The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Sun On Sun John Doran , November 17th, 2008 15:33

Pontiak Sun on Sun

When I was seven-years-old it seemed like I was looking at life through a filter. It was as if I had unwrapped the burnished orange cellophane from a big glass litre bottle of Lucozade, and tied it round my head. This said, sometimes I did have the wrapper from a Lucozade bottle wrapped round my face. If you secured the translucent, deep yellow plastic in front of your eyes and held your breath for long enough, everything went slow and warm and you could pretend you were an astronaut on Mars.

One day coming out of the hospital and then on and off buses we alighted near St George's Hall on William Brown Street in Liverpool. Had there been a fire? Exhibits were all over the cobbled concourse, as if the curators and attendants had piled all of the valuable artefacts from all over the world on the pavements with only the big metal lions on plinths to protect it all from treasure thieves. It was like the stately building had been packed with so much booty it had swollen and burst, spreading artefacts all over the streets around it. You weren't actually allowed to go in St George's Hall if you lived in Liverpool. You had to go to the museum over the road. But that was alright because that was where the dinosaurs and the Egyptian mummies were. St George's Hall was where they filmed The General Assembly Coke advert that was never off TV in the mid 80s. I didn't drink Coke though, I drank Lucozade. This was Just as well because the year it was filmed I was in hospital round the corner having surgery on my eyes.

I became so agitated they couldn't fit the needle in my vein even with my arms tied down, so they gave me a pre-med of morphine. "He's very big for his age, give him an adult dose," someone said. "Woo-hoo! I feel like Superman!" I said two minutes later. "Give me some more! Take me to surgery now! What are we waiting for!? Whoo-hoo!"

"Maybe we gave him too much . . ." the other person said glumly.

You spend your whole life chasing that first opiate hit and that first jagged rush; that feeling of utter invincibility. The absolute absence of bad feeling.

Pontiak sound like heavy rock heard in the first flush of life, during the glow of the first hit. Warmly overdriven guitars and bass are redolent of heat haze above slowly simmering tarmac that is very rarely troubled by cars passing overhead. A trio of brothers (Zain, Van and Jennings Carney) from the Blue Ridge farm country of Virginia recorded this album in a log cabin in Charlottesville. And despite the very rapid four day recording time, you couldn't hope to hear a more leisurely, practically horizontal album.

Without ever sounding contrived or forced they manage to switch effortlessly between howling Comets on Fire rock psychedelia, monolithic Sabbath doom and bucolic campfire strummery. The trio have mainlined a speedball mixture of Canned Heat, Dead Meadow, Lords and Steppenwolf's 'The Pusher'. Maybe in the expansive, elemental and rugged rock grooves you will hear something entirely different. (St. Julian Cope had the following to say: "[They straddle] 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.") But whatever you hear, there's a good chance this album will remind you when you first got addicted to fuzzy guitars, buzzing amps and all the rock & roll for the first time.