Pontiak Valley of Cats

[Fireproof; 2006]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: burned-up blues, drone folk, heavy metal applesauce
Others: OM, Dead Meadow, Oakley Hall

RIFFS. Yeah, son. Big fuckin' riffs. Where before I had described Pontiak as "loungey" without really knowing what it meant, the band has officially evolved from the smoky grooves of their first recordings into classic rock shredding. Here's their first full-length, Valley of Cats, that I, anyway, had eagerly anticipated. I will get the TMT newswriters to cover their tour. I will make listeners of you. Witness "Eyes" and the title track, slabs of rock 'n' roll larger than anything else on the scene. Less Dead Meadow than Constantines, the Carney brothers still make room for the quieter tunes, but these numbers' niche has shifted from the croony sex jam to the shambolic (and perhaps even more Walkmen-esque), as in album closer "Moveable Flea Circus."

"How Tall Are You?" is the closest thing here to the material heard on the band's prior White Buffalo EP, but even this song benefits from the improved production here. The album is produced (by the band themselves, I believe) with a remarkably live texture that suits the crackle of distortion on the leads, piled atop another, one might say, to excess. But that may be the whole point here – unlike The Constantines, Pontiak don't need to cater to a Sub Pop audience unwilling to headbang. Quite frankly, after hearing the maturity and restraint of the former band's Tournament of Hearts, I have to admit that I prefer these (so far) unknowns.

"We'll be ready," Van Carney repeats on "Movable Flea Circus," and though it's not clear just for what the brothers are steeling themselves, I have my answer. I am ready to smoke weed and turn it up. If only I had a car.

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