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January 28, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Appalachia’s Pontiak guns it on ‘Innocence’ | New recordings

Pontiak

The Virginia band Pontiak. Photo by Lino Brunetti.

Pontiak
“Innocence”
(Thrill Jockey)

Pontiak’s Carney brothers — singer-guitarist Van, bassist Jennings and drummer Lain — don’t just share a surname. The hard-hitting, tripped-out sounds they make together suggest they share a brain. And a diligent work ethic — “Innocence,” out Tuesday, is their seventh LP in just eight years.

Natives of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the trio plays with rough-and-tumble vigor evocative of The MC5, while Van Carney’s up-front vocals often recall Josh Homme’s in Queens of the Stone Age. Like those bands, Pontiak writes a mean riff, yet hooks are paramount.

The 11-song set is structured in three movements: heavy, mellow, heaviest. Its opening salvo — the title track, “Lack Lustre Rush” (listen) and “Ghosts” — is as uncompromising as its folk-tinged second act — “It’s the Greatest,” “Noble Heads” and “Wildfires” — is reserved.

It works; still, the Carneys are more convincing rockers than balladeers. They seem to understand this, diming amps, fuzz-boxes and wah pedals for four of the final five songs.

At 32 lean minutes, “Innocence” makes itself clear without wearing out its welcome. Rock for rock’s sake, Pontiak doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but takes it off-road.

0 Comments | More in Rock/Pop | Topics: psychedelic, rock, Thrill Jockey

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