Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #35 Sept-Oct 2001

Ass Ponys

Lohio (Checkered Past)

Lohio is the most assured album in the Ass Ponys’ long career, and, despite their low profile, suggests that they are one of the finest working bands of their day. Combining an eclectic rock sensibility akin to early Wilco with the backwoods fatalism of the Handsome Family (“Donald Sutherland” could easily be a Handsomes cover), the Ass Ponys use the full resources of the studio this time to showcase each bandmember at the top of his game.

From the opening track, where a cheery winterscape is transformed by Dave Morrison’s Keith Moon-like flourishes into a thunderous blizzard, the rhythm section of Morrison and Randy Cheek catches perfectly the album’s sense of controlled desperation. Bill Alletzhauser’s brilliant guitar work is only enhanced by the obvious care taken in production this time; his carefully crafted solos open up “Fire In The Hole”, “Butterfly”, and the lovely John Carridine tribute “Kung Fu Reference” to their full potential.

Singer Chuck Cleaver has guided the shambling juggernaut that is the Ass Ponys for thirteen years. For all the twisted set pieces and the dark, dark humor of his work, there’s also a genuine tenderness and wonder — witness here the love-for-hire heartbreak of “Dollar A Day”, or the second-line high spirits of “Black Dot”.

Still, it’s the twisted stuff that hits hardest — specifically, the critical-list-as-love-nest spookiness of “(Baby) I Love You (Baby)”, or “Only”, where the hot riff carries the reasonable, if suspect, request: “Please don’t kick my busted heart too far.” And just what are we to make of the see-you-in-September loser’s question in “Calendar Days”: “Do I still exist in the bottomless pit of your heart?”

Cleaver’s vocals maintain that delicate balance between the hopeful and the crazed, until the last cut. On “Nothing Starts Today”, resignation seems to settle in — and with what’s gone before, who can be surprised. But even here, there’s that admission: “I keep pushing play…”

And in the end that’s what Lohio gives us: abundant reasons to keep pushing play.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #35 Sept-Oct 2001

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • Katie Herzig - Walk Through Walls (Album Review)
    Once upon a time, Katie Herzig wore her heart on her sleeve and wielded an acoustic guitar, both apropos of being a singer/songwriter. These days, though, she keeps company with synthesizers and drum loops. Yeah, the heart is still right there on the sleeve, but now you can groove to its beat. Herzig's new collection, Walk Through Walls, is a song cycle […]
  • Exclusive Premiere of Cowboy Jack Clement's "Let the Chips Fall"
    Cowboy Jack was one of the most beloved country and Americana artists of his generation. For proof, just look at the list of artists who showed up to lend a hand on his final album: John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare, Duane Eddy, T Bone Burnett, Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell, Buddy Miller, Dan Auerbach, Leon Russell, Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlin […]
  • Reagan Boggs on Americana Music Show #187
    On episode 187 of the Americana Music Show, Reagan Boggs plays 3 tracks from Quicksand and talks about writing songs about tough ladies and the value of simple songs. Also on this episode, heartland rock & roll from Chuck Ragan, indie rock from Jonny Two Bags, southern rock from Jimbo Mathus, honky… […]
  • Easy Ed's Sideshow of Solos, Duets and Ensembles: Session #42
    Welcome to the 42nd installment of random thoughts, trivial facts. occasional fiction, poetry, haikus, photos, artwork, stories of fleeting fame and dastardly deeds, and videos or tunes that may have caught my attention or fancy of late. As you can see by the picture at the side, I've got dessert on my mind, and in particular...pies. The Oxford Companio […]
  • St. Vincent in Concert: As Performance Artist, Annie Clark Shows Her True Colors
    One of the most intriguing aspects about attending a St. Vincent concert is the anticipation. What will Annie Clark do next? That’s what one high-strung son of someone was thinking for the rest of us while pressed up against the barrier leaving just enough breathing room between entertainer and her target audience as March wound down while that inevitable da […]
  • Jeff Black – Folklore (Album Review)
    The latest tunes from Missouri bred Black - thirteen of them – are delivered solo and acoustic. Jeff Black’s tenth album, another self-release was recorded at his rustic Arcana Studios as were recent predecessors PLOW THROUGH THE MYSTIC (2011) and B-SIDES AND CONFESSIONS, VOL. 2 (2013). Produced by Black, the sessions took just two days and the sounds captur […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter