Pin It
Favorite

Pontiak, Sun On Sun 

Album Review

click to enlarge cdreview-sunonsun.jpg

(Thrill Jockey Records, CD)

From Virginia’s Blue Ridge region comes a musical curiosity of mind- and genre-bending proportions. Depending on your personal proclivities, you might identify this trio as either a narcotic stoner band or raunchy Southern rock. And in both cases you’d be right. Pontiak’s latest seven-song effort, Sun on Sun, released on Chicago indie vanguard Thrill Jockey Records, is a swirling maelstrom of sinister psychedelia fueled by monstrous guitar riffery and stark, Lizard King-esque lyricism.

Droning head-bobber “Shell Skull” is the first heady shot fired across the bow. Brothers Van (guitar, vocals), Lain (drums, vocals) and Jennings Carney (bass, organ, vocals) unleash a slow-burning torrent of dirty guitars and reverb-washed vocals propelled by a hypnotically driving bass line. In fact, I accidentally had my CD player on repeat and listened to the tune about four times in succession before I realized it wasn’t one epic jam. And I was totally OK with that. Though I kinda wished I was high, even though I don’t partake.

The following “Swell” might please ambient drone and “other music” crowds. The rest of us might find it more a fitting interlude to “White Hands.” The tune begins with an escalating, rapid-fire guitar and drum riff before exploding into another head-nodding churner. Oh, sweet release.

“White Mice” is a schizophrenic marvel. And in Pontiak’s case, that’s actually a good thing. The near 7-minute-long tune undergoes a series of metamorphoses that would make Kafka blush.

The disc’s title track is a centerpiece, combining stylistic and foundational elements from the preceding tunes to form a 9-minute psychedelic opus. I don’t know if you could sync the tune to The Wizard of Oz, but it might be fun to try.

“Tell Me About” is the album’s most accessible cut. It’s also the easiest to pin down as the descendant of Doors-inspired bacchanalia — at least for the first three minutes or so. Van Carney pulls an eerie Morrison impression, and brother Jenning’s organ work has shades of Manzarek.

Album closer “The Brush Burned Fast” is an oddity in an album teeming with them. It’s a beautiful, sparse acoustic ballad. Here, vocalist Van evokes echoes of fellow Southern rock alchemist Jim James. The song finishes with a swirl of ghostly, metallic whispers. It’s a fitting end to a trippy ride.

Pontiak is currently touring with Thrill Jockey labelmates Arbouretum in support of a split record of John Cale covers and Cale-inspired originals, entitled Kale. They make a secret, wink-wink Burlington stop Wednesday, September 10. I can’t tell you where it is, but our good friends at Tick Tick might. Just sayin’ . . .

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Tags: , ,

Pin It
Favorite

More by Dan Bolles

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Bio:
Dan Bolles is the Seven Days music editor. His column "Soundbites" appears weekly.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Latest in Albums

Recent Comments

Social Club

Like Seven Days contests and events? Join the club!

See an example of this newsletter...

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
e-newsletters:

All content © 2016 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So Champlain St Ste 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation