We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: Echo Ono by Pontiak, (out now on Thrill Jockey)
Press play if you like: Alternately soothing and snarling psychedelia that’s tuneful, traditional, and tightly reined, even as it flaps off into the stratosphere; the bright, cleansing fire of overdriven analog amps.
Some background: Comprising three Southern brothers on a humble mission to distort roots-rock to the point of oblivion, Pontiak comes across like Kings Of Leon from a darker alternate dimension. On Echo Ono, the trio of Van, Lane, and Jennings Carney have crafted their best work yet: a shotgun wedding of twang, texture, and gritty, progressive garage-blues that never sacrifices soul for the sake of brinksmanship. Instead, it embraces both. “Expanding Sky” hemorrhages loose, ragged, Wilco-esque harmonies while loping along like a wounded buck; “North Coast” adds a jazzy, post-rock elasticity to its epic riffage. By the time the closer, “Panoptica,” is rolled out, the hinges have come undone—and a toxic spume of white noise spills across the highway, dissolving all in its path. Rather than diluting the more song-oriented tracks that precede it, though, it underscores just how emotionally harrowing, texturally adventurous, and one-the-edge-of-implosion Echo Ono is.
Try this: Opening song “Lions Of Least” is an accessible point-of-entry that gently points toward Echo Ono’s gradual, inexorable discombobulation. As a freestanding slab of raw, feral, yet tautly cerebral rock ’n’ roll, it just slays.