San Diego's Red Pony Clock succeed thanks to a dizzying balance between ambition and despair. The 10-piece's horn- and string-spackled songs aim for soaring, sing-along status, but what really makes it all work is how Gabe Saucedo's low-key vocals — and the group's ramshackle playing — manage to strengthen the proceedings rather than undercut them. When you realize, hey, these dudes are just dudes, it's not a man-behind-the-curtain moment but a "there is no curtain" moment.
A perfect introduction, then, is 2011 album Whatevs Forevzzz's "Image Is Nothing (Thirst Is Everything)," which quixotically takes Grant Hill's ingenious '90s Sprite commercials at face value. In the same spirit, the brand-new video directed by Red Pony Clock member Gerry Saucedo is a fantastical yet self-mocking depiction of the band surviving a doomed airplane flight. "Let's accept that we're totally fucked," Saucedos et al. conclude, going down in glorious, mariachi-accented flames like so many rock-star dreams. Everybody dies, but not everybody lives, and stuff.
Red Pony Clock are working on a 2014 album titled O What a Tangled Web We Skeeve. It'll be out, once again on HHBTM, which is run by Athens, Georga's Wuxtry Records store manager Mike Turner. The label also scored a coup not long ago by putting out a Joanna Gruesome 7-inch a year ahead of the Welsh noise-pop band's recent Slumberland debut album.