn’t a competition between the two, there is an implict sibling rivalry; while the two bands share DNA, one is the genial, goofy ne'er do well counterpart to their more accomplished brother.
Sharing three members with fellow psychedelic sons Tame Impala, the Perth-based band, Pond, have a similar paisley-printed sensibility. Tame Impala’s recently departed bassist Nick Allbrook leads the reeling Pond, a collective less focused on crafting psych-pop numbers and more on riffing on feeling. The ensemble’s magnificent 2012 release Beard, Wives, Denim was grainy in the right spots and space-rock smooth in the gaps.
It’s a good rule of thumb for social media that if you’re getting something for free, you’re probably the product, but what’s the dynamic like when you’re the one getting the product but none of the enjoyment? Such is listening to Hobo Rocket, an occasionally thrilling record that feels like it was more fun to make than it is to listen to. It’s a shame, to be honest; in the lead-up to Hobo dropping, Pond frontman Nick Allbrook wound down his role in sister band Tame Impala, and with this album coming on the heels of last year’s promising, freewheeling, but unfocused Beard, Wives, Denim, it felt like Pond had it in them to be a concise, freaky, counterpoint to Lonerism’s steely hypnagogia. Yet, here they just feel like The Attractions next to Elvis Costello.
It used to be that psychedelic rock was about expanding your senses, as a salvo of gnarly fuzz guitars, hallucinatory visions, and acid-inspired sounds would ease your mind into a good trip. It’s still a common debate whether half of the acts in the sixties actually were truly influenced by psychotropic drugs, but it was more plausible then to believe that it was such the case. There’s no doubt that the current surge of psych rock comes from an appeal to follow a counterculture mindset, though the differential parameters now are much less discernible.
Pond first bubbled into life, allegedly underneath a Mulberry tree, a mere five years ago. Since that first conversation about alchemising magical psychedelia, the band have released four albums. ‘Hobo Rocket’ is their fifth. That’s a stream of constant activity that has only been surpassed by Rihanna and her #777 antics as of late.Pond aren’t album machines, though.
It can sometimes be difficult to take Pond seriously, with their muddled together but frenetic collage of rock and roll, created by wide-eyed young men abundant with energy and with a devoted grasp of the absurd. With Beard Wives Denim and now Hobo Rocket, they have consolidated themselves as the more fun and rambunctious younger brother of Tame Impala, with the latter's two albums firmly informed by Kevin Parker's more misanthropic decree. Pond, led by the eccentric man-boy Nick Allbrook who left Tame Impala in May 2013, are a band exaggerated, forever young, and in some ways a bit preposterous with their high camp theatre and psychedelic rock that seems like a soundtrack to a kitsch rock opera at times.
It initially seemed odd that Nick Allbrook, bassist of Tame Impala would jump ship right after the release of the band’s critically acclaimed sophomore album Lonerism. But now that jump doesn’t seem so unusual. Pond, the psych-rock side project of Allbrook and fellow Tame Impala member Jay Watson, started out as a simple supplemental creative outlet.
Tame Impala’s sky-rocketed success last year, off the back of their sophomore scorcher Lonerism, had many wondering if fellow Perth psychedelic rockers Pond were just behind them in line to take on the mantle of Australia’s Next Big Thing. After all, the two Aussie bands share the same hometown, record label, operate within a similar generic space, and even have some of the same members (though Pond is a collective, where folks seem to come and go). Pond, too, delivered a solid release last year in Beard, Wives, Denim, their fourth LP, which had a certain leading UK music publication lauding them as ‘The Hottest New Band In The World’ (while Lonerism went on to take their Best Release of 2012 prize).