Typically, when someone talks about guitars “wailing” I picture Eddie Van Halen perpetuating the high note in a garish solo.  Matt Robidoux’s playing on Pony Bones II is much truer to the notion--his guitar actually sounds pained.  Notes sound worked for, like they’re being dug out or flicked off of the instrument.  It’s not always impeccable playing in a technical sense, but it’s stylish and engaging, the right voice for these intensely bizarre riffs.


The other member of Pony Bones is drummer, Kate Hanlon. Her playing ranges from freakishly free (“Crystal Key”) to centered and groovy (the first beat in “Clyfford”) to blasting (“Instrument There”).  She sneaks some fancy moves into the more explosive parts.  Her drumming sounds natural while avoiding anything too familiar.  I’m sure it helps that the songs don’t sound particularly familiar.


Pony Bones II is noisy enough to confuse the hell out of my grandmother, but there’s a prettiness that works its way out of all the spooky note choices, rhythmic oddities, and crunchy Sonic Youth chords.  It sounds like the band takes pleasure in punishing their instruments a bit, so the album’s a fun listen.  Pony Bones II is unified by the musical personalities of the members and by the production, which isn’t completely raw, more like medium-rare.  Otherwise the songs could have each been written by a different band––so if you don’t like one, hit “skip.”


- Tyler Burdwood