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The Ponzi Scheme

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Album Review

Gabay is out and George Javori is in on the drumming tip, among numerous others, but Firewater still swings with the best of them, as The Ponzi Scheme shows in spades. A near perfect film noir start, sleazy sax, and Duane Eddy-meets-piano line and more with the aptly titled "Ponzi's Theme" gets things going — Tod A himself sits this number out vocally, letting everyone vamp and snarl with the best of them before cutting loose on "Green Light (In Stereo)." His raspy charisma remains in full effect, while musically there are hints of Nick Cave's various musical fusions and a relatively more conventional rock approach to boot. Even if The Ponzi Scheme doesn't totally threaten and artistically intrigue like Get Off the Cross did, though, it's still a good time had by all. Doug Henderson once again does a fantastic job on production, while Sylvia Massy adds a bit of mixing here and there, all letting the strengths of the band burst through with its usual aggressive liveliness. Admittedly, hearing downright peaceful chiming on "Caroline" and poppy '60s-style grooves on "So Long, Superman" is more than a little surprising from the guy who once spat out tracks like "10 Dollar Bill," but time does change things. Standout tracks litter the album — "Dropping Like Flies" is particularly great, both a strong, kicking rocker and a carefully arranged orchestral creep-out, strings adding a subtle bite to Tod A's increasingly desperate singing. Indeed, both Hahn Rowe's violin work and the regular guest appearance of cellist Jane Scarpantoni provide some of The Ponzi Scheme's best moments, like the ruined sea chantey "Isle of Dogs." There's the galumphing horn section from the circus-gone-wrong of "El Borracho" and the perfect title for the final song, "Drunkard's Lament," to name two other fun highlights of this most cool album.

Customer Reviews

One of the top 5 best albums of all time

This album is simply amazing. Combining jazz, alt rock, and sorrow, the Ponzi Theme is an album for the ages. I Still Love You, Judas and Drunkard's Lament are particularly noteworthy.

Firewater should be more popular than the pet rock

I only started listening to Firewater a couple of months ago and already they're one of my favorite bands. They're so amazing, and so versitle it makes me sick. They sound like Beck and Tom Wait's sweet, sweet love child. Firewater's best album is called Song's We Should Have Written and it's an album of covers. It's actually not on iTunes, but it's classic, and everyone should own it. Not to sound grandeous...but Firewater is possible the ladder to sweet, alternative heaven.

Amazing Band!

I can't say enough about how great this band is! The Ponzi Scheme is a good starting point, it's a shame itunes only has this album. Full of rough, raspy, toned down bluesy punk rock goodness. A DJ in Kansas City recomened them to me after a long music geek conversation and I have since picked up all their albums. If you like The Black Keys, Social D, and Mike Patton give this a try. Their other albums are available on emusic. Psychopharmacology is probaly their best album all round and you can hear the latest effort The Golden Hour streaming on myspace.


Formed: 1995 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

New York-based band Firewater incorporated a global range of musical influences into their highly dynamic sound. A loosely knit ensemble centered around the lead vocals of ex-Cop Shoot Cop bass player Tod A. (born: Tod Ashley), Firewater tied together such influences as Klezmer, Indian wedding music, art-punk, and Tom Waits-style cabaret poetry to create their heady, often quite danceable sound. Coupled with Tod A.'s acerbic, post-apocalyptic, and death-obsessed lyrics, Firewater was a band to be...
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