I’ve only recent caught on to the wonderful music that Ponderosa is putting out. Based out of Atlanta, Ponderosa aren’t afraid of wearing their influences on their sleeves and adding subtle twists to their sounds to create something that’s unique in its own sense, but still straddling close to home base. It’d be easy to say that they’re a My Morning Jacket/Band of Horses knock-off because quite frankly they’ve got astounding amounts of similarity, guitars that are laden with delay and reverb and equally ethereal vocal melodies driven home by powerful harmonies. However, if your only drawback is sounding too much like another stellar band then my opinion is that you’re doing something right. Studio recordings can warrant these comparisons, but when it comes to live shows Ponderosa brings an intensity that supersedes these expectations.
The show kicked off with a local act, The Cousins. I went into this show blind to their music and not knowing what to expect, and while the band was incredibly tight for it being one of their first shows together, the tunes just weren’t really up to par for the kind of night I was expecting at Kings. While I’m not saying lineups need to be cookie-cutter and a band should sound like their headliner, I certainly wasn’t expecting a Diet Drive By Truckers. The Cousins combined the grit and intensity of southern driven indie rock tunes with classic rock sentiments of clean electric leads that glide in and out with the rise and fall of their mostly static melodies. While they certainly filled the room with energy and excitement, I just couldn’t get into their music. They did it in for me when they pulled out their Merle Haggard, “Long Black Veil” cover…and maybe that’s just because I’ve been spoiled to a personal treat of watching Mandolin Orange cover the tune with Josh Oliver and Josh Moore, but their modern-classic rock take on the country classic just did nothing for me. There’s definitely promise within the band, but the songwriting and composition needs a bit of improvement before I go singing any praises.