Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

August 22, 2012

Pond ~ The Practice Of Joy Before Death

(No official website.)
Style: grunge, alt rock
Label: Sub Pop
Year: 1995
Home: Seattle (disbanded)

Members: Chris Brady ~ bass/vocals
Charlie Campbell ~ guitar/vocals
Dave Treibwasser ~ drums

Additional: Julie Weiss ~ b. vocals

A lot of folks say that there is no such thing as an explicit grunge sound. You can recognize heavy metal - even if you don't know power metal from thrash - you can recognize country, you can recognize blues, but what makes grunge different from any other 90's alternative rock? Is it location? Generally, yes. Personally, I believe that you have to be of the Pacific Northwest, either Oregon or Washington & maybe sometimes Vancouver British Columbia, to be grunge. But, many folks say that location is the starting point but not the ending point. They'll list bands from elsewhere, like Smashing Pumpkins. I'll let them in only because there's no other place to put them. Does location really make a difference? Yes, I've lived on both sides of the United States but grew up north of Seattle. People are different there. Life is different. It's very insular. While there are more variations in the grunge scene than not, I believe for the more underground raw style when you hear a grunge band you know it. You feel it. I'm not talking Alice In Chains. I'm talking Mudhoney or Screaming Trees. I'm talking the unsung grunge heroes who might be more grunge sounding than Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Also, I believe there are no grunge bands left. None of them lasted. But, what is the grunge sound? It's hard to describe. It's like describing the New York City sound. It's a dose of Sonic Youth, a lack of guitar solos & riffing or any real fancy playing, moody unassuming unpretentious lyrics that are not about your typical topics, a bit of a hypnotic feeling, less is more sparse production & a bit of a depressing feeling overall. Pacific Northwesteners, as we call the Washington-Oregon-Idaho & British Columbia, Canada region, are a moody lot. The music should reflect it. Pond falls right in this slot ... as comfortable a fit as any grunge band can fit in the awkward labeling system. If you don't know this is grunge on first listen, you don't know grunge. Grunge is a feeling & you're feeling ... well, you don't have it, sorry. Pond made three albums, this their second one is the strongest. Signed to the premiere grunge label Sub Pop they built a small following & gained postive reviews but never were able to fit into the scene. Maybe they were too clean-cut, or not moody enough, or too literary. Maybe their music was a bit too nice & not angsty enough, the guitars not fuzzy or wild enough. Maybe they were too experimental. Even after going major label they'd continue with positive reviews but no buying audience, a trend that would plague them till they split after doing only three albums. It's ashame, they're quite enjoyable. There's a few moments that are a bit too experimental, such as the tortured lo-fi acoustic "Union" & the Sonic Youth-esque "Mubby's Theme", "Carpenter Ant" & the noisy & directionless "Happy Cow Farm Family" & "Artifical Turf". Closer "Gagged & Bound" is a funky country tinged piece that's fun but not for everyone. I find the sitar & harmonica mix on "Sundial" fascinating but others might not. Pond is a bit too experimental for their own good, but it adds a bit of charm to the mix. But, besides these few bumps in the road I wish this was the sound of alt rock today. That's all I need really say about this album. That's the best endorsement I can make. Pond makes me nostalgic for a style of music I grew up with & didn't realize I missed until I heard them. There's something about a fuzzed up guitar that just sounds comforting. Check out the deftly grunge moments in "Sideroad", "Glass Sparkles In The Hair" & "Magnifier".

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