I love any album that makes me question my own sanity for liking it. Hot Head Show’s “The Lemon EP” is one of those albums…wherein a band has such unorthodox song “structures” and “melodies” and play them with such fluidity and cohesion that they make sense through conviction.
The Pony Express Record is one of those discs for me, mixing oddly groovin’ dischordant riffs with lead vocalist (and cancer survivor!!) Craig Wedren waxing post-modern-poetic-philosophic with a melodic sense that is confounding while finding just enough hook as on X-French Tee Shirt.
Whenever I have those momentary doubts about my sanity and/or taste in music, I just remind myself of my father introducing me to Morton Subotnick’s “Silver Apples of the Moon” at the tender young age of 5. My father taught music for 50 years, continues to write classical compositions and always had an open ear for the esoteric and avant-garde on his listening menu. So it’s all his fault. lol
In many ways, Shudder To Think reminds me of a slicker-yet-more-wacked-out version of Toadies…especially on songs like Hit Liquor and 9 Fingers On You (which would be a nice companion piece to Toadies’ What We Have We Steal). This is guitar rock with a most bizarre sense of normalcy and conviction…an album that, 16 years later, I believe was way ahead of its time even in the alternative boom.
Intelligent and diverse with just enough hooks to keep hold of you and draw you into their sometimes psychedelic alter-universe, Shudder To Think’s unique personality is on full display here, from the acoustic-sway-to-dischordant-mantra of No Rm. 9, Kentucky to the stop/start charm of Chakka to the closest thing resembling an orthodox single – the aforementioned X-French Tee Shirt. Their take on music is so unique, you’d never recognize So Into You as a cover of the classic Atlanta Rhythm Section song.
The Pony Express Record is not a disc that will necessarily smack you upside the head at first. Rather, it draws you in and lures you back for repeated listens…until it all makes sense to you, and by then it’s too late anyway.
Rating: 4 out of 5