Pony Express :: Queens of Beruit

For the last 25 years, Velvet Blue Music has steadily released Southern California blue collar dream pop. Founded by former Joy Electric and Starflyer 59 member Jeff Cloud, the label recently reissued his 2002 bummer pop gem Becoming What You Hate, a recording by his band Pony Express, Cloud marshaling the same lineup that recorded Starflyer 59’s art rock homage Old—Richard Swift on keys and vocals, Frank Lenz on drums, Jason Martin on guitar—along with Josh Dooley of Map. It bounces from sleepy pop to droning rock songs. The standout is “Queens of Beruit,” a steady lilt of twang, organ, and backing vocals that feel like they were teleported on over from Swift’s debut The Novelist, one of two releases by Swift on Velvet Blue, reissued a few years later by Secretly Canadian. “It’s the story of our days,” Cloud sings though the haze, the band haunting like a Roadhouse dream behind him.

Also of note: a very early project by the Martin brothers, Tales by Morella’s Forest. Not to be confused with the other Morella’s. Teenage new wave exuberance with ace liner notes by Andrew Horton of Aquarium Drunkard’s Transmissions podcast. | j woodbury

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