Pressing play on the new Pontiak EP is akin to driving into the Texas desert, sliding open the van door and realizing exactly what you’re up against. In fact, it could have been a similar situation that inspired this album. Comecrudos is a four-part ode to the desert, inspired by a drive through west Texas, southbound on 385 toward the Rio Grande. Along the way, the band hiked along the Rio Grande and spent the night camping in an old volcano crater. Sounds like perfect inspiration for a great record, and, in fact, it is.
These four songs are not exactly what you’d expect from Pontiak. A lot of the crushing guitar effects are absent as well as most of the heavy vibes that have flowed through previous records. Comecrudos is a more laid back affair relying more on atmospherics and the groove of the rhythm section to push the songs than supercharged guitars. “Part I” is full of bass hum, splattered with percussion outbursts and pulsing horns. “Part II” sees the groove fade into a fantastic section that sounds a bit like a more psychedelic incarnation of Calexico. As this section develops, the listener is in the van with Pontiak as the beauty of the desert speeds by the window and the eternal horizon is the only thing visible through the windshield. Then, with “Part III,” the album reaches its apex. This section of Comecrudos sounds like a song Pink Floyd would have written after their bus caught fire and stranded them in the Sahara. Heralded by the return of those wonderful pulsing horns, “Part III” manages to be delicate, powerful, and slightly ominous in the most beautiful way possible. This song is enough to make you love Pontiak in a whole new way, or become obsessed for the very first time. “Part IV” closes the album like a perfect desert sunset. Again, this section does Dark Side of the Moon proud. The guitars circle like well fed vultures just out to stretch their wings. The drums and bass wander slowly off into the sunset and bring the album to a comfortable end.
Pontiak got it right with Comecrudos. I enjoy their other records, but this one really taps the right vein.
Pontiak – “Part III” [MP3]
Purchase Comecrudos via Thrill Jockey