Earthless is the brainchild of Mario Rubalcaba, Mike Eginton and Isaiah Mitchell. Rubalcaba, a prolific drummer, has worn the alias of Ruby Mars during his stint with Rocket from the Crypt, went on to bang away for the Hot Snakes, was the drummer for hardcore art-punks Clikatat Ikatowi and previously was in the Black Heart Procession… and prior to that? Mario was a member of Tony Alva’s Alva Team skateboarding crew. He now finds himself, along with bassist Mike Eginton and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, knee deep in the near opposite direction of all things punk rock, ensconced in the world of jam, space and “cosmic nodding” a.k.a. Earthless.
The trio, based out of San Diego, met through mutual friends and a fondness for under the radar record collections. Mario explains how the band connected, “We discovered a mutual admiration for a lot of Japanese psychedelic hard rock bands, as well as primitive ‘60s garage music. After combing over each other’s record collections and lending out records, we came upon the idea of, ‘Let’s specifically start a Japanese-psychedelic-heavy-Kraut-rock-band.’ With the Japanese bands, it was always a really kind of heavy, blues, twisted take on Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin. Isaiah is an awesome guitar player & Mike is an amazing bassist, playing with the both of them really sealed the deal. Magic happened in the room. Since then, we’ve followed that formula.”
Recently signed to Tee Pee Records, Earthless issues their debut album, Rhythms from A Cosmic Sky, this May.
Pontiak is made up of three brothers from the Blue Ridge farm country of Virginia, Van (guitar, lead vocals), Lain (drums, vocals) and Jennings Carney (bass, organ, vocals). Their music is swaggering guitar rock that straddles the line between a power trio and something far more expansive in sound and scope. Their broad song structures allow ample room for three-part vocals, drums, organ and stellar slide and lead guitar to stretch and captivate. Songs roll along with an effortless synchronicity despite their extremely varied textures. Julian Cope described them as, “straddling a wide sonic rift valley, with references that stretch from the southern latitudes of Spain’s Viaje to the northern majesty of Black Sabbath and Harvey Milk via the Doors.” Sun On Sun, their second full-length album, was recorded in a log cabin just north of Charlottesville, Virginia in about four days. The thick wooden walls of the structure reflected a lot of sound that gave the recording a sharp biting quality. Each string pluck from Van’s guitar can be heard soaring above the rich ethereal reverb that coats tracks like “White Mice” and “The Brush Burned Fast”. The wilderness surrounding the cabin and the appreciation for it that the brothers share can be heard seeping into every track. From start to finish, Sun on Sun evokes the nature that surrounds the brothers from the rolling meadows, to the dense woods, from the early morning solitude of the rural farmer, to the open and endless night sky.
The psychedelic organ flourishes of “Tell Me About” and the bass heavy churn of “Shell Skull” keep the album grounded in the rock tradition, never wandering too far from the epic and at times heavy trail that the brothers are blazing. Sticking with this tradition, the Carneys honed the songs that make up Sun On Sun while touring and didn’t waste much time tinkering in the studio. Most of the tracks were recorded in only a few takes, if not the first and they strived to create an album that flowed like a live performance. “Swell”, which was written in the time it took to record it, bleeds into the pounding rhythms and guitar swirl of “White Hands”. The title track was a song that had been written long before and road tested but underwent a sudden metamorphosis in the studio, a happy accident if you will, that the brothers have continued to build on since that moment.
Pitchfork - 7.9/10
Wire (UK) "Pontiak's organic approach comes as a breath of fresh air. ... An elongated power surge."
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