August 26, 2005

Pong "Bubble City"

The name Pong has instant connotations. For some, they might think of the game ping-pong, but for those old enough to remember, the term only means one thing: the video game Pong. A rudimentary video game, for those of us who played it back in the 1970s, it was a fun little addiction--and for those who scoff, it was surprisingly harder than it looked. It was a difficult game that required a lot of attention. There are those, though, who suggest that the game is much more complex than its simple design will lead you to believe, but to most, it's nothing more than simple pixel action. Still, it's kind of a fun game, if you like that sort of thing.

Pong the band is kind of like Pong the video game. Though at times their album Bubble City occasionally sounds much more complex than their simple formula might lead you to believe, ultimately they're nothing more--and nothing less--than an arty rock band with a penchant for vocoders, 70s glam rock and the Butthole Surfers. Not that there's anything wrong with that--especially when you consider that members of Pong formerly played in Austin's legendary weirdos Ed Hall. Taken in that context, Pong might not be the most original sounding band, but if you're in the mood for it, Bubble City is kind of a fun record, if you like that sort of thing. Some songs, such as "Killer Lifestyle" and "Secret Meat" border on the laughably absurd, thanks to some patently dumb lyrics, but you can't deny the band's chops, either; check out the excellent AC/DC-style guitar solos on "Interpol" and the excellent "Finally." The spaced-out "Click O.K." and "Conform To The Norm" are weird enough that you might think you were listening to the latest creation by Sir Gibby Haynes. Heck, when they make a "serious" moment like the mellow stoner-rock "After School Special," it sounds good, too.

So, Bubble City is best on an 'as-needed' basis. It's fun, but it could easily annoy you, if you're not in the mood for it. So take with a grain of salt and a hit of acid.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website:

No comments: