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Velveteen

by PONY

supported by
litedysco
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litedysco catchiest power pop after years back, PONY <3 Favorite track: Sick.
H.L.
H.L. thumbnail
H.L. We spent this year's summer holiday in Iceland and so I collected some indie, rock, pop and soft metal albums for the three week round trip. PONY became a frequent participant in the playlist with her lively and catchy grunge pop, check for example "Did it again" or "Sunny Rose". But my favourite song has a slightly different tone, it feels more like a relaxed and light Kylie Minogue pop song, I mean "French Class". Favorite track: French Class.
Russell Sample
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Russell Sample Really fun and deceptively pessimistic, with enough variety to keep you interested while keeping a very clear consistency. Definitely in my top albums of the year so far Favorite track: Sick.
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    listen to PONY's brand new album 'Velveteen' on a classic compact disc!

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    jam to the new PONY record old school style on this limited edition color in color pressing!

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    12" vinyl version of PONY's latest record. Pressed on baby pink + apple a/b side variant!

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    forecast calls for a partly cloudy pressing of the new PONY LP !!

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    A color in color LP + a comfy cute bunny tee of PONY's latest release!

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    A color in color LP of PONY's latest release + a comfy cute angel hoodie!!

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    A color in color LP of PONY's latest release 'Velveteen', a comfy cute angel hoodie, cozy bunny tee, star long sleeve AND bunny tote bag.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Velveteen via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    A super cool A side B side LP + a comfy cute bunny tee of PONY's latest release!

    Includes unlimited streaming of Velveteen via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 7 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $39.99 USD or more 

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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    A funky A side B side LP of PONY's latest release + a comfy cute angel hoodie!!

    Includes unlimited streaming of Velveteen via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 7 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $59.99 USD or more 

    You own this  

     

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    A funky A/B side LP of PONY's latest release 'Velveteen', a comfy cute angel hoodie, cozy bunny tee, star long sleeve AND bunny tote bag.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Velveteen via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 7 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $109.99 USD or more 

    You own this  

     

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    the cutest bunny tee you've ever seen
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1.
Très Jolie 03:08
do you ever picture us together standing beneath the glitter in the sky can you promise that you’ll love me honestly cross your heart and hope to die i want to kiss you i want to make you mine i want to lie to you and say that i am fine no pretending when being feels like heaven lying in quiet has never felt so nice do you swear it cause i can’t even bear it rasp in my voice from talking trash all night
2.
Peach 03:28
you sweet like a peach bad seed within i can never win and i get distracted by the saccharine i can barely stand this sin dripping down my chin rinse my mouth my teeth are coated rotting out i can’t control this picturing the salt of the beach cause i don’t want to drown in the taste of this peach i try not to sink staying afloat you said you’d never let me go your eyes black like the sea salty and mean making me feel unclean when all the mystery is gone left burning in my eyes don’t want to die a waste of time
3.
Sick 03:07
empty spaces you always try to put me in my place and i hate that stupid look on your face when you watch me fall down bent and bleeding silently screaming everyday feels like one i’ve wasted passing time gets so complicated break my spine just to prove i have one wake up on time invitations i try to make it but i always break them i blame it on the rain but i'm elated to avoid the crowd i don’t need you i don’t need another lover baby i can break my own damn heart this summer
4.
Sucker Punch 03:41
i feel so sick you’re leaving you won’t come back for me left me to sit and wonder staring at the broken TV frozen solid where you left me sucker punch bad reception phone connection am i too much i feel dizzy freezing my head is bleeding wondering where’d you go i bet you didn’t even know if we were trying we wouldn’t have come close i feel this getting heavy sitting close and quietly eyes glazing over baby staring broken at the TV kept the secrets that you told me i slipped and i fell and you tried to catch me but im still running around i fell through the cracks in your hands so easy and i'm still running around too cold too keep it all i watch you run i watch you fall
5.
my boyfriend is dead i met him when i moved into a haunted house lingering in bed it’s all his fault that i turned into a ghost i can't even sleep anymore i can barely eat the four walls of my room where i spend everyday are closing in on me i’ve been feeling cold all my favourite days been sold and these secrets are piling up like bones lost in the backyard with no way home i can't even sleep anymore i can barely eat and I'm tangled in memories i thought i forgot tied up in your mess with a thousand knots
6.
i call you up a hundred times but when you pick up i get butterflies deeply devoted to the tone It washes over me while i’m alone hang up the phone i don’t want you to know i’ve been calling you up all night are you home all alone thinking about me wondering why the phone keeps ringing? do you wish it was me on the other end? do you pretend it’s me who's calling? i’ve got your number memorised the dial tone makes me weak can’t even speak i know each number off by heart can you tell that it’s me by the way i breathe
7.
Did It Again 03:51
i’ve been selling a lie trying to smile while i force down the bile in my mouth my lips are dry i can’t get any of the right words out i’m stuck on repeat feeling like this this is just too consuming to me should i just let it be and should i try to get some sleep finally yeah i went and did it again yeah i went and did it again and i bet i’m gonna lose all of my friends yeah i went and did it i’ve been trying to float breathing and blinking without always doing the most put my worry on hold drop the line a veil of self control i’m not trying to stay static has always felt just so unhealthy to me should i just learn to freeze and should i try to get some sleep finally so what? i try to tell myself to just shut up so what? i bite my tongue until it bleeds so what? i try to tell myself to just shut up so what? i’m bad at knowing what i need
8.
French Class 03:43
you’ve changed turned into someone you’re not you say to me while we’re crossing the lawn but i can't think about anything more when they’re around i'm a puddle on the floor melted my heart breaks with every breath they take cause i know i know they’ll never be mine mine dressed up in some else's clothes you can tell you know me better than most but i can’t promise you anything more when all i want is to fall down onto the floor Parlez vous français? Oui Je t'aime Oui Je t'aime
9.
Sunny Rose 03:16
look at me I'm smiling but on the inside im crying i can barely speak right now and i don’t want to hear you out sunny rose i am i am sick of all the trouble and mess i don’t care about this test i’d try to charm but i’m too stressed sunny rose i am i am sick of all the trouble and strife ten thousand worth in diamonds couldn’t get me to believe your lies where do you think you'll grow to sunny rose oh I don't know you where do you think you'll grow to sunny rose i'm rooting for you look at me i'm trying bit my tongue while i was lying promise i won't laugh too loud i hope i make my grandma proud
10.
Haircut 03:08
happy birthday do you like my haircut? what did you wish for? i don’t care it probably sucked i try my best even though it’s never easy wishing i was home right now crying at the TV there you go you try again you lie to me and say it’s heaven i feel dumb and i feel old and i just want somebody to hold did you miss me sorry i was sleeping tiring myself out with the secrets i’ve been keeping close my eyes even only for a second picturing another day distract me from this dead end she's so cute she’s so resilient she’s so cute she’s so resilient if i kick her when shes down will she still be here hanging around

about

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There’s a long tradition of bands that can compellingly explore the nuances of the human experience within the confines of pop music, that can elegantly consider both the lighter and darker elements of life through a deceptively sunny-sounding three-and-a-half-minute song. On their sophomore full-length album, Velveteen, Toronto’s reigning power pop champions PONY manage the task with both finesse and panache across 10 irresistibly hook-filled tracks–and further cement their place in the genre’s lineage. Influenced by countless hours of self-reflection, literature, television, and insomnia, the record showcases the band’s elevated sound and is their most fully-realized to date–examining the complex relationships between longing, connection, and being true to oneself.

PONY’s genesis can be traced back to 2015, but its current incarnation took shape in 2018 when singer/songwriter/guitarist Sam Bielanski paired with multi-instrumentlist and collaborator Matty Morand while writing their 2021 debut LP, TV Baby (Take This To Heart Records). In the strange and unprecedented isolation of the two or so years following that record’s creation and release, the pair made the best of it by challenging themselves to write a new song each week. The end result of that effort was over 200 songs and the finely honed songwriting chops that are on full display throughout Velveteen.

For Bielanski, this time around writing Velveteen included a nine-month struggle with insomnia, during which they reached for the nightly balm of an audiobook of The Velveteen Rabbit. The classic tale resonated so deeply with them that it ended up inspiring the album’s title and influencing the themes that run through it–feelings of existential dread or worthlessness, as well as self-acceptance and vulnerability. “I became obsessed with it but I always fell asleep before getting to the end. The way I interpreted the story was that it's the love that we give and receive that makes us real or whole,” they explain. “The one chapter I found especially heart wrenching is when the velveteen rabbit is trying to hang with the real rabbits of the forest, and through comparison, he realizes he isn’t as real as he thought he was. It was a good lesson for me, even now, because I'm constantly fighting the urge to compare myself to others. Your individual experiences make you who you are and nothing can change that. That's what I thought, until I finally listened to the whole thing and found out that at the end of the book, a fairy turns the velveteen rabbit into an actual rabbit, which I felt undermined the earlier lessons of the story. After that, I was really confused.”

Velveteen emerged through this combination of seclusion, introspection, entertainment deep-dives, and the sleep-deprived osmosis of a children’s story. Bielanski, due to a bad neighbor’s demands for quiet, was forced to record many of the album’s demos into their iPhone while tucked away in a closet (which happens to also double as a vocal booth for their voice work, aptly, as Jazz Hooves on the current generation of My Little Pony). “I wrote the songs on this record differently than the last because we were stuck at home all together and I didn’t want to annoy anyone,” they explain. “So I would often make full instrumental songs on my phone and then add vocals last, which is pretty much the opposite of how I wrote the songs on TV Baby.”

Despite the isolationist nature of this process, they double down on the importance of connection and collaboration when reflecting on Velveteen’s creation. “Once I was happy with the songs, Matty would add their contributions until we felt the songs were nearly done,” Bielanski says. “It was amazing to see how much the songs would change every time a new person was added into the mix. It wasn’t until we recorded them in the studio with [recording engineer] Alex Gamble that the songs truly came to life for me. I guess Alex was the fairy who made Velveteen real.” Morand adds, “When we recorded TV Baby I went into the studio thinking I was the bass player, and then our guitar player quit and I ended up writing and recording the lead parts in the studio. When it came time to make Velveteen, I wanted to really spend time with the songs and be meticulous. I think Sam writes such great vocal melodies and I’m always afraid to step on them, so I spend a lot of my time picking out the spots that I think can benefit from more guitar and leave out anything I think is unnecessary. I never want to do any more than the song needs.”

Velveteen is musically scaffolded by a hyper-catchy concoction of ‘90s college rock, its more radio-friendly contemporaries, and early ‘00s alternative that manages to reference 30+ years of guitar music–while never being at odds with itself. Blending thoughtful themes with pitch perfect hooks, PONY fuses the sheen of Third Eye Blind, the anthemic pomp of Weezer, and the unguarded vulnerability of Rilo Kiley into a formula that feels as effortless as it does fresh; it’s an adept yet unsurprising skill for a band who mention disparate elements like The Cure, J. Mascis, Spin Doctors, Johnny Marr, Hole, Backstreet Boys, Turnstile, John Frusciante, Angel Olsen, and The Beatles–as well as books like Sarah Jackson’s A Bit Much and TV shows like The Sopranos–as musical and cultural reference points when discussing Velveteen’s songs.

Velveteen opens firing on all cylinders with the instantly memorable “Très Jolie.” A hook-filled confection that Bielanski describes as chronicling “the conflicting emotions of falling in love with someone when you don’t quite love yourself yet,” the song’s lyrical vulnerability is mirrored in the muted verses that bloom into a soaring chorus. It’s followed by the one-two punch of “Peach,” a sugary spoonful of pure pop that looks at how love can turn conditional and sour, and “Sick,” a polished alt-rock lament about losing oneself in relationships. The moodier “Sucker Punch” deftly layers chiming guitar leads alongside a singsong chorus, while the dance-y, wistful “French Class” captures the ache of a new crush. Led by a woozy farfisa line and featuring a cascading, layered chorus, closer “Haircut” relates how one’s sense of self can blur and change as you grow, compounding the confusing uncertainties of adulthood.

Bielanski’s read of a stuffed rabbit’s quest for self-acceptance is the beating heart that gives Velveteen life. The album’s consideration of love, finding a feeling of belonging, and the pursuit for authenticity is woven throughout. “I’ve learned that we become our most authentic selves when we allow ourselves to be open and deeply affected by someone else,” explains Bielanski. “A lot of the songs on TV Baby were about finding the power in being alone. Since then I have done a lot of growing and realized that isolating oneself from others doesn’t serve you in the pursuit of happiness. Showing the love that we have for others is what matters.” And with this open-hearted, reflective, and effusive album, there’s no question that PONY is definitively real.

credits

released May 19, 2023

All songs written and produced by Sam Bielanski and Matty Morand

Tres Jolie, Did It Again, Peach, Sunny Rose, French Class recorded by Josh Korody at Candle Recording. Additional guitar and synth recorded by Alex Gamble at Raventape

Haunted House, Who’s Calling?, Sucker Punch, Sick, Haircut recorded by Alex Gamble at Union Sound

All songs Mixed + Mastered by Alex Gamble

Vocals, Guitar, Synth, Piano - Sam Bielanski

Guitar, Bass, Synth, Piano - Matty Morand

Drums - Josh Cassidy

Additional vocals on “Who’s Calling?” by Lilly Mehari

Extra special thanks to Bobby Kimberley, Joe Urban, Robert Lee, Christian Beale, Dan Leo, Shayna Casey, Stefanie Purificati, Mike Haliechuk and Fucked Up, Lilly Mehari, Becca Howes, Jono Hunter, Brittany Farhat, Kyle Murray and Alannah Kavanagh, Fat Tony, Ian Shelton, MSPAINT, Eva Link, Tommy Rockstar, Vanessa Cito, Joe and Carla, CJAM, 2MTV patrons, Jon and Laura Temporal, Dr Disc, Wolf and Rebel, Casper and Wylie, Derek O’Donnell, Morgan Waters, Ali Daly

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PONY Toronto, Ontario

~*~

grunge pop from toronto

~*~

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ponytoronto@gmail.com

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