Here is the scoop on Ponytail’s Ice Cream Spiritual LP. Silly pun aside, it is tough to pin the tail on the genre (I can’t help myself sometimes), but most will rely on calling it art rock. For a band like Ponytail, the label is inescapable. If you are making bird calls, whoops and yips as your primary source of vocals, it is more art than rock. Acting against this inclination of *barf* art, is the rest of Ponytail’s source of sound. Remove Molly Siegel’s vocal styling and you have traces of every band that has ever been important to rock and roll. As the blistering beat drops out on “Sky Drool” a heavy bass drone accompanies a Townsend-like riff, begging to blowout my speakers, and I feel as though I have flash-backed to a Who record. Even before the power chords of “Sky Drool” hit, Siegel delivers a sexual croon reminiscent of Ann Wilson of Heart singing “Barracuda.”
The strangest facets of these classics are trapped within these three and a half minute songs- there's the possibility for Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, Led Zeppelin, and Television comparisons, fuck it, pick a band from the canon that has ever been called punk or hard rock or heavy metal and you will hear traces of it, even if only in a fleeting moment, on this record. With each listen I'm plagued with winking déjà vu, as if Ponytail is teasing my mind with referential rocking.
Sometimes the influence stretches further, like a guitar soliloquy on “G Shock” that sounds like an Axelrod interlude or the shoegaze drone of “Late For School”. It peters towards a meditative state with spiritual yelps and whoas that wail in the foreground, until Ponytail flips the script and turns the Theravada session into a karate fight soundtrack and I'm battling ninjas who want me to be tardy to class.
Curiously, my favorite Siegel contributions are her departures from animal sounds, which often arrive in poignant statements that escalate the milieu. On “Beg Waves” its her elation: “it's so big” she cries, her excitement complimenting the mammoth build of swirling guitars and tribal pounding. Her strength is her knack for the visceral noise, but Ponytail is all the more enjoyable when she breaks character to speak our language as well.
It should be noted that writing a review of Ice Cream Spiritual felt damn near impossible at times. I must have started “Beg Waves” ten times over, listening as the mechanical riffing rose from the ether and Molly Siegel gave her first birrrrrrd call, a spry “yeah” and yipping, anticipation overwhelming me and causing my arms to stiffen as I tried to put to words the heavy stomp and tumult of a perfect introduction. With each song a wild bonanza of riffs, thunderous drums and esoteric yelping, Ponytail conjures an attention deficit aural pleasure that offers little chance for a writer like myself to find his groove. It's a masterful take at cut-and-paste stylistics; these are jubilant vignettes piled over each other like (excuse the punning, one more time) triple scoops of ice cream.