Friday, February 02, 2007

Album Review: Pontiak - Valley Of Cats

Pontiak - Valley of Cats

I wasn't prepared for this. I get a promo CD in the mail, and usually I'm expecting a lo-fi bathroom recording by a couple of teenagers who want to be the next Panic! At The Disco.

Lo and behold, Pontiak knew what I was expecting, and decided to drive me out to the swamp and beat me down with guitar riffs I haven't heard on an indie release in months. If you, dear reader, need a comparison, Pontiak's Valley of Cats is much more like Murder By Death than the Panic! I was expecting. It's blues, it's muddy, dirty, greasy, Southern rock best served with a shot of Jack Daniel's in a lawn chair outside the double-wide. This sound makes me feel good about coming from the sticks. But don't call Pontiak a Baltimore band, the sound coming from these three brothers is straight from their home: Rappahanock, Virginia.

The album opener, "Crows On The Move", drives the point home right away that Pontiak is rock at its Southern roots. A three piece band, Pontiak sounds more like an armada of dirty bass and guitars, raw vocals, and smashing drums. The album even proudly brings out pianos, banjo, a harpsichord and a Moog, and the boys never make it sound overdone.

Pontiak breaks out the baddest on the harder tunes including "Salt Flats", "TransAtlantic", "Eyes" (with its riff that is reminiscent of a steam engine barreling down the tracks with no slowing down), and my favorite, "Crows On The Move", but the slow blues jams (try "Hydrogen Fires") are the kind of thing that digs down inside and drags out the unspeakable, just what blues are supposed to do.

One of the finest aspects of Valley of Cats is the literal and figurative narrative that the songs deliver, from lyrics of murder to chord progressions that send the listener's emotions into a tizzy. You'll yell, you'll sing, you'll float, you'll sink, you'll love it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Visit Pontiak and buy the album.

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