Oh, wow. Here’s a long-forgotten one from the Ass Ponys. The Known Universe is from 1996.
When I got The Known Universe, I was listening to lots of alt-country. Bands like the Old 97s and Whiskeytown were always playing. A friend suggested this one to me, too, and right from the first time I listened to it, I thought it was really great. I’d heard a couple of songs off the Ass Ponys’ previous album, Electric Rock Music, and thought they were okay, but figured I’d try this one out. For what seems like years, it never left my CD player.
The songs on all have a strange charm to them, off-balance, and odd, but they make it work. They’ve figured out how to get the most out of it, and it’s stunning what they did in places. I’d list songs to pick, but straight through they’re all pretty good, and everything on the first half is incredibly strong. The twangy guitars, Chuck Cleaver’s falsetto. It all comes together peftectly. Rather than listing off all the songs, you should track down this CD if you haven’t heard it before.
Like lots of albums, it gets a little tired toward the end, but with the strength of the first half, that’s forgivable. If I had to pick a couple of standouts, I’d say “Under Cedars and Stars,” followed by “Blow Oskar,” and “Cancer Show,” but you really can’t go wrong anywhere. “And She Drowned,” there; another.
Not only am I glad to have come back to this one, you should go out and grab a copy as soon as you can.