Pontiak: Sun on Sun
Schizoid rock sometimes works but, more often, it's pretentious bullshit. This year's spokeschild is Blitzen Trapper, a strut of a band that games noise for the sake of making over-the-top pop ridiculousness feel a little less over-the-top. It works, and only because you don't need to be reminded by the CD case that it's one band. Pontiak, on its third release, even adds one or three personalities, still without tearing apart its face, and delivering a delicious Pink Floyd/Doors/Kyuss swerve.
You know the opener, "Shell Skull," from any number of Southern stoner metal standard-bearers: Dripping guitar dirge; drawn, mopey/apathetic vocals; an elephant's lumbering pace; a chorus that howls without lifting its head. It's actually kinda perfect and leads into, well, nothing: not-quite-dead air that slowly fills with a soft rolling cymbal-sustained for two minutes into a kind of empty ambiance-and nothing else. "White Hands" picks up again into a faster (sort of) reprise of the opener and the album's first "side" rolls along hopping between sludge and poppier, aired-out versions of sludge. Van Carney's voice stays a nice constant: just-raggedy-enough, just-disinterested-enough that he doesn't take up any more space than he needs.
After the titular, Dark Side of the Moon-esque epic-nine minutes of it-Sun on Sun, the CD flips sides, giving up two songs that probably should've been trimmed for the sake of narrative, but, oh, well, they're here and sound pretty good. Carney slips into his Jim Morrison skin for "Tell Me About It" and launches into a Southern rock coda that sounds like, of all things, Clutch. And, like Clutch, it's as satisfying as it is ridiculous. You don't realize just how far you've come over the record's seven songs until the closer, "The Brush Burned Fast," rock digested folk that never left the bedroom. It's like a goodbye peck on the cheek from an album that's spent the rest of time together shoving its tongue down your throat. ★