Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I Like Listening to Ponies in the Surf

I don’t exactly remember the first time I listened to Ponies in the Surf. I think it must have been in 2004 at a show they played somewhere in Boston at a place where they served beer and there was art hanging on the walls, but I can’t be any more specific than that.

I watched them up on stage, just the two of them, brother Alexander and sister Camille. I watched the way they interacted. I watched how she stood still and gracefully stiff, clutching her microphone in her little hands, while he sat and played an orchestra out of his guitar. I watched the way they looked at one another, how she followed his fingers up and down the neck so that she knew when to sing the next harmonic note on time with her in-his-own-world-melody-making brother.

I felt a connection to them right away. Maybe it was because I had been in their place before. I had studied the changes and cues of my own in-his-own-world-melody-making band mate; I had learned his own unlearnable, unpredictable, and fascinating indications of changes and progressions. I had, on many occasions, stood quietly and still on stage, as Camille did often throughout the set, watching her own band mate with pleasure, as though she were hearing the songs she had co-written for the very first time.

They impressed me with their stage presence. It seemed as though we might have been sitting in their living room while they played, and even in their living room they were as soft spoken, polite, and joyous as they were on stage.

I forget who they were opening for, we hadn’t come for the headlining act. And during the headlining act we stood around the Ponies in the Surf merchandise table, chatting sheepishly to the band that was so grateful we wanted to purchase their album, that they gave us a few free Ponies in the Surf buttons.

A demonstration is the kind of album where each time a new song comes on I think it’s my favorite, until I hear the next one. There is something sweet, something innocent, something French and polka dotted, something wildfloweresque about each song. There’s the long and catchy chorus of See You Happy, followed by a Linda Rich cover of More to Living which sounds so much like one of their own songs that I thought it was until I read the liner notes. I loved Ventricle so much that we covered it a few weeks later at a show we played in Boston, the parumpapumpum in Government Brand recalls for me my Burl Ives childhood, the lyrics to Je T’aime were written by their ten year old neice… I could go on.

Since a demonstration, Ponies in the Surf has come out with another album, Ponies on Fire, and there is talk of another, with some unreleased tracks available on their myspace site for listening and download.


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