Hot Sauce Pony – Hot Sauce Pony (Brixton Hillbilly Records)

Fat White Family have a lot to answer for. Basing themselves out of a rundown Brixton pub around the time Margaret Thatcher finally shuffled off this mortal coil they inadvertently created a scene of socially savvy, down on their luck but artistically relevant musicians, arguably more at home in the lower echelons of the music industry than they were down the Job Centre. In a world of pawn shops and porn shops some bands are designed only really to exist in the spit and sawdust backrooms of the social clubs where Sleaford Mods meets Only Fools and Horses. While Meatraffle and Lola Colt prop up the bar next door and Insecure Men prepare the cheese rolls upstairs, Hot Sauce Pony (the name implies something off a Sopranos soundtrack) doggedly rehearse their lo-fi arty ska. For fans of new wave heroes like The Slits and the Blockheads they seem searching for that under-the-counter Robert Wyatt nous Ian Dury always alluded to, so for their debut full length offering, the ultra-indie Brixton Hillbilly label is the band’s spiritual home.

Of course Hot Sauce Pony’s musical genealogy owes as much to fellow Brixton chancers Goat Girl and as previous stylistic revivals start to pile up on top of each other the band’s sound reflects a mix and match of grunge, indie and all their myriad forms. If this all sounds a bit like it was recorded above a kebab shop on Coldharbour Lane you would be waaay off (Steve Albini recorded and engineered the whole thing from his Electrical Audio studio in Chicago) and perhaps why it lacks the potent political urgency and youthful swagger of Goat Girl that, maybe more authentically, was.

As an introduction to the band last year’s single ‘What You Don’t Know’ owes more to the sleazy spoken word of Shame with a punk snarl and juxtaposed melodic chorus that come together like cold ham and eggs. Elsewhere Albini (it’s a producers record) opts for a raw, often bass led backing to the half-shrieked Kate Bush meets Ari Up vocals; or less complimentarily, like a pork pie Lily Allen. ‘Hark’ is basic and sparse with a long intro, the repetitive bass and simple guitar refrain never really get going but it’s the odd urban Americana of ‘Doom Lord’, most like Lola Colt, or its satellite track (and previous label teaser) ‘Burnt Ends’, a short cursed aside, that perhaps sum up this record’s identity crisis. Whether some of its obvious potential was merely lost in the cross-Atlantic toing-and-froing or something more premeditated, by cashing out their pounds sterling for Albini dollars, Hot Sauce Pony only lost some of their cultural flavouring diluted by the exchange rate.

Highlight ‘Christmas In Prison’ is a skewed love song complete with fiddle and gentle wig-out which was sneaked out last month on the It’s Brixmaaaaas compilation CD to little fanfare but its warped allegory to long distance romance shows a thoughtful depth to the band’s songwriting. So, for all the hip street-swagger and continental appropriations this is simply an album about relationships and virtue. The grungy but forgettable ‘Ho’, with its pleading “don’t let me go” repeater, or ‘My Pet Hate in 6/8’’s drab “I’ve been dying to take you out” refrain are naïve and guileless which then seems cruel at this juncture to compare them to Wolf Alice or great Northern hopes Venus who offer so much more. Underwhelming closer ‘Louder’ eventually collapses into distant feedback and radio distortion and it’s a predictably uninspired ending. Let’s just hope they sell enough copies to recoup the recording costs.

Hot Sauce Pony is released on 18th January through Brixton Hillbilly Records.

  1. This is probably the mos mean spirited, up itself review I’ve ever read. With precious little about the music too.

  2. I don’t think so, I think this is a good review of a bad band. The pork pie comment is not good. But the music this band makes is boring. Also, I want some description and colour in my music reviews, I’ve got ears and everything is a click away.

  3. Better a “pork pie Lily Allen” than a bargain bin Hunter Thompson. Take your ‘authenticity’ and slide it up your arse with some artisanal beard oil you bellend. Hopefully you’ll sell enough advertising on your blog to pay your mum some rent this month.

  4. With reference to the meaning of “pork pie Lily Allen” it was simply a throwaway pork pie hat/London analogy with regard to the sound of the record. Any other implied meaning was wholly unintentional

  5. Journalists gotta love em, if I took note of journalists I would of ended up missing out on some of the greatest music made in the last fifty years.

  6. Opinions are like assholes, or as they are now known, Steve Spithrays. Not liking it is fine, but there’s no need for the playground insults, makes you look like a total amateur.

    What a dick.

    Love the record btw

  7. Ben 1. What playground insults? Can you give specific examples please. The band talked about misogynist and body shaming language but all I see are musical comparisons and opinions , what am I missing here?!

    2 You are entitled to disagree with a writer on musical grounds that’s what comments sections are for.

    3 But don’t personally insult my writers! It’s not acceptable and I will not tolerate it. Thanks Bill(editor)

  8. Whilst the line about artisanal beard oil made me LOL, I can’t really see anything in this review to get upset about. And as always I am baffled as to why anyone would get upset over a review anyway – you like the band & the record, so why does it bother you that someone else doesn’t?

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.