• Pony
  • 14" EP7 (Ah Um Fidelity) 1993 
  • Cosmovalidator (Homestead) 1994 

During its short lifespan, Pony showed lots of potential. Plainly enamored of the dissonant force of punk, the New York trio had some good songs and a charismatic (if somewhat somber) frontman in Dallas Crowe; on the right night, Pony was magnificent live. All the band lacked was the cohesion that would allow its contradictory impulses to co-exist. The down-to-earth concerns of drummer Jimmy James and bassist M. Kitty Dubois clashed with Crowe’s art-rock pretensions. On stage, not only did the threesome rarely look at each other, they always seemed on the verge of a fight.

The four-song 14″ (a double 7-inch) barely hints at the band’s power. Badly recorded, with muffled, demo-like sound, the record has only songwriting to set it apart. Like many bands formed in the wake of Nirvana, Pony built on the soft verse/loud chorus paradigm, but added a terse angularity reminiscent of Wire or the Minutemen in off-kilter structures influenced by The Scene Is Now and Mission of Burma. In the tradition of the Replacements and Pavement, Pony’s best songs concern the travails of being an “alternative” band. “Driving Ms. Danger,” which describes a couple’s move to New York, starts with a throttled guitar riff, then changes vocalist and narrator as it moves into an all-out attack; in “Michael,” a descending chord change leads into an arcing, pleading vocal line. Both songs show up on Cosmovalidator, but are overshadowed by the brooding “Prizefighter,” which starts out like Wire but ends in a flurry of noisy guitar, and the thrashy, shadowy “Grand Hotel.”

Pony broke up in late 1994. Crowe moved to Seattle, while James and Dubois became Speed King.

[Steven Mirkin]