Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pontiak Sheds Some More Innocence

After their first year off from producing an album, the Carney brothers are looking to ease back into the music with an 11-track set of heavy Southern-laced rock, with just enough squall and sludge to keep things interesting. As an album, Innocence is anything but innocent as the trio tears down neo psych-rock in great big thunderous slabs.

The title track tells much of the story, twisting along with tightly written commands of wandering the streets wasted. It churns along like a slogging head-spin, capturing the mood of having drunk too much. They do it effortlessly without wasting a single chord.

Innocence slugs along with monsters and psychedelic imaginations.

Perhaps the best thing about the album is how it balances up a back and forth between big frenzied guitar tantrums and those mellower, more relaxed moments that stretch out longer than the time stamp suggests. Tracks like Lack Lustre Rush will take some people back with big arrangements and understated, inviting vocals while Ghosts will convince the greatest skeptics with an arrhythmic guitar and beautifully played bass line.

There isn't any question that Van (guitar-vocals), Jennings (bass), and Lain (drums) have a great time in the studio. One even gets the impression that the three of them just stand around and until one of them breaks the silence to ask what does anybody want to play next.

Before you know it, somebody settles into something like It's The Greatest because it feels like a break after all of the aggression and tension released with Ghosts. Or maybe it just feels like the right progression, much like anybody might decide with a bunch of friends on a Friday.

No, there is no certainty if it happens that way at all. It just sounds like it. And for the most part, it works. Even if Noble Heads, for all its melody, doesn't do much to move the mood forward and Wildfires packs an unexpectedly relaxed brother track that hints of indie pop (but cast in their familiar heaviness).

Surrounded by Diamonds attempts to rouse the stoner-fuzz back into wakefulness but doesn't necessarily have the energy to succeed. It comes close with the wail of a guitar but Van pulls the punch of vocals, leaving you a little lost before Being Of The Rarest regains some traction.

That leaves the Shining, which is a dizzy, head-spinning gem and probably the most unrated track on the album. Darkness Is Coming presents itself as the closest thing to a ballad these brothers have got (and that ain't saying much). And the album wraps up with some badly need fury and flurry in We've Got It Wrong.

It's in listening to that last song where much of Innocence makes sense. Or maybe, more exactly, that knowing this music is made by three brothers who grew up on a farm in Virginia makes sense. It's clear that even when their music doesn't challenge your senses, it's still a joy to listen to because they have this unyielding connection to each other that comes across so well in their music.

This is the real deal in that they don't need computers to lay down great studio tracks. It's not the only DIY portion of their production. They design their own artwork. They film their own videos. They make their own documentaries.

Innocence By Pontiak Skids Along At 6.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

All in all, its organic approach from start to finish makes for some magnificent noise, even if the brothers seem too comfortable in their collusion to make great music. In short, the album isn't their best even if it has some of their best tracks. But it isn't really bad either, making it your call to cherry pick three or chill to the whole thing.

You can find Innocence by Pontiak on Amazon. You can also find the album at Barnes & Noble or download it from iTunes. For tour information, check them out on Facebook.
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