Review: In The Ponds ‘The Last Stop Ranch’ EP

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, or have not read The Shaman in a fair while, you’ll doubtlessly know then that San Jose based husband-wife duo In The Ponds (David Perez – guitar, Jennifer Gigantino – bass) are personal favourites of mine. I’ve been in love with the band’s sound ever since the 2022 debut Polar Night EP emerged which was then followed by the Fever Canyon EP that came out in March this year (on my birthday in fact) and now, hot on its heels is this, their most recent release The Last Stop Ranch EP.

In The Ponds 'The Last Stop Ranch' EP Artwork
In The Ponds ‘The Last Stop Ranch’ EP Artwork

Very little has changed with the band since their formation over the Covid period, the line-up has of course remained consistent, their work has once again been mixed by Entelodon Records (to whom they are signed) head honcho Art Bertik and features yet more fabulous artwork courtesy of Jennifer Gigantino. Regarding the latter, it’s interesting to note that the ‘vessel’ which was featured on last year’s aforementioned debut makes a reappearance, but in a long abandoned state, whether there is an overarching linked theme to this, my guess is as good as yours. I’m just excited to have new music so soon and look forward to delving further into this here review.

You Can Kill Me Anytime, despite its grim sounding title feels relatively upbeat taking as it does classic ‘70s hard rock as its tonal inspiration to produce what is a pretty rocking little number. I’m also reminded of Spirit Caravan, what with the heavy psych stoner-ish element, it’s really quite fantastic, it shows another side to the band and that there is a little dirt underneath the fingernails in amongst the beauty. The last minute or so nods to the band’s trademark mellow sound, recalling, as it does, the blissful surf rock of Pekka Laine, a lesson in reverb perfection making for what is a truly spectacular opener.

exquisitely and meticulously crafted with panache and intelligence…

Playing With Matches is rampant psychedelia and presented in a far more overt way than was hinted at by its predecessor. This wasn’t what I was expecting from a band whose primary focus, until now, seemed to be serene and atmospheric Ennio Morricone ambient post-rock. This is far more along the lines of Greek psych crew Naxatras or Germany’s Samsara Blues Experiment, a welcome surprise for sure.

Hide And Seek is the longest track on The Last Stop Ranch at well over four minutes and its most bluesy, it’s like the spirit of Buddy Guy had possessed Perez during the writing process and had him wailing away like it was the late ‘50s/early ‘60s. It’s the most expressive I’ve heard Perez across the three EPs and if like me you have little to no time for outright show off shredder types such as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, then this track proves to be the perfect antidote to that. It’s an example of someone who can play with enormous technical skill and ability but also soul and raw emotion. A fine way to conclude proceedings.

At the start of the review, I was a little mystified by the EPs artwork and concept but I now sense it to be a metaphor for new beginnings for In The Ponds. It implies a rougher, harder edge to the band’s sound, one that is effectively a world away from their first couple of releases (especially Polar Night). However, it’s also one that is exquisitely and meticulously crafted with panache and intelligence, that typifies the project as a whole. Check it out ASAP.

Label: Entelodon Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Spotify | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills