Glass Mountain Rodeo, the music project by Los Angels-based Cooper Kenward, released his third album Pond King with a little help from his friends, notably, Carly Bond and Rob Shelton of Meerna (and of Tiny Telephone studios in Oakland). The multi-layered album is a shift from Kenward’s previous release Kerguelen, and features a limitless breadth of dimension and sound.
Pond King is like if Neil Young, Roy Orbison and Bruce Springsteen got in a space ship and wrote songs in a synth powered studio but with some more modern, stressed gripes and vibes. Stay with me here. The album starts with “Autocorrect,” warm with clarinets and pedal steel, groovy percussion, then halfway into the song we take off into synth-space land for the briefest moment then back to earth and into one of the sweeter folk songs on the album, “Little Things,” whose refrain repeats “The little things bring me down” in the most relatable way.
Tracks like “Be Here” has a sweet and sad storytelling feel—there’s that Springsteen gist again—with some room-encompassing percussions that evoke dark and colorful bubbles. There’s an old fashioned romantic thread weaving through the album that’s hard to find but hey, we’ve found it. Of the track, Kenward tells us, "'Be Here' started out with me being pessimistic and worrying that we are only around for such a short time. Anxieties took hold and I was like 'oh boy I've done nothing with my life.' Then I started realizing that my pessimism is fleeting and will pass to make way for something more enjoyable.”
“The album overall, to me, has become a sort of celebration of randomness," says Kenward. "It's me learning how to be at peace with all the chaos of the universe, to surrender control and just go along for the ride." A celebration of randomness, indeed. Songs like “Coffee Maker” or “Foster’s Freeze” are charming tongue-in-cheek jams that dare to explore those seemingly less important moments that make up our funky lives.
Another stand out track, “Wet the Reed,” deliver a little spice in its step as the flute punctuates the right moments, a sax whisks us away and those warm synths and classy effects bring us right back down. Engineer and multi-instrumentalist Rob Shelton played a key hand in the album’s production, along with Carly Bond on the aforementioned flute and others. A standout greatness about this album is the variety of sound that can still maintain a surprising and cohesive feel.
Photo credit: Parker Day