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"Navajo" by Ponderosa
With a classic whiskey-soaked roadhouse sound, Atlanta-based Ponderosa began when singer and guitarist Kalen Nash met guitarist Kris Sampson at Atlanta’s Nickel & Dime recording studio, where Sampson was serving as head engineer. The two discovered a musical affinity and began tracking with area players J.T. Hall (bass and vocals), John Dance (organ and keyboards), and Darren Dodd (drums and vocals), quickly generating a raw but well-crafted version of Southern roots rock. Rosa (as the band is known to fans) was born. An independently released EP called Moonlight Revival appeared in 2010, but after a series of impassioned performances as the opening act for the Whigs, Shooter Jennings, Old 97's and others, and impressive appearances at the Austin City Limits and Voodoo Music festivals, the group was signed to New West Records. Working with producer Joe Chiccarelli, Rosa released their full-length debut, also called Moonlight Revival, on New West Records early in 2011. The group's second effort, Pool Party, released just a year later, is a whole other matter. Produced by Dave Fridmann of Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev fame, Pool Party is full of echoing vocals, muted guitars, backwards guitars, dreamy keyboards, neo-psychedelic touches and an air of care and importance that puts them a lot closer on this outing to a dollar store version of the Flaming Lips than it does the Blasters, say, and it is such a pronounced change of direction, it should almost be looked at as a different band, or a second debut album. It's beautifully recorded, sounding like it was tracked in the angels' own heavenly pool room, and the vocals soar and echo in space like the angels singing.