Jen (drums, vox) & Randy (guitar, lead vox, songwriting), the core of One Trick Pony, with Charlene (killer violin) and Josh (of Die Rockers Die – on acoustic bass).
On this cold and grey December day, it feels nearly impossible to kick into action. I tell our 8 year old I must go post One Trick Pony, and she exclaims, “One Trick Pony! They’re old!”. In other words, snap to it.
I think I’ve been stalling a bit, and part of it is their complexity. You see, One Trick Pony is really good. Somehow, their sound energetically evokes similarities to a freaky range of artists (Elliot Smith, The Ramones, Vampire Weekend, David Bowie, The Sex Pistols, Al Stewart, Jack White/The Raconteurs). But One Trick Pony truly defies comparison. Which is a good thing.
Their music goes in comfortably for the most part, like a wet kiss (although Molten Light is more a jagged shard of broken window pane). But One Trick Pony’s songs are most certainly viruses that continue to multiply once they’ve taken hold within their host. They grow on you. They invite deeper exploration. They offer depth and range of experience and contemplation. They’re like Pepto Bismol entwined with the stomach flu. Or the gift and trevail of being. They require absorption as well as active digestion.
Jen and Randy are unmistakably intense human beings. Randy, writer, lead singer and guitarist, comes across mellow. He’s softer on the outside, quiet, maybe even a little down. His liquid vocal, mature subject matter and acoustic delivery at times suggest Elliot Smith. He seems to be rooted comfortably in his internal creative landscape and seamlessly shares entree to that universe through fluid delivery of sophisticated lyrics. Jen, drummer and complimentary vocalist, comes in a more tightly-wound wrapper. She’s the business half – a communicator, responsible, organized, on top of stuff. Her concise packaging retains a still focus and piercing concentration. She is effective, precise. Jen’s high vocals are haunting, stealth, wispy apparitions judiciously interjected for maximum effect.
Diagonal Waves is a lush musical reincarnation of Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat. The infectious phrasing has been rattling around with me like a distant memory of some rainy day ball either dreamed up or attended far in the past. It finally hit me in bed last night. I had to look up the artist – all I had was a title and an inkling of Alan Parsons, who produced it and its sibling, Time Passages, both from the mid 1970s.
Randy’s writing eerily invites and intrigues, often lulling with a flow similar to Al Stewart’s, but lyrically jolting and rife with dissonant themes. His voice moves from rooted in jazzy smooth to spookily disquieting to a Bowie-like wail (Diagonal Waves): “You don’t know all the things I’ve tried…” ; “…transplants, no roots, we bear no fruit…”
Masonry is a sleepy Calypso which speaks in the weirdest way about love and loss and ends with “I wish your love was enough.”
Phone Book similarly lures musically and beckons suspiciously, “Trust me, I’m the only friend you’ve got…”
Molten Light’s high hollow vocals and content lurk eerily – worse than fingernails on a chalk board.
The dynamic pair that forms the core of One Trick Pony exudes flexible elusiveness in their music. With additional support from expert violinist Charlene and Josh, solid on the bass, the sum of their intention is plenty bigger than the pieces added together at face value. One Trick Pony have left themselves room to grow. Brace yourself for surprises and developments they’ll come up with next.
Listen to the tracks (option/click to download):
Watch for and buy One Trick Pony’s new album and their upcoming Luxury Wafers Live EP, all original songs.