Album Review – Living by Pontiak

Pontiak’s previous release — Maker — added a bit of complexity to their underground rock style, but it didn’t entail sacrifice of the band’s trademark propulsive energy.  The band’s latest release — Living — maintains the rawness which Pontiak fans have come to love, but it does not contain the intricate nuances which have been omnipresent in past albums, including Maker.  Living consists of 12 tracks, and they can be generally broken down into four groups.

The first of these groups is backwoodsy with a Country twang, the second is bluesy rock, the third being grunge-like noise and the final group consisting of several discordant and cacophony-clad songs which would have been better left of the album entirely.  Interestingly, these four distinct styles never converge on one track thus depriving the listener to complexities present in previous Pontiak albums.  However, the album is cogently put together, and the tracks do transition well from one to another.

Pontiak is known for their unpretentious style, and the band shares a rural Virginia country house the also serves as their recording studio.  The band is more than just a band — they are family.  This definitely comes through in their cohesiveness and ease in which they compliment one another even on the most complex of tracks.

Living was recorded using throwback reel-to-reel technology situated in this bucolic setting — this goes a long way towards influencing their down-home style.  However, limiting themselves to this production functionality serves to diminish the rhythm section and disallows highlighting some good work on the bass.

The album starts off with the song Young which evokes memories of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.  As Living progresses it grows in intensity, and highlights off the album include the tense Thousands Citrus and the most complex track on the album which harkens back to Maker– Lemon Lady.  Although some Pontiak fans might be disappointed by this latest release, most will find at least few tracks which satisfy their desire for new content from this unique band.

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