Ponychase – Ponychase (EP) (self-released)

ponychase_epWhen you think of Nashville chances are that post-punk and synth-pop don’t spring to mind. On their debut self-titled 6-song mini-album, Nashville quartet Ponychase set out to change that.

The name Ponychase was the pseudonym given to a series of home demos recorded by Jordan Caress.  A quick Google search of her name will show that prior to Ponychase, Caress had been associated with a number of country, folk, and rock projects including Americana band, Korean Is Asian. Through a serendipitous meeting Caress found Beth Cameron (singer/songwriter and guitarist) formerly of beloved Nashville rock band Forget Cassettes. The two exchanged demos with Cameron signing up soon after. Jordan then enlisted her brother Alex Caress to play synths and electronic drummer Brian Sinskind, thus Ponychase was born.

While a full-length album featuring the full band is due later this year, those original demos form what is Ponychase’s debut release, which gratefully came to our attention thanks to its mention in a recent Rough Trade newsletter.

From the opening notes of “Cup of Hearts”, the listener is lured in by its warm atmospheric synths, SDS 5 electronic drums, and lush and breathy vocals, which combine to forms a sound that harkens straight back to the early eighties. Its hooks are immediate, its chorus sublime, and mood evocative. Like a cross between Cocteau Twins and Beach House, “Cup of Hearts” is a mesmerising and stunning pop number of the highest calibre.

More experimental in arrangement, “Two Times” continues with the lush atmospheric Cocteau Twins-like template, at times sounding uncannily like Elizabeth Fraser. The uptempo “It’s A Curse” follows and is characterized by chorus-driven guitar lines, ethereal double-tracked vocals, and layered by danceable synth rhythms. A brilliant track, which boasts melodies not unlike that of HAIM, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise since both bands have a mutual admiration for 80’s pop. On that note, Ponychase certainly deserve the level of acclaim that the aforementioned buzz band are currently enjoying.

Nashville is of course home to world-class singer-songwriters and on their debut release Ponychase clearly exhibit their appreciation of and talent for great songwriting.  However, they also demonstrate that while they’re able to create pop hooks aplenty, their songs have style and substance as shown in “Bad Seed”, a dark and moody pop track  that shows signs of Caress’ country/folk roots in its melody, and the emotive closing track “Brainwasher”.

“Believer” is another stunning uptempo number that invokes Stevie Nicks with a dash of melancholy; an absolute tour de force, which along with opening track “Cup of Hearts”, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better synth-pop track all year.

A stunning introduction to this exciting new band, the self-titled mini-album from Ponychase was released back on 8 November, 2012 and is available digitally via the Ponychase Bandcamp. The EP was also released in the U.K.  earlier this month on 10″ vinyl with hand-cut sleeves, limited to just 200 units.

Stream the entire mini-album below: