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Pondhawks: Dreaming Over Ireland

Reviewed By: Lisa Torem
Label: Riverpool Records
Format: CD

Since my review of 'The PondHawks Have Landed', the Chicago-based alternative band has received nearly a year of Triple A radio airplay and are currently considered one of the top 20 alt. bands in Chicago, but that’s not surprising – those prolific PondHawks continue to churn out contagious tunes with lilting harmonies and thought provoking, yet down-to-earth lyrics.

Their influences are straight ahead and easy to determine – their pop sound recalls the Beatles and Buddy Holly, two of the band’s undisputedly favorite muses - essentially, their tunes bring out the best elements of British and American rock.

Their debut featured the memorable and celebratory ‘Midnight Howl’, the old world ‘On The Phone with Thillerie’ and the devilish ‘Dragonfly.’

Now Mario Novelli, Jorie Gracen, John Rivera and Michael Gillespie all come together on their new project, 'Dreaming Over Ireland'. The delightful logo of a set of dragonfly wings fastened to a vintage guitar is still there, but this time it is floating underneath a dazzling rainbow and above emerald green.

From the first measure, the bustling activity and the loopy narrative come alive. “Flying into Heathrow (travel incognito)”…as they embark on a covert adventure.

You can imagine them gazing from the plane window, during ‘Sun Rain.’ Novelli sings, “I can feel the Sun Rain moving in/Blowing holes in my sky.” We find out that 'Sun Rain' is not just a wistful by product of nature – the cunning manipulator is “living off everyone’s tears.”

A holy cow of a chorus, Gracen’s snazzy keyboard riffs and a bitter edged sentiment codifies ‘Drive’: “Who are you to think you’re better?” wails Novelli, as Gracen responds in kind.

‘The Raven Flies Away’ features more of those sweeping Gracen/Novelli harmonies – in fact, they radiate through out this haunting, cinematic Poe-fest, and, after listening to the songwriting duo’s powerful images, “Flying through his mist of memories” as “shadows fall on silent poetry”, we understand exactly why this song soars miles above the standard pop pabulum that fills the air waves these days.

The fun continues with ‘Eerie Street.’ Roger Burden guests as a roving harp player on this rockabilly extravaganza. John Rivera’s reliably, scorching beat signifies the spirited fun. It’s positively PondHawk heaven…

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