Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Pontiak-The White Buffalo EP

August 1, 2007

Band Name: Pontiak

Album Name: The White Buffalo EP

Best Element: Unique rootsy mood.

Genre: Melancholy Indie-rock

Website: http://www.organgrinderrecords.com/bands.cfm/bandID/3/band/Pontiak

Label Name: Organ Grinder Records (www.organgrinderrecords.com)

Band E-mail: jennings.carney@gmail.com

Hand-numbered releases reveal a lot about a band’s character. If a band is daring enough to release one, it’s proof that they believe in the desirability of their band’s product. If the number is small, you can assume the band has got a bit of an ego going on (humble bands won’t ever number their releases- they don’t want people to know how good or bad it’s going). If the number is in the hundreds (as in Pontiak’s The White Buffalo EP), the band has some serious dedication to its sound.

I hold in my hand the two-hundred and eighty-fourth copy of Pontiak’s EP. It has a total run of 300, as noted by the 284/300 lovingly written on both the CD front and the inset art. That’s an accomplishment in itself.

But you’re here to see how Pontiak sounds, so I will stop my admiration of their work ethic and start the critiquing of music. Their sound is a very low-slung, rootsy sound, drawing on low vocals, slow tempos, and unique aesthetics. I hesitate to say mellow, because even though Pontiak is not the loudest band around, they aren’t trying to put you to sleep (except on the lullaby-esque “It Takes One”). Their intensity just takes on different forms. The creepy, mournful call of “Strings Dancing” feels like a misplaced spiritual, until the band kicks in and turns it into a bluesy rocker of sorts. Nothing Pontiak does is especially categorizable into a specific genre, so when I say ‘of sorts’, I mean it bears resemblance.

The non-tempo-based intensity continues on “Night’s Daughter”, which is bass-heavy with some graveling vocals, and with “Doors to Haiti”, a neo-jazzy piece in the vein of Nick Cave and co. Closer “Ophelia” is the real treat here, as a punchy bass line and cymbal-dependent drum lines create a hectic atmosphere for the guitars and vocals to play around in. The low-key post-punk that is inadvertently created is simply astounding, and the replay value on “Ophelia” is through the roof.

The nods to folk and indie-pop are evident here, and the subtle hints of rock are visible, but for the most part, this EP is the genre of melancholia. Pontiak feels like a dark, lonely night in a cabin or a graveyard somewhere, and sometimes that’s the place you want to be.

-Stephen Carradini

Independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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