By: Dennis Cook
Pontiak is shaping up to be one of the next great guitar bands. We're talking Built To Spill/Dinosaur Jr. territory; a band so primal and inventive in their handling of what seems overworked terrain that it makes us fall hard again for the roar and urgency of six-strings and hypnotic, gut punching rhythms.
Only two records in and Pontiak has carved out an amp destroying, befuzzed identity of their own, something both romantic and feral, Robin Trower getting his salad tossed by Jack White, yet possessed of something utterly different than either of those touchstones, too. Maker (released April 7 on Thrill Jockey) hums with unconstrained life from the very first notes. There is the unmistakable sense one is being taken somewhere, but where that might be is a total mystery. As powerful as the vocals are, there's a slippery, open-to-interpretation vibe to the lyrics, further space and postulation atop music that eludes neat description. There's much here for Sonic Youth nuts but open-minded classic rock and prog fans with a taste for heaviness might also flip their wigs. Maker is all about immersion, a giving way of one's will to fully comprehend the moment and just experience it.
But don't for a moment believe Pontiak is all mood and no substance. These cuts get caught between your teeth; leaving ropey threads to pick at and pull on long after the speakers cease shaking. Their lingering presence is quickly exemplified by "Wild Knife Night Fight," which accomplishes more in two minutes than many contemporaries manage on a whole album. Capable of both long form explorations that'd bring a smile to Crazy Horse and miniature marvels that'd give Robert Pollard wood, Pontiak is able to roam AND focus in with tight precision. And the whole ride is smooth; yes, full of cajoling potholes and air grabbing jumps but the headlong current is strong and embracing, a pleasure even when a touch spooky. Maker is a marvelous album and a powerful harbinger of great things to come from a trio that should be on everyone's short list from here on out.
Pontiak is currently on tour. Find dates here.
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