The Ponys w/the Intelligence, Schlaze Cubed (X-Display)

Tues March 9, Fun House, 9:30 pm, $5.

Certain labels are like Christmas: You can bank that most of the music will hit like a holiday, with albums that'll stand out in your collection for years to come. L.A.'s In the Red is one of those mainstays, home to a diverse, garage-soused roster that includes bands like the Dirtbombs, Country Teasers, the King Brothers, and Pussy Galore--acts coveted by connoisseurs of noisy-guitar bands, as well as by Chicago's Horizontal Action, a zine that promotes Pabst-splattered rock much smarter than your average drunk punk crud.

The latest addition to the Red carpet is the Ponys, a Chicago band that colorfully scatters a kaleidoscope of influences. Their debut disc, Laced with Romance, cues a different reference with each spin. Frontman Jared (the Ponys are all on a first-name basis) has the rebel brat demeanor of Richard Hell (sometimes perked up like a rough 'n' tumble version of XTC's Andy Partridge), but the music is like the Velvet Underground interpreted by the Exploding Hearts. Or something in the Viva L'American Death Ray Music meets Black Lips vein, but with alien effects that drop like missiles in the middle of songs, heavy guitar distortion that performs frequent flybys, and '60s pop that flashes in keyboard melodies forming distorted pogo rhythms. The lyrics are full of oddball odes--"Fall Inn" is an endearing, don't-think-about-it-just-act-on-that-crush anthem, while "Little Friends" is about loving your surrogate siblings even if they "keep peeing all over [the] floor," all of which only adds to the Ponys' wonderful flophouse family and chemically imbalanced charm.

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