Agony Shorthand

Monday, February 16, 2004
THE PONYS : “LACED WITH ROMANCE” CD….Me and In The Red records have been pals since the early 90s, mutually impressing each other at exactly the same time when they put out THE GORIES’ first 45 just as I was putting them on the cover of my then-fanzine Superdope. Since then the label has been the foremost garage-influenced rock label of our time, releasing too many standout 45s, LPs and CDs to mention (start with the entire discography of the Cheater Slicks, the best raw and raging garage punk band of the last 15 years, and continue on to modern studs like Modey Lemon, The Hunches, Dan Melchior’s Broke Review and A Feast of Snakes). But every now and again they break the mold – as the label head puts it, to “...prove that In The Red doesn’t put out ‘panic rock’…”. Well, I don’t know what you wanna call the general bashing and cranked-up wailing they DO put out if not “panic rock”, but I’ll easily concur that new signings THE PONYS don’t fit that bill. Instead, I hear a psychedelic-influenced, pop-sounding stew that breathes in obvious influences like both the VELVETS and the VOIDOIDS, but also reminds me of more distant cousins like late 70s Ubu pals THE GIRLS (the great leadoff track “Let’s Kill Ourselves” totally reminds me of The Girls’ “Jeffrey I Hear You” but I’m hard-pressed to say why). The Ponys are the sort of thing I’ll grant might’ve gotten lost and ignored on another (lesser) label, but may pick up a few converts on this one after the shock of how mersh the thing sounds in comparison to standard uncouth In The Red acts subsides. They’ve definitely got the potential to be pretty fine live – big, loud feedback-friendly sounds just tailor-made for a night out – and have got fuzzed-out hooks and keyboard-driven chops up the wazoo. I’m not sure what I’ll think of it a month from now, but it’s deceptively wily and certainly strong enough to get a lot more plays in the weeks to come. Worth a look.