Sun On Sun
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 A800 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.
Pontiak’s other releases include their debut album, Valley of Cats, on their own Fireproof Records and Kale (July 2008), a split LP with kindred spirits Arbouretum, built around a mutual admiration for John Cale. Pontiak delivers a potent cover of “The Endless Plain of Fortune” and a great new interpretation of “Mr. Wilson,” along with two new originals. Kale was recorded at Pontiak’s studio on their farm.
Pontiak will be touring in June with their friends Wye Oak (Merge). The two bands will be traveling through the Northeast, Canada and into the American Midwest and east coast. Pontiak also plans to tour this summer/ fall with Arbouretum in support of Kale and Sun On Sun.