A couple newish titles turned out to be less hilariously terrible than I'd hoped, so I reached a wary hand into the reader-request sack. "A band I saw open up for Don Caballero last summer really sucked," writes Dan, this week's featured frothing malcontent. "I could've handled this because I didn't go to see the openers, but during their sucking, they managed to make me very uncomfortable. The band was Ponytail, and they've been getting good reviews from all the trendy Web sites. It's a travesty, and the kids have to find out."

To gauge how many people echo valued reader Dan's sentiments, I performed the usual Google search for "(insert shitty band here) sucks." The first few hits for "Ponytail sucks" included phrases such as "cock gloryhole" and "anally deflorated," which seemed to make sense, given Dan's ominous claim that "during their sucking, they managed to make me very uncomfortable." Unfortunately, none of these links related to the group.

If I were to watch those "Ponytail sucks" videos, offered by sites like boobiebattle.com, I would hear yowls, moans and squeals, similar to the vocal arsenal of Ponytail's Molly Siegel. However, only anime porn could produce a comparable assortment of ambiguously ecstatic/pained noises from an ambiguously aged female. It's like Ponytail wants to play garage-surf instrumentals, but its guitar strings keep tentacle-raping some knee-socked schoolgirl.

To make Ponytail listenable, crop band as suggested.

Surf music is usually instrumental, which is good, because the people who perform surf music would probably sing about stupid topics, such as surfing. Instead of using actual words, Siegel burbles and wails. She conjures images of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Karen O as a bratty infant, pouring a formula bottle over her head in the throes of a sub-verbal tantrum. Ponytail's songs sound like live recordings ruined by a rhythmless "whoo!"-shouting underage drunk. On the incoherence scale, Molly Siegel scores the rating of "Babbling, teddy-bear-bashing monkey puppet":

During the first three tracks of Ponytail's album Ice Cream Spiritual, Siegel produces the following sounds:

  • "Beg Waves": Siegel starts with rolled-r "¡Arriba!" noises, like a Corona-guzzling gringo tormenting the waitstaff at a casual Mexican restaurant, to the embarrassment of other lunch-hour diners. She strings together ch-ch-ch noises, as if she's stuttering her way toward "choo-choo train," which seems like the kind of thing she'd say. She also coos erratically, like a disease-ravaged pigeon, and interjects with "hi-ya!" abruptness, like a nonsensically dubbed martial-arts actress.
  • "G Shock": Siegel cycles through evil muah-ha-ha laughter, tremulous yodeling and a series of high-pitched vomit heaves before emulating a violently shaken retarded baby's pathetic dying cries.
  • "7 Souls": Siegel evokes the jungle with primate hoots and vine-swinging Tarzan hollers, then uses real words, counting from "one soul" to "seven souls." Counting is the lowest form of sung communication.

If you like that vest, you'll probably love this band.
Sites such as Pitchfork find it thrilling and revolutionary that a vocalist would dispense with melody and lyrics: "She has nothing to say, and she's saying it. Loudly. And with a sense of joy that's nothing short of infectious." And what if you'd rather not be infected with a malady that renders you unable to express yourself using language? You're probably already dead, opines another of Pitchfork's Ponytail fans: "If p-p-p-pure energy isn't reason enough for a rock band to exist, check your pulse and/or your stated reasons for liking music (or being alive) in the first place."

Who the fuck has ever kept a list of "stated reasons" for liking music or being alive? Even if I became obsessed with chronicling such things and worked on this project nonstop until I died from forgetting to ingest nutrients, I'm pretty sure I'd never get around to including "listening to a tone-deaf harpy bleat and mewl like a goddamn petting zoo."

While I fear Siegel's haunted-house screeches will soundtrack my nightmares for weeks to come, I'm glad Dan introduced me to Ponytail, because it provided me with new perspective on Pitchfork's insufferableness.

– Andrew "Garbage Day" Miller

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