Pontiak are the trio of brothers Van, Jennings, and Lain Carney, who -- after having scattered across the map to pursue various musical careers -- came together in Baltimore a few years ago to form their own band. From there the brothers relocated to a house in the less populated Blue Ridge environs of Virginia, set up their own rehearsal and recording space, and got to work.
For the most part, the brothers' third album Maker is as weighty and daunting as its title implies. The story has it that guitarist Van blew out two amps (Mogwai style) during the album's recording sessions, which wouldn't be surprising given the sound of the thing. At first listen, much of Maker wafts along on heavy boulder-rolling buzzriffs and sludgey rhythms -- much of it amounting to a tub of stoned kozmic blues so thick you could stand a rowboat oar in it.
While the tunes sometimes churn and sometimes tangle, songs like "Wax Worship" and "Honey" lumber along like a truck loaded down with nitroglycerine making its way across a rickety bridge. As far as sheer sonic heft goes, the Pontiak siblings sound like they've ingested the pre-req amount of Sabbath and Hawkwind over the years. But the Carneys have an astute sense for balancing their songs with intriguing contrasts -- the sorts that reward deeper listening and repeat visits. They sneak in a bit of quasi-folksy baroqueness at times, or toy with having some fun by hinting at some vintage red-dirt boogie at other points. There's even a couple of brief math-y bits tucked between songs that go a long way toward washing the palette down. Add to all of that the 13-plus minute, pull-out-all-the-stops, multipart juggernaut of the album's title track. Despite all the turns and polarities, in the end everything coheresand Maker leaves a distinct impression.
Maker is now out via Thrill Jockey label. Pontiak will be playing at the Empty Bottle on Monday, May 11. Somewhat appropriately, Kill Rocks Stars recording artist Thrones (a.k.a. Joe Preston of Melvins, Sunn O))), Earth, and High on Fire affiliation) headline for the evening. Pontiak are scheduled to support, and Helen Money opens. This being one of the Bottle's Monday night shows, admission is free and it gets underway at 9:30 PM. 1035 N. Western.