The three Carney brothers who make up Pontiak
developed the material on their latest album, Innocence
(Thrill Jockey), not by creating minimal melodies from fuzzed-out, churning hard-rock grooves like usual but rather by starting with the vocals—the change is especially obvious on the surprisingly mellow midsection of the album. Lyrical introspection a la Pink Floyd haunts the organ-soaked “It’s the Greatest,” and the stately folk-rock of Bob Dylan colors the sorrowful acoustic ballad “Wildfires,”
whose harmony singing is as tight-knit as the brothers’ deep, steady grooves. The music still has those deep pockets, even on the more restrained tunes—they’re most pronounced on the thick, heavy title track
, on the Wipers-like “Ghosts,” and on “Beings of the Rarest,” which partakes of Black Sabbath sludge. Pontiak unload their weapons efficiently on Innocence
—its 11 concise tracks last just 33 minutes, making it one of those rare albums that leave me wanting more. With any luck I’ll get it when the brothers crank it up onstage. —Peter Margasak Old Baby and Darling open.