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Pondhawks - Blue Light

  by Lisa Torem

published: 6 / 9 / 2016

Pondhawks - Blue Light
Label: Riverpool Records
Format: CD


Delightful third album and first in four years from Beatles-influenced Chicago-based pop outfit, the PondHawks

The jingly-jangly, Chicagoland-based Pondhawks, which formed in 2007, received positive acclaim on 2010’s ‘The Pondhawks Have Landed’ and 2012’s ‘Dreaming Over Ireland’. Their international fans will be happy to know that their long-awaited, ten-tracked ‘Blue Light’ is now also available. The new album features George-Harrisonesque guitar solos, gentle, evocative love songs and a treasure chest of original sonics. Those familiar with the trio, which consists of lead singer/multi-instrumentalist Mario Novelli, vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist Jorie Gracen and vocalist/guitarist Michael Gillespie, know that they care deeply about their story lines, thrive on vivid imagery and are very likely to dip into the Beatles’ early collections for inspiration. All ten tracks were composed by the clever songwriting team of Gracen/Novelli. The album begins with ‘Bitter Game’ and, although the theme is betrayal, their rendition is so textured that it’s hard to remain morose. The layered harmonies and earnest emotion draw one into the project immediately. ‘Far Away’ is also about the perils of irretrievable love. “We’re just making each other cry,” Novelli croons, yet he also concedes that the relationship had its moments: “Love brings us laughter/Love brings us tears.” Further along, he agrees: “Now you’re uncertain, you want to close the curtain.” There’s no need to spoil the ending. You’ll have to hear it for yourselves, but suffice to say it ends in a rather mysterious way. ‘Come Rain or Disarray’ finds the trio exploring dissonance and then settling down into some bright, colourful progressions. True to their psychedelic roots, Novelli sings, “Transcendental breeze serenades the trees.” Along the way, there are vivid splashes of textured colour, lingering riffery and the steady clang of the clave. Probably the most whimsical track is ‘Wire Me’. This one’s got a good, old-fashioned Stray Cats kind of rhythm. The escalating harmonies and engaging blues harp solo are unforgettable. The title song, ‘Blue Light', has a lovely, bittersweet sentiment reminiscent of The Beau Brummels’ ‘Just a Little’, the Hollies’ ‘Bus Stop’ or the Beatles’ ‘Thing We’ve Said Today’. The power of the meaty organ and haunting, descending bass line cannot be understated. ‘Rhythm and Purples’ also draws energy from the creative keyboard parts. The instrumental bridge forms a cool transition between verses. Not surprisingly, ‘Armadilla’ has a slight Americana feel. Novelli’s charming blues harp and mandolin interlude bring back fond memories of the Pondhawks' earlier balladry.

Track Listing:-
1 Bitter Game
2 Far Away
3 Come Rain or Disarray
4 Wire Me
5 Blue Light
6 Rhythm and Purples
7 Armadilla
8 Future in Our Hands
9 Incredible Dream
10 Orange Sunset Time

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Interview (2010)
Pondhawks - Interview
Lisa Torem speaks to Paul McCartney regular photographer Jorie Gracen and local actor Mario Novelli about their Chicago-based group the PondHawks and their much acclaimed debut album, 'The PondHawks Have Landed'

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Dreaming Over Ireland (2012)
Infectious and catchy harmonic pop on second album from Chicago-based alternative rock band, the PondHawks
The Pondhawks Have Landed (2010)

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